A Goal for Giving

Like many people, for most of my career, I never set an explicit goal for giving to charity. While I was raised to believe that everyone should put something aside for those less fortunate than themselves, in practice, I mostly gave only when I was asked. Sometimes it was a friend running a marathon for a worthy cause they had a deep connection to. Other times it was a fundraiser for one of the schools that my children attended. But overall, it was reactive, not proactive.

This all changed for me in 2011.

I first learned about donor-advised funds when LinkedIn went public in 2011. All of a sudden, private wealth managers became ubiquitous on campus. Part their sales process, as it turns out, was to promote the tax-deductible benefits of giving to charity through donor-advised funds.

The concept of a donor-advised fund appealed to me, but it raised an important question: how much should you contribute to a donor-advised fund? I had no idea.

Fortunately, at the time, my accountant recommended a fairly simple approach: take whatever amount you plan to give to charity every year, multiply it by ten, and contribute that to a donor-advised fund. The best part? By investing the money upfront in a donor-advised fund, I could potentially fund years eleven or twelve with the proceeds.

For the first time, I was forced to answer what should have been a very simple question: how much did I want to give to charity every year?

At the time, I chose $20,000, which was 10% of my base salary at LinkedIn.

More importantly, I now had a giving goal. And it changed everything about the way I give.

The Two Hard Problems With Giving

It turns out that there are two hard problems inherent in giving money to charity:

  1. How much can you afford to give?
  2. Who should you give the money to?

Until I had a donor-advised fund, I never realized how much the first problem influenced my generosity. But every time I was asked for a donation, there was friction as I tried to figure out what I could afford. However, once I had a giving goal, the first problem largely went away. As a result, I found it easier to give when I found an organization or cause that I believed in.

More importantly, the goal made me more generous. While the donor-advised fund did not change the amount that I thought I should give to charity, it did change the amount that I actually gave to charity. Looking back at my records before 2011, it is clear that having a goal increased my actual giving by more than 100%.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Behavioral economists have known for a long time that pre-commitment can dramatically increase the amount that people save for retirement. Why couldn’t it also work for giving?

This is the reason Alejandro & I started Daffy.

Set Your Giving Goal Today

Our research shows that when asked, most people intend to give a larger amount to charity than they actually end up giving in practice. At Daffy, we call this difference the Generosity Gap. It may sound like a small thing, but we believe that if everyone set a giving goal, it could increase the money given to charity by more than one trillion dollars over the next ten years.

Every year, we set goals for ourselves. Financial goals. Fitness goals. Diet goals.

Until 2011, I didn’t know what a donor-advised fund was, and I didn’t have a giving goal. But in 2022, you can sign up for Daffy in minutes, set a giving goal for the year, and have an app at your fingertips anytime you find the desire to give.

This year, consider setting a goal for your giving and be the generous person that you want to be.

Join us.

It’s Time to Build… in Public

In 2020, I set off to build a new company. At the time, I never would have imagined that we’d end up building one during the largest pandemic in a century.

Lao Tzu said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I count myself fortunate to have made the best first step possible in finding a truly world-class co-founder. Alejandro is one of those rare talents that makes Silicon Valley special, a true builder and an inspiration. Together we set off on a journey to turn an audacious mission and vision into a reality.

We have been very fortunate. Despite building this company during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been joined by an incredibly talented team. Each member of our founding team has taken a leap of faith that together we’ll be able to build something out of nothing. So many investors have also been willing to take that leap with us and fund our early efforts.

Today is the day. Not an ending, but a beginning. We’re coming out of stealth, and we’re ready to start building in public. It’s hard to explain how exciting and terrifying this moment is.

Introducing Daffy

Daffy is a community and platform built around people willing to make a simple commitment to regularly put money aside for those less fortunate than themselves. At its heart beats a fintech core: a new modern donor-advised fund built from the ground up for this purpose.

Daffy is the Donor Advised Fund for You™.

Unlike most financial products, giving is inherently social, and we see immense opportunity to bring people together around the causes and organizations that they support.

You can read more about Daffy here, learn more about our team here, and get a quick walkthrough of the product here.

Who Taught You To Be Good?

Alejandro & I are big believers in talking to customers, and so we spent a lot of time talking to people about how they think about giving to charity. Through the course of that research, we came to two important insights:

  1. Moral Compass. Almost everyone has a person in their life — a parent, a relative, a teacher, a priest — who instilled in them a strong sense of what it means to be a good person. Some people even say that they can still hear that person’s voice when they decide to do the right thing. Invariably, that person taught them the importance of giving to those less fortunate than themselves.
  2. Guilt. Almost everyone has an idea of what they believe they should be giving to charity every year. Interestingly, there is very little agreement on what that amount is, but for almost every person we spoke to, there is a number. Unfortunately, very few people live up to that ideal. Our lives are too busy, and giving often falls off people’s immediate to-do lists. The can gets kicked down the road. As a result, people are not able to be the type of person they want to be. The person that their moral compass would be proud of.

Technology Can Help

We believe that technology has a role to play in solving this problem. Why can’t we use the same techniques that we have used to help people shop and save to help people give?

By automating giving, we believe that technology can help people be more generous, more often. We can help people be the good people that they want to be.

In some ways, it is not surprising that a company born during the pandemic would focus its efforts on one of the biggest problems caused by the pandemic. There are millions of people struggling, and we believe that there are millions of people who want to do something to help. We believe that there are millions of people who want to take action, who want to support the causes and organizations that will help build a better world.

We believe that there are millions of people who are willing to make a commitment to give.

Come join us.