Over the course of the last few months, I implemented a personal Karma Sense Eating Plan for me and we occasionally check in on my progress via blog posts. My plan includes a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG); being happier, healthier, and, oh yeah, saving the world. To make sure I’m working on that last part, I agreed to set aside the money I save by fasting 16 hours per day and donate it to charity. I averaged that out to about $5 each day I fast and by the end of last year I fasted everyday I was on the plan (60 days).
Because one of the things that makes me happy is saving money, I made a donation from the collected pot before 2015 ended. This allows me to deduct that donation from my 2015 income taxes. This post discusses how I selected the target charity.
This is relevant because next month I release The Karma Sense Eating Plan book. I donate all profits from the sale of this book to charities that fight poverty and hunger. Although the book’s donations are completely unrelated to the personal donation described above, we’ll use a similar process with some differences. I describe those differences below to give confidence to the people who buy The Karma Sense Eating Plan that their purchase is yet another investment in their own health, happiness, and world-saving ability.
Supporting the BHAG of My Personal Karma Sense Eating Plan
By the end of 2015 I saved $300 to devote to the charity of my choice. Admittedly, before starting my plan, my giving was always very passive. Someone hit me up for money and unless the request reeked of a scam or it was for charity whose mission I didn’t support, I usually donated something. Sometimes I’m moved by a particular event. For example, last year our family provided more support than usual to Community Members Interested, a Nepal based education charity, in response to the devastating earthquake that Nepal experienced last spring.
Surely, my giving can be done with more intention and since Karma Sense charities are focused on fighting poverty and hunger, I needed to do some research to be sure my donation provides the maximal impact. Charity Navigator is the go to tool for this kind of research. Charity Navigator maintains a comprehensive list of local, national and international charities and rates them according to financial and accountability measures. These are useful secondary measures of the quality and strength of a charitable organization. But they are secondary.
I say that because they’re important metrics to confirm a charity isn’t wasting your money on employee salaries and perks. They’re also useful to make sure the charity isn’t going out of business. But they don’t measure how effective the charity is at meeting it’s mission. For example, I’ll randomly single out the Greater Gallatin United Way. This is a highly rated charity by Charity Navigator because employee pay is very low and transparency is pretty clear. But United Way is a meta-charity. It’s a charity that gives to other charities. I have no data to prove what I’m about to say, but logic says it would be a better use of money to give directly to the charities that the Greater Gallatin United Way supports. Why pay two CEOs?
As you all know, I’m not just a health coach. I also currently work as an employee of a company focused on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and many other silly sounding technology buzz words. It’s a company that buys up other companies (including mine) in the style of the investment banking power houses of Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley. Surely someone must be applying the tools and analytics we use in my world to the world of charity.
It turns out, there is. GiveWell is a charity evaluator that focuses on the primary metric of the impact a charity actually has on its mission (e.g., lives saved or improved). It was started by a group of venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs to fill the vacuum left by evaluation platforms that focus on secondary metrics. Some general conclusions that came out of their work is that donations have the most impact when they’re dedicated to the poorest recipients. A by-product of that conclusion is that GiveWell focuses on charities that serve recipients outside of the United States. I am personally comfortable with this and decided that for my Karma Sense Eating Plan, I’ll select one of the recommended charities from GiveWell.
One of GiveWell’s highly rated charities is called Deworm the World. Deworm the World touches on both my targets, hunger and poverty. Almost 900 million children are victims of parasitic worms. These insidious creatures lead to malnutrition and kids who have them can’t attend school. This is a surefire path to perpetual poverty. The treatment of parasitic worms is safe, scaleable, and highly cost effective. Every dollar spent on this initiative provides treatment for 2 children per year. This Karma Sense donation just wiped out a medium sized village’s entire caseload. Something I’ll definitely reflect upon during my pre-meal ritual.
I am not suggesting that you follow in my footsteps. Charitable giving is highly personal. I’m only reporting the above to assist you in your own path to saving the world.
By the way, Deworm the World is not rated by Charity Navigator. They’re too small.
The Karma Sense Eating Plan Book and Its Charitable Giving
The most important characteristic of The Karma Sense Eating Plan is this statement in the book. “I donate all profits from the sale of this book to charities that fight poverty and hunger.” How does that work?
As part of The Karma Sense Eating Plan’s contribution to saving the world, I pledge to donate all profits from the sale of the book to the same types of charities as my personal giving. With that one simple promise, I open up a major can of worms (thankfully not parasitic). I’m the one who made that promise and even I’m asking:
- How do I define “profit?”
- How do I ensure that the profits are handled properly?
- How do I select these charities?
I want all readers to feel comfortable that I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want you to worry about having a Belle Gibson situation. Belle Gibson is an Australian health blogger who made specious claims about her own health, promised that the proceeds of an app she created would go to charity, and then ran off with the money.[i]
In response, I’m taking all steps to provide as much transparency to the process as possible. I’ll do this with two mechanisms.
Provide Open Access to All Bookkeeping Associated with The Karma Sense Eating Plan
As of this writing, the only income associated with the book came from my Indiegogo campaign that helped kick-start the project. Other anticipated income is from the actual sale of the book.
On the expense side, things are muddier. In some cases, especially early on, it’s difficult to separate expenses that are investments in my coaching practice from pure book expenses. For example, Karma Sense™ is a registered trademark of my practice, Live Long Lead Long, LLC. There were significant expenses associated with that registration and the trademark serves both the book and my practice.
To get around this, I only count the expenses that I can clearly trace to the production of the book. This includes things like editing and printing costs. By isolating these, it decreases the book’s expenses and gets it to the charity-giving profit phase that much sooner.
Upon the book’s release, I’ll update this website quarterly with an accounting of its financials.
Create the Karma Sense Advisory Board to Provide Oversight
The Karma Sense Advisory Board serves as an independent steering committee. Currently, the board is made up of people who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign at a level that earned membership as a perk.
At the time of this writing, the board consists of four people, including me. I’d welcome at least one more independent member. Board members names will be posted on my website once the book is released.
The board’s charter is still in development. The mission is to donate as much money to charity as possible. Given that mission, responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Participate in all marketing decisions relating to The Karma Sense Eating Plan with the aim of maximizing sales and profits without compromising the book’s mission or putting undue stress on expenses.
- Monitor income and expenses associated with the creation and sale of The Karma Sense Eating Plan and provide good stewardship for all generated profits.
- Manage distribution of the profits generated from The Karma Sense Eating Plan. This includes selecting the target charities.
I want The Karma Sense Eating Plan to provide a mechanism to give back, to save the world. The above infrastructure ensures that this is the case.
[i]Davey, Melissa. “Belle Gibson on 60 Minutes: no remorse and the lies kept coming.” theguardian. June 28, 2015. Accessed December 19, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/jun/29/belle-gibson-tells-60-minutes-she-was-the-victim-after-her-lies-were-exposed.