Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Charity credit cards

August 18, 2008

Reader Marcello Piraino proposes a credit card cash back program where the cash goes to charity.

Virtually every person in the western world uses either Bank Cards or Credit Cards (in many cases both) for their purchases. Whether you buy stuff from the grocery round the corner or buy a Gucci Bag for your wife’s birthday there’s an electronic transaction that takes money from your bank account and transfers it to the seller’s bank account. The nudge is, “Donate 1 cent every 1 Dollar while doing your shopping.”

Every Dollar spent will give 1 Cent to a Charity Organisation. It would need to find an agreement between (1) Card holders, (2) Banks that issue the cards or Credit Card Issuer like MasterCard and (3) Charity Organisations.

Basically, one will be donating without even noticing and, at the end of the day (or month or year) a significant amount will be given to help someone else out. You can do the maths yourselves to see the nudge potential.

Shops should sponsor that because it could increase their business, Government and banks should sponsor that too because encourages even further the use of electronic transaction thus reducing the need for printed money (I can think of other advantages but it is not really important). Regularly, a statement of the donations made could be delivered to the card holder and the donations could be used to obtain a tax reduction.

One percent is typically the number that credit cards advertise as the amount of total purchases that they refund to customers, but there is nothing special about the number. A credit card company could allow customers to designate an extra 1-5 percent of purchases to a charity of their choice.

Another great place to collect loose change for charity

July 23, 2008

Denver’s program to fight homelessness through parking meters is an excellent nudge because it prompts people to consider donating their spare change at the precise moment when they are already using change to pay for parking. At the web site for Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres’ book Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small, we came across an unnamed reader’s interesting idea for where else a coins-for-charity nudge could work.

I have always thought it would be ideal if charities would be allowed to put collection boxes near airport screening stations. Every time I approach an airport screening station, Ialways have a pocket full of change. I would much prefer to take that change and drop it into a charity collection box instead of fumbling around with it as I make my way through the metal detectors. The change usually is mixed in with my keys and watch in those little plastic trays they give you and I always drop the change on the floor as I try to collect myself after making it through the metal detector. I believe charities would make more money at these airport screening stations then they would at the counter of 7-11 stores.

Nalebuff himself liked the idea and proposed an extension. “McDonalds could say that they will get rid of the penny and that they will either round to the nearest nickel or roundup and give the extra to charity.”

Default deliberation and charity on your laptop

April 28, 2008

Cass Sunstein, in places like (and Republic 2.0), has argued that healthy democracy requires healthy deliberation. The fractionalization of media outlets has made it easier (and cheaper) to acquire information from a wide array of viewpoints, and increased the amount of information potentially available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. But media fractionalization has a downside. It can encourage echo chambers and group polarization that ultimately harm a deliberative process.

How to foster deliberation is a huge question with many answers, but one place to start is by thinking narrowly about fostering deliberation electronically. How would online media consumption patterns change if desktops and laptops came pre-loaded with a range of blogs and traditional media sites? Currently, if you buy a computer from, say Dell with Windows Vista, Dell sets its web site as the homepage and provides a special favorites folder with links to all of Dell and Window’s technical sites. In another favorites folder, it would be easy enough to pre-load a set of links to liberal and conservative news sites and blogs (Daily Kos,, National Review, the Nation) as well as traditional mainstream media publications (Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal), as a kind of deliberative public forum. Certainly all of these sites are easy to find online, but would a new set of bookmarks organized coherent in a separately labeled folder tempt people take a peek? Or since they could be deleted with a single click, would they be discarded or simply ignored?

Beyond deliberation, a computer manufacturer could partner with a few charitable non-profits and set the home page each new computer built that month to the charity’s site. Over a year, there could be one charity for each month, perhaps. The computer company could set the computers to reset to their homepage at the end of 30 days.