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Social Escrow

Your check isn't cashed unless the goal is met
  (+5, -4)
(+5, -4)
  [vote for,

A social escrow agency would accept contributions designated for some particular purpose, but would not actually cash the checks or turn over the money to the project until certain preconditions are met. For example, until enough money was received to pay for the new transmitter for a public radio station AND the public radio station agrees to cancel their annoying on-air fund-drive. If the specified goals aren't reached by a specified date, the checks would be destroyed, leaving the money in the potential donors accounts. People would therefore be willing to donate more, because they'd know they'd get their money back if 1) not enough other people donated to complete the project, or 2) the other preconditions weren't met.

As I envision this working, the preconditions for release of the money would not include completing the project for which the money was raised. That would, as Rayford pointed out, require loans, and possibly risky ones. Actually finishing a given project could be made a precondition for some future fund-drive, however.

Ford, Jan 24 2008


       Who floats the loan to get the projects started? Usually these things take money up front.
RayfordSteele, Jan 24 2008

       // If the goals aren't reached by a specified date, //   

       Who determines "success" or "failure" ? Might not this cripple, or indeed destroy, sociallty valuable enterprises which were close to success, because of some arbitrary cut-off date ?
8th of 7, Jan 24 2008

       This is a huge minus. It admits to a harsh begruding of a person's charity, and I think that's socially bad. Sorry. Which is sad, because what I thought it was at first (WITIWAF?) would have been a huge plus:   

       A person voluntarily puts a sum of his own money into an escrow account. It stays there until he reaches a social goal that he/she has set out to accomplish for himself/herself. The goal is selected from a limited list and is monitored and directed by the social escrow company. The goal chosen can include things like completing volunteer work such as helping to build affordable housing in third world countries or assisting with disaster relief efforts. The person then can withdraw the money with interest once it has been established that the goal has been accomplished. If he never accomplishes the goal by a selected date, the money is used to fund one or several of many charities that the preson pre-selects.   

       Is that unique enough to post as its own idea? So it can be unanimously bunned for how great an idea it is? I promise to give credit here for the inspiration...
globaltourniquet, Jan 24 2008

       This might be used to buy Bush out of office. He seems like the type of person that would take money to leave. US citizens could collectively put $1 billion in escrow, which he and Cheney could take if they leave by the end of the month. Even $5 billion would be a magnificent investment for the US economy if they took it. I would put in $200 today.
leinypoo13, Jan 24 2008

       [Rayford] Nothing to do with loans, but now I see why you thought so, and revised accordingly.   

       [Una] Revised for clarity   

       [8th] A campaign wouldn’t have to have a deadline, but people might be more likely to contribute if they knew their check wouldn’t be sitting in escrow indefinitely.   

       [global] Now, if a group raises some money, but not enough to actually do the project, that money may be wasted. With this system, the money would be freed for projects that actually achieve critical mass. Your idea is interesting because of its nonfinancial benefits, but I bet people would give less.   

       [leiny] I agree that this could be used for political purposes. Criteria for release could include the recipient doing something good, or their opposition doing something bad. I like your example.
Ford, Jan 24 2008

       Hm...someone proposed a very similar method for raising money for charity not so very long ago.
DrCurry, Jan 24 2008

       There must be something to do with cash, if you plan to build a radio station and new transmitter, then contracts must be established to build them. Usually builders like to have some money with which to purchase their materials, pay their labor, etc. So, where does that money come from if it is all frozen in this escrow until the project is complete?
RayfordSteele, Jan 24 2008

       So I could add some money for any particular goal I think up, and the social escrow agency would place the goal into it's list of goals, right?   

Inyuki, Jan 25 2008

       [Rayford} I see I misunderstood your question. Hope it's clear as revised. {inyuki] Yes, any idea you come up with that's legal in the host country could be added to the list of projects. Probably many of them wouldn't raise enough money to meet their target. Unlike the current system, however, those contributions would be returned and could then be applied to other projects. You could even write a check to "whichever of these three projects meets its target first."
Ford, Jan 26 2008


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