Will Binding Contracts Make Advocacy More Effective? Help Find Out

My old friend Dean Karlan wants YOU to help improve online advocacy — he’s one of the folks behind a site called stickK.com that that aims to get people to follow through on their commitments by entering into a binding contract, and he’d like to look at how this model will affect online advocacy. Become a guinea pig and you’ll help advance the art and science of motivating supporters — and you might just reach some of your own immediate goals along the way. Details below:

My name is Dean Karlan and I am a professor of Economics at Yale University. I recently co-founded stickK.com — an online tool to help users achieve personal goals by making what we call “Commitment Contracts.” The site is premised on research showing that individuals are more likely to reach their goals if they make a binding contract to do so.

We want to apply this to grassroots political and social behavior, and are looking for like-minded organizations interested in learning if this is an effective method for getting their word out and mobilizing support.

Specifically, we are looking for partners to communicate to their member or user base one or more of the following messages:

1) Going to vote in the upcoming primary or November election? Put your money where your mouth is, and write a commitment contract to vote.

2) Promise you will contribute money to a cause, but can’t do it right now? Write a commitment contract to promise to do so by xxx date.

3) Promise to tell your friends to [contribute, knock on doors, recycle, lower their carbon footprint]? Write a commitment contract to get 10 friends to do so by xxx date.

We are open to creative ideas, beyond what is above, and are mostly looking for organizations eager to mobilize supporters, and keen to see if stickK.com can help them do so.

stickK.com gives users the option of putting money on the line as an incentive for success; if they do not achieve their goal, the money is forfeited to a designated recipient, usually a charity (or for some, their “anti-charity”, e.g., either the Bush or Clinton Presidential Library).

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact me at dean.karlan@yale.edu.


Written by
Colin Delany
View all articles