The DoNation Tackles Emissions One Challenge At A Time

The DoNation Logo

While I was exploring Twitter the other day I came across a company that I was immediately keen on because they combined two of my favourite things: cutting greenhouse gas emissions and charitable giving.

Cleverly named, The DoNation is a website that officially launched back in May 2011 and encourages people to pledge green actions instead of money to their friends or family who are taking part in a typical charity challenge.

The idea is that we, as sociable creatures, enjoy helping our friends more than we do the environment so we are more likely to find the motivation to complete the green act if it is on behalf of someone we hold dear.

A second benefit of using the charity challenge model is that individuals will often feel environmentally helpless by themselves but when you put a thermometer style totaliser in place to show collective pledges it brings further meaning to your own little act. Lots of small things can really add up – sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Some people find it difficult when it comes to donating money but because many of the DoActions are free (they can actually save you money), everyone can get involved regardless of their financial situation. As The DoNation say on their website “the environment needs our action more than our money”.

Policing The Actions

One of the biggest problems that I can see is that of being sure that the actions pledged are actually fulfilled by those doing the pledging. The temptation for some must be to say they are going to do something and then simply not; maybe they forget, maybe they don’t find the time but since they don’t have to prove that they have done it, who is going to know any different?

Monetary donations are different; money is instantly transferable so donations cannot be undone and there is very little time or effort involved in giving somebody cash or putting your card number into an online form. I’m not, in the slightest, saying money is the better way of donating but policing the actions and ensuring they are genuine is a challenge that The DoNation must face if it is to be truly effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Determined ‘Doers’

Here is a tantalising taste of some of the fantastic challenges undertaken so far in the name of climate change:

  • From what I can see, the biggest challenge by far was that taken on by Mark Wood whose incredible feat generated more than 30,000kg of CO2 reductions.

    Mark took on the wildernesses of the Antarctic and Arctic in succession, attempting to ski to both poles and while his journey was less than straightforward because of shortening Arctic seasons and huge safety bonds (insurance), he achieved something quite incredible and brought a lot of attention from the major press outlets too.

  • An Aussie-come-Brit who left Australia as a child, Nick Soucek wanted to experience his homeland as an adult and so he decided that the best way to do that would be to cycle 2000 miles from Perth to Adelaide.

    Nick received pledges of some 3,801kg of CO2 and blogged about his 67 day trip with some fantastic photos and stories.

  • In a slightly unusual challenge, Hackney City Farm promised to install solar panels on their large pig pen if the local community could match the CO2 savings of 1,617kg and the public happily obliged.

Getting Donors Motivated

Aside from the policing problems mentioned above, I think that many people who are not particularly concerned about the environment may struggle to see these DoActions as worth their time and effort.

Let me put it another way – people are normally quite happy to donate to a cause that has directly affected them or the person they are sponsoring. If someone asks you to donate to a cancer charity, a disaster relief campaign or an animal home then you might well relate to these causes either because you have been directly affected or because you have seen the suffering of others and feel empathy towards them.

With climate change it is different; many people are aware of the warming of the planet but because they cannot see the direct impact on their lives or even on the lives of other people, they struggle to find the motivation to complete the actions asked of them.

The example above from the City Farm who installed solar panels is one where lessons might be learnt. A community spirit is a powerful thing and a community project has benefits beyond the reduction in emissions so while I don’t know how they would implement it, I think The DoNation should consider community based pledges.

These might be stipulated by the person taking on the challenge and might involve something like starting a community food garden, organising a swap meet to prevent items going to landfill or holding a vegetarian cooking competition to inspire others to eat less meat via delicious free food.

As I noted in my post on green community groups, an individual stands a better chance of maintaining a sustainable lifestyle if there is a support network of like-minded individuals around to turn to for advice and motivation.

Will Green Steve Take On A Challenge?

Well, I have been considering some sort of charity challenge for a while now and I’d certainly consider using The DoNation so if anyone has any interesting suggestions for what I could do then I’m all ears.

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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