Wish you could keep your resolution to eat healthier, do more exercise or stop biting your nails? It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and commit to your goal on the new Promise or Pay website. Founder, Jay Boolkin, explains where this idea came from and how it can help you achieve your personal goals while assisting the wider community at the same time.
How does Promise or Pay work?
It’s a way to help people to stick to the goals they want to achieve. They commit to donating to charity if they keep their promise while at the same time encouraging others to donate if they succeed.
How does it make me more likely to stick to my goals?
The idea uses behavioural research, which says that sharing a promise and putting money on the line means you’re more likely to achieve your goal.
Aren’t there already websites that do this?
The other platforms are mostly around really big goals and there is no accountability. In Promise or Pay it is a win-win outcome no matter what happens. People can feel good even if they don’t achieve their goal.
So how did you come up Promise or Pay?
I was working in Cambodia for a year, for a small NGO that was doing HIV advocacy and education. At the time I had a rough idea of how it could work and emailed a few people back home in Australia to run it by them. A few days later there was an opportunity to enter a Social Startups competition where the prize was to build a web platform. My idea won and I was able to create a very basic version of Promise or Pay. The feedback I was getting from users and charities and from people with a lot more talent and knowledge of social enterprise has motivated me to keep pushing forward. I came back to Australia in about July and managed to get further investment into the project.
How do you select your charities?
After doing quite a bit of speaking to our customers, it was clear that people were overwhelmed at the amount of choices of charities they could give to. Also as start up we needed a way to get the idea out in the public. We wanted to work with the charities who saw a mutual benefit to share the website with their supporters. I wanted more like a partnership relationship.
How did you select TFL as one of your charities?
I really liked that TFL was doing something different. It just made me realise the things that I think are stressful and hard in my life are so relative and subjective. There are people going through really difficult hardships. I personally found reading has been such a fantastic escape for my own life and also just a great way to learn. I think it is just such a great escape for people living on the street. I think providing a book to a homeless person will make things a lot easier.
What types of promises do people make?
So far most of the promises have been about exercise. Someone said they would exercise five days per week. One person promised to learn Swedish, and another promised to cook everything in their Grandmother’s cookbook by the end of the year. A lot of promises tend to personal goals like to stop biting their nails, drink two litres of water a day or to stop swearing. I think having the accountability and having a friend that will pick them up it really interesting part of the concept.
Have you made any promises?
I really want to do a marathon. Although I think the first one should be to stop smoking.
Are you an avid reader? What are some of your favourite books?
I wish I liked non-fiction but I really like a good story. Some of my favourites, include:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Is there is book you’re reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Secret History by Donna Tart. It is the third time I have started it. A friend recommended it to me and reviews say it’s great so I am half way through it and I have no idea where it’s going.
If you would like to make a promise please visit www.promiseorpay.com today to help raise funds for TFL.