The Surprising Truth About What A Dollar Can Do

Now's your chance.

For the most part, you get what you pay for, no more, no less. 

Take, for example, getting a more comfortable seat and extended leg room when you pay top dollar for a plane ticket. Or getting a coveted leather interior and bonus cup holders in your new car if you're willing to pay the extra buck.

But what if — no matter how much you spent — your dollar had a payoff valued well beyond its initial numerical worth? 

By investing a dollar in certain, highly impactful charities, you can generate an outsize impact well beyond the value of that first dollar. (Which is pretty incredible.)

Charity: Water's work to make clean drinking water accessible to people in developing countries is a perfect example. 

As the organization notes in a YouTube video, nearly one billion people lack easy access to potable water. As a result, women who could otherwise be a part of the labor force often have to walk hours to natural water sources and collect water that has been exposed to various pollutant elements.

Charity: Water reminds us that the problem is solvable and through small donations, communities can get closer, more efficient access to water, giving them the opportunity to focus on their family, education, and work. Those small donations will have big economic impact.

But few potential charitable returns equal that of vitamins in terms of both cost-efficiency and immediacy of impact, as noted by Vitamin Angels, a Walgreens charity partner dedicated to fighting childhood malnutrition abroad and at home.

"Millions of children around the world are suffering from malnutrition, specifically undernutrition-- a lack of micronutrients that can lead to disease and even death," Vitamin Angels writes on its website. Moreover, the organization explains that undernutrition is the underlying cause of 45 percent of all childhood deaths.

To combat undernutrition, Vitamin Angels focuses on distributing two types of life-changing vitamins: vitamin A and multivitamins. Approximately 190 million children are in need of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps maintain healthy vision, skin and bones, among other things.

To increase absorption of vitamin A, the charity notes, "Wherever possible, we pair anti-parasitic treatments (deworming tablets) with vitamin A to eliminate the presence of intestinal worms which contribute to poor absorption of vitamin A. This ensures that children obtain sufficient vitamin A, decreasing the effects of VAD, and protecting children's immune function and survival."

Multivitamins distributed to undernourished pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five, can increase one's "earning potential, education, health, and even height" at a young age. When a child doesn't receive proper nutrients, their developmental health is in danger. 

Which means the work that Vitamin Angels and Walgreens are doing together is incredibly important. While vitamins might cost comparatively little, their impact is huge.

In 2008 and again in 2012, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think tank in Denmark, concluded undernutrition was the most pressing global development issue, and that vitamins could be the most effective way to address it. 

"For about $100 per child, a bundle of interventions including micronutrients, improvements in diet quality and better care behaviours, chronic undernutrition could be reduced by 36 percent in developing countries," researchers for the 2012 consensus noted.

In countries such as Ethiopia, for every dollar donated to fight undernutrition, there is a $30 payoff. Imagine if your stock portfolio gave you those kinds of returns, or if for every coffee you bought, your favorite shop's loyalty card guaranteed you thirty more.

Tipping the scales even more, when you purchase vitamins or supplements at Walgreens, the company will donate one percent of the sales price to Vitamin Angels. You'll be contributing to the charity's effort to protect children around the world from malnutrition and the serious conditions associated with it. 

Walgreens' goal is to help 100 million children, and incredibly enough, it's already sixty percent there.

Clearly, a dollar is worth a lot more than some might assume. It's no longer vending machine change or a small tip on a bar tab — it's a way to combat dangerous health issues, provide people with water and, in turn, contribute to education, the workplace, family life, and of course, a better world.

Let's do this.