In recent years, digital platforms facilitating cash transfers have gained popularity as a means of charitable giving. GiveDirectly facilitates direct cash transfers to the poor as a means of aid. GoFundMe allows anyone to create a fundraising campaign for any cause and publicize it in hopes of meeting the need for a personal project.
Missio, a similar platform, was launched by Pope Francis in 2013 and allows users to donate directly to aid and mission projects affiliated with the Catholic Church in Africa and Asia.
Conceptually, Missio stands somewhere between GiveDirectly and GoFundMe. While it is not quite as open-ended as GoFundMe, unlike GiveDirectly, it gives users the option of learning about specific projects and supporting the ones they like best. Users can sign up and create projects, or donate to projects created by others.
Missio is part of the Pontifical Mission Societies, a group of organizations dedicated to Catholic missions worldwide. And while its Catholic identity may limit Missio’s appeal to some, it is worth analyzing its giving philosophy, which provides a thoughtful contrast to that of the Effective Altruism school.
In its FAQ section, Missio anticipates some of the questions that the effective altruist may ask: “Can you guarantee that the project will be successful?” “How will I be able to judge what is worth funding?” “What are the real-world outcomes?”
Without dismissing such concerns, which have their place, the site offers the following answers:
Can you guarantee that the project will be successful?
We wish that we could! We know the quality of the people running the various projects and their commitment to helping those with whom they work. And there will be failures for sure, and things will not work out as planned. But you will see the whole process and have a unique way of participating. You may remain physically far away but you will become very close to the center of action.
How will I be able to judge what is worth funding?
How do you judge now? You feel touched and want to reach out and help and you have confidence in a particular group or because you trust a friend who asks you to help a worthy cause. This is similar, only now you will be able to ask questions, communicate with others who may more experience in this area. And over time, you will be able to evaluate project leaders through what they might have achieved previously. A record of cxz success is sure to instill confidence that you’re having a real impact in some people’s lives.
What are the real-world outcomes?
On Missio, you can follow the real-world outcomes of a project. Project leaders will have the ability to share in words and images the ways your support has helped a child, a family and a community.
How do these responses differ from those that an effective altruist might give? They display a logic of relationship rather than a logic of data: While we cannot predict the probability of success of certain endeavors, we trust the people undertaking them; we won’t tell you that one project is more “worth funding” than another based on mathematical analysis, but we encourage you to find one that moves you or with which you feel a particular affinity; while we don’t spend a great deal of time quantifying and measuring real-world outcomes, the accessibility that you will have to those you are supporting means you can see for yourself how you are having an impact.
While for those of us living in the United States Missio’s impact may be a world away, its platform allows givers to learn more about particular projects and its online community allows for the creation of a network of relationships. Therefore, it can satisfy a number of giving philosophies: the philanthrolocalist can be satisfied that their giving is based on a relationship and personal connection with those in local communities receiving aid; those concerned with measuring impact can learn more about projects and their leaders; and the straightforward giver who does not belong to a particular school of thought can simply enjoy donating to a cause they believe in.