What would you give up to help the poor?

What would you give up to help the poor?

Don’t Wait, Donate is an online giving challenge that encourages individuals to make small sacrifices to help alleviate extreme poverty. In today’s guest post, Jennifer Korman tells us how repurposing luxury spending for social good can be both fun and rewarding.

By Jennifer Korman, Founder of Don’t Wait, Donate

From an office rivalry to a Greek life Olympics, friendly competition consistently generates energy and excitement. We are on a mission to harness the power of the competitive spirit, social pressure and small sacrifices to engage Millennials in effective charitable giving.

When I talk to college students and young professionals about giving to charity, many are quick to respond, “I’m broke,” or, “I don’t want to pay for a CEO’s bloated salary and business lunches.” These are both good reasons not to give–if they are realities. Yet, many young Americans claim we are broke, while simultaneously spending money on things like specialty coffees, meals out, or drinks at the bar. For example, in 2012 Americans spent an average of $1100 on coffee. The typical American goes out for lunch on average twice a week and spends $10 each time, spending about $2000 a year on lunches eaten out. Furthermore, Americans spend approximately $50 billion on alcohol each year according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Don’t Wait, Donate started in the office of a small New Jersey-based non-profit. My fellow intern Katie and I both bought a coffee every day on our way to work, typically spending around $20 per week. Upon reading Peter Singer’s book The Life You Can Save, Katie was inspired to start a tally of each day that she went without coffee. At the end of the month, she donated what she would have spent at Dunkin Donuts to an effective non-profit. 

We were by no means living large on the non-existent salary of our volunteer internship, but Katie found a way to give regardless. Her actions challenged me to contemplate my own giving habits, or lack thereof. She provided the inspiration for Don’t Wait, Donate, which encourages people to invest in global poverty relief through a combination of small sacrifices and friendly peer pressure. 

Don’t Wait, Donate is an online giving challenge that encourages individuals to make small sacrifices for social good while building community around charitable giving. Right now we are creating a game-based web and mobile interface that challenges users to micro-donate in place of regular indulgences and to compete with friends, coworkers, and peers to crown the biggest giver. While we have raised some funds to start development, we are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise the rest of the money needed to make the platform a reality.

Don’t Wait, Donate will make it easy to repurpose some of the money we spend on everyday luxuries for social good. While Millennials may not have as much to give, research shows that they are willing to give and many desire to do-so on a regular basis. We will also ease the fear of misused funds or ineffective programs by supporting charities that are cost-effective and transparent. The platform expands upon the effective altruism movement, promoting many of the charities recommended by The Life You Can Save and GiveWell. We believe that it is important to educate our users about how to make the largest impact possible with their small sacrifices. We seek to foster community and conversations around effective giving in colleges, corporations, religious institutions, and young professionals’ networks. Don’t Wait, Donate exposes participants to these trustworthy charities—changing the way young people choose to give, both now and in the future. We know that Millennials want to see the tangible results of their donations and our platform will fulfill this desire by visually depicting their impact and providing regular charity updates.

We at Don’t Wait, Donate firmly believe that giving should be a lifestyle, and that it should be fun and inviting.  With Don’t Wait, Donate, users don’t have to limit their charitable giving to special, occasional events. Instead of hoping my friends see my charity Facebook posts or only being able to invite them to give around my birthday or another significant event, I can challenge them to a giving match anytime through one of the game-based competitions. Would you win in a giving competition against your friends? 

I am so excited to make Don’t Wait, Donate a reality and want you to be part of it! We love and appreciate support of any kind! Follow us on social media – Facebook and Twitter! Give us your feedback or connect us with a potential partner by contacting us at jenn@dontwaitdonate.org! And check out our Indiegogo campaign!

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About the author:

Rhema Hokama

Rhema Hokama is former Director of Communications for The Life You Can Save and holds a PhD from Harvard.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.