Charitocracy Finally Explained

Charitocracy finally explained. How do you like them apples?

We have $230 in September's pot, and on Friday night at midnight we'll name our first recipient cause! And if after 9 months -- the gestation period for a web charity -- and 33 blog posts you don't fully grasp Charitocracy yet, I don't blame you! I've only just taken the time to really explain it here. (Existing donors need to log out first to see it, since it's geared toward new recruits.)

To be honest, 6 months ago when I took a guess at how many donors we'd attract in our first month, I guessed higher. I figured we might get 100 donors, since there were plenty more than that who liked our Facebook page. Currently there are 220 likes, but only 47 donors. Some of that discrepancy is due to households creating one account whereas multiple family members like Charitocracy. But I'm hopeful there are still a lot of friends and family members out there who simply need our persistent yammering here before they'll climb aboard. At $13/year and 2 minutes to enter your name and credit card info, it's not a steep climb!

At the same time, I totally underestimated the generosity of our donors. I imagined we'd average maybe $2/month from each donor, but instead we're seeing closer to $5/month! This is great, since it tells me our monthly pot will be somewhere in the vicinity of $500 once we cross that 100 donor mark. If you're reading this, you've probably already signed up, but if not, let me know what it's going to take. I will suffer a bucket of ice water. I will eat a lime. I will sing karaoke (or not sing karaoke if you prefer). Tell me what I can do that I'm not already doing to earn your $13! Operators are standing by.

Yes, Benj would do that!

Thou Shalt Count To 3, No More, No Less

4 shalt thou not count, neither count thou 2, excepting that thou then proceed to 3. 5 is right out.

Remember when we voted in Charitocracy's Top 10 for September? If it feels like forever ago, that's because it's been almost a whole week. I'm happy to say there's no crisis that needs your attention. Everything is running smoothly. If you take no action, we'll narrow the field down to the Top 3 tomorrow night, and the world will keep spinning.

But if you feel restless, I encourage you to do 5 3 things to calm yourself at

  1. Reconsider your vote, especially if it's still set to a non-Top-10 cause. This way your vote will still count when we tally the Top 3 tomorrow. You can set it right back to your favorite cause on October 1 when the full field opens back up. Or if it's looking like your favorite Top 10 cause isn't going to get the votes, now would be a good time to try to boost another cause into the Top 3!
  2. Write a comment on the discussion thread of your vote recipient to let others know why you're picking it, in case it helps them decide. It can be short and sweet. Maybe you volunteer for this cause, or have been personally touched by it somehow. Maybe you're choosing it in honor of a friend or family member. Your testimonial could persuade others! Even if your favorite cause isn't still a contender for September, your messages will help attract voters next month!
  3. Supply an avatar if you haven't so discussion thread readers can put a face (even a fake face) to your name (even if it's a fake name). Just click on the default avatar an it will bring you to the profile photo upload page.

For once I'm not coding things up to the last minute, since it turns out that narrowing down to the Top 3 causes is a lot like narrowing down to the Top 10. Instead I'm focusing on important details, like having your email notifications call you Steven & Maggie instead of Steven & Maggie. This is important stuff. The bugs I'm killing off have nasty, big, pointy teeth!

Keep Calm and Throw thy Holy Hand Grenade

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Charitocracy: is it more charity or democracy? Discuss.

Things are going pretty great. We've hit a few milestones since last post:

  • We crossed the 40 donor mark.
  • The September pot crossed the $200 mark.
  • Total donations crossed the $2000 mark.
  • We crossed the 2 week mark, and selected our first Top 10!

Some new things you'll notice on Charitocracy when you next log in:

  • The donor map has a lot more pins, including our first mid-western (Colorado) donors! <3
  • The Dashboard tells us when the next phase will commence (e.g. Top 3 selection in 6 days).
  • Only Top 10 causes can receive votes this week, and only Top 3 starting next Thursday. If a cause you voted for (including one you nominated) didn't make the cut, you're free to revote at any time now.
  • There are handy icons next to the cause names to make it easy to eyeball causes that you've nominated, voted for, liked, and commented on, as well as ones that have been updated since you last checked, and ones that didn't make the cut and so can't receive votes at this time.


But the most important thing I'd like to draw attention to right now is your profile pictures, or the lack thereof. I'd like to see some discussion pick up in the forum, with nominators and other supporters of causes cheerleading and trying to attract more votes. I think this is more likely to happen if we can "see" each other, instead of a sea of generic avatars. To this end, I've turned your profile pictures into animated GIFs that gently nag you to click them and upload a photo. This is super easy to do from your phone, whether you want to take a fresh selfie, upload a screenshot you took of something on the web, or whatever avatar reflects your mood.

We narrow down to the Top 3 in less than a week, so nominators, start your hype machines! And maybe we can push that pot up to $250?!

We hear you, Benj, yet we find this somehow redundant.

Get Out the Vote

Just do what Benj said and vote, GOSH!

When we were low on nominees a week ago, you came through with flying colors, resulting in 15 great causes, many of which were new to me. In 18 short days, one of them will win Charitocracy's first ever pot. But we need your help.

I don't mean to sound the alarm bells again, but our latest "crisis" is too few distinguishing votes! 2 days from now, Charitocracy will narrow the causes eligible to win this month from 15 down to the top 10. Number of votes is the top criteria, and then ties are first broken by the number of voters. For example, a cause with 5 votes from 5 donors will be ranked behind a cause that receives 10 half-votes from 10 donors, rewarding the cause with a broader base of support. Then if there's still a tie, a cause with more likes will win.

The problem is, thanks to the urgency during this first month to nominate causes, we have many causes with a single vote -- the vote automatically cast by the nominator -- which cannot be changed until October. So we need a bunch of non-nominators to get in there and shake up the votes! Right now we have 5 causes that have nicely separated themselves from the pack, but we have no way of distinguishing the other 5 we need for the top 10.

If you've already nominated a cause this month, thank you, your work here is done until October. If you've already voted for causes nominated by others, you're welcome to revote as often as you like, and even split your vote among up to 5 causes, but you've already helped select our top 10, so thank you, too! If you haven't signed up yet, or you signed up but didn't vote yet, we need your help! By the end of the day Wednesday we need to have enough votes that we can name the top 10 without there being a 10-way tie...

Only one cause wins Charitocracy, but we're all winners

Act Now, Operators Are Standing By

Great Scott! September nominations at Charitocracy end at midnight!

We've raised $988, and you've nominated 7 causes so far. Not bad for week 1! Today is the last day to nominate causes for September, so if you have a pet cause (whether or not it's actually a pet cause, though we do have 2 of those in the running already) please sign up today and nominate it. The Top Ten narrowing that occurs a week from now will be a tad anticlimactic if we don't get 4 more causes...

So there's no day like today to sign up! $13/year (or more if you want). Even if you prefer not to get involved in the process, nominating or even voting, you'd still be supporting a dozen charitable causes each year without lifting another finger. And the more $ in the pot each month, the more interesting it is for everyone else, attracting more donors to give!

In other news, we just received our solicitation approvals from Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Oregon, so we'll be able to open the front door to the site before we know it. There are only 7 states and jurisdictions (yes, I'm looking at you, DC) we're still waiting to hear from. Which reminds me, I need to decorate the front door of Charitocracy with a sales pitch so first-time visitors understand what we're trying to do and how it all works. If you have any ideas for good taglines (or bad ones) I'd love to hear them!

Hmmm, shaved and wearing a tie... Yeah, I'm really feeling I can trust Benj with my charity money.

The code word is ‘Rochambeau,’ dig me?

It's an older code, sir, but it checks out.

The Charitocracy main page remains the same poker-faced, "Coming soon!" message it's been all along. Until we're granted permission to solicit from the general public across the nation, this is how we'll keep the charitable hordes at bay: a secret back door for friends and family.

Not unlike Charitocracy, Rochambeau is a bit difficult to say and spell, so instead use this link to get in:

Note that beta test accounts and nominated causes have been wiped from the server, so don't be surprised that your old username/password aren't recognized.

Please sign up at a donation level you're comfortable with, maybe nominate your favorite cause of broad national appeal (i.e. probably not your local school PTO!), and definitely report any problems you encounter, big or small, via this blog, Facebook, email (benj at charitocracy dot org), or text message. Screenshots welcome!

Nominations will close in 7 days, at which point you'll receive an email summary of the newly nominated causes. (I hope there's more than 10, or it'll be real hard to narrow them down to the top 10 halfway through the month!) Vote now, revote later! Your vote won't be locked in until September 30.

I'm excited that Charitocracy is ALIVE, we have real donation dollars going into the pot, and we'll be able to write a real check to some deserving cause a month from now! Let's make that check as big as possible, friends...

Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.