I'm typically against organizations that need to live off donations. I think it's an impractical and unsustainable model. Your cause is very close to my heart and I would love to support it, but I'm a creature of convenience. I could make one donation now, but would fail to continue making donations. The two solutions I have seen that are successful at solving this problem are:
1) Automation. E.g. in the movie Office Space they take shavings off transactions (amounting to a few cents or less at a time) and pool them together. Another example: Auto-rounding up my grocery receipt, etc.
2) Recycling funds. I don't see how this would work in a donation based system where cash-flow is one directional, but it works really well for something like Kiva where funds are returned and the option to recycle is extremely easy.
If any non-profit is to be sustainable, they must put in a HUGE amount of effort to obtain large enough recurring funds or make it really easy to provide funds. Since you are targeting individuals, it's going to be difficult to do the former. The latter will take a little more thought.
They could offer a subscription model, and then make it a monthly "game" of deciding where your money's going to go. Lots of people are willing to become sustaining members of charities.
Or, I'm a member of a meta-charity called Foundation Beyond Belief, in which my contribution is distributed to various nonreligious charities based on priorities I set (e.g. 25% of funds to environmental causes, 50% human rights, 25% poverty, or whatever). So for Watsi, maybe I could predefine, say, types of medical treatment, country/region, etc. and then the system heuristically determines where to disburse.
And now that I think about it, Kiva optionally does something similar, so that loan repayments don't just sit stagnant in people's accounts because they haven't gotten around to manually distributing them.
Yep, still growing.
In fact they have a pretty cool "free trial" program running right now, where you can assign the funds of a single large lender. (It's a little bit like matching, but you don't even need to put up anything to be matched)
These are great points. We would love to enable recurring donations. For example, you could allocate X% of your income every month to "Watsi Credit." We also think that a program like this would be great for Corporate Social Responsibility Programs.
Members of our team work for Kiva and Vittana (and I worked in microfinance for 4 years) and we would love to eventually try and offer a healthcare loan product (or at least encourage patients to open savings accounts). That said, there are lots of things that make this a tough market (e.g. people don't plan to get sick like they plan to start a business, cost of treatment can be more than they could ever repay, etc.). In all honesty, we can't even figure out healthcare in the US, and it's twice as hard in countries like Ethiopia.
Devil's advocate to myself: I heard Jessica Jackley speak once and one of the stories she told that stuck was about the that company offered to automate thousands of dollars to Kiva to go towards microloans. She refused because she wanted people to have a personal connection with borrowers.
I would love to say that if you took X% off my paycheck, I would sign up instantly. But I would just be escaping my responsibility as a citizen then.
It's a tricky situation because I want automation for cash flow, but at the same time I want intimacy with the program and the people it involves.
Exactly. I think that's where the "Watsi Credit" idea comes in. You could allocate $X per month, then head over to Watsi and spend your credit whenever you like. The donation is automated, but you still get to choose who you support.
Does that sound like something you would be interested in?
I'd like this very much, but I'd also like to have it made as easy as possible to spend the credit. I made some quick suggestions in another reply, but I'd like to get an email (or App notification, or something) that prompted me to select from a handful of candidates that were selected in some way (where "some way" can be a lot of different things.
I appreciate that people want to have a connection to the people they fund, and I'd like to have that as well, but I don't necessary need it before I commit to funding--I just want to be able to follow up later on.
That's a great idea. Perhaps you could select from three options: 1)Receive an update every time you have new credit and allocate it yourself 2)If you don't allocate within X days the credit is automatically allocated to a patient OR 3)Automatically allocate all credit to patients' based on X criteria (location, age, etc.).