This is a guest blog post by Paul Hudnut, Watsi Board Member.
If you are reading this blog post, you're probably already giving to Watsi, or are considering giving to Watsi. I’m writing this post to share with you how I've supported Watsi, and how that has changed over the years.
My journey with Watsi started as a donor in March 2013, then evolved to advisor, board member, and eventually board chair. From the beginning, I have always appreciated that Watsi is an easy, efficient, and transparent way to help provide healthcare to people who need it, but can’t afford it.
When I first began funding patients on Watsi, I would go over the website and select several people based on their profile and need. I thought it was so cool that all the money went directly to fund the surgeries. No overhead!
A few years later, Watsi introduced the Universal Fund, which allowed me to designate a recurring gift each month that would be used to directly support patients. While I no longer got to choose which patients’ healthcare I would fund, I felt that this could help me be a more regular donor and also perhaps support those patients who were not getting funded as easily. Once again, so cool, 100% of my donation went directly to healthcare for patients who needed it.
Within a couple years, I began giving my time, as well as my money, by becoming an advisor to Watsi. As an advisor, I mostly helped them with raising money from philanthropists and foundations. Some of these grants paid for specific programs, but many were “unrestricted”, meaning they could be used for general operations, administration, and new initiatives (aka, “overhead”). This helped Watsi grow and reach thousands of more people around the world.
As I got to know more about Watsi, I continued to be impressed by its impact and its aspirations, and I decided to provide a gift as part of my family’s annual charitable giving. Yes, I like funding surgeries for Tingo in Kenya and Berthony in Haiti, but I also like funding the folks who build and maintain the platform, recruit the best medical partners, and keep the financial records straight.
“Overhead” has become such a lifeless word for such good work by such energetic and dedicated people.
Later, when I joined Watsi’s board of directors, I increased the amount of my annual gift and now make sure to give this unrestricted support each year to help Watsi sustain and grow. Finally, I added a significant tip to my monthly Universal Fund donation (here’s where you can too), which also helps support Watsi’s lean operations.
I now appreciate that Watsi isn’t just a non-profit company, but an inspiring community of donors, patients, medical partners, volunteers, and staff who are coming together to do incredible good for lives around the world.
Our board of directors has kept our operating expenses low, and our technology platform allows us to grow our impact much faster than our expenses. But in order for this community to thrive, we need to fund these core operating expenses—salaries, bank processing fees, professional services, and the like. If you get good service for a nice meal, what tip do you leave? I believe Watsi also provides a good service to help us directly help others in need in a lasting and meaningful way.
Over the past 12 months, about 67% of Watsi donors included a tip (🙏) on their donation with an average tip among them of 12%. If 100% of us tipped closer to 20%, Watsi’s community would be covering more than half of its operating expenses—accelerating Watsi further on the path of being community-led and serving as a model of financial innovation and sustainability for other nonprofits. Now, if you ask me, that would be really cool!
Imagine a sustainable, self-funding community, where we all pitch in a little to keep Watsi healthy and growing. I hope that you'll consider adding a tip to your donations and, perhaps, even making a separate gift to support Watsi’s operations. For years, I underestimated the importance of overhead and I hope my journey helps you see the tremendous impact of it too!
Thank you for all you do to make Watsi’s life-changing work around the world possible.
The Watsi Team
Everyone deserves healthcare.