What’s the Big Idea?
Sponsoring a child is, for many Americans, one of the most identifiable and accessible forms of philanthropy. So much so it was even used as a comedic device in the film “About Schmidt.”
At a recent conference titled, “Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charitable Giving,” held at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, researchers presented evidence that suggested one victim’s story can be much more effective at raising money from people than the tragedy of, say, an entire community.
In this issue, we’ll review the Web site of Childcare Worldwide, an organization that meets the needs of the poor, particularly children, through a ministry model. According to GuideStar, Childcare Worldwide has an annual operating budget around $14 million.
The Childcare Worldwide Web site uses many online best practices: fresh content on the homepage featuring a current crisis (the Peruvian earthquake at the time of this review); clean, easy-to-use navigation; compelling images; strong ask (“Get involved [for] little over $1 [a] day”); clear, action-oriented buttons that draw your eye and encourage you to “Donate Now,” “Sponsor A Child” and “Join Newsletter”; secure donation processing; and more.
Donors can support Childcare Worldwide in customized ways online: sponsoring a child, earmarking for something concrete like mosquito nets or selecting “where most needed” from its menu of choices. As it builds its online presence, the obvious next step will be to add more video, audio or podcasts, donor profiles, and other features to increase interactivity.
Showing off any external ratings (another online best practice) can help boost a donor’s confidence about giving to your organization. Childcare Worldwide proudly posts a link to its Charity Navigator listing on the bottom-left of every page. However, we question if this is really a good idea for it. As we review its profile, we learn Childcare Worldwide has a two-star (out of four) rating that falls behind several of its competitors. Similarly, reviewing its listing on Wall Watchers, a watchdog group that focuses on Christian faith-based organizations, raises more questions about its unique role in this crowded programmatic space. While we usually encourage prominently displaying watchdog reviews and other credibility markers, Childcare Worldwide might want to downplay these until its ratings go up.