Jan 31, 2022
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Doing Good is Hard

My mindset meaningfully shifted after Trevor Shorb gifted me The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer. If you haven’t read this book, message me your address and I’ll send one for free. Your life will change too. I’m not going to make this a book report, but I want to focus on a current predicament I face.

However, before I jump into it, it’s worth noting that since reading the book, I’ve gotten involved in multiple businesses where the main focus is driving positive social impact. I’m currently an active advisor for a business called WeHero, that helps corporations achieve their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) goals through volunteer events and giving programs.

Doing good is hard. Most of the modern world doesn’t believe they have time to get actively involved in local causes that need volunteers. If you’re not living paycheck to paycheck, you likely have student loans to pay off. However, the fact of the matter is:

25,000 people lose their life every day due to hunger issues

$3 can provide enough food to prevent someone from starving for a month

Even with these frightening statistics, it’s hard to get people to do good. My hypothesis is that the number of people donating and supporting those in need will very slowly start to increase over time. Unfortunately, I believe it’s unlikely we’ll see a massive shift in the percentage of people that give back overnight.

Because of this hypothesis, I believe we are responsible for coming up with easy ways for people to give back. Sure, you may not donate, but you bought a jacket from Patagonia. Well, Patagonia donated 1% of that sale to supporting environmental causes. While somewhat cynical, we need to trick a certain percentage of the population into giving back.

One of the things that WeHero has developed which I think is beyond cool is a browser extension that helps you donate to charity at no cost. Every time you open a new tab while surfing the web, it shows a stunning picture with a small banner ad at the bottom of the page. WeHero collects the revenue from the ad views and clicks and donates it to whichever of the nine pre-vetted non profits you choose.

Importantly, WeHero tracks the impact so you can always see not only how much money you’ve raised but also the exact impact of that money. (On an average week, I’m able to feed two families.) While I did my best to explain this, it’s probably more clear to just share a video that the company put together.

While I’m likely biased, I legitimately think this is one of the coolest pieces of free technology out there. By highlighting the impact, WeHero will end up driving more non profit support because donating $25 is cool, but providing education supplies for 5 students is addicting. Helping 5 makes you want to help 10. Hell, you may as well help the entire school. You’ll be a hero!

Every person I’ve ever spoken to about this extension is excited about the technology and the idea. They think it’s a great idea.

However, only about 10% of those same people actually end up downloading it. Sure, the idea of downloading something creates a sense of friction. Maybe they didn’t have time in the moment and forgot to do it later. All of these are legitimate reasons that are bound to happen. However, I think it would happen in 50% of the cases and not in 90%.

The other thing that surprises me, is how few users invite other users to the platform. Because WeHero mainly works with companies, there is the option to create a company “team” so you can invite your colleagues and track your impact together. Shockingly, 80% of these companies have just one user. Many people say they’ll invite their team members, but after checking, we see they haven’t invited anyone. These are people who enjoy using it and know that by inviting their team they’ll be able to multiply their impact. In addition, you think sharing something like this would only improve their personal brand. Once again, you have to assume there is just too much friction.

As WeHero has put effort behind growing this tool, it’s been interesting to see the limited results from consumer marketing. Sure, the company doesn’t have a massive budget, but you think there would be more interest from the average consumer for something like this. It takes less than two minutes to set up and without effecting your life at all, you can give back to worthy non profits.

It’s still early and I’m confident that the business will get this technology to the masses, but I’ve been surprised by the slope of the growth. While it’s sad to say, if we’re not able to get people to give back for free, I’m worried about the world’s potential to eradicate social issues. To cure starvation, malaria and HIV, we need the masses to be involved.

If you’d like to download the extension on chrome, check it out here. If you have any ideas or solutions for this challenge, I’d love to hear them.

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