I don't think we need video of the process. If the people want to do it fine, but making them put on a show of themselves I think is a bit much. As a person, not only are you sick and need help from others but you need to be a documentary just to prove to people you aren't a scam, little much -- it's one thing to have a photo and story so it makes it real but as long as there is some trusted third party verification, I think that's enough. There are actually charities that have been doing this sort of thing longer than most of us have been alive that have figured this out, good idea to learn from them.
I really like that you brought up third-party verification. We think that's the most efficient and responsible way to scale our due-diligence process. Currently, in addition to being verified by us, all of our partners have been verified by multiple third parties (Partners in Health, Givewell, CNN, ABC, HBO, etc.) and they are all 501(c)(3) organizations which means that they are also overseen by the US Gov.
I agree that learning from other charities is the best way to evolve. Kiva has a pretty awesome due diligence process that we would like to pick and choose elements from as we grow: http://www.kiva.org/about/risk/kiva-role
Like Kiva, it would be good to also list the "sponsor" (read: 501(c)(3) name) on the patient's profile/donation page. If that sponsor name also included a link to a basic sponsor profile page showing further sponsor information, that would be a step in the transparency direction for me. I'm hesitant to donate until I see which charity is sponsoring the person who needs treatment.
EDIT: I dug through the pages and found a link to a Google Spreadsheet doc with basic information regarding the sponsor for each patient. This is one area I would definitely improve into a sponsor link on each patient's donations page. But all-in-all, great stuff!!
Thanks! The Google Doc could definitely use some improvement, but for now it seems to do the job.
Did you get a chance to click on the Medical Partner link on the patient profiles? It opens a lightbox with some info on the partner.
But we'd love to have more robust pages with tons of awesome info (map, financials, photos, data, etc.) for each Medical Partner. We just need to raise the money to pay for the quality dev time we need!
The advantage of sharing the individuals' stories is not only for preventing scammers. Connecting with recipients would be hugely motivating for your donor base. DonorsChoose.org is an excellent example of an online charity that built a scalable feedback loop into its donation process (I ran marketing there for a few years). At DonorsChoose.org, donors fund teachers' projects, and then teachers submit pictures online of the project taking place in the classroom. It brings donors back over and over again.