Dear everyone,

As the holiday season approaches and we reflect on the year that has passed, I wanted to share with you a meaningful and impactful way to give back and make a difference in the world.

Give For Good is a new charity donation platform that follows the Effective Altruism philosophy, which means that we try to find ways to make all donations have the biggest possible impact. 

At Give For Good, we do this in a unique way: we transform every one-time donation into a sustainable source of income for charities in the future. We do this by investing the donations in social and green stocks, and then giving the interest each year to the charities that you choose. This way, each single donation generates much more impact in the long term and becomes an infinite source of monetary support for your favorite charities. 

Not only does Give For Good ensure that your donations are having the greatest possible impact, but it also makes it easy for you to give. You can choose to donate to a specific charity that is meaningful to you, or you can let Give For Good choose the organizations to support within a theme that you find important.

I hope you will consider supporting a charity that is meaningful to you through Give For Good this holiday season. Whether it's a small or large donation, every little bit helps and can make a big difference to the planet, its animals and/or the lives of those in need.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season.

Sincerely,

Rik Viergever

Founder at Give For Good
www.giveforgood.world

Comments10
Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:05 AM

Thanks for sharing about your initiative. I do have some significant doubts about this project.

Have you interviewed charities and asked them whether they prefer donations through your scheme vs donations made directly to them?

Is there a chance that this project has negative impact, by cannibalizing direct donations and turning them into indirect donations via your platform - potentially against the will of the charities themselves, i.e., against their judgement that they could have more impact with direct donations?

Or alternatively, looking at the opposite: Have you got evidence that this will attract new donations to highly effective charities that wouldn't otherwise have happened - for example, by introducing these charities to people that have never heard about them before? (but even then, the same question applies - why your scheme instead of direct donations?)

Rik
5mo10

Dear Lukas,

thank you for your reply. To answer your questions: yes, all the charities on our website were 'onboarded', meaning they all specifically approved being listed there. Many actually enthusiastically embrace the idea! The reasons for this are twofold: 

  1. Many charities currently see their stable, periodic donations trending downwards. The reason for this is that there is an ongoing switch in how people donate. It used to be very normal to transfer a fixed amount periodically to your favorite charities. However, this is changing nowadays more towards one-time gifts based on campaigns (think ice bucket challenge) and tips from influencers and blogs/vlogs/podcasts. As a result, many charities can no count less and less on a stable, annual income. This is a challenge that Give For Good helps to solve. 
  2. We were told by several of the larger charities that their research has shown that the more 'methods' of giving there are, the more the overall income is. There is some degree of cannibalization between the different donation methods, but overall the income is more. So we understood from them that this is an extra method of income for them, which they expect will increase their overall income (especially long-term, given our model). Also, they expect that because of our model, we may be able to attract donors from sectors that are normally hard to reach for them (e.g. the financial sector). 

Re your second question, most of our donors today enter via our general website and are not looking for one specific charity to support via our platform using our methods (which also happens). So yes, our platform generates 'extra' attention for the charities that we list that would otherwise not have occurred. 

Finally, to answer your question about why our scheme and not direct donations, this is quite extensively discussed on our website, but in a nutshell there are two major benefits:

  1. Over time the money that goes to the charities is much more. For example, if Give For Good had been established 100 years earlier, in 1920, by the year 2020 each donation from that year would have generated 28 times as much income for the charities as compared to a one-time donation! See this figure on our website. This has been calculated using real stock market data, it is not an estimate, and is already corrected for inflation, so constitutes 'real value'. And most of all: after those 100 years it still continues to generate interest for the charity! 
  2. Give For Good is also beneficial because it can turn one-time donations into a stable, annually returning source of income for charities, that they can count on. For reasons described above, and for reasons like strategic planning, this is important to charities. 

Thanks again for your questions, I hope that clarifies things!

When do you expect donating money through Give For Good to be better for the charities than donating money directly to the charities? I'm under the impression that non-profits are allowed to invest money, so naively I expect that I can donate directly to a charity and let the charity make its own evaluation about whether to invest or spend the donation.

Related: this quote from the FAQ on their website

We encourage people to do both: support charities now AND support their futures. When you support charities directly, they will spend your money directly. The difference with Give For Good is that with us, your one-time donation results in a stable income for the charity year in, year out.

"They will spend your money directly" - seems like a strong statement, makes it sounds like charities usually do not invest any of the money they receive. Is that true? I don't know, just flagging this for further discussion.

Rik
5mo10

Dear Lukas, 

thanks for having such a detailed look at our website, much appreciated! 

To answer your statement, see my reply to Tom, most charities that I know of have legal limits on how much money they are allowed to invest legally, it is intended for backup/reserve reasons. I don't know many that invest as a source of income (although they should!!). 

best,

Rik

Rik
5mo10

Dear Tom,

thank you for your question and interest. There is a point in time when the profit from the investments becomes more than the original donation. When calculating this point, it is important to take inflation into account (because money becomes worth less over time). It differs at which period in history you look for when this occurs, because the profits from stock investments differ per period (but are on average 9.1% per year in the past 150 years). In the example that is shown on our website, we show what would have happened if someone had established Give For Good 100 years earlier, so in 1920. If that had happened, the "point" that I speak above when the inflation-corrected profit from the investments had overtaken the value of the initial donation occurred after 9 years. 

With regards to your question/statement that non-profits are allowed to invest: this is a bit more complicated. In most countries that I know of, non-profits are only allowed to invest money as a 'reserve'. And there are limits to how much they may keep as a reserve. It is often not allowed to invest money as a primary source of income. If charities would be allowed to do this, we would certainly try to convince them of our model, because we think it generates much more benefit long-term than spending the donations immediately.  

Things are a little different for philanthropic funding foundations. They very often apply our model - investing their funds - and then give the profits each year to charities or they select projects themselves (e.g. grants for students). Their model is the same as ours and they apply it for the same reasons as we do (see my reply above to Lukas).  

Hope that clarifies things! 

best regards,

Rik

40+% average return is... too good to believe. Have you updated the numbers for this year as well or this is only for last year?

I am also very much against statements like "Your invested donation generates a profit" which are misleading. The donors should be made aware that their donation may as well generate a loss and I don't see this warning anywhere on the site.

Did I read the financial statement correctly, that the organization is currently running at a loss? How are you currently covering costs? How do you expect your expenses to scale if the donations scale?

Rik
5mo2-1

Dear m(E)t(A), 

thanks for your reply: yes it is pretty good right!! We got lucky, to be honest. It is quite common for the annual interest to vary a lot year by year, see for example here. Give For Good was established in 2020, and the two financial years that followed were very good investments years. 

Yes you are correct that this year is not so great :), so after we update the investments the next time, the average will likely be lower. We update everything early in the year after the closure of the financial year, so I expect these numbers to be updated by February/March. 

Re your second point, it is actually a common misconception that all stock investments are risky. Investing in stocks definitely CAN be risky, e.g. when you pick certain stocks or invest for a short time. But there is solid evidence available that shows that if you spread your investments over a lot (really a lot!) of companies, eg 1000s of 10000s, plus if you hold those investments for a very long time, that investing is safe and generates a reliable interest. A good example is investing in 'index funds' which enable you to invest in all companies that offer stocks. This allows you to achieve the average interest of all companies combined and is what we do at Give For Good.  A nice way to show this is the graph at the bottom of this page, which shows the range of interests that you would have achieved if you invested in such index funds. As you can see, if you had only done this for 1 year, the interest varied between -60% and +150% in the past 150 years. However, if you had invested for a period of 25 year, the interest varied between +2% and +12%. So for these index funds, there has never been a period of 25 years with a negative interest. The longer you invest, the more these ranges move towards the average (7%, corrected for inflation, 9,1% not corrected for inflation). 

This is precisely the system we make use of at Give For Good and it is the same system that many other public-benefit organizations make use of, for example pension funds. Our big advantage at Give For Good is the same advantage that they (the pension funds) have: our investment horizon is very long, in our case we intend it to be infinite, so we want our donations to keep generating income for charities in perpetuity. This makes the investment system we adhere too safe and reliable in terms of the interest you can expect it to generate. 

Re your final question, the financial statement: correct, we are fully run by volunteers at the moment. The few costs that there are currently each year (mainly some IT costs for hosting and software) we cover using no-interest loans that only have to be paid back if Give For Good is ever financially healthy enough to pay them back. For the medium-term, we do have a revenue model with which we hope to be able to hire staff in the future: asking a % of the interest we achieve on the donations. This is on purpose a % of the interest, and not of the donations themselves, so we only get operational funding when we actually generate profits for the charities. The % is currently set at 5%. Our long-term plan is for people's donations to our own non-profit, Give For Good, to be enough to generate an income to support our operational expenses. This would allow us to decrease the 5% that we ask on the generated profits to 0%, so that 100% of the profit from the invested donations goes to the charities. 

Regarding your question about scaling, we can scale almost infinitely with our current IT-system and volunteer efforts: it was set up on purpose to be manageable at a low cost, so that we have time to get our medium- and long-term revenue models going. Extra operational income in the future would be spent mostly on onboarding new charities and on convincing donors that this way of donating to charity is long-term the smart and effective way to donate! 

best regards, and a Merry X-mas,

Rik

Thanks for the answer, Rik, I appreciate it, even though I disagree with some points.

I don't agree that the evidence is solid that the investment is safe, mainly because "Past performance does not guarantee future results". For good or bad we live in interesting times, black swan events seem to happen more often and I don't think the way the stock marked moved in the 1900s is indicative of how it will go in the 2000s.

Also there have been long periods where the stock market has been negative, for example Japan's "Lost decade" (more like lost 30 years). If such a think happens you will not generate any interest and thus there will be no profit. How do you plan to cover operational costs if you have few consecutive years with no interest?

Rik
5mo20

hi,

sure, my pleasure. I've posted here to convince people of the effectiveness of the donation system at Give For Good, so I appreciate the questions and feedback. 

Re "Past performance does not guarantee future results": I think it matters a lot which stocks you look to see if this statement is true. It is correctly used for trading in individual stocks or basket of carefully picked stocks. Also correct for when you look at holding broad index funds for a short amount of time. But when you are looking at holding index funds for a long period of time, I do not think this sentence makes sense, for 2 reasons:

  1. The evidence is really good from the past that the longer you hold index funds, the more your interest moves towards the mean (around 9% uncorrected for inflation, 7% corrected). 
  2. Perhaps more importantly with regards to your question, there is a good theoretical reason for why stock index funds have a positive interest + a better interest than saving or bonds. We explain this here. In a nutshell: this is how our (capitalist) economy works. Economic theory dictates that in capitalism, you can earn ‘rewards’ (e.g., money) for two things: labor and capital. With labor the reward is a wage. With capital (eg by investing, loaning out money, renting out land or a house etc), the reward is profit/rent/interest etc. It is logical that lending out capital (which is what investing is) over long periods of time pays off on average. Otherwise, no one would lend out money or invest anylonger and the capitalist system would no longer work. It is also logical that this nets more rewards on average than saving at a bank or bonds, because those two carry less volitality in the short term. So you get a premium for the higher short-term volatility. 

Hope that convinces you ! 

I've heard about the Japan argument before, but the same applies there as to all other markets that have seen a downturn, however short or long: A) if you increase the number of years of the analysis, the average interest becomes positive again and moves towards the mean, B) if you increase the geographical scope of the investment, the interest over the same time period also becomes positive. So the best strategy is to invest in world-level index funds for dozens of years. Which is what we do at Give For Good. 

Re the operational  costs: we buffer our income from investments. So instead of taking all operational revenue each year and using that to fund our expenses, we take what amounts to around 5% interest (so on purpose a bit below the historical average). Any money that is left over, we save for years with losses. 

Merry X-mas!