10 Feb 2017

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One of my favorite charities these days is DonorsChoose, which enables directed donations to teachers in grade school classrooms throughout the US. One of the perks of a directed donation site is that it lets you pick out a specific project to give to, so you know exactly what and who you are helping to fund.

One of the fun parts of a donation site with specific, small sub-goals is the fun of seeing a project finished. In fact, that was my preferred method for a while: on my periodic giving visits, I would search for projects that only needed a little bit more money, and finish as many as I could within my budget.

Unfortunately, this website is sub-optimal in its search capabilities. Instead of allowing a donor to search by an arbitrary needed dollar range, it only has a few preset categories: $50, $100, $250, $500, and $1000. I noticed a while ago that if a project manages to get to under $100 needed, it pretty much always completes, and as such, in the "$100 and under" category, at the moment of this post, the project with the fewest days left still has 6 days before it expires, while the next category ($250 and under) has 12 unfinished projects that will expire at midnight tonight (all projects expire at midnight).

So last month I tested a new strategy. Instead of finishing only small projects that were several days out, or using my budget on completing a small number of more urgent, but more expensive projects, I picked out projects that were about to expire, then donated just enough to bring their needed amount down to less than $100. A few hours later, I checked back, and all of those projects had completed! I still got to see several projects complete without going way over my budget. Win!

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