Fact: We live in a very volatile economy, and most of us have less disposable income.
Fact: Because of this, we have less money to give to nonprofits and good causes.
Fact: There are more nonprofits out there vying for a larger piece of that ever shrinking pie.
As a result, those of us who truly desire to give to good causes have a bit of a problem: we want to give, but want to make sure the money we give is not only doing good, but is doing the MOST good possible. What is the most effective way to give? In recent years we’ve begun to focus on how much of the money we give actually gets to the end user, as opposed to how much is used by nonprofits for administrative costs. In his Ted talk, activist Dan Pallotta says that when we think like this about charity, we are dead wrong. Rather than rewarding nonprofits solely on how little they spend, he says we should be rewarding them for what they get done; for having big goals and big accomplishments, even if it comes with a big price tag.
So how does one find the right organization to support?
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That’s where the Maximin Project comes in.
In short, and as it’s website says, the Maximin Project is all about “changing the way we engage poverty.”
I had the chance to speak with Steve Brown, the executive director of this start up, which is now in the final days of a rather ambitious Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,ooo. As of this writing they still need to raise about $23,000 over the next nine days in order to reach their goal.
The ultimate goal of Maximin is to eradicate extreme poverty. This might seem like a momentous task, but much of the poverty around the world can be traced to simple things like access to clean water, access to education, access to clothing and shoes, etc. To put it in the words of the campaign, they seek to mobilize “a new generation of donors by helping them visualize global poverty and connect with effective projects.”
Brown says Maximin seeks to take the already plentiful data that exists, and present it to potential givers in understandable and meaningful ways, and then help these donors make wise and informed choices about which organizations they support. It’s kind of like a dating site for charitable giving: you visit the site, and find the right match for you in terms of nonprofit organizations.
Brown notes that many nonprofit appeals are based solely on emotion, featuring pictures of hungry children, while other appeals are based solely on data and numbers. They want to find a balance. When appeals are purely based on emotion, we tend to give, and then want to distance ourselves from the problem. According to Brown, that type of appeal and giving,
“create and perpetuate a negative view of the poor. Instead, focus on the data and show images of the good that is being done. The reason to get involved is not because there are sad and sick people we need to rescue. It’s that they have so much potential to be tapped that we can be a part of.”
In other words, giving through Maximin is not just about eliminating poverty, hunger, and disease. It’s about removing those particular obstacles that are preventing very real people from doing great things; providing them with the resources and education that can empower them.
So take a tour of the existing Maximin website. Look at their plans for helping you make informed decisions about giving. Watch their videos. And then consider donating to their Indiegogo campaign, so that they can help empower you to empower others. I also love what they are doing with social media and their online presence with their built-in Maximin Advocates Program, and would love to see more nonprofits do something like this.