There are so many ways that individuals looking to do some good in this world can make a positive impact. They can donate to a cause, volunteer (locally or abroad), choose to purchase products from companies that are committed to positive social and corporate government practices, or choose from so many other options.
Having worked for nonprofits and now being on the Board of Directors for an international charity, I have always disliked (and been poor at) asking people to donate to the cause. Since our group was seeking to fund a children’s home for disadvantaged youth in northern Thailand to have a home and receive an education that would otherwise be denied to them, we definitely had a cause worth fighting for. Yet for many people, it’s difficult to wrap their heads around kids in a place that they’ve never been and have little understanding of. I found myself struggling to ask for donations because while the children with our organization were now fed, sheltered, educated and cared for, millions of children around the world don’t even have these basic necessities. Why choose my organization over one of the other ones out there serving even less fortunate kids?
The solution -- I began to understand -- wasn’t to get people to care about children and others living in need around the world. We all care about those who struggle to get the basic necessities that they and their families need. And the solution wasn’t about making people understand the direct impact that a donation could have. Any number of commercials spell out exactly what $X a month can do for a child in need.
Finding a solution that was sustainable and meaningful to individuals requires there to A) be a positive impact resulting from their action in an area that they are passionate about, B) not require a financial or other sacrifice that the individual would later regret paying or that exceeds the value of the perceived positive impact they generate, and C) have some level of benefit, tangible or intangible, for the individual in their everyday life.
My goal with Good People Places (and the other Good People ideas yet to come) is to use what I’ve learned to generate new and innovative tools for philanthropy to make it more attractive to everyday people, rather than just behemoth corporate and family foundations and individuals with extreme wealth. This is a time when technology and the sharing economy are creating never-before-seen opportunities in the world of philanthropy and helping others that we haven’t even begun to tap into, but unfortunately, far too many of these ideas go unrealized because there isn’t a direct profit to be derived from them.
Our initial direction with Good People Places is to provide a platform where hosts (with spare sleeping accommodations) can be connected to travelers seeking accommodations. Instead of the traveler paying the host for the stay, the traveler makes a donation of an amount set by the host directly to the nonprofit organization of the host’s choosing. No money exchanges hands and no service fee is collected by Good People Places. It’s just a bunch of people working together to do something good.
I hope that we can count on your partnership as we strive to do right by you, our local communities and the global community. Thanks for reading. Max