Daily Good is a program where volunteers sign up to vote on the level of impact that various burdens have on our society. With just 30 seconds per day – volunteers contribute by answering three questions about a burden that is the focus of one or more non-profit profit programs. The volunteers' answers are then added to a database to create a score called a utility weight. We use utility weights to measure how much a burden is perceived to negatively impact society. Once enough data is collected to have a statistically significant result, we publish the utility weight for each burden. Using our impact calculator donors (and charities) can then use these utilities to help them understand how much of an impact is made each time a particular burden is averted or resolved by a charity’s program. By measuring the utility of burdens we can normalize the manner in which we compare two burdens, thereby giving us the ability to compare the impact of two (or more) charities even if the programs are focused on producing very different outcomes.
Currently, there is no universally accepted measurement for charitable impact. When donors make a strategic decision about where to deploy charitable resources, they typically rely on stats and data that communicate outputs rather than impact. For example, a soup kitchen might communicate the number of meals served – but this does not measure how much the meals have increased the quality and/or quantity of life for the beneficiaries. Communicating outputs instead of impact is also problematic for donors that want to compare organizations that focus on different burdens.
Having a database of utility weights empowers donors and charities to measure impact in a manner that is consistent with the collective perspective of society. This data can empower the non-profit sector to prioritize impact over outcomes, learn from other charities with higher impact, and optimize program strategies in a more effective manner.
There is a tremendous disparity between the impact of the average charity compared to the top charities, and this is in part because of the lack of data to communicate impact in a consistently comparable manner. Though we have not yet collected enough data to confirm our hypothesis, we estimate that the non-profit sector is currently operating at a fraction of its potential impact.
Program Implementation - Beta
The Daily Good Program will be administered starting 2/1/2021 via a daily survey that is delivered to volunteers via a mobile app or email. Participants will be asked to answer three questions about a single burden. Questions are standardized, using a combination of one Standard Gamble (SG), one Time-Trade-Off (TTO), and one Visual Analog Scale (VAS) format to gather information from each volunteer in a consistent manner.
A general overview of each burden, along with symptoms will be delivered to the volunteers as a primer to the questions. We recognize that these overviews and symptom descriptions may be subject to criticism by experts as there may not be a standard consensus for defining these burdens in each field. Our initial plan to address critiques is to publish the descriptions and symptoms along with utility scores for transparency. We also plan to adjust these descriptions over time if any of the descriptions are deemed inadequate. If any material edit is made to the burden description we plan to restart the process of collecting utility weight data for that particular burden and archive the inadequate results.
The program will be a run in a “beta” phase for the first several months. During the beta phase we aim to gather general feedback from volunteers, compare answers for each burden, determine consistency (or lack thereof) from the various question structures, and gather initial feedback on the credibility of the results relative to any established utilities for burdens published by other sources.
Initially we will aim to collect data from at least 100 unique volunteers as a sample size threshold for publishing a burden’s utility weight, however we anticipate that this threshold may increase depending on the variability of the results.
At the individual volunteer level, utility weights will represent personal preferences with regards to the utility of each burden. For some donors cataloging these results to help them prioritize their own decision making could offer value when it comes to deploying charitable resources. However, our primary aim with this program is to deliver a broader set of data that reflects society's collective perspective about each burden’s impact by publishing the results of an adequate sample size.
Our long-term goal is to provide a public database which not only makes utility weights easily accessible, but also to use the information to begin to measure and compare charitable impact using a standardized metric of $/QALY (cost per quality adjusted life-year). Additional information about how we calculate $/QALY can be found in our Giving Guide and individuals may also use our impact calculator to begin measuring impact immediately.
A loose, but arguably conservative, estimate is that top-tier charities are at least 10x more effective than the average charity in the U.S. Our vision is that the nonprofit sector will achieve 10x greater impact without increasing charitable giving norms.
Volunteers interested in singing up for the Daily Good program may do so here.
Questions about the Daily Good program or our Impact Project can be directed to our team by emailing email@example.com