Similar to last year, each gift recipient will receive giving dollars and a one-pager on a specific charity to pitch. After the pitches and ensuing discussion the recipients will be allowed to allocate their giving dollars as they see fit. The winning charity with the most allocated dollars will have its donation doubled!
This year I am tweaking the format slightly - each recipient will be assigned two charities and they will be required to select one of the two to pitch. The intent here is to allow the recipients to perform an initial evaluation before coming up with selling points for their charity. We'll see how it goes.
We tried this for the first time with my family last year (2020) and it led to some interesting Christmas dinner conversation and some surprising results. Looking forward to seeing the results this year!
The new format went over well! All the participants appreciated the chance to evaluate before pitching. Another thing that went well was giving the participants more time to evaluate options - I handed out the gift envelopes during a few hours of down time and we then played the game in the evening. Finally, the quick information at the top of the handouts (regarding charity location and size) went over well and will be repeated.
Next year I think I want to give each person two charities in the same cause area if that works out. I also want to spend more time on the handouts as that ends up being the major source of information discussed. I would like to add more numbers/charts to these handouts.
Results from first game:
And second game:
The three charities that were selected in both games (with my family and my wife's family):
The fan favorite this year was by far the Modern Agriculture Foundation. Interestingly (well, likely due to the emphasis in the 1-page handout) the pitches revolved more around the environmental impacts than the ethical treatment of farm animals. The charity seemed to come across as one that might drive systemic change and uproot whole systems instead of incrementally addressing a problem which came across well. It also did not seem to be too far off into the future.
The runner-up was New Incentives. NI was recieved well in large margin due to the vaccine politics of the moment. It also was able to convey a powerful single metric (47 USD gets one additional child vaccinated) backed by RCT analysis.
D-Prize performed well due to a perceived agility - participants liked the structure of the organization and the ability to send many small prizes to organizations with largely <5k USD in current funding.
The following three were selected in only one game:
StrongMinds was my expected top pick and I was a bit surprised it didn't come out in the lead. It was selected over the Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions in one group but not over the Humane League in another. I think it is hard to put an appropriate value on the mental health benefits here and participants were a bit skeptical of the big numbers presented with limited time to conduct studies.
The Humane League was selected over StrongMinds. It was received well because of the history of success working with big companies. It was likely substituted a bit for MAF, which gave the impression of addressing the animal ethics problem closer to the root.
CHAI was selected over the Clean Air Task Force but not over D-Prize. It wasn't selected over D-Prize because of a lack of a tangible plan which makes it tough to visualize what the money will accomplish. It is also tough to try to encompass the scope of the issue space in a two minute pitch, which likely lead to a less than stellar performance in the game.
The last five were not selected:
The Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy did not beat out D-Prize or the MAF. The scope come across a bit vague and too large to conceptualize. The organization's website is also almost 5 years out of date which was a big detractor.
Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions sparked some interesting discussion but was not selected over StrongMinds. The size of the costs introduced by overconsumptrion of alcohol is striking and we will likely be looking at additional charities in this space next year.
The Clean Air Task Force showed impressive scores but didn't seem to be addressing a tractable or well-defined problem, which made it a tough sell for the marginal dollar.
Fridays for Future appeared to be a very large (large support base, not dollar amount) organization and did not have an apparent direct need for the funding.
California YIMBY seemed too close to home for those of us in the California home buying market which resulted in potentially seeming less charitable.