Thursday, June 14, 2007

More about counting

My earlier post about the abundance of giving indices – and the inability to find correlations among them – sparked a bit of interest. One comment included a pitch for increasing giving by linking it to shopping and or internet searching- something offered by all kinds of retailers (see the (RED) campaign for one of many examples) and several search engines such as GoodTree and GoodSearch and EveryClick

This kind of behavior is not new. Grocery stores “up sell” a dollar at the register for everything from curing juvenile diabetes to feeding the hungry. Working Assets might have taken the idea to scale first, with its “make change by rounding up your phone bill” services.

Here’s the irony. Who counts that giving? No body, so far as I can tell. So we’re promoting more giving that is even less trackable?

Another question. If every purchase and search lets an individual tack on a 50 cents for charity, will those folks be more or less inclined to make a gift of $50 (or $500 or $5000) when asked directly by nonprofits? Do those of you who round up your Working Assets bills (and I do, but not by much) count those contributions in any way? Do they factor in to your annual family giving budget (assuming you have such a thing)? Or do you remind yourselves of them at the end of the year when the direct mail comes flooding in, and say the heck with it, I gave with the phone bill?

Back to the original point. We don’t really know what we give now. The more ways we find to practice what my friends over at call "embedded giving” the harder it will get to answer this question. Of course, if we give more this way, maybe counting doesn't matter. Of course, if we can't count, we won't know if its more.

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