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Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Promising Social Startup On Course For Big Things: The Story So Far

This is a guest post from Jay Boolkin, Founder of Promise or Pay.


Like millions of other people around the world, on New Years Eve of 2013, I made some resolutions to change my life. And like millions of people around the world, by June 2013, I had followed through on exactly… none of them.

We all know sticking to self-improvement goals is really difficult. In fact, while 45% of people make resolutions, only 8% of people stick to them. It is no wonder that the self-help industry generated over $11 billion globally in 2013.The idea struck me that if I told others about my goals I would be more likely to achieve them. I did some research and found that the chances of me following through would be further enhanced if I put money on the line. Research in fact shows that the chance of achieving a goal increases 33% if it is shared with others and by 72% if money is put on the line. I realized that combining both approaches could be a very effective way to help people achieve their goals. But where should your money go if you failed to follow through on your commitment? What if your money contributed to positive social change?


In July 2013 I founded Promise or Pay, a newly launched social enterprise that facilitates charitable donations by enabling people to make a public promise to do something, and if they fail to follow through, pay a nominated amount of money to a charity. Others have been quick to pick up on the potential of this simple idea to help reinvigorate charitable giving and engage people not previously inclined to donating: Promise or Pay was a finalist for the Sydney Genesis Entrepreneurship Challenge Best Social or Not-for-profit Start-up and received a honourable mention in the category of “Social Change” at The Guardian’s Activate Tech Talent Day, the Guardian’s platform for innovators working with the Internet to change the world.

Promise or Pay is the only platform that integrates both a commitment to goals and charitable giving, ensuring a win-win outcome is always achieved and people are left feeling satisfied. In doing so, Promise or Pay helps overcome the disappointing and discouraging feelings that are often the aftermath of failing to accomplish something important. Either you keep your promise thereby benefiting yourself, or you contribute towards solving a pressing social problem via your donation and thereby benefiting others.

I strongly believe that Promise or Pay’ has massive potential as appeals to the natural human instinct to set goals, to have dreams and to make resolutions. It leverages off the social trend to share experiences with others electronically and it speaks to a generation that have grown up in a world where social issues are impossible to ignore and are looking for a way to make a difference.Promise or Pay is also able to target a larger audience than just those people who wish to make a donation to charity. This is because the primary motivation of using the website is not to donate to charity but to achieve a personal goal. As a result, Promise or Pay will introduce to a new and young audience social awareness and the idea of donating to charities.

In late August 2013, Promise or Pay won the Social Start-ups MVP Program and received funding to develop a first proof of concept, which successfully went live with a soft launch just a few weeks ago.My vision is to create a platform that will inspire millions of people around the world to be the best that they can be, and, at the same time, to encourage and facilitate millions of dollars in donations to charities.

If you believe the power of social entrepreneurship can fulfill dreams, or, if you simply want to deliver on that commitment you keep making and breaking – then log onto to make a promise and make a better world.

Connect with Promise or Pay and see all the latest promises through Facebook or on Twitter @promiseorpay


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