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October 2016 winner Fisher House

Charitocracy's 2nd check to October winner Fisher House Foundation for $539

We voted in our second winner last night!

Congratulations to winner Fisher House Foundation, and to donor Sue Wilkerson for nominating it! You can find their web site here. Check out this short film about them, and feel good about your part in our collective $539 grant!

Now have a great November, and log into Charitocracy to update your votes or nominate a new cause!

Riddle Me This

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There are exactly twice as many Facebook users who like Charitocracy (244) as there are donors on the site (122). While I risk sounding like an NPR pledge drive, here goes nothing: "What's it going to take to get you to donate?"

We're so close to passing the $500 mark. We hit that mark in September with the help of some one-time "sweeten the pot" donations from enthusiastic donors. This time, thanks to our enlarged donor base, we're poised to do it naturally. We're just a few signups shy of $500 in monthly donations! (That means we'd be starting at $500 in November.)

So why the reluctance, you other 50%-ers? Help me understand! Maybe I can convince you? Here are some fun facts to consider:

  • It takes about 2 minutes to sign up. You supply your name, email, a username, optional zip code for the neato donor map, and your credit card info, which your browser might already have memorized. Done.
  • You can sign up from your phone, tablet, mainframe, whatever you prefer.
  • Your donations are tax-deductible. We're a 501(c)(3) and we'll email you a receipt within seconds.
  • Each individual in a family can have a separate account, with a separate voice and separate vote. (Partners/SOs, do not throw away your shot!)
  • $13 per year is pretty reasonable considering you'll automatically support a dozen different causes throughout the year, whether you actively participate (vote, nominate, etc.) or not. I spent this much on a sandwich and coffee just trying to come up with ways to persuade you.

Just 3 days left to sign up and get your vote in for October!

During this Charitocracy fund drive, Benj has something he'd like you to try: charitocracy.org/sign-up/

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

Charitocracy after Benj returns to his day job?

Today is the last day of The Year of Benj™.

Tomorrow I return to my day job. I'm looking forward to tackling problems and improving technology that benefits millions of people. I'm looking forward to the camaraderie of my colleagues. And I'm looking forward to getting paid again!

But... I'm already mourning the loss of my Charitocracy productivity (Charitivity™) which can't possibly sustain its present level after today. I'll prioritize the most important new features to keep Charitocracy thriving, and make the most of my moonlighting hours. Charitocracy in its present form practically runs itself, so it'll be fine, right? I just can't wait to build it into so much more...

I simply need to remind myself that Charitocracy isn't a race. The pace of development will depend on the demands of my day job and the pursuit of a healthy work/life balance. If you donors keep on voting, nominating, and sharing Charitocracy with your friends and family, I'll keep making it better. Deal?

Charitocracy's new tempo? Slow & low.

Double Your Pleasure. Double Your Fun.

Double your donation via employer matching programs

Last time I talked about smile.amazon.com as a way to boost the size of the monthly pot at Charitocracy. But I'm reminded of an even better way: employer matching programs. We received our first such match last week!

If you happen to work for a big company, or an extraordinarily awesome small company, there's a good chance they match their employees' charitable donations 1:1. If for example you signed up for $65/year, your employer might accept a copy of your Charitocracy receipt email and send along another $65 straight from them to us.

We're more than happy to jump through any administrative hoops with your company if we're not already in their system; usually it only requires us to complete a quick registration form. Check with your HR department. And if you contact us to let us know you applied for a match and who your employer is, we can update your account's donation tally so you get credit for your employer's match when it comes in! Win, win.

Some employers: better than others

Smile! We’re on smile.amazon.com!

I said smile, dangit!

Thanks to a heads up from the amazing Kim Andrews, I'm now aware of Charitocracy's presence on smile.amazon.com. I'll let Amazon explain:

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization.

So if you shop at Amazon, you can reach it through the smile front door, choose Charitocracy as your charitable cause to support, and then buy what you would normally buy. Or better yet, buy one of EVERYTHING!

Buy all the things for Charitocracy

September 2016 winner The NEA Foundation

Charitocracy's 1st check to September winner The NEA Foundation for $500

We voted in our first winner this weekend!

Congratulations to winner The NEA Foundation, and to donor sherylwthorp for nominating it! You can find their web site here. Check out this short film about them, and feel good about your part in our collective $500 grant!

Nominations for October close on Friday night. Go ahead and familiarize yourself with the 21 nominated causes (15 from last month, 6 so far this month) and if one doesn't catch your imagination, consider nominating one yourself!

Finally, feel free to mention Charitocracy to your friends! Rumor has it there's a pitch video coming soon... all part of our cutting edge social media strategy here at Charitocracy. (Step #1 was "get rid of that rubbish /dashboard/ back door," and we totally nailed that one!)

I may be gone from your URL, but Charitocracy's dashboard still has a time and a place: inside

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 https://charitocracy.org/dashboard/:

  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.

changeme

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