Are People Good? Charidy's Bet

A few months ago, a powerful ad campaign by Crisis Relief Singapore was released.  It went by the title, “Liking Isn’t Helping,” and it showed sad, disastrous images of people in horrible conditions, being surrounded by a bunch of thumbs-ups.

Here’s an example of one such image:


That campaign, and especially that image, blew my mind.

The argument is essentially that when people like or share an image on Facebook that helps get the word out about some charity or cause, they aren’t really helping.  They’re just making noise.  Standing around people who are suffering with their thumbs up, thinking they’re making a difference when they’re not at all.

It’s hard to describe the feelings that came over me, but when I saw it, I knew this is what our work at Charidy, this startup, is all about.

Charidy was started with a simple idea: people want to give.  The entire profit of our company depends on that philosophy.  We’ve created a system whereby we will only get any revenue when a donation campaign succeeds.  And we are depending not just on the nonprofits who work with us to get their donations in, but in our own community.  We want to be a place where someone comes just because they want to know what cause they should give to that day.

In other words, our company can’t succeed if people aren’t naturally altruistic.

But the thing is, there was something about that Crisis Relief ad campaign that shook me.  It made me realize something: most people don’t know how to give.

Because the truth is, why do people share these things?  Why do people “like” a cause online without doing much?  Is it, as some people have suggested about this campaign, that they are just assuaging their own guilt?

I don’t think so.  Charidy doesn’t think so either.

I think what’s happening here is that people want to give, but the channels to do so haven’t been made available to them as easily as they could have been.  It’s so much easier to “like” a page on Facebook than to give to an organization that will do good with it.

And not only that, our culture has made Facebook and Twitter “cool” while charitable giving is still seen as almost an anomaly online.  Even though there have been amazing examples of people doing good on Reddit, for example.  Or people coming together on places like Fundrazr to help others.

Yet, still, no one seems to be taking it to the next level with charitable giving.  The only websites set up for charitable giving are either gimmicky (“Hey, look, a celebrity!”) or they work as extensions of offline fundraising (places for people to give through an organization, rather than finding a project that matters to them).

So, that’s what we want to change at Charidy.  We don’t want to be gimmicky.  We don’t want to convince you to give with a celebrity, or even because you are intimately familiar with the nonprofit on our site.  No.  We want you to give because you want to give.  Because you see a project that could help the world, and you want to help make it happen.

That’s the real reason anything succeeds on a site like Kickstarter.  The stuff like “rewards” that come with giving are only a way for you to give more.  What people really want is to help improve the world.  To be a part of something bigger.

Charidy is going to be about that idea distilled.  There won’t be rewards.  Just the opportunity to change the world.  The opportunity to be a part of something larger than yourself.

We’ve bet our entire company on it.