Give with Ella

Restoring trust in charity by forcing transparency

#3 Product of the DayJuly 21, 2018

Ella 1.0 helps you learn how charities generate income, how they spend supporters money and how the general public feels about the charity - so you can make a more informed decision about your giving.

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11 Reviews4.5/5
👋 Hi PH, I have often thought about how I can do my bit to help make a difference, to somehow better the lives of those less fortunate than me. The obvious solution was to turn to the people already doing this, charity. But the problem I found is that it just isn't easy to know where I should donate my money so that it actually makes an impact for the cause I'm supporting. You hear tale after tale of money being eaten up by huge admin costs and little about how charities are actually making a difference. 🛠 Solution Ella is a tool that helps to sort the good charities from the not-so-good, by combining a breakdown of a charity's income and expenditure into clear & obvious categories and crowdsourcing public perception of a charity. So now if you're undecided about where to give, you can turn to data and the view of others to help you make that decision. 👉 Features - Learn about a charitable cause, the problems, solutions, and the charities working on it. - Search for a charity or cause by name or keyword - Quick view charity trust scores and key metrics - View a breakdown of a charity's income and expenditure for their most recent financial year - View historical income and expenditure information for the past five years - View crowdsourced ratings of how the general public feels about a charity - Contribute your own scores to a charity 🙏 Let me know what you think! I'm keen to make Ella into a really useful tool not only for supporters, but for charities too.
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@_danielmeade Hello, this is really interesting, also read your first journal post (! I'm curious about the ratings. If its all crowdfunded how would you prevent spam/ bias information etc..? I've been looking for something like this but I never end up trusting the reviews. I feel like you could run a few experiments since you're still in the early days, 1 interesting that comes to mind: if you leave a rating you have to donate whatever amount you want to another charity - this would force maybe high-quality ratings?
@rodrigue_ Hey Rodrigue, thanks for checking it out! When each charity is added our system applies a neutral score to all ratings. This neutral score is equivalent to a set number of unique votes, so no one voter can have a dramatic effect on the overall ratings. A charity can of course push their supporters to add positive scores, and that can be open to some bias, but due to the anonymous nature and the usefulness factor for both the charity and supporters, I’m confident that even those prompted to leave ratings would do so fairly. The same thing works the other way around, so a negative bias will have little effect from a single voter. And if ever there is a point where voters submit en masse we are able to see these and can make a decision as to the integrity of those scores and correct accordingly. Even with individual biases, the volume of data we hope to collect gives me confidence that the scores will balance out to reveal a true reflection of public perception.
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Looks clean af! I've seen the amount of work you put in, and its looking insanely good! Keep smashing it!
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@rhysbeingsocial Thanks Rhys, that's really appreciated. Especially coming from the person behind the design!
@rhysbeingsocial yes, super clean design 👍
This is pretty great. I remember using several sites like this for different campaigns since you want to vet the org your contributions go to. I like that you lay out the source info right at the top before the charts. One question I have is why the public opinion option meters? A lot of these issues can be hindered by biased view points whether that bias is coming from a compassionate or hateful place. A good example would be Prop 8 here in CA back in 2008. I campaigned heavily for it only after several org meetings for LGBTQ immigrants who knew that the gay marriage issue was a middle class white American one and the community is much more racially segregated than the general population. On one had this was good for advancement on the other hand this siphoned literally millions of dollars away from issues that were immediately affecting QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color), Queer immigrants, Trans activism, LGBTQ youth who make up a heartbreakingly disproportionate amount of homeless you and so on. After a lot of infighting POC LGBTQ orgs joined ranks and there’s pictures of me holding the front line sign and leading my favorite marching chat. The advancement for the community was more important in that moment but 1) there would have been internal disagreements let alone that we lost that fight because of podunk inland CA and that cesspool of LA rejects known as OC. Lo and behold you know had mega donor A-list celebrity photo-op dinners with politicians and the Human Rights Campaign lead by.... rich, upper class white gay men. The exact same thing happened with ENDA. Except we held ground with a lot of white folks too. A faction wanted the ENDA Democrats (😒) said wasn’t the only version they could get through Congress. The one that left the T of LGBT. We knew workplace protections for Trans folks would basically be impossible without the public support the whole community was receiving because the T was never the focus in these middle-upper class white male led organizations. We said let the bill die. All of us or none of us. We won and the bill lost. No ENDA ever without Trans-inclusion because a trans woman threw that brick not some white twink. Point being. There’s a lot of layers to community and charity work and a public... opinion? Temperature gauge?... seems out of place in an otherwise nice addition to resources out there right now for auditing charitable orgs and assessing their “worthiness.” Id suggest to remove any future complications, I’d remove it entirely. It’s not Yelp for Charities afterall it’s more of a wiki for charities.
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@prittyamazing Hey Pritesh, Thanks for your kind words :) The site is all about encouraging transparency so it's only right that we are as transparent as possible too! You bring up an interesting viewpoint and I totally understand where you're coming from, I can see how public opinion can at times hinder your cause. I think the public is always going to have an opinion whether a not a tool like Ella visualises it, and so for that reason I think it's an important addition to the service. By crowdsourcing public opinion of a charity supporters new to the charity can understand how their peers feel about it. Much like we use reviews for products & services to help us make a more informed decision about whether or not we'd like to buy in to something, trust scores help supporters make their own decision about where they feel their support is most suited. It's really useful for charities too because charities can break down the data to understand what areas they might like to improve and identify areas in which the excel. That way they can make a more informed decision on how they allocate their resources. For instance, one of the scores asks supporters to rate whether or not they receive lots of "unwanted" marketing material such as pens, magnets etc. Many supporters believe this is wasteful spending of funds that could otherwise be spent directly on the cause. Through the gathering of this data, charities can pick up on this (if they have a negative score) and make an informed decision around whether or not to continue this practice and perhaps allocate funds to an area that will have a greater impact.
Love it! Looks awesome - just a couple questions: any thoughts on 1. integrating with givewell data/other charity rating orgs? 2. would love a "I'm feeling lucky" button that takes you to a random good charity. Keep up the good work!
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@calchulus Hey Calvin, Thanks very much for the kind words! 1. We do have plans to integrate and learn from data collected by other services. In building this project for the UK market we learned that there are actually very few of these resources available, whereas in other markets (like the US) there are a number of highly respected services doing just this. As we expand in to those markets we'll look at how we can integrate their data with ours. 2. That's a great suggestion, thanks for the idea!
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This is bonkers. And all the comments on this thread ("you're crushing it!") are a great example of how the tech community has no idea what they're talking about when it's outside their wheelhouse, and how "disrupting" can go way off the rails when it's a solution in search of a problem. Public opinion ratings should no bearing on which nonprofits people support. If the past two years has taught us anything, it's that these kinds of open rating systems are the target of – and incredibly susceptible to – interference. Whether it's brigading through the front door, or hacking through the back door, rating systems can be easily manipulated for nefarious purposes. Beyond simple manipulation is the more basic problem that the public opinion of a charity is not reflective of the kind of work that an organization is doing. For example, an organization might have a terrible website and donation experience, but if they get the vast majority of their funding from a foundation, then their site and donation experience is not particularly important. They can be "crushing" awesome program work and have very little interaction with small dollar donors. And I wonder, how will organizations that are doing the grindingly hard work of fighting discrimination against the Muslim community going to fare in this rating system when we know that mosques all over the English-speaking world are vandalized on a daily basis? How will organizations that support civil disobedience for immigration justice fare when they shut down a major highway? Lots of charities doing important, difficult work are under constant threat of violence and abuse – now they also have to worry about their Ella rating? 🙄 The most insane part of this public opinion metric is that Ella could actually draw time, effort, and money away from good program work to deal with negative ratings. Suddenly nonprofits are subject to the same whims as Yelp listings, except that nonprofits have a completely different model and therefore have far fewer levers to influence the ratings. Beyond all that, though, these ratings metrics are just ridiculous. "Repeat donation pestering"? Hilarious that Ella uses the eye-roll emoji for this, considering how ProductHunt is basically built on the idea that a monthly SaaS subscription is the stairway to heaven, and every month we get one or two new guides on how to create a SaaS subscription service, or maximize subscription revenue every month. Every entrepreneur on this site is looking for a way to get customers on a subscription model and Ella is sending the signal to its users that this very model when applied to nonprofits, repeat donations, which are the most effective way for nonprofits to gather and maintain small-dollar funding – are problematic when you're "pestered" about them. What does that even mean? Is a checkbox on the donation form "pestering"? Is a popup "pestering"? Is a follow-up email thanking you for your donation and then asking you to commit to a monthly donation "pestering"? How would we know, since Ella provides no guidance. Howabout this other one, "Marketing Junk"? Ella's asking for charities to be transparent and then it's discouraging nonprofits from providing user-friendly content about how they're winning? How do people think that charities actually raise money? Direct mail and email are the backbone of any nonprofit's small-dollar donation program. The simplistic inflow-vs-outflow metric is utterly useless to a casual viewer. For example, after the election of Donald Trump, ACLU raised tens of millions of dollars. There's no way they could spend that money within two months, let alone a year. Instead, they're building a long-term plan for engaging millions of Americans on the subject of civil liberties. None of that would be clear from this metric. And the metric is not even explained to the user on the charity page on Ella! This site shows a real ignorance about how nonprofits work. I really wonder if the makers even talked to anyone who works at nonprofits before launching this site? I have a hard time believing that any nonprofit would have steered the makers of this toward this direction. I wish that people on ProductHunt would look beyond site design or high-level concepts and start taking a critical eye to what we see here. The fact that this ended up #3 for the day it was launched boggles my mind.
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