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The Robin Hood Rules for Smart Giving

The Robin Hood Rules for Smart Giving

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Read the chapter, "Overview of Relentless Monetization," from "The Robin Rules for Smart Giving," by Michael M. Weinstein and Ralph M. Bradburd
Read the chapter, "Overview of Relentless Monetization," from "The Robin Rules for Smart Giving," by Michael M. Weinstein and Ralph M. Bradburd

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Published by: Columbia University Press on May 02, 2013
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1
Overview o Relentless Monetization
You’re a philanthropist whose mission is to ght poverty. You’re choosingbetween two dierent ways to allocate your charity. One option would haveyou donate $10 million to teach carpentry to emale high school dropouts.A second option would have you donate $10 million to middle schools thatserve disadvantaged children to expand their onsite psychological services.Which option do you choose?Tis thought experiment triggers two questions. How can you, as aphilanthropist, make the right choice? And what exactly does “right” meanin this context?Tis book lays out a concise ramework or answering these ques-tions, a ramework by which to make smart philanthropic decisions. By philanthropic decisions, we mean decisions driven by a mission other thanthe maximization o personal prot. By smart, we mean achieving phil-anthropic goals to the maximum extent possible with whatever money isavailable. We call our ramework 
Relentless Monetization (RM)
. It methodi-cally applies the workhorse o modern economics, benet/cost analysis, tothe task o making eective philanthropic choices.For many readers, “relentless” and “monetization” carry negative con-notations. So why do we ocus on them? Why do we argue that putting thetwo terms together makes or smart philanthropy? By monetization, we
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oveRview o RelenTless moneTizaTion
reer to assigning dollar values to philanthropic outcomes. And relentlessmeans making these assignments even when the benets associated withthose outcomes are hard to measure and the evidentiary basis or assigningdollar values to specic outcomes is slim. RM uses these monetized values,however uncertain, to guide philanthropists toward their best, smartest op-tions. RM, we argue, provides a reliable, transparent answer to the kindo question we posed in our opening thought experiment: Given my mis-sion o ghting poverty, should I und carpentry training or unemployedwomen or psychological counseling or middle school students?o whom is this book directed? RM is all about analyzing philanthropicchoices. As such, it inorms the decisions o any actors who make suchchoices: donors, nonprot organizations, government ofcials, legislators,policy experts, or anyone else acing philanthropic tradeos. In a world o nite resources, philanthropists cannot und every activity that does good,not even every activity that does a lot o good. Tey must make choices.Te idea behind this book is that philanthropists cannot settle or choosingprograms merely because they generate important benets. Tey must holdout or unding only those programs that do the
most 
good per dollar o costs. Otherwise money is wasted, which is an unorgivable mistake givenyawning social needs. Te analysis would be largely the same no matterwhich actors would be in mind. Much o our discussion in this book isdirected at “unders,” but that’s simply a mannerism. Te discussion could just as easily be directed at the leaders o nonprot organizations or any other philanthropic actors.Tis book makes the case that,
as a matter o theory 
, RM applies tophilanthropic endeavors o all stripes
.
We could have posed the initialthought experiment rom the point o view o environmentalists: Shouldthey spend money to save oysters in the Chesapeake Bay or polar bears inthe Arctic? Or we could have posed the thought experiment rom the pointo view o human rights activists: Should they ocus their time and money on countering the trend in Latin America o electing authoritarians to po-litical ofce, or on steering courts in the United States away rom sentenc-ing juvenile oenders to prison?However widely the RM ramework applies to philanthropic decisionmaking in theory, the question arises o how widely applicable will the RMramework be
in practice.
Can it guide real-time philanthropic decisionsin smart directions? o address this question, this book tracks the actualpractices o the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprot that makes grants o about $10 million a year to community-based organizations in New York 
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