The $1 Billion Dollar Question
If you had $1 Billion to give to the charity/cause of your choice, what would you choose? Here are some things you could do:
- Feed approximately 6,250,000 people that live in extreme poverty for an entire year.
- Provide sustainable drinking water to 33.3 million people.
- Erase the student loan debt for approximately 35,000 Americans.
- Cover all student aid gaps to your favorite university, to curb the increase in student load debt.
- Plant 10 billion trees.
- Rescue over 6.6 million people from human trafficking.
- Cover adoption fees for approximately 50,000 children.
The reality is however, that we don’t have $1 billion. But are we at least contributing to the charity/cause that we picked?
Unfortunately, most will say “no”. When we’re allowed to dream, we can envision how to make a positive impact on the world, but when it comes to starting that process for ourselves it seems like something always gets in the way. For instance, it costs on average only $30 to provide a person clean drinking water through CharityWater.org. Right now, with $30 you can play a role in systematically changing the lives of an entire village that either is plagued with waterborne illnesses, or has had to resort to traveling miles just to obtain daily water supply. Will you do it?
Sorry to put you on the spot, but are you frustrated that when exposed to a great need, you still seem to not be able to take action? Don’t worry, it’s not because you’re a bad person–it’s just that there are some roadblocks in your way that limit your capacity to be being more involved in making a positive impact. Once these obstacles have been cleared, our capacity to contribute may finally be realized.
The 4 Hurdles to Saving the World
1: Lack of Resources.
We don’t have that imaginary $1 billion to give, but rather we’re barely able to get by with our limited resources, and donating comes a direct cost to our daily lives. Since we don’t have much to give, it also creates an unfavorable trade-off between donating and consuming: We can donate and it won’t make dent in large global issues, but if we spent on ourselves, we would definitely notice the impact on our own lives. If our donation was like a gallon of water, it would be as indistinguishable as dumping into the Pacific Ocean. However if we were a goldfish, that gallon of water has a very palpable impact. And thus we just keep that water in our fish bowl.
2: Lack of Information.
Even if we decided to push forward and decide to give what little we have, we still don’t know how to be a part of these initiatives or which ones are doing a good job. We hear about nonprofits who don’t use donor funds appropriately, and so we’re skeptical of where we should put our money that will actually contribute towards meaningful work. We don’t know what works or how to be a part of it.
3: Lack of Energy.
We just don’t have the mental and emotional energy to find these organizations that are doing good and to find ways to effectively contribute. Again it’s not that we’re terrible people, but we have our own problems and we’re struggling to stay afloat in our own lives, that we have very little left to give at the end of the day. We would like to volunteer at a food bank, or start a fundraiser, but we just simply don’t have the time or energy to do all of that.
The Hidden 4th Hurdle
Hurdle 4 is the biggest hurdle, and is actually imbedded within Hurdle 1 about limited resources. There’s an actual constraint of limited resources, but there is also a flawed belief that is attached to it. The reason the $1 billion simulation was liberating was that we believe that if we ourselves had a bountiful of resources, only then would we be able to make a change. This belief holds us back, because we don’t acknowledge it. We don’t realize this hurdle is set right before Hurdle 1, so we keep struggling to get past Hurdle 1, but we’re actually hitting Hurdle 4 first.
We can see this lie is in the analogy of the gallon of water: your donation is not like a gallon of water that is pointless, but rather it’s more like a hook in a strip of velcro. In order to make velcro bind two objects together, there are a series of hooks and loops in the velcro fabric, and while each hook is small, the cumulative effort of latching many hooks onto loops creates the bond. Our individual contribution is paired with a community of small contributions, that joined effort creates large-scale change that no individual can produce.
An 8 year old named Rachel Beckwith had set up a giving campaign for her upcoming birthday. She set a goal to raise $300 for Charity: Water, but when her 9th birthday came around, she was disappointed to learn that she had only raised $220. Tragically, the next week Rachel passed away in a terrible car crash. As word spread, so did it become known about her campaign as well. Soon donations continued to flood in. By the time the campaign closed, 31,997 individuals donated a total of $1.25 million. Over 37,000 people in Ethiopia directly gained access to clean drinking water from this campaign. Rachel’s gift that has impacted thousands of lives could not have been achieved without the contribution of a community. It took one girl to advocate for a cause, but it also took a community to bring it to reality.
Finding a Path Forward
Now that we’ve attacked the mindset part, we can now start looking towards solutions. To overcome these hurdles, we need options that will be both cost efficient, and most importantly easy to implement. We need to make the most of what little we have, and we need to find solutions that cut right to the source of human suffering and utilize the power of a collective whole to make those big changes. But we also need solutions that are not too demanding of our own personal lives. For instance, volunteering at a food bank is a highly effective and free option to help out your local community. It satisfies the requirement of being cost effective, but it is a very draining option that can leave you exhausted at the end of it all.
Below are 10 organizations that provide measurable impact, are cost efficient (some are even free to you), and most of all are very easy to implement. Scroll to the bottom of the post if you want short summaries of what each of them do.
8 Steps to Saving The World
- Log into smile.amazon.com & pick your designated charity (don’t worry, you can always change it).
- Set your desktop browser’s search engine to Ecosia.org
- When you first arrive at Ecosia’s search engine, you’ll be prompted to set as default search engine based on your browser.
- Set a bookmark for Ecosia.org on your cell phone & click on that when you want to “Google” something, or just download the app!
- Start Folding@Home processing.
- Either download the Folding@Home app onto your desktop
- Or bookmark http://nacl.foldingathome.org/ to your desktop Chrome browser, & leave a tab open to work in the background.
- If you want to work together, use the team number 234958 and we’ll see how much this blog has been able to code together.
- Sign up for both Charity Miles & AtlasGO, and at least try to log a 1 mile walk.
- You can run both apps at the same time, and log donations simultaneously.
- Use the group name: “How To Be Lazy And Save The World” for Charity Miles levitra genérico sem receita.
- Use the group name: “Lazy Heroes” for AtlasGO
- Make a single $5 donation to VisionSpring.
- Set up a monthly $5 contribution to Zidisha.
- Watch how the loans continue to recycle and make continued impact.
- Set up a monthly $20 donation to the organization that you connected to the most.
- If you can’t pick, I’d say just go with Charity: Water, they have a great user experience and you’ll get info periodically that is worth reading.
- Continue to make small steps forward.
- This can be by increasing your walk frequency (maybe even jog?), adding another organization to your donation list, or become more active in sharing content and spreading awareness about these organizations.
We don’t have to wait until we’ve “made it” start making an impact, because it’s a progression that gains momentum that creates that impact. We are all trapped in the narrow lens of today, and can’t see the ripples of our steps through time. We don’t see how a smile given at the right moment can impact a person years down the road, or how a dollar given today has the capacity to change a life tomorrow. But we do have the capacity to change the world, one step at a time. So let’s push forward together, and make tomorrow provide more opportunities to others than today.
The Lazy Solutions: In Detail
Oh, you’re still here?
If you want to learn more about these organizations, in this last part I’m going to provide short summaries of the 10 organizations listed above. I’ve broken them up into the following categories:
- Super Lazy
- Actively Lazy
- Lazy Leverage
- Subsidized Laziness
- Lazy Necessities
Would you like options that you can implement right now, that require less than a minute to set up, and most importantly, are free? Talk about being lazy, and it’s also is a perfect place to start. Here are some great first steps you can take.
Believe it not, but Amazon has a free service that donates 0.5% of your order total to your favorite charity on your behalf. That’s right, Amazon makes the donation, not you. You just keep ordering stuff on Amazon like you always do, but just by using the URL: “smile.amazon.com” it’ll take you to the very same site as normal Amazon, but from here it’ll track the order total and donate for you. To date, Amazon Smile has donated over $100 million.
Ecosia is a German-based search engine that uses 80% of its ad revenue to plant trees in endangered regions across the world. As Germany’s first registered B Corp, they go an extra step into transparency that they publish monthly reports on how they spent all the ad revenue, along with reporting on tree planting projects. To date, they’ve planted over 50 million trees, and they’re generating enough income presently to effectively plant a tree every 1.1 seconds. They estimate that on average you’ll just need to search on their site 45 times to contribute enough ad revenue to plant a tree.
What if you’re so lazy that you don’t want to do any work in order to do good? Thankfully, science will gladly take it! Folding@Home is a Stanford-based project that connects idle computers together through the internet to create a virtual supercomputer. This lab is designed to construct a full rendering of how a protein folds in the human body, which then this data can be used to help better understand how Alzheimer’s develop, along with many different cancer cells.
To date, over 100 research papers have been published with cited material from this project. All you have to do is download the app onto a desktop computer and it’ll do the rest automatically.
What if you’re not completely lazy, and perhaps maybe you live an active lifestyle, could you use that motivation for social impact? Absolutely! There are a few fitness trackers that donate money every time you log a workout. Which means this can go the other way as well: maybe the drive to help others might help get you off the couch if it means your favorite charity is going to receive a donation.
Charity Miles is an app that will record the distance of your activity, and will make a donation based on how far you traveled. How they generate revenue is by placing a nice sponsor display in the background of your activity page, which includes additional material on the sponsor’s products. They are high quality displays, as I actually ended up buying a pair of Aftershockz headphones after they showed up on my page.
Charity Miles donates approximately $0.25 per mile for a run/walk, and $0.10 for bikes. To date, have donated over $2.75 million to charities.
On the surface, Atlas GO is quite similar to Charity Miles: you create a profile, select who you want to support, and get out and run (or casually walk. Remember this is a safe space for being lazy). One notable difference is that AtlasGO is comprised of projects with defined end goal. These goals vary in trying to raise $500 towards an organization fighting breast cancer, to $18,000 project to providing housing to the homeless in Brussels. With AtlasGO, you work to fund projects and see specific impact of your contribution.
AtlasGO is still relatively new, and has only had an app on the market since 2017, but has currently raised over $450,000 in donations.
Now that you’ve gotten a taste of free ways to make an impact, let’s now see what happens when we can contribute a little bit of money to the equation and see how we can maximize its impact. The following two organizations utilize a concept called “Microcredit”, which are loans given to people who don’t have access to traditional banking services and provides leverage for people to start up small enterprises where there isn’t much economic mobility. This concept was popularized by Dr. Muhammad Yunus through his organization Grameen Bank, that has helped millions rise out of poverty.
Kiva took the microcredit model and turned it into a crowdsourcing concept. This means that each microcredit loan is broken up into $25 increments and anyone from around the world can contribute $25 towards the loan until the whole loan is fulfilled. What is great about this concept is that it allows you have perpetual use of the same donation due to it being a loan: you loan the money, the borrower uses that money to make a profit and better their lives, then they give your money back, which means you can turn around and lend that same money to another person. Your $25 just turned into $50 just like that. To date, Kiva has generated over $1 billion in microloans.
While Zidisha is a significantly smaller organization that Kiva, with just over $14 million in loans made, Zidisha represents a more pure form of what crowdsource microcredit can look like. Kiva takes a roundabout way in that you are just backing the loan, so that a local Microcredit firm doesn’t lose money if the borrower defaults; you aren’t directly lending to the person. Zidisha on the other hand does allow you to lend directly, and most importantly, with no interest charge. The borrower pays a 5% insurance fee, but there is no risk of crippling interest rates.
Another way to provide high impact to economic mobility is to subsidize the cost to resources.
One Acre Fund:
One Acre Fund is a multifaceted organization that aims to increasing harvest yields to farmers in rural African regions. Their operation has 4 parts: Crop seeds sold on credit, rural delivery service, farm training services, and market facilitation. They provide high quality resources to farmers that they couldn’t get in their local village, but most importantly it’s sold on credit, so they don’t have to pay until harvest season.
They still depend on donations to function, but they approach donations as means of financial leverage, rather than as fundraising objective, with 75% of their funding comes from the financed services to farmers, and 25% comes from donors. This means the money you contribute to One Acre Fund is not used in traditional a nonprofit sense of funding the operating budget, but it’s more like a subsidy to reduce the price onto farmers. You are essentially passing along profits to farmers through the means of subsidizing farming supplies, and every $1 you donate produces $4 in value to a farmer. In 2017, 615,000 farm families were served, and each family received on average an increase of 65% in income.
It is estimated that 624 million people need corrective lenses and do not have the money to buy them. It is estimated that over $200 Billion in lost productivity can be attributed to the lack of corrective lenses. Since 90% of that 624 million live in low income countries, that $200 Billion has a huge toll on those trying to rise out of extreme poverty.
VisionSpring provides low cost corrective lenses for $4, since this is typically attributes to 10% of the monthly income of their target market. They are able to provide these glasses at a sustainable price through what is called cross-subsidization: where they provide more expensive selections in richer markets and use the profits to offset the loss on the $4 glasses. That and in addition to donations allows them to maintain a low price and increase production. You may have actually been contributing to VisionSpring and didn’t even know it, because they’ve partnered with Warby Parker, and every pair you buy, Warby Parker donates enough to make an additional $4 pair.
It would be crazy not to elaborate further on Charity: Water, an organization aimed to eliminating the global water crisis. Currently there are still over 600 million people without access to clean drinking water, but Charity: Water has spent the past decade building the infrastructure to a powerhouse solution to providing clean water. They work with local businesses to source all materials and maintenance, but they also fit the water wells with high tech diagnostic reporting that allows them to remain updated whenever repairs are needed.
But what makes this organization shine is how they use donations. They have a core group of donors who pay all their admin fees and salaries, and so 100% of public donations goes directly towards a project. Not only that, but you will be updated on the specific project your donation contributed to, along with GPS coordinates. You can be assured that every cent of your money is having a direct impact in people’s lives, and water is one life’s most essential needs.