Students assess how to put their charity dollars to work at One for the World’s Giving Game

This past week, One for the World hosted its first interactive event called a Giving Game. One for the World wants to make high impact philanthropy part of the conversation at Wharton. We want to educate Wharton students about how to identify the most effective charities and treat charitable giving like investing, and get graduating students to pledge 1% of their income post-graduation to effective charities. The Giving Game event was focused on teaching students how to identify these effective charities. It was hosted by Bobby Turner, founder and CEO of Turner Impact Capital, a mission-driven real estate investment management firm who has interviewed the likes of Andre Agassi and Ashton Kutcher on campus, and Kat Rosqueta, executive director of Penn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy.

Kat Rosqueta opened the event by providing the Center for High Impact Philanthropy’s latest insights and research on how an individual can identify and assess a charity. Bobby then shared his experience on how non-profits can be more innovative, drawing on his experience of launching charter schools in underserved neighborhoods with Andre Agassi, and developing low-income housing with Magic Johnson.

The event then put students in the driver’s seat. Short presentations were made on operations and impact of two charities, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) and Dispensers for Safe Water (DSW), and each student had $5 to allocate to one of the two charities. SCI provides deworming treatments to children for less than $1, while DSW installs water sanitation systems in rural communities to provide clean water for less than $0.50 per person per year.

Students debated the merits of each charity in small groups to determine where their $5 could generate the most impact. While both charities are incredibly effective at saving lives, they each have unique ancillary benefits. The deworming treatments SCI provides increase school attendance by 25% because children face less illness-driven absenteeism, and this improvement in attendance enables children to increase their income later in life (this has been proven using rigorous randomized control trials by development economists).

Since DSW eliminates the need for families to boil water to purify it, it reduces carbon emissions associated with boiling water (i.e. deforestation and emissions from burning firewood). This allows the charity to generate carbon credits which it can sell on carbon markets. It hopes that in five years, its operations will be fully self-financed by the carbon credits it sells – a compelling case for sustainability.

While students were split on which charity to give their $5 to, most that I spoke to said they took away valuable lessons on how to identify charities and enjoyed the process of critically assessing SCI and DSW.

One for the World will be hosting events throughout the year on high impact philanthropy and effective charitable giving. For more information, please visit 1fortheworld.org.

To read more about how Wharton students can make a difference with One for the World, please see http://whartonjournal.com/2014/04/08/one-for-the-world-making-change-real-at-wharton/

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