Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday.
And now: Giving Tuesday.
Tomorrow is the inaugural Giving Tuesday, an effort to create a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season. The media reports widely about the unabashed consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday aims to deploy traditional media and social media to stimulate charitable giving and volunteering, something much more in keeping with the holiday spirit of gratitude and generosity.
I serve in an advisory role to the team of folks behind Giving Tuesday, and I’ve tried to do two things:
First, get credit card companies to drop or eliminate transaction fees for individual donations made to nonprofit organizations on Giving Tuesday.
Transaction fees charged by credit card companies and other online giving platforms range from two to five percent of a donation, meaning that a $100 gift to a nonprofit is in reality only a $95 gift, with $5 lining the pockets of American Express, Visa, or Mastercard. Dropping or eliminating the transaction fees, even if just for a day, would not only deliver more money to nonprofit organizations but might stimulate individuals to donate more than they otherwise would, knowing that on this day fully 100% of their donation will get to the charity they wish to support.
On Giving Tuesday there will be several options to make donations without transaction fees: for CapitalOne credit card holders here, and for mobile donations made via PayPal. More in the works for 2013.
Second, while Giving Tuesday champions giving of all kinds – time as well as money – to any charitable organization, Giving Tuesday is highlighting giving opportunities for some of the most highly rated and effective charitable organizations. My hope is that Giving Tuesday will not only stimulate more people to give money away but for them to give money away more thoughtfully.
I think the best of these organizations is a small outfit called GiveWell. GiveWell examines only a small handful of charities in a small handful of areas: international development and American primary and secondary education. Their website provides more information than a donor could likely process, and unfortunately in a singularly user-unfriendly format. But their analyses are first-rate.
I trust their evaluations. And GiveWell has just released its annual recommendations for the top charities, the organizations it deems most worthy of a charitable donation. Why most worthy? Because a donation to these top charities will have a large and demonstrated positive impact.
GiveWell’s top rated charities for 2013 are:
1. The Against Malaria Foundation
GiveDirectly transfers cash to households in the developing world via the M-PESA mobile phone-based payment service. It targets extremely low-income households and aims to deliver at least 90 cents directly to recipients for every $1.00 in total expenses.
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) assists African governments with treatment of neglected tropical diseases.
Tomorrow, on Giving Tuesday, I will be making a charitable donation to GiveWell’s top rated charities. My hope is that because of Giving Tuesday, and with the information provided by GiveWell, others will do the same.