The enthusiasm for charity rating sites is untiring…among charity professionals.
Among the general public?
Meh. Not so much.
The main problem with charity rating sites is that they presume a particular relationship between donors and charities that is passing away, namely, the relationship of supporter to supported, where the assumption is that people would give more if they knew more.
Forget that this is a premise that was disproved by social marketing two decades ago (information, it turns out, does not drive behavioral change; instead, small behavior change drives larger behavior change). Instead, try to imagine anyone under the age of 35 getting excited about the charity rating system for which Dan Pallotta casts a vision in his HBR post, An iTunes for Choosing Charities:
Imagine this. You log onto Everycharity.org (or whatever it ends up being called). A website opens: Instead of looking like it was designed by PhD candidates in MIT’s accounting program, it’s as visually seductive and appealing as iTunes…
On the home page, there’s a giant heart where you type in the name of the charity you want to learn about… A video pops up with a great big “play” button. You click to watch the executive director of the charity talk for five minutes about the organization’s goals, the progress it’s making — or not making — toward those goals, and what information the organization uses to gauge whether it’s getting results.
Don’t feel like watching the video? Just click the button that says “Dreams,” and you’ll see information about the organization’s goal for the year and its goal for the next five years.
Watch the executive director talk for five minutes about his or her nonprofit? Read five years of someone else’s goals?
When was the last time you saw someone under 35 interested in doing that?
Now imagine someone under the age of 35 clicking to a site that leads with the following:
Forming a nonprofit organization is a powerful way to support a worthwhile cause. As a nonprofit entity, you are eligible to receive private and public grants and apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS. When you have applied for tax exempt status you can solicit tax-deductible donations, which is critical to fundraising.
- Preliminary name search to confirm organization name is available
- Preparation and filing of articles of incorporation
- Optional preparation of Tax ID
- Optional preparation of 501(c)3 application for tax exempt status
- More than 1 million satisfied customers
- Access to online status center
- World-class customer support
- FREE Sage Peachtree accounting software
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
No contest. Legalzoom.com wins by a mile. And until we understand that people (the group formally known as “donors”) are interested in their dreams (not our own), and until we can serve as a platform (not the main attraction) for their ability to impact the causes they love, we will forever mislead ourselves into thinking that an enhanced income stream is just a few positive charity reviews away.