Today marks the two-year anniversary of our first blog post here, and it’s been both a lot of fun and a lot of work. Our goal in starting this website was simple: to share the knowledge that changed our lives for the better — for free — so that other people might find ways to improve their own lives in a similar way.
But the internet is a strange place, and it turns out that giving information away for free is something you can actually make money doing. When we want to recommend something helpful to readers, we always check if there is a way to easily monetize that recommendation through affiliate links or other means. If there is, we do it. If there isn’t, we still recommend the best thing we know of anyway. That’s a win-win.
So far, our affiliate profit (aka “influencer profit”) has been very modest. But as we’ve started to experience an influx of traffic from press coverage, search engines, and social media, it’s slowly started to grow.
An extra stream of income for us would have been cool, but ultimately, we decided on the following instead: We will be dedicating 100% of this blog’s net affiliate profits to charitable causes forever. A log of our affiliate profits and where they go will be publicly kept at tripofalifestyle.com/charity.
In addition, we recently donated 100% of our net affiliate profits from the past 2 years to charity. This initial “catch-up” donation of $1026.75 went to the Against Malaria Foundation. It represents all affiliate profits earned from Q2 2019 through Q1 2021.
The Against Malaria Foundation uses almost 100% of donations to buy anti-mosquito bed nets for impoverished Africans who are at risk of contracting insect-borne malaria while they sleep. The majority of deaths prevented are in children under 5 years old. This charity is rated highly cost-effective by GiveWell. Please consider making a donation.
Why Are We Doing This?
Reason 1: Earning Your Trust
When you read a recommendation on the internet, it’s natural to be kinda skeptical. You might ask yourself, “Are they recommending this because it’s truly the best thing available, or because they’re getting a kickback?”
We don’t want you to have those kinds of thoughts while you’re here.
Our policy has always been to recommend only the stuff that we’d also suggest to our own friends and family — regardless of whether we’re getting paid. But, how could you actually know if that was true?
One solution would be to just delete all the affiliate links from our site and refuse payment for any of our recommendations, but it seemed a little blasphemous to us to just flush money down the toilet. Why give up incidental revenue that doesn’t cost anybody anything extra?
That’s when we came up with a better way: Give all of our affiliate profits to charity, letting any skepticism disappear without allowing the money go to waste. Ultimately, we think this increased trust and goodwill can help us get our message out to more people.
From now on, every time you share our content, you will not only be helping to spread a positive message about money, travel, and happiness — you will be helping to support charity.
Together, we can make this blog go viral and help a lot more people in a lot of different ways.
Reason 2: Celebrating Financial Independence
Although we’re far from filthy rich, we are financially independent. If we never earned another penny from work again as long as we live, we could likely survive on investment income alone forever (mostly because we keep our spending low).
That doesn’t mean we never want to make any more money. More money is great! But it does mean that we don’t absolutely need more. We always said to ourselves that once we reached that level of freedom, we’d give something back.
Starting our blog in the first place was one way to do that — we wanted to share everything we’d learned the hard way ourselves, for free. Dedicating the blog’s affiliate profits to charity is just a natural extension of that original idea. It lets us help even more people.
Reason 3: Making Better Millionaires
This website encourages readers to spend less money, make more of it, and invest the difference. Most people who follow this basic advice will become wealthy in the long run. In turn, that means we’ll have the ear of more and more wealthy people as time goes on.
But the type of person who gets rich by these methods isn’t exactly normal. When you grow your wealth by appreciating nature instead of luxury, shunning fancy cars, and learning to be happy with less, you’ll naturally start to think, “What do I need all this money for anyway?”
When someone becomes a millionaire by being content with less, that person should theoretically be a perfect candidate for a lifetime of philanthropy. Fostering this type of rich person is one of the secret goals we’ve had in the back of our minds all along.
If you consider yourself rich (in the sense that you have all you need), we’d like to encourage you to think about how you can give back too. If you need some ideas, check out the charities we select as we figure out how to give back ourselves.
Where Does The Money Go?
Currently, our plan is to donate our affiliate profits to well-established charities on a quarterly basis. The charities we donate to may change each quarter, but they’ll always be announced publicly on our newly launched charity page.
We’ll try to focus on charities who efficiently use their funding. We’d like to steer clear of politically controversial giving and direct the majority of funds toward saving and improving lives in ways that are universally and undeniably compassionate, educational, or otherwise altruistic in nature.
The best charities narrowly identify one important issue and attempt to solve that issue as cost-effectively as possible. Our first donation recipient, the Against Malaria Foundation, is a perfect example of that. Virtually 100% of donations they receive go directly toward purchasing low-cost mosquito nets and deploying them in Africa to prevent insect-borne malaria infections, which are most often fatal in small children.
When it comes to solving humanitarian crises, each dollar spent can typically save more human lives when used in areas of extreme poverty (in a global context). As a result, a lot of the money we donate for this purpose is likely to end up in places with a dire need (like Africa), rather than rich countries (like the United States).
If we were to contribute to charity work in wealthier countries, we’d probably be most interested in educational efforts, like financial literacy programs which could help people to become richer and in turn allocate their own money toward further charity work in the future (i.e. “paying it forward”). We’re also interested in work that benefits non-human animals, who are still treated poorly even in rich countries (particularly in the realm of large-scale agriculture).
At some point in the future, we might shift toward putting funds to use directly for charitable purposes ourselves, rather than giving to an existing organization. We’ve often daydreamed about running a community center for financial education, for example. Who knows?
With that said, we’re new to all of this, so we reserve the right to use the money for any type of charity work we choose in the future. But we’ll always publicly disclose where it’s going.
The Accounting Details
We’re tying our giving to affiliate income to make it impossible for us to personally profit from giving slanted recommendations — a show of good faith. For the same reason, we also want to be transparent about this whole process. Here are all the details about how our donations will be calculated and reported, if you’re curious:
- To calculate “net affiliate profit” (i.e. the donation amount), we’ll start by adding up all of our affiliate revenues. Then, we’ll subtract expenses directly associated with maintaining affiliate relationships (like program fees), and we’ll subtract a portion of the blog’s operating expenses proportional to our affiliate revenue as a fraction of total revenue. Lastly, we’ll subtract our estimated tax burden associated with the affiliate revenue. If that sounds confusing, check out our first charitable giving report to see it worked out in detail.
- “Affiliate revenue,” aka “influencer revenue” represents all money we receive by personally recommending external products and services to our users, usually through affiliate and referral links or codes (for example, via Amazon Associates links, eBay Partner Network links, credit card referral links, etc.). It does not include non-affiliate revenue — like income from Google AdSense banners — since that type of revenue doesn’t present a conflict of interest. To date, about 76% of this blog’s total gross revenue has been affiliate revenue. You can find a list of our affiliate revenue sources on our Disclosures page.
- Each quarter, we’ll report all of this stuff publicly at tripofalifestyle.com/charity. The first report is already live!
- Along with our quarterly affiliate profit reports, we will provide proof of donation. In the future, we reserve the right to “bank” money across multiple quarters toward a longer-term charitable project. In that case, we will report how much has been banked for later use each quarter instead.
We’re excited to reach more people, change more lives, and in turn, give more money to charity over time. If you’re excited about that too, do us a favor and share some of our content with a friend today. We’d really appreciate it.
— Lauren & Steven