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It’s Business Time

I don't always attend board meetings, but when I do, I wear pajamas.

I didn't read Jessica's meeting minutes, so I don't know what level of detail they contain. But in case it isn't otherwise documented for posterity, I'd like to record the fact that the first board of directors meeting of Charitocracy Corporation on January 13, 2016 was held in bed.

I've worked in my home office since we moved to North Carolina in 2010. There's a bed in there because it serves as an overflow guest room several times a year. I'll also use it myself from time to time when working past 4am, not as much to avoid disturbing Jessica so late as to avoid being disturbed myself when the house starts waking up at 6am!

But that's not where we held our meeting.

Jessica recently set up her own home office in our bedroom. Our good friend Scott built her a custom desk to fit into a strangely shaped nook by the windows. In addition to her Staples "executive" office chair, there's also a massively oversized couch-like chair facing her desk. The kids sometimes do their homework there so Jessica can help as needed while doing other work.

But we did not hold our first board of directors meeting at that stately, crimson red desk, either.

It has been cold here in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this week. Sometimes you're just more productive with laptops in bed. Jessica was very professional, setting up a Charitocracy Meeting Minutes template for future reuse before calling the meeting to order. (Wait, has she done this before?!) We appointed ourselves to various officer positions each: Jessica as President, CEO, and Secretary, and me as Vice President, CTO, and Treasurer. We adopted the bylaws on which Jessica had been iterating daily. We resolved to open bank accounts, seek liability insurance, and hand off our Form 1023 to our CPA for inspection before mailing it off to the IRS. We set a date for our next meeting. All from the comfort of our bed.

I do hope to attract additional board members as we pick up steam this year. We'll benefit greatly from broader perspectives and deeper experience, and maybe fend off some raised eyebrows as we start up a nonprofit as a wife and husband team. But in the meantime, I will enjoy meetings of the executive committee, wherever they may be.

I now call to order a meeting of Charitocracy's Board of Directors.

It’s Going To Be a Happy New Year

We managed to get one concrete thing done in 2015 before the holidays: incorporating in the state of North Carolina. We've started 2016 by tackling Form 1023, which is the IRS paperwork necessary to request tax-exempt status and classification as a 501(c)(3) public charity. It takes an average of 110 days for the form to be processed, so there's no point doing any software engineering until our Form 1023 is shipped off. I promise I'm not procrastinating!

There's an "EZ" impossibly short version of the 1023, which we were very tempted to use, but it's only good if you don't expect to exceed $50,000 per year in donations for 3 years. Assuming every Charitocracy participant gave the minimum $1 per month, that would mean a maximum of just over 4000 users, even at the end of 3 years. No way, right?! Sadly, if the 1023-EZ is a 1st grade book report, the non-EZ version is a PhD dissertation.

As part of it I need to project financials for 3 years. It's a total stab in the dark, and I don't know whether to be conservative or optimistic in my estimates. This document will become public if/when the IRS grants our tax-exempt determination. Whether I'm way over or way under, you'll all be able to laugh when looking back 3 years from now! But I intend to aim for the sky and try to get us there, unless our accountant talks me back down to Earth.

Now, assuming we get this tome off to the IRS next week, we'll commence two parallel missions for the next 4+ months: (1) build Charitocracy from the ground up, and (2) line up as many prospective participants as possible so we hit the ground running during the first month we're operational. To that end, please like us on Facebook and share with friends and family. There's a Facebook widget on this blog page for your convenience. Facebook likes will make as good a proxy as anything until we're ready to take initial signups! You Facebook holdouts can keep following along on Twitter, RSS, or email (look for "subscribe to blog via email" on this page).

Jessica expects 100 participants for the first month. I want 500, please. Let's make it a happy new year!

Make It So

Winter Is Coming

"You know nothing, Benj Lipchak."  The meme potential is endless.

If you haven't heard, my wife Jessica and I are launching a nonprofit in 2016.  The basic concept involves mobilizing many small donations into a big pool, and voting on how to spend it.  Our mission is to make it easy and fun to give money to good causes, and encourage everyone to make philanthropy, even at a small scale, a priority and source of pride in their daily lives.

Toward the end of October I started a one year unpaid leave of absence from the job I love in order to tackle this project head on.  We're starting from scratch, so I expect it to take the full year to bring this operation online.  While I have zero experience in this space, Jessica has been around the nonprofit block a few times organizing and leading community nonprofits and gaining/maintaining tax exempt status.  This blog will detail our trials and tribulations while launching Charitocracy.

Many friends have already offered to help.  We'll use this forum to broadcast specific help requests when they arise.  Eventually we'll need guinea pigs to beta test our software.  I'll need to write all of that software first, but if you want to volunteer for some of that, too, I may be able to accommodate!  But today the call to action is for you to follow us.  Whether that means signing up for email updates (look elsewhere on this page), subscribing to our RSS feed, liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, or sharing this blog with likeminded friends and family, any or all of the above would be greatly appreciated!  Also, if you have any advice to share, please don't hesitate to leave comments on our blog posts.

Thank you, enjoy the holidays, and try to keep warm!

Charitocracy Is Coming