Can I specify a beneficiary for my derailments?
The answer is "not really" (see the end of this article for a partial exception). Collecting the fees is our current business model.
Of course, that was our competitor StickK’s original plan and they concluded that people wouldn’t go for that, so they now let you select beneficiaries of your contract. Nonetheless, in our experience, Beeminder's users are fine with Beeminder being the beneficiary. We think that's true for a couple reasons:
- The exponential fee schedule, in addition to removing the difficult choice about how much to pledge, means you’re starting with a small amount pledged after you’ve already gotten value out of Beeminder.
- We’re fundamentally providing more value than StickK because of the pretty graphs, storing your data, and all the tools for flexibly managing your commitment.
We now have many tens of thousands of goals with money pledged. It seems to be universally true that whenever someone actually pays a pledge, they got at least that much value out of Beeminder up until that point through completing their goals to avoid the sting, and all the other benefits we offer like data visualisation. If you have a counterexample, we want to hear about it!
All of that said, there is a situation whereby you can specify a beneficiary for your derailments, if that's motivating for you: Beemium subscribers can opt to have 50% of their derailments donated to one of a few charities (GiveDirectly, Watsi, the EFF, or freeCodeCamp).
Despite that, overall we're not fans of linking consequences for akrasia with charitable donations. If we let people donate to anti-charities when they derail, then we're actively making the world a worse place. If we let people donate to charities when they derail, then we're probably not really providing much motivation not to derail -- after all, donating to charities is good, right? There's also a risk that we'd be actively incentivising people not to donate to charity by framing it as a consequence for not sticking to commitments, which is probably detrimental. Food for thought!
Keywords: Beemium charity option, where does the money go?