Watsi is a new non-profit start-up that promises to change how people can donate even small amounts of money, that can save other people’s lives.
Watsi’s donation model is similar to the Kickstarter crowd-funding model, but instead of donating money to fund a new gadget that you may or may not end up liking once it starts shipping, you donate to improve someone’s health or even save their lives.
The start-up was initially funded by the Y Combinator start-up incubator, and the founder of YC, Paul Graham, liked it so much that he decided to take his first ever board position at the company, after making Watsi the first non-profit company to be funded by Y Combinator, a few months before.
I believe Paul Graham likes it so much for the same reason I do. Instead of collecting money in aggregate from everyone, and then assigning the money to whatever projects the typical non-profit organizations decide, Watsi is very transparent about where and how the money is being used.
On their site, they are showing each case and how much money is needed to completely fund the medical treatment of that person. This is so effective because people can see directly where the money is going, and they see they have a high impact in changing someone’s life, even with a small amount of money.
People like to donate most when they hear about someone’s sad story, and statistics have shown before that someone is twice as likely to donate for a single case, and a sad story about someone’s life, than they are to donate for more generic causes like “solving the hunger problem in Africa”.
The problem with the latter, is that each potential donor might feel that his or her money won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. But with Watsi they can actually move the needle with a $50 donation to someone who needs $500 for an operation. At that point they know the goal is already 10% complete, and it takes only 9 other people to offer just as much to make that operation happen.
I think we’ll see Watsi become very successful in the coming years, especially with someone like Y Combinator’s Paul Graham supporting it and advising it, and it should become another one of those Internet services that have changed the world (maybe not by itself, but by inspiring many other services like this in the future).
You, too, can make a difference.