An important challenge to the Roundups concept was raised in some of our earliest conversations with charities. Fundraising leaders wanted to make sure that people who donate using Roundups actually donate more overall than they would have if Roundups never existed. A specific example: if an individual begins donating with Roundups and, say, rounds up to £10 per month on average, will this mean they will stop (or not start) a £15 monthly donation?
If this were the case, Roundups would be doing more harm than good.
Asking “what would have happened otherwise?” is crucial when it comes to social impact measurement, as eloquently explained by William Macaskill in ‘Doing Good Better’.
Taking this one step further, there is some evidence that doing a little good (which is exactly what we ask of our community) can cause us human beings to feel satisfied with our good work and do fewer good actions in the future, potentially leading to less good overall. Psychologists have studied this phenomenon, referring to it as ‘moral licensing’.
One study, for example, showed how people who chose an energy-efficient light bulb over a conventional light bulb were more likely to be deceitful and act unethically in subsequent tasks. Another classic example is when we have a healthy lunch but then overcompensate for our good behaviour (and treat ourselves) with a lavish dinner, leading to a worse diet and more calories overall. Because we made good choices previously, we give ourselves 'license' to make bad choices later.
So what do we do to ensure Roundups supplements fundraising efforts and doesn’t cannibalise them? How do we ensure Roundups doesn’t lead to the moral licensing effect?
Firstly, our early survey of 125 people revealed that people see Roundups penny donations as supplementary to what they already do. 71% said that using Roundups would not change their pre-existing donation habits. This is a good start but, alone, it’s not enough to completely put the challenge to rest.
Second, we intend to check-in with current and new Roundups members to find out if using Roundups has affected their other donation and altruistic habits. In addition to simply monitoring how much Roundups raises for charities, a core part of our social impact measurement is monitoring what percentage of these funds is new revenue. In other words, monitoring what percentage of donations only happened because Roundups exists. The “What would have happened otherwise?” question.
Finally, the most important value we bring to the donation experience is making it incredibly rewarding and delivering this in a way that works in 2020. We want to educate Roundups members on how much good their donations are doing. We are bringing donors closer to their chosen charity, hopefully leading to more involvement, more donations and more altruism overall. Roundups can be viewed as a gateway, or stepping stone, to doing even more good outside of our app.