Evicting the Elephants in the Room

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Elephants in a room

There are only 6 monthly grants left to give. 6 remaining shots to see what Charitocracy can do, and what it can be, before we ride off into the sunset. We want them each to count, and to maximize the joy and minimize the controversy and strife. And that's why, for the first time since officially opening the website in September 2016, we're intervening in the winner eligibility process.

What we're doing

After discussing at length with family and friends in recent months, and receiving unanimous approval from Charitocracy's board of directors today, we'll be marking all of the abortion-related causes, on both sides of the issue, as ineligible to receive votes. Here is the complete list:

  • The Brigid Alliance
  • First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • National Institute for Reproductive Health
  • National Network of Abortion Funds
  • Planned Parenthood

This is in no way passing judgment about the worthiness of these causes. But they will no longer be in contention for the final 6 future grants from Charitocracy. Any current votes for them will be cancelled circa July 11. Also, new abortion-related causes cannot be nominated going forward.

Notably, three of the currently top-ranked causes (#1 First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center, #3 National Institute for Reproductive Health, and #8 Planned Parenthood) will be immediately affected.

Why we're doing it

The reasons can best be summarized in this bullet list:

  • Abortion-related causes have been the greatest source of hurt feelings, moral quandaries, and subsequent donation cancellations on Charitocracy. For a nonprofit built with the goal of filling everyone with the joy of giving, instead we're often leaving a bad taste in donors' mouths.
  • First Concern finished in 2nd place every month for the past 8 months, and in the Top 3 every month for the past 19 months, but it is always overtaken by the end of the month. This pattern is unlikely to change, because there's too large a voting bloc against it.
  • Of the donors voting for First Concern, I imagine many do it because they actively support the anti-abortion counseling common at Pregnancy Resource Centers, aka Crisis Pregnancy Centers, perhaps due to personal or religious beliefs. Then there are some who vote for it to support pregnant women in general, unaware of the biased counseling the women tend to receive at PRCs. (Further reading here if you're interested.) But there's a third group of voters that is most troubling to me: those who don't want First Concern to win at all, but who are gaming the system and voting for it out of worry that if First Concern doesn't win now, it'll win an even bigger grant in a later month.
  • For almost two years now, and especially in the past year, voting behavior has been dominated by voting against causes instead of voting for causes. I see more votes than ever being cast early in the month for whichever cause has the best chance of beating First Concern. I really can't wait to see which aspiring causes thrive in the ecosystem once the canopy of controversial abortion-related causes is thinned out!
  • Finally, and I think importantly, the donor who nominated First Concern quit Charitocracy almost a year ago. The strife was replacing all the "good feels" of Charitocracy with negative ones for her. We don't have a policy of disqualifying causes nominated by folks who aren't active on Charitocracy any more, but I do think it puts this action we're taking now in a bit of a different and more sympathetic light.

How you can help

We hope you can understand and respect this decision. Our board is lucky to have a mix of women and men with a variety of life experiences, personal beliefs, and political persuasions. This decision was not made lightly, but it was made unanimously and with the enthusiastic expectation that it'll yield the most universally positive and memorable outcomes for Charitocracy's final months.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Truly. We want to make this adjustment with full transparency, eyes and ears wide open. Your feedback is welcome and important, as always.

And finally, go forth and vote your passion! There are still some 130+ nominated causes on Charitocracy, and about half of them have never won a grant from us yet. So many of them are deeply meaningful, innovative, and impactful. If recent voting has left a bad taste in your mouth, too much voting against and not enough voting for, here's a chance to show what you're really about!

Charitocracy rides off into the sunset

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Charitocracy rides off into the sunset
Turns out they were waving goodbye this whole time!

2023 is the final season of Charitocracy! There are 12 monthly pots yet to grant. Let's make them count!

I'll try to keep the sentimentality out of it for now, given there's still almost a whole year left to go. This decision comes after weeks of personal contemplation over the holidays and discussion with Jessica and the rest of our board of directors. It wasn't an easy decision. Charitocracy has been a huge part of my identity for the past 7+ years! But I think it's the right decision for me right now.

I'll cover the How first, then the Why. But feel free to follow up with me directly if you have more questions. I remain an open book, and ever at your service. ❤️


  • New donations, sign-ups, gift purchases, etc. are now disabled. We're going out on top with over 400 donors across Charitocracy USA and OBX!
  • All recurring donations after January 31 will be automatically cancelled. No action is required on your part. This way every donor gets at least the 12 months of grant voting they bargained for!
  • Current donors are encouraged to continue voting on through the last vote on New Year's Eve 2023. Even if your Charitocracy anniversary, the day your annual donation would ordinarily be collected, comes mid-year, you won't suddenly lose your voting privileges.
  • Charitocracy's remaining cash reserves will be distributed into 2023's 12 monthly USA & OBX grant pots. Each successive pot will be bigger than the previous one as we gain more confidence we can meet our final expenses with smaller cash reserves. Our final "season" of grants should be bigger than ever as we "zero out" our remaining funds!


  • There's been angst surrounding some of the more polarizing nominees at Charitocracy USA. For some folks, Charitocracy hasn't represented a positive force in their lives lately, either because they don't agree with the winners or due to some negative interactions online. Believe me, I can relate! And that goes for causes across the political spectrum, both ones that have and have not yet won a monthly grant. I never wanted to create something that could hurt people or cause hard feelings, so that aspect has been a bummer.
  • Meanwhile, I've spent more time than ever in the past few months fighting hackers. Rest assured, Charitocracy has never been breached, nor do we store any of your credit card information in the first place. (Our credit card processor, Stripe, takes care of that.) But what the hackers do like to do, for whatever reason, is to attack web sites and try to knock them offline. On several occasions I've had to interrupt trips or family time to literally fight bot armies (thousands of hijacked computers) flooding Charitocracy from all corners of the world with traffic, known as DDOS: Distributed Denial of Service. And the other thing they like to do is test lists of stolen credit cards by attempting to make donations from them. They automate it so I'll suddenly start getting a donation attempt every 5 seconds. Usually Stripe's fraud detection flags their attempts and reject them, but occasionally some get through. Then I have to refund the donations and eat the credit card processing fees. It's a nice adrenalin rush when it happens, but never a good time.
  • Finally, and perhaps most critically, is that I don't see a clear future for Charitocracy. The prospect of setting up Charitocracy's own endowment fund really brought into focus the fact that if I get hit by a bus, there's no one to take over, and there's no one to even gracefully shut it down. So it would be irresponsible to try to raise money for an uncertain future. While I've always run Charitocracy as lean as possible, with pride in our low overhead, the truth is that my volunteered skill set is actually a bit expensive... to replace. Not to mention I'm effectively on-call 24/7 for years on end with no good way to share that responsibility.

So let's go out there and make Charitocracy's 7th full year not only our last, but also our best! Thank you for the privilege it has been to pool your resources and make a difference in the world. I've had a blast!

Sunset through a Heart
Both images above generated via artificial intelligence using DiffusionBee on Mac. Fun!

OBCF 40th birthday $4000 grant recipient: Sea Change OBX

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$4000 special OBCF 40th birthday grant recipient Sea Change OBX

We had a BLAST on Saturday at Outer Banks Community Foundation's 40th birthday bash at the Brewing Station! This is just a little cross-post for our USA donors about what's happening in OBX!

Making it rain on otherwise gorgeous day with $4000 grant

I couldn't believe the endless stream of new Charitocracy sign-ups at the event. Not to mention the scores of new donors joining without our assistance during the event and in the preceding weeks. But our card swiper was working non-stop throughout the afternoon, with the last donation received and vote cast just 3 minutes before the stroke of 5pm when we froze voting. I barely had time to escape from behind my laptop and get on stage for the final countdown!

Thanks to board members Lisa Nicholson and Sam Cortez for their assistance at the event, and to the entire team at Outer Banks Community Foundation for kicking off our partnership with such fanfare. And finally, thanks to co-founder Jessica Sands for MC'ing the event and being the darling face of Charitocracy for the afternoon. Also for lining up such talented musicians (Jonny Waters & KT Bender) to keep the party going!

$4000 grant recipient: Sea Change OBX

And did I mention, Sea Change OBX earned the $4000 grant by getting the most (44.5) votes? It only seems fitting that Jessica Loose pulled this off. The same legendary Charitocracy donor to go from zero to hero in February 2020, leading to the month-after-month local "hijacking" of Charitocracy, culminating in the spin-off of Charitocracy OBX from Charitocracy USA. I don't know about the rest of you, but I saw Sea Change OBX coming for this additional $4000 grant a mile away!

Now what?!

The day after the party we resumed the normal monthly schedule for our October grant, with a Top 10 announcement. Next, your votes will narrow down the playing field to the Top 3 contenders tomorrow night. No rest for the weary! So get your votes (re)cast and let's keep the momentum going strong!

Take a page out of Jessica Loose's playbook: don't be afraid to introduce new people to Charitocracy and convince them to support your favorite nominee. Friends, family, neighbors, random strangers on the street... They could all use a little more Charitocracy in their lives, right? And we could stand to have our monthly OBX grants grow a bit more, too. Win, win! To keep things in perspective, we're only talking $1 per month. What's that these days with inflation, a sip of coffee?

Your Charitocracy donations pouring into monthly pot
"Keep pourin'."