Why publicly and proudly donating to charity is necessary in the digital revolution

smug alert

If there’s any confusion on this point or if you think that publicly donating to charity makes you a show off, then chances are you’re a baby boomer. JKS. But it could be because the idea of charity being done as a good deed” for “goodness sake” and not for “praise or plaudits” has been drilled into you unwittingly via a popular book you might have heard of: The Bible and the Gospel teachings. I’ve never met St. Matthew but back in AD-80 (1,930 years ago) he said something to the effect of not announcing your giving to the needy with trumpets, and to do it in secret so you get more rewards, or something to that effect.

Now don’t get me wrong, giving SHOULD be done with good intent, but it’s the charities and non-profit organisations who end up footing the bill. These groups spend millions each year on fundraising and PR budgets to spread awareness for their work, solicit funds from new donors and to create a stable of dedicated followers. That’s money flowing out of your generous contributions and away from the programs and causes that these charities have dedicated their lives to.

Unfortunately, the issue stems much deeper than that. A University of Pittsburgh study from 2014 found that donors who give anonymously do so in order to avoid violating social norms.

So what does this mean for donating? The study suggests people are afraid to act generously in public for fear it will make others look bad by comparison. There is even a term for this — “generosity arms race”. And it turns out the best way to prevent this uprising of social good is to criticise, attack and question those who are escalating the generosity arms race. After all, they can’t truly be altruistic if they’re getting recognition. If you’re reading this and regretting sleeping through your psychology class, you’re not alone. But the reality is herd mentality is most prevalent in these social norms which often make little sense.

Luckily, we’re living in an age of shifting habits and public giving is on the rise. It’s beginning to take shape at the upper echelons of society with “The Giving Pledge”, a moratorium signed by the world’s financially elite to publicly give away 99% of their fortunes in their lifetimes. A wonderful start indeed, but where does that leave the other 99% of us? The answer, in your author’s humbled opinion, will undoubtedly be found in technology.

At raizn, we’re building a social network dedicated entirely to philanthropy. Our goal is to bring visibility to global goodwill through positive daily user habits — don’t worry, you don’t have to give away billions. We believe that with the right tools, publicly giving even $1 a day will be far more effective than anonymously giving $365 once a year. Let me tell you why…

1. You can inspire others and change the “norms”

Every time you publicly donate and share that activity with your social networks, the charity or cause you’re giving to is getting free advertising. This helps them tremendously and in fact, they highly encourage it. More public philanthropy in news feeds results in more new donors, higher awareness and ultimately, greater progress towards the cause at hand. Getting rid of a charity’s “fundraising expense” needs to be a byproduct of giving in the 21st century.

Believing he could influence others — billionaire philanthropist Charles “Chuck” Feeney took his long-private philanthropy public in 1997 and in doing so has inspired thousands to give as much as they could and to experience the joys of giving while still alive.

2. You’ll feel better and probably end up giving more

Let’s face it, we all like feeling good. And nothing feels quite as good as actually doing good and getting acknowledgement from your peers. When your boss says “Great job!” or your significant other says “I’m proud of you”, it feels great and you’re naturally inclined to continue seeking this acknowledgement through your behaviour. So why should receiving praise for your charitable giving be any different? You shouldn’t feel guilt or shame about sharing your donation activities, but just the opposite — You should become addicted to this feeling. Because if it becomes an addiction or better yet a habit, you will likely repeat the activity and end up donating more often to much-needed causes. A child in need who finally receives clean water or food on their plate won’t be upset if you donated to make yourself feel good. We are unnecessarily too hard on ourselves and this makes long term change even harder to attain.

3. Micro-donations are easy to match

When you donate micro amounts, i.e $2–20, the matching multiplier potential becomes exponential. Can you imagine a scenario where Bieber were to donate $2 then tell his followers, “Match my $2 donation to Pencils For Promise for a chance to win tickets to my next show”. Undoubtedly the recipient charity would receive an influx of donations and visibility. raizn wants this type of activity to become a reality and not just with the super famous.

In 2015, 33 million Gen Y (millennial) donors gave an average annual mobile donation to charity of $43. That’s barely 0.12 cents per day! The same crowd that year spent $1.3 Trillion online…

4. You can re-invent the “like” button

We don’t believe in “Clicktivism” — a term which refers to the feeling of contribution and involvement with the mere click of a thumb’s up icon. Obviously the “like” button alone can’t stand in for meaningful connection and engagement, but one thing it does do is spread awareness, and you should be proud to expend your clicks as much as possible. But research has shown that Americans who use social media to support causes are more likely to volunteer and ask others to show support for causes. So with this in mind, it’s important to not only “like” but take it one step further in some form.

Supporting an organisation (or friend) with actual financial contribution speaks volumes to your sincerity and naturally rises up from the usual social media clutter to truly create meaningful online content. We can do better than only “liking” and “sharing” a charity’s campaign page and we predict more positive social networks will start wielding this type of influence in 2017.

5. Creating ownership and goodwill is fun

In today’s world, we have various mediums upon which we are able to build content and create ownership. Our resumes live on LinkedIn, our photos live on Instagram, our videos are on Snapchat (if only briefly), so doesn’t it make sense to have a centralised home for our philanthropy? Watching your profile grow and get better with time — with each donation, each match, each achievement and milestone crossed, turns it into a hub of inspiration. In the same way users are proud of their Instagram accounts, we as people should be proud of our philanthropic journeys.

Today, various “donate without spending a dime” concept apps exist that simply reward corporate sponsors with free advertising and a tax-deduction when users do an activity, play a game or open an app. These are all great but they lack an essential ingredient — User Investment; a key element in developing pride and ownership over created content. There is nothing wrong with making Corporate-America pay up for advertising but let’s not forget that nothing can replace your personal contributions of time or money. It just feels better.

Finally, I get that it might be a step outside of your comfort zone, or that you’ve been telling yourself, “I’ll start when I’m settled, older and richer”. But the reality is you’ll always want more, even when you have more — it’s human nature. The only regret you’ll have when you’re older and richer is that you could have started much younger, made a greater difference, and lived with more purpose.

It’s never too soon to start thinking about philanthropy and being as vocal as possible when it comes to social good (did I mention they equate the feeling of giving, to sex and drugs… just saying).

This article was originally published by Johnny Kaye, CEO of @raiznapp on Medium.