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Michael, Over on this thread about storing nuts for winter , you linked to the same product I did on Amazon, desiccant pads for absorbing moisture, but instead of a direct link to Amazon's main page (i.e. www.amazon.com) your link points to the product through the AmazonSmile service (i.e. smile.amazon.com). For anyone who doesn't know about Amazon Smile, it is a service by which Amazon donates a small fraction of the price from any product you buy to the charity of your choice. On the surface it seems like a great idea. There are many charities to choose from, including Aubrey's (and Michael's) SENS Foundation for defeating aging. [side Note: Interesting Michael, I'm not sure if you know but if I follow your link the charity that receives the donation is not the one you chose (presumably SENS) but the one I chose. Which makes sense, but isn't entirely clear when you post a link...] But more importantly Michael, I'm wondering what you and other organizations that accept donations think about Amazon Smile and other indirect ways people can support your cause. Amazon Smile only donates 0.5% of the purchase price of an item to the charity of your choice, so someone would have to spend $10,000 through Amazon Smile for SENS to receive $50 in donation. That's a pretty meager amount per dollar spent, but hey, its better than nothing, right? Well, maybe not... This HuffPost article makes a pretty good argument that this type of passive donation actually harms the charities involved. How? Because people who spend a hundred dollars via Amazon Smile will feel good about themselves and their level of support for the charity of their choice. So they may be less likely to donate to the charity in any meaningful amount later during a regular fund drive, instead thinking: "I'm already donating to SENS via Amazon Smile. There are other charities I care about too, so I'll donate to them instead of SENS since I've already doing my part for SENS." But in fact they will have donated only $0.50 to SENS as a result of their Amazon Smile purchase, much less than they would have otherwise donated directly. In support of this troubling possibility, a new study (discussed here) found something quite closely related: f people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on. This is given the term Slacktivism - and it involves taking measures that make you feel good (e.g. "Liking" a cause on social media, "writing" a form letter on-line to your congressperson) but which actually does very little of significance for the cause/charity involved. I'm wondering if the good folks in the fundraising department at SENS have considered whether participating in the Amazon Smile program is a net benefit or not. I realize it would be hard to quantify, but it seems to me to be something worth considering. I know I fall prey to the "good feeling" of passively supporting a cause on-line sometimes, and can imagine reducing my subsequent donation to the cause as a result. And on the opposite side - have the good folks at the CR Society considered signing up for Amazon Smile? Given how passive the CR Society is about raising money, I can't imagine this downside of Slacktivism support is going to eat into the money the CR Society raises. Instead it would seem like almost a sure way to (modestly) raise funds to support CR Society expenses. My family spent nearly $5K on Amazon last year (yes - I do most of my non-grocery shopping there), and would have been happy if that had resulted in a $25 donation to the CRS. [Update/Correction: I went back to Amazon Smile and discovered low and behold that the CRS is already a registered charity that you can point your purchase donations towards! So I've changed my smile charity to the CRS, and I encourage others to do the same and to donate directly.] --Dean
Hey CR folks, If you're in a giving mood this holiday season, I heartily endorse the organization Kiva.org, which allows you to participate in microloans to deserving people around the developing world for only $25. The best part is that once people use the money for their project, they repay the loan so you can lend out the money again. Here is one such Kiva success story, a Peruvian coffee farmer named Avelino (pictured below) who received a $325 loan last year to buy compost and fertilizer so he could increase his crop yield. He was successful and paid back his 10 lenders in full. In the nine years I've been making loans through Kiva, the vast majority (~98.5%) have paid back in full. As a result, I've been able to "roll over" (i.e. re-lend) the amount I initially dedicated to Kiva loans a total of 14 times. In other words, for each $25 I devoted to Kiva loans, I've been able to lend $350 over the years, thereby helping a lot of people. The money you give via Kiva.org isn't tax deductible, since its a loan. Nor do you get interest on the loan. But once it is paid back, you can withdraw the money rather than re-loan it if you want, so it is still yours. But as I said, I appreciate the opportunity to roll over the proceeds from repaid loans, and help new people with the money. I tend to focus my loans to people like Avelino, farmers or people who sell fruits & vegetables, and who commit to repaying the loan relatively quickly (usually under 1 year), so I can re-loan the money to others as quickly as possible and help the most people. But that's just one strategy. Kiva provides a ton of different ways to search for loans that meet your own criteria. Anyway, I believe in Kiva so much, I'm giving away a $25 loan gift code to encourage the first person who reads this and wants to give Kiva a try. Simply go to kiva.org/redeem and enter this gift code: RAUH-RK3N-QXKD-KDXP Start loaning through Kiva.org today. You'll be glad you did! --Dean