Our Principles

What does it mean to give effectively?

Giving effectively means making the most of each dollar. Whatever the goal - reducing CO2 emissions, feeding the hungry, healing the sick - effective donors seek ways to do more per dollar donated.

However, it can be hard to determine which organizations are doing the most impactful work. So, most of us make decisions using the information we have: a good friend’s recommendation, a convincing website, a well-planned fundraiser. However, understanding if a nonprofit is actually being impactful requires fairly complex analysis, auditing, and measurement. So who knows which organizations are most effective?

Major donors, particularly foundations which give away tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year are well placed to make good decisions. They can afford to hire teams, develop deep knowledge of a sector, build a well-informed plan to reach their goals, follow up on their donations, and learn from their results. Foundations that focus on measuring impact initially make the most informed decisions, but perhaps more importantly, they learn by giving, changing how and to whom they donate, allowing them to become more effective over time.

Interested in learning more? Read a more in-depth description of effective philanthropy here.

How can I be an effective donor?

Currently, your average donor isn't always effective. Every few months, we see the heartbreaking news stories of charities wasting millions of hard earned dollars from individuals on ineffective solutions and outright scams.

So how can you be a more effective donor? There are three options:

  • Build and endow a rigorous, staffed foundation: Follow the footsteps of Bill Gates, Dustin Moskovitz, or George Soros. You'll have an extraordinary impact, but it will cost you hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.
  • You can do the research, decision-making, follow-up, and impact auditing yourself: If you have the time, energy, and dedication to become an effective philanthropist, you can do it. Do keep in mind, you’ll repeat the same work done by others, and will be an additional burden on nonprofits every time you reach out to them asking for information and impact data.
  • Or - you can leverage expert advice. That’s what we here at Agora do. We gather the expertise of diligent, thoughtful, experienced donors so that each dollar donated by an individual – you, your friends in finance, your grandma – is as high impact as a dollar donated by the most well-informed, wealthy philanthropist.

Curious about who we work with? Click here.

Quite literally, how does it work?

Get advice

What’s important to you? We recommend exceptional nonprofits in nearly every sector.

Complete your giving portfolio

Make your personal donations: your alma mater, a local library, any place that you know well.

Make your donation.

Give recurring or one time gifts, in the way that’s most convenient to you; credit card, bank transfer, property, or appreciated securities. And it’s available to everyone - minimum donations are just 50 cents per organization.

Track your impact.

We’ll consolidate updates from every cause area and organization you donate to on your dashboard. Check in any time for an overview of philanthropic giving, and your impact.

Complete your tax information, easily.

Your entire gift is tax deductible. At the end of the year, we’ll compile your tax documents, so your refund is as easily as possible.

How do we determine which areas to focus on?

We focus our recommended funds on areas identified by the Sustainable Development Goals; the most broadly supported development goals the world has ever established. The development of these goals included input from over 7 million individuals from 88 countries, and input from foundations, businesses, global leaders, and the United Nations.

What is a fund?

We offer donors the option to contribute to a group of nonprofits that focuses on a specific cause area - a bit like an ‘index fund’ of nonprofits. These ‘funds’ include nonprofits that have been selected, and are supported, by our expert partners. By supporting a fund, you can rest assured you're donating alongside the most well-informed leaders in each sector. Each fund contains approximately 3-5 nonprofits at any given time.

Check out our funds!

Why should I donate to a fund?

Direct donations are good, but funds are great. Why? Not only are they easy, they allow three major advantages.

  • You’ll be more comprehensive: Problems like climate change or poverty are complex. By diversifying your gifts, you help support the whole sector.
  • You’ll learn more: Exposure to work done by several organizations will allow you to understand what’s working in the field, and what’s not, and why.
  • You’ll adapt faster: We work with our partners to actively manage our funds. So, if you set up a recurring gift to say, the Clean Water Fund, we’ll automatically track the performance of the nonprofits in the fund and inform you if and when they change. You can rest easy knowing your donations are always going to the most effective organizations, no matter when you give.

Mission

Our mission is to transform philanthropy, funding nonprofits based on impact, not marketing.

Story

The idea for Agora for Good came out of a long discussion one evening about our own charitable giving. My husband Alex and I were both living and working in New York, and I had just returned from working in Burma with a nonprofit. We had become increasingly frustrated by the scarcity of information and tools that existed to help us navigate these important decisions.

Individuals in the United States give more than $250 billion every year – six times more than staffed private foundations. And yet there are surprisingly few resources out there to support us in our philanthropic giving.

From our professional experiences we knew there was no good reason for this. I was advising leading foundations and philanthropists at the time, and knew first hand that deep and valuable information regarding the social impact existed. Alex’s background in macroeconomics and data science had shown him that robust data infrastructure could provide great efficacy.

Together we reflected on the fact that our society currently has the technology, the knowledge, and the resources to solve the world’s greatest challenges. But, as a society, we weren’t allocating those resources effectively. Data and information was too hard to find, and not easily searchable. In order to truly change the world, we realized we needed to first transform the sector with data.

Thus began Agora for Good: a marketplace that connects donors to the organizations that are effectively solving the global challenges they care about, and that helps effective organizations raise the funds they need and seamlessly share their impact with their supporters.


Our Bios


Angela, a first generation American, had been interested in women’s global rights since a young age. While pursuing her MBA at Stanford, Angela worked with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in India, learning from women who had been sex trafficked. She saw first hand how many different factors interacted to create the conditions that gave rise to human trafficking. It was clear that meaningful change couldn’t be achieved simply by funding a single sector or intervention. After Stanford Angela joined Dalberg, a major strategic advisory firm dedicated to global development, where she advised large foundations and multilaterals in moving ~$300 million in high impact giving.

Alex saw first hand growing up the effects of inequality on health and education in America. He grew up living in the projects in Boston, and during his childhood became determined to make an impact in addressing inequality. As a data scientist at heart, Alex decided to dedicate his career to understanding the world in order to change it, and after receiving degrees from Oxford and Stanford Business School, he worked at the world’s largest macroeconomic hedge fund. While there, he grew increasingly interested in the opportunity for data to drive smarter decisions in changing the world. In addition to Agora, he runs Snow Ventures.

FAQ

What happens when I give?

If you’re making a direct donation to a nonprofit, your money will be transferred on the last day of the month. You’ll get a confirmation and a receipt from us immediately.

When you donate to one of our funds, your money will be distributed evenly to the nonprofits in each fund on the last day of the month. If you donate $100 to the climate change fund - there are four organizations in the fund: each will get 25% of the total, after fees.

Can I give non-cash assets?

Yes. We partner with a Donor Advised Fund which can accept stocks, appreciated securities, or equity. If you’re donating an amount larger than $5,000, and don’t want to distribute your donations immediately, contact us, and we’ll get you set up.

Set up a call.

How is Agora different than other fundraising platforms?

We focus on the donor, not the fundraiser. There are a lot of fundraising platforms that help fundraisers raise money. In contrast, we provide donors with a way to manage their entire philanthropic life. That means we focus on three things:

  1. Guidance: trustworthy recommendations from the experts on the best possible way to donate.
  2. Ease: the freedom to donate where you want, and the ability to track everything in one place.
  3. Reporting: compelling updates on the work you’ve supported - without solicitation.
    1. Other fundraising platforms improve nonprofits' marketing. Agora helps donors have more impact.

I just want to donate to my college, or local food bank, can I do that?

Of course you can. We want to put effective philanthropy at your fingertips, not make decisions for you.

Already know where you want to donate? Just add the organization to your portfolio under 'Direct Donations' and you're all set. We’ll keep track of your donations, so you can manage all your giving in one place, regardless of where you give.

If you can’t find an organization by searching for their name, try entering their EIN number (Federal Employer Identification Number) which is usually listed on their webpage.

Moreover, donating directly via Agora is likely less expensive than donating via your alma mater's own website. How's that possible? Find out more.

Who do we partner with?

Agora partners with foundations, research institutions, and nonprofit experts. We work with organizations that meet our criteria for rigorous impact measurement either as active partners, information sources, or venture philanthropy partners:

  1. Active partners work with us to identify and select the specific organizations to represent in our funds, collaborating with us directly throughout the year.
  2. Information sources share their recommendations publicly, and we rely on their research to identify and select the specific organizations to represent in our funds.
  3. Venture philanthropy partners help us to identify promising early stage organizations via their fellows, or other vetting processes.
    1. Through these relationships, we identify and select the nonprofits that have the strongest focus on research, outcomes measurement, and area expertise as well as exciting nonprofits with the potential to scale.

      See our list of Partners here.

What's our criteria for active partners and information sources?

We choose our partners and information sources based on six criteria:

  1. Impact focused - a clear, publicly shared process for assessing impact.
  2. Deep grantee knowledge - an understanding of a grantee's theory of change and a process for collecting impact data over time.
  3. Prominence - an acknowledged expert in their sector.
  4. Extraordinary commitment to research - spend a significant portion of the foundation's budget both on qualitative and quantitative research (generally over 15%).
  5. Transparency - they must have a track record of openly engaging with the public on their work, including publishing their mistakes and taking responsibility for their decisions.
  6. Intervention agnostic - focused on finding the best ways to solve a giving issue, without bias.

What's our criteria for venture philanthropy partners?

We choose our venture philanthropy partners based on three criteria:

  1. Impact focused - a clear, publicly shared process for assessing impact.
  2. Unique Pipeline - commitment to sourcing unique, scalable solutions and access to the best applicants around the world.
  3. Sector expertise - draw on knowledge and networks from experts in a specific sector to choose winners.

Do you support organizations that are young, or just starting out?

We have a separate process for identifying early-stage nonprofits as part of our ‘venture philanthropy’ track. These groups are selected via partnerships with accelerators, fellowship programs, and contests that find the best up-and-coming organizations. While the nonprofits they support might not yet have the rigorous proof of impact yet, they have the potential to lead their field in the future.

See our Venture Philanthropy Partners.

So is it free?

Agora is better than free - we actually reduce expenditure in the nonprofit sector overall. On average, private foundations spend about 20 cents per dollar managing and tracking their giving, and nonprofits spend about 25 cents per dollar on fundraising. That means traditional grantmaking results in 45 cents per dollar wasted in transaction costs.

We charge 1% of your gift to donate to an organization directly, and 5% for our funds. These fees allow us to continue working on this project, and support the amazing reporting done by our funded nonprofits. In addition, we charge the transaction fees that are charged to us: 25 cents to pay with your bank account, and 2.2% + 30 cents (Visa/Mastercard) or 3.25% (Amex) to pay with credit card. Your entire gift is 100% tax-deductible.

Why should you donate to our funds?

Is Agora for Good a nonprofit?

No. We’re a for-profit Public Benefit Corporation (B-Corp) with Gold B-Lab Certification. Why? Our goal is to build the structure for a better nonprofit marketplace, not to be a nonprofit ourselves. We are a technology and information company, and we want market forces to make sure we prove our value to the donors and nonprofits that use our platform, and to the sector as a whole.

Why should I pay with my bank account?

  • It’s much less expensive than paying with a credit card. While most sites don’t talk about it, paying with a credit card means you’re paying on average ~3% of your total just in payment processing. Paying by bank account transfer is just 25 cents. Nice. Giving through Agora means, in many cases, the nonprofit you give to actually pays 3 to 4 times less than they would otherwise in credit card or paypal fees.
  • It’s just as easy. Sign into your bank account using your bank’s login information, select your account, and you’re done.
  • It’s just as safe. We work with leaders in payment processing to ensure your donation is completed securely. Moreover, we don’t store any banking information on our servers, so there’s nothing personal or private at risk.

I’m managing a family foundation, can I use Agora for Good?

Of course! We offer bespoke services for donors giving over $20,000 per year. Contact us for details to learn more about our Leader’s Circle, Ambassador Program, Director’s Circle, and additional advisory services

Drop us a line, or an email.