Promise or Pay Puts a New Twist on Social Good

Photo above: Fountain of Hope center in Lusaka, Zambia.

Jay Bolkin is the founder of Promise or Pay

Mom Bloggers for Social Good is full of fascinating and inspiring stories of people doing all kinds of wonderful things to make those big changes that the world really needs. From to fearless Frontline Health Workers to courageous female genital mutilation activists. It is a distinct and constant reminder that that the actions of one individual can make a difference.

If you read this blog and are interested in the topics covered, you likely have an attitude of sensitivity toward social problems and need little reminder of the injustices and vulnerabilities affecting so many people in the world today. Billions of people are living in poverty, one billion are starving, and millions are sold into modern day slavery. Sometimes it is just all too much – we stop reading, we switch off the TV, we change the conversation – we become paralysed by all the pain and inequity. We can be compassionate and empathetic and still end up thinking, “it sucks but that’s the way things are.”

Too many people think they can do nothing, but they are wrong. It is when we think about singlehandedly solving huge world problems that we get overwhelmed. While it is true that no one can do everything, everyone can do something. Whether it is volunteering your time, donating blood, giving away your unwanted stuff or spending time with the elderly. This is not a new concept and I don’t think the hard part is thinking up the ways we could help. I think the challenge is following through on our good intentions – actually doing what we ‘could’ or ‘should’ do. Unfortunately life gets busy and even when we make promises to ourselves to do the things that would make the world a better place we often get sidetracked by distractions, lack motivation or simply slip back into routine.

The truth is that making promises to ourselves is often not enough and that to really increase the likelihood that we will follow through with our declarations to ‘do good’ we need to put something on the line. Intuitively this makes sense and is backed by years of social and behavioral research. Studies show that the chance of achieving a goal increases 33% if it is shared with others and by 72% if money is put on the line.

Promise or Pay is a newly launched social enterprise that integrates these proven techniques to help you uphold your commitments and change the world for the common good. The formula is simple. You publicly promise to do something or pay a nominated contribution to a charity if you do not follow through.

Promise or Pay harnesses social media to make your goal public and thereby strengthen the intention of keeping it and integrates charitable giving to ensure a win-win outcome is always achieved and you are left feeling good. Either you keep your promise thereby benefiting yourself, or you contribute towards solving a pressing social problem via your donation, thereby benefiting others. In doing so, Promise or Pay helps overcome the disappointing and discouraging feelings that are often the aftermath of failing to accomplish something important.

By combining social motivation with charitable giving, Promise or Pay motivates people to do the things they most want to do with their lives, while creating a more engaging and empowering way to donate to charities that are making a real difference in the world.

We need to remember the power of the individual to improve the world and that minor acts can spark major change. So the next time you get inspired to give back and hear yourself saying “I really should…”, why not tell the world and put your money where your mouth is? Whether you want to set up your own social enterprise, help out at the local food kitchen, or initiate something that has never been tried before – Promise or Pay will increase your chances of being the change you wish to see in the world. And the great thing is that if you slip up you will still feel good knowing that you are helping worthwhile charities fund their good work.

Make a promise and make a better world at


If you like the idea behind Promise or Pay and would like to get involved – whether it is a helping hand, some advice, an endorsement, pro-bono services or straight up funding – I would love to talk. Feel free to drop me an email me at






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