Founder of Give For Good, a new charity donation platform that aims to provide charities with a stable, annual source of income.
Dear Adam, Great to read your post, we share the same philosophy, that by investing we can greatly increase the amount donated to charity each year. Our solution is to donate half of the interest to charities each year and to use the other half for compounding. Have a look at our website if you are interested: www.giveforgood.world Feel free to drop us a message if you're interested to exchange ideas or to talk about a potential collaboration! (https://giveforgood.world/en/contact-us/) Best regards, Rik Viergever Founder @ Give For Good
thanks for this! Yes, this is a common discussion in sustainable finance at the moment, whether it is better to divest from such companies or to invest in them and influence their decision making via voting.
We have opted for ESG and SRI investment funds that exclude these companies because the two groups involved in our donation system, donors and the charities, often desire this.
you are right, there are some organizations that do and Wikipedia and universities are good examples. But in our experience, many of the mainstream charities do not. This is partly for PR reasons as you indicate, because donors appreciate to see the direct action that was taken using their donated money. Another reason is that it can be illegal for charities to do so, because of legislation saying that charities can only hold money or investments as a reserve, not as a source of income.
We aim to change this, by explaining to donors why this is such a great system and how it can multiply the impact of each of your donations many times over! And we make it easy for people to support charities this way if they want: at the majority of charities, for regular-sized donations you cannot indicate currently that you want the donation to be invested, with the interest going to the charity.
best regards and a merry Christmas,
apologies for the late reply! Someone had a similar question in this forum post. The answer is: many charities enthusiastically embrace Give For Good as a concept for two reasons:
Hope that clarifies things! Let me know if you have any additional question, happy to answer them.
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,
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!!).
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!
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:
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:
Thanks again for your questions, I hope that clarifies things!
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:
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.