Stick to Your Resolutions or Pay Up (to Charity)

Need an extra incentive to achieve your New Year’s resolutions? Create a ‘Commitment Contract’ on if you fail (and you probably will), you will have to donate a penalty to charity or to an organisation you hate.

Autor*in Terri Kafyeke, 01.21.16

Need an extra incentive to achieve your New Year’s resolutions? Create a ‘Commitment Contract’ on if you fail (and you probably will), you will have to donate a penalty to charity or to an organisation you hate.

The first month of 2016 is slowly coming to an end. If you made New Year’s resolutions, you will probably fail to achieve them. But there is hope! Three professors from Yale University created a website to help users stick to their plans by raising the stakes: Whether you want to curb your calorie intake, quit smoking, recycle more or make any other type of life change, you can use the website.

The idea is simple. You create a ‘Commitment Contract’ in which you describe what you want to achieve. Current commitments registered on the website show extreme diversity, from typical goals such as ‘Lose Weight’ and ‘Exercise Regularly’ to more unique ones such as ‘Stop watching Arrow’ and ‘Approach 20 girls a week’.

The next step is to pick a friend who will be your ‘Referee’ who will help monitor your progress and hold you accountable. Finally – and this is probably the most interesting part – you choose the ‘Stakes’. This is the amount of money you will give away if you fail to meet your goal. You are free to choose this amount, but stickK sets a minimum of 5 USD. You also choose who receives this money in the event of failure: a friend (they have to register on the website), a charity or an anti-charity. At the moment, a total of 23,737,813 USD have been pledged pledged on the website, for 296,221 commitments.


If you choose the charity option, stickK will donate your money to one of these charitable organisations:

  • American Red Cross
  • CARE
  • Doctors without Borders
  • Feed the Children
  • Freedom from Hunger
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • United Way

The organisation will be randomly selected and will remain secret. This is to avoid the risk of people failing on purpose to give to their favourite charity.


In order to further motivate users, stickK also has an audacious ‘Anti-charity’ feature. This allows users to choose an organisation they strongly dislike and commit their donation to them if they fail to meet their goals. This eliminates the ‘win-win’ element of the charity feature and, instead, doubles the motivation to stick to their resolutions. 

The organisations listed as potential anti-charities are mainly political and sports-related. The website creators insist that they “provide [users] with the option to choose an organisation on either side of several highly controversial issues.”

  • Americans United for Life
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation
  • Nature Conservancy
  • The National Center for Public Policy Research
  • Freedom to Marry
  • Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
  • Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
  • NRA Foundation
  • American Crossroads (Super PAC supporting Republican Party)
  • House Majority PAC (supporting House Democrats)
  • The Countryside Alliance
  • The League Against Cruel Sports
  • Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
  • The Scientific Alliance
  • Centre for European Reform
  • The Campaign for an Independent Britain
  • Centre Forum (Liberal Democrat)
  • Policy Exchange (Conservative)
  • The Fabian Society (Labour)
  • The Arsenal Fan Club
  • The Chelsea Fan Club
  • The Liverpool Fan Club
  • The Manchester United Fan Club

Pledging to an organisation whose values clash with your morals is probably a good way to stay motivated, but whether it is a risk worth taking is questionable. With notably low rates of success for New Year’s resolutions, it might seem almost nonsensical to pledge to a charity you hate.

For those wishing to do good, the charity option seems like a safer (albeit less exciting) option: either you meet your goals, or you donate to a charity that supports the greater good. Head to stickK’s website to find out more.

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