Micro-charity: There's an App for that

I don't grok CauseWorld.

I'm supposed to feel good about donating "Karmas"--which are tiny bits of money, about 1 cent per karma--that Citi and Kraft have already donated? Something does not compute in the state of Denmark.

To be clear, charitable giving via micropayments is a great idea. Micropayments have already proven effective at separating me from my money for music, games, and other trifles. And early evidence shows that micropayments in charity have been very effective at encouraging non-givers to start giving, and to get those who already give substantially via existing channels to give a little bit more. Combining it with facebooky merit badges is fine too. Whatever gets the job done.

But what job is getting done here? Aside from a slightly higher profile for their 500 million dollars worth of charity, what to Citi and Kraft get out of this? (Clearly the stores themselves aren't involved, because I can "check in" to every shop on the block while actually only drinking in the bar at the corner.)

And let's say that it is pure charity on the part of Kraft and City. I still want to know...

1. Would these institutions have not given the 500 million if it were not for all of our potential involvement in CauseWorld? Or is it inside their already established charitable outlay that was going to happen either way?

2. Does our participation in CauseWorld make them more likely to give more in the future?

What do you think? I am going to use the app for a bit on the off chance it might help somehow, and at the minimum redirect a few charitable dollars towards the causes I care about more than planting trees (and that is not at all to diminish how good an idea it is to plant lots of trees).

But if you were planning on helping the Haitians out, it's probably a good idea to donate directly to the Red Cross.

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