People Don’t Want to Rate Charities. They Want to Become Charity.

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
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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.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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