Promise Or Pay – Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (Or Into Charity)

So, was it you or the champagne talking when you vowed to finish your first novel in 2014? How do your New Year’s Eve resolutions sound now that you can hear them clearly after the fireworks have ended and the crowds gone home? Have doubt and discouragement already turned up their heat, your motivation started to evaporate?




The trouble with resolutions, or other attempts at self-improvement, is that we feel so terrible when we fall short of our goals – and let’s be honest, this happens more often than not. Promise or Pay is a startup that replaces the win or spiral into self-loathing formula with a win or win recipe. This web-based application allows individuals to make public promises, then use support networks to stick to commitments or make a donation to charity after stumbling on the road to betterment.


Social Motivation + Charitable Giving

The process is simple: make a promise (I will run the Chicago marathon, e.g.), select a charity (African People & Wildlife Fund), pledge an amount ($50), and share the promise via at least one social network (Facebook). Run the marathon, and feel great about following through on your intention; stop midway through the race, and feel energized by contributing to positive change in the world.




It’s difficult to hold ourselves accountable. Announcing a plan publicly gives us added determination to accomplish what we set out to achieve. Should we falter, it’s silly to punish ourselves for trying to do something worthwhile. The Promise or Pay platform lets us maintain our desire to be our bests regardless if by boosting us toward fulfilling our promises or empowering us to participate in humanitarian efforts to solve social problems.


Not-for-profit organizations receive donations automatically unless the promiser makes an update to reflect living up to a resolution. In this case, the successful individual is asked if he or she would like to make a donation nonetheless. Here, the Promise or Pay system takes advantage of a “feel good, do good” phenomenon, which suggests that improved moods also make people more inclined to give. Whether by keeping a promise or by giving to charity, there’s always a benefit produced.




Founder Jay Boolkin recognized how hard it is for people to stick with their resolutions and looked to help people stay motivated. At the same time, he believed that a party disinterested in the success or failure of promises should be the one to receive any reward. Boolkin is also the founder and director of The Yoke Project, a social media development company that helps not-for-profit organizations extend their network throughout the world using Twitter.


Australia-based, Promise or Pay has already stirred excitement for its potential to engage people in charitable giving. The startup won the Social Startups MVP Program and was a finalist in the Sydney Genesis Entrepreneurship Challenge (Best Social or Not-For-Profit Startup).


Though we’re already on the official 2014 calendar, it’s always the right time to fix our minds on improving ourselves, declaring this the moment to pursue our dreams. You know you want to say it, that Promise or Pay wants to hear it: I promise to launch the startup I’ve been dreaming about this year, or…


Photo Credits

Promise or Pay