Monday, November 19, 2007

Breaking News: GlobalGiving Offers a Guarantee on Your Philanthropic Investment!

Wow. The idea is radical to me, and possibly to the rest of the world as well, but CEO of GlobalGiving, Dennis Whittle, announced GlobalGiving Guaranteed late last week.
Starting today, if a donor is not happy for any reason with his or her experience on

GlobalGiving, he or she can get a refund. The refund comes in the form of a voucher the donor can use to give to any other project he or she wishes. (If the IRS allowed it, we would even refund donor's money in cash.) The guarantee will cover up to $10,000 per donor, per year, at the beginning, but we may increase this ceiling if it makes sense in the future.

Whittle points out that when you are unhappy with a purchase at a store, you can return your purchase for a refund or store credit, so why not with your charitable contributions as well? The emphasis of his concern seems to rest with ensuring that donors "be treated at least as well as consumers," but my question is: what about the nonprofits? Consumers can be fickle or suffer from "consumer's guilt" and "buyer's remorse," what if the same thing happens with donors? "Well, last week I wanted nothing more than to help starving kids around the world, but today I realize that instead I should spend my money on food for my own kids, or for starving people locally." On a practical level, doesn't this have the potential to wreak havoc on nonprofit accounting measures?

I like the idea of providing a guarantee for donors that the programs they choose to support will be the most effective and impactful organizations of their type, but, with the sometimes capricious nature of human actions, I wonder if this is the best way to do it.

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