Like millions of other people around the world, on New Year’s Eve of 2013, I made some resolutions to change my life. And like millions of people around the world, by June 2013, I had followed through on exactly…none of them.
We all know sticking to self-improvement goals is really difficult. In fact, while 45% of people make resolutions, only 8% of people stick to them. It is no wonder that the self-help industry generated over $11 billion globally in 2013. The idea struck me that if I told others about my goals I would be more likely to achieve them. I did some research and found that the chances of me following through would be further enhanced if I put money on the line.
Research, in fact, shows that the chance of achieving a goal increases 33% if it is shared with others and by 72% if money is put on the line. I realised that combining both approaches could be a very effective way to help people achieve their goals. But where should your money go if you failed to follow through on your commitment? What if your money contributed to positive social change?
In July 2013 I founded Promise or Pay, a social enterprise that facilitates charitable donations by enabling people to make a public promise to do something, and if they fail to follow through, pay a nominated amount of money to a charity. The promise made could be anything – to quit smoking, to not drink alcohol, to learn a new language, to lose weight, to get a new job, to save more money etc.
Many have been quick to pick up on the potential of this simple idea to help reinvigorate charitable giving and engage people not previously inclined to donating: Promise or Pay was a finalist for the Sydney Genesis Entrepreneurship Challenge Best Social or Not-for-profit Start-up Start-up and received an honourable mention in the category of “Social Change” at The Guardian’s Activate Tech Talent Day, the Guardian’s platform for innovators working with the Internet to change the world.
Promise or Pay is the only platform that integrates both a commitment to goals and charitable giving, ensuring a win-win outcome is always achieved and people are left feeling satisfied. In doing so, Promise or Pay helps overcome the disappointing and discouraging feelings that are often the aftermath of failing to accomplish something important. Either you keep your promise, thereby benefiting yourself, or you contribute towards solving a pressing social problem via your donation, thus benefiting others.
I strongly believe that Promise or Pay has massive potential as it appeals to the natural human instinct to set goals, to have dreams and to make resolutions. It leverages the social trend of sharing experiences with others electronically and it speaks to a generation that have grown up in a world where social issues are impossible to ignore and are looking for a way to make a difference.
Promise or Pay is also able to target a larger audience than just those people who wish to make a donation to charity because the primary motivation of using the website is not to donate to charity but to achieve a personal goal. As a result, Promise or Pay will introduce to a new and young audience to social awareness and the idea of donating to charities.
In late August 2013, only a month after conceiving the idea, Promise or Pay won the Social Startups MVP Program and received funding to develop a first proof of concept, which successfully went live with a soft launch just a few weeks ago. I have generated some excellent early results even though the current site is very much a Beta version. I intend to scale up the project in the near future to make Promise or Pay a community for self-improvement. My vision is to build a platform that will inspire millions of people around the world to be the best that they can be, and, at the same time, to encourage and facilitate millions of dollars in donations to charities.
In the coming year my plan is to start working full-time on Promise or Pay so that I can dedicate more energy towards improving the customer acquisition process, maximising conversion rates, automating a number of manual processes and further refining the platform. My vision is to create a platform that will inspire millions of people around the world to be the best that they can be, and, at the same time, to encourage and facilitate millions of dollars in donations to charities.
Make a promise and make a better world at www.promiseorpay.com
Jay aims to connect with as many like-minded individuals as he can. So if you like the idea behind Promise or Pay and would like to get involved – whether it is a helping hand, some advice, an endorsement, pro-bono services or straight up funding – he’d love to talk. Feel free to drop him an email at: email@example.com