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Benj and Jessica launched a nonprofit. Follow our journey as we built a 501(c)(3) and a web site, and now usher in an endless stream of worthy charity nominees and monthly grant winners!

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Spotlight on Hurricane Laura Relief

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Nominee Hurricane Laura Relief @ All Hands and Hearts

Next in our series of posts about new Charitocracy nominees, we have nominee Hurricane Laura Relief @ All Hands and Hearts, nominated by donor RoamX. All Hands and Hearts deliver a Smart Response to those reeling from Hurricane Laura, Louisiana's worst hurricane since 1856. You can find their web site here.

A few words on Charitocracy

Firstly, for newcomers: here's how it works. Donors pool their monthly contributions, as little as $1. The cause with the most votes each month wins the pot. No matter how much or how little you contribute, each donor at Charitocracy gets one vote. This is where charity meets democracy. So please share this post (see social sharing icons at top of post) and ask your friends to join us and vote! That's how we spread the word and, as a result, grow the monthly pot. The bigger the pot, the bigger our positive impact on the world!

About nominee Hurricane Laura Relief

Disaster Profile

On August 27th, Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana and Texas coasts, making landfall near Cameron, Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with 150 m.p.h. winds. Hurricane Laura tied the Last Island Hurricane (1856) for the strongest land-falling hurricane in Louisiana on record. While Lake Charles and the surrounding areas are the epicenter of the impact, damage from the storm spans a large area of Louisiana and Southeast Texas. There doesn’t seem to be a building left untouched by Laura’s fierce winds and power outages continue in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Our Work

Our Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) has been conducting on-the-ground assessments. This week, as we meet with community members and partners to better understand the full impact of the disaster, we will work to establish our base of operations. Based on the need, we anticipate initial scopes of work will include chainsaw work, debris removal and roof tarping.

Our experience tells us this recovery will be measured not in days or weeks, but months and years. Every donation will count; a long-term commitment requires millions of dollars to assist people who otherwise would not receive support. In this difficult moment, we hope you will join us as we roll up our sleeves and get ready for the hard work ahead.

September 2, 2020 Update

Following our new deployment plan, which includes safety measures to allow us to work within COVID-19 restrictions, our team is focusing on:

  • Building a work queue to provide immediate, priority assistance in Newton County, Texas and nearby areas;
  • Partnering with Veterans Community Response, a chainsaw specialized group from Washington state, to begin high priority chainsaw operations;
  • Setting up a supply line (with necessities such as food, water and fuel) and forward operating base in DeQuincy, Louisiana to be able to assist in the most-impacted areas of Louisiana;
  • Continuing to follow-up on leads for a separate base of operations in the areas of Lake Charles, Louisiana or Orange, Texas;
  • Applying for AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRT’S) and National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to join us once we have suitable housing established, and working with non-residential local volunteers;
  • Developing the tarping scope of work to enable teams to assist the hundreds of families that have homes with roof damage.

So please visit the page of nominee Hurricane Laura Relief @ All Hands and Hearts to vote for, like, or discuss this cause! And check out this inspirational video that really conveys the personality and camaraderie behind their work:

August 2020 winner OBX Room in the Inn

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Charitocracy's 48th check to July winner OBX Room in the Inn for $1714

We have good news about August winner OBX Room in the Inn, right after this quick update...

OBX Takeover of Charitocracy

If you didn't read about the metaphorical hijacking last week, go ahead and catch yourself up. The local community where Jessica and I live and work, through no direct recruiting effort on our part, has effectively multiplied their ranks and taken control. They've won the July pot, the August pot (see below), and have nominated a promising cause for September, too! They wrangled almost 50 votes this time, and each month their voting block grows because they're actively inviting friends and family and other supporters of their causes each month.

If you're part of the ~75% of Charitocracy donors who didn't join from the Outer Banks of North Carolina this year, you may find this trend upsetting. I don't blame you! You signed up for a national charity of the month club, and instead you're subsidizing what has become a de facto local OBX charity of the month club. But instead of reacting by lowering your donations or cancelling altogether, how about fighting fire with fire? You still hold the majority of the donor base, so for starters, be sure to vote and make sure your friends have voted! Then team up and go do some massive recruiting. Make it personal! With strength in numbers, win back your club! Invite invite invite!

Meanwhile, OBX donors, you're doing an amazing job supporting your local causes. Feel free to throw your support behind a national cause that needs our help one of these times. (Pretty please?) But there's no arguing with your successful strategy. Keep up the great work growing Charitocracy's base and helping all of us become more thoughtful philanthropists, even with just $1 each month to share.

August 2020 winner OBX Room in the Inn

Last night we named Charitocracy's 48th monthly winner. Congratulations to OBX Room in the Inn, nominated by donor Ltwood@yahoo.com. They organize shelter for the homeless in the Outer Banks, also providing hospitality, food, and support services. You can find their Facebook page here. They managed to recruit well over a dozen new Charitocracy donors to vote for their cause. This is exactly how you do it: get out the vote!

Now you have a week to further sweeten the pot with a special one-time donation of any amount, which we'll add straight to the check we write to winner OBX Room in the Inn. We've received several generous pot sweeteners already today!

So take a moment to feel good about your part in our collective $1714+ grant to help with their ongoing work!

Have a great July, stay safe, and be sure to log into Charitocracy to update your votes or nominate a new cause!

Hijack in progress

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Lilliputians hijack Gulliver

Under attack from OBX

My fellow Charitocracy donors: There is a hijack in progress.

We are under attack by a local band of generous micro-philanthropists armed with dollar bills and a common goal. And that goal is to raise funds for their favorite local charities in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Those charities feed their hungry, house their homeless, and strengthen ties with their minority communities. And your monthly contributions are aiding and abetting this flagrant benevolence.

Coordinated series of ambushes

On February 4, 2020, Sea Change OBX was nominated by a fermented vegetable peddler from whom I purchased delicious kombucha and kimchi at a farmer's market 4 months prior. (That is the only direct connection Jessica and I have to these hijack attempts, believe it or not!) Then one of the founders of Sea Change, seeing the potential of our platform, conscripted friends, family, and other Sea Change supporters to join Charitocracy and vote. She even handed out flyers to spread the word. February saw Sea Change OBX slowly rise through the ranks and squeak out a victory in its first month, a check for $1262, while recruiting some 3 dozen new Charitocracy donors.

Fast forward to July 1, 2020, when a board member nominated Food for Thought. Same community, same steady rise in votes and almost 20 new Charitocracy donors. They surpassed 2nd place Feeding America, a national charity with similar mission, by a healthy margin. They took home $1447.

And now in August, OBX Room in the Inn had attracted over a dozen more new Charitocracy donors and had risen to 1st place even before the Top 10 were selected. They're only a couple votes away from beating the all-time record of 48.39 votes, set in September 2017 by Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at GHCF. Local charities in OBX seem virtually unstoppable!

How to hijack it back

Is this a marauding gang of do-gooders? A cartel of caring? A bevy of benefaction? And will this madness never end?

That's partly up to you! Do you know how to win friends and influence people? Can you help build your own cabal of like-minded altruists?

Here's a mission outline borrowed straight from the hijackers' playbooks:

  1. Establish objective
  2. Choose a charity. During the 1st week of the month you can nominate a new one. But if you can rally around one that's already nominated, go for it! No need to spread votes even thinner if the charity of your dreams is already on our list. And remember, causes that address needs at a national level may be more attractive to more voters, unless you knock this next one out of the park...

  3. Recruit squad
  4. Have friends already on Charitocracy? Reach out to them with your plan, and friend each other on Charitocracy. But then go further and invite every one of your close friends and family members to join Charitocracy and vote for your cause. Inviting them to like Charitocracy on Facebook or follow us on Instragram/Twitter/LinkedIn doesn't hurt, either. We throw $1 extra in the pot for each new like/follow!

  5. Publish propaganda
  6. Keep your crew informed on progress as you rise through the ranks from obscurity into the Top 10 and beyond. Push out materials promoting your Charitocracy campaign over all media: social, email, face-to-face (sorry, mask-to-mask) conversations, leaflets dropped from planes, whatever it takes! And don't let up until you're victorious.

  7. Call in reinforcements
  8. If you need that extra push over the line, e.g. right before the Top 10, or Top 3, or final vote on the last day of the month, dig deeper into your intel network. Maybe one of your close friend recruits has a friend or 2 of their own they could tap. There's plenty of glory to go around. Just find a way to git 'er done!

  9. World Domination Victory
  10. You won! Clearly you have what it takes. Your charity of choice will reap the spoils. Time to plan your next charitable conquest...

A message to the "enemy"

Congratulations to our neighbors in OBX. I hope you're not offended by my hijacking analogy. You've raised money for the causes dearest and nearest to your hearts. You've boosted Charitocracy's donor count to never before reached levels. And you've done it through no small amount of effort. This is how you conduct a Charitocracy campaign!

However, there is a risk here. Having OBX causes win month after month may (or, almost certainly, will) disenfranchise the majority of Charitocracy donors from all around the country who wish to support causes that help Americans nationwide. Some of them give much more than a dollar per month, and losing their interest and support would reverse Charitocracy's growth and send monthly pot sizes crashing.

So maybe space out your campaigns over time? Or target some national or more geographically diverse causes? Let me be clear: Nothing you're doing is against the rules. Frankly, I'm impressed and super pumped by your enthusiasm. But I'd hate to see the other shoe drop where all we're left with is an OBX skeleton crew competing for a $400 monthly pot.

Any brilliant ideas?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any potential solutions to this hijacking dilemma. I have some longer term plans that will mesh nicely with this OBX phenomenon, but I'm all ears for your thoughts. And OBX folks, we could discuss in person over coffee at my "office." (Outdoors, 6' apart, with masks on in between sips?!)

Charitocracy needs more hijackers. Change my mind.