Competition breeds many things: excellence, perseverance, and in the case of a new fundraising website, real-world change.
In December 2014, Mobilian Dustin Chalker launched Who Gives More, a charitable website that turns giving into a game. By forming groups based on anything from occupation, city or even favorite sports team, members can donate to charities and rack up points in a global money-raising competition.
Chalker first envisioned the competition-based model in response to several problems he noticed in today’s charity landscape.
“Charitable giving has been stuck at 2 percent GDP for decades, and nothing new has brought anything to the table to get it above that line,” Chalker said.
The site’s mission statement expands on that problem, adding, “less than half of that money goes to the high-impact humanitarian causes that feed children, give medicine, create cures, relieve poverty and assist victims of natural disasters.”
The funding gap, combined with inherent divisions that make people naturally competitive, inspired Chalker to use the existing model’s imperfections as a driver for change.
“It’s hard to get people of different backgrounds together and working together for the common good. But if we can get everyone to come together in a competition and keep it in the spirit of goodwill, we take these divisions and use them to our advantage, use them to solve a problem,” he said.
After joining Who Gives More, members have their pick of large, ideological teams to choose from, ranging from Greek societies and faith-based groups to political affiliations and Armed Forces service branches. Members can pick one team or many, and any points from donations are counted toward the scores of all teams.
While the main competition is ongoing and untimed, smaller contests can be created to suit individual group needs. Future plans include introducing timed contests, such as 60-day competitions, which only count donations for a limited time and offers a deadline that could encourage a higher level of competitiveness.
So, how does scoring work? With many varying team and competition sizes, creating one uniform formula fair to everyone proved impossible. Instead, three formulas have been drafted, and site moderators can enact any one to best suit each individual competition.
One of the site’s primary objectives is to target charities with the farthest reach and highest levels of productive giving. By looking at humanitarian impact, fiscal responsibility and effective uses of funds, Who Gives More offers members a list of recommended charities currently including the American Red Cross, Children’s Miracle Network, UNICEF and Feeding America. However, participants can choose to donate to any of the 1.5 million registered 501(c)3 charities.
“Some charities are a thousand times more effective at saving people, dollar per dollar, and that’s not hyperbole. That’s literal math. We want to help steer people toward really effective types of giving, to choose charities that have a high impact. We really want to solve all these problems at once,” Chalker explained.
In the spirit of effective use of funds, Who Gives More holds itself to the same standards as any other charity.
“We’re running on five percent or less. Whatever profits the company brings in will be reinvested in fundraising for these different charities as a dedicated fundraising entity. We can continue to fundraise in a more effective way than some of the groups are doing,” Chalker said.
Though he may be the man behind the curtain, Chalker contributes to the competitions, as well. He shared that his family’s favorite charitable recipient is Doctors Without Borders, stemming from the nine years he spent as a combat medic.
“I’ve seen the need for healthcare in areas that are war torn and impoverished. These guys go in unarmed and provide care where it’s needed most, and they take a huge risk doing it,” he said.
In fact, his time as a combat medic combined with his history in biological medicine first planted the seeds in his mind to create the site.
“I frequently found myself providing care to patients, and people idolize those who do that. And I’m just thinking, I did the procedure, but there’s some guy in a lab somewhere who came up with this stuff, who figured out what worked. The creation of the procedure seems to have more of an impact than using the procedure, which got me interested in research. Then I got to thinking, ‘What’s the next phase?’ It’s funding. It’s paying for that research, and that’s something I’m hoping to do with this platform,” Chalker explained.
Now that the site has passed its one-month anniversary, Chalker reflects on his aspirations for the site, including approaching specific college societies here in Mobile and official sports leagues like the NBA, NFL and MLB.
“We have a lock on this, and we are the only ones in the world doing this,” Chalker said.
“We’ve got to build a base, and I’m starting here in Mobile with getting people in my hometown signed up, getting them invested, and from there we can expand to other areas.”
And, ultimately, Who Gives More allows competitors to give to trusted organizations in a fun, meaningful way. By going up against coworkers, friends or family members in a spirit of giving and benevolence, Chalker hopes the platform will provide enough incentive to raise that national giving statistic.
The website’s mission states, “We believe in rewarding donors with public recognition, both individually and as a team. We want to create the world’s largest showcase of humankind’s best qualities by giving every person a permanent lifelong record of their charitable achievements.”
WhoGivesMore accepts resumes for volunteer positions behind the screen. To volunteer or jump into the competition, visit WhoGivesMore.com.