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Show me yours, I’ll show you mine

Don't be all private like this guy. Show your face @ Charitocracy!

Was that a clickbait enough headline for a blog post about privacy at Charitocracy?

I want to highlight three things in this blog post:

  1. Your privacy settings: what they mean, and how to adjust them.
  2. The activity log: where it is and what it looks like.
  3. Call to action: loosen your privacy settings and make friends to bring the activity log to life!

Your privacy settings

Especially in today's climate of social media data privacy concerns, I want to be clear that Charitocracy respects your privacy. We don't sell it or give it away. We don't use your data in any weird or unexpected way. And finally, we don't ask for more than we need to make the web site kick ass.

If you go to My Account > Settings > Privacy, you'll see this:

Share these portions of my data with...

There are 5 categories of data:

  • Donation amounts: dollars contributed
  • Voting history: causes that have received your votes
  • Rough location: zip code as used by donor map (if supplied)
  • Friends & Giving Tree: friends list, and who invited whom to join
  • Activity log: history of donating, voting, friending, etc., with details filtered out according to your other settings above

And there are 3 privacy settings for each category:

  • Public: anyone and everyone can see it
  • Friends: only your friends on Charitocracy can see it (default)
  • No one: not even your friends can see it

By default, all categories of data are visible only to friends. And by default, you have no friends on Charitocracy. So you start with a clean slate of no data visible to others. (But what fun is that?! I have more to say on this topic in the next sections.)

Note on Friends & Giving Tree data: privacy settings for both sides of each connection are respected. So if you make your friends list public, it doesn't mean all your friends will be revealed. Only if their privacy settings are sufficiently open will others be able to see them on your friends list. So no need to worry about outing someone who may want to remain private. They're still in full control of their own data.

The activity log

On the dashboard you can see everything happening on Charitocracy. Every vote, every donation made, every profile picture updated, etc. But which details you see depends on the privacy settings of the donor who took the action (and any other donors involved in the action for things like friend or invitation acceptances).

Activity log

This is what the activity log might look like to a random user right now. Plenty going on all the time, but who's doing it?! Notice a couple early adopters have loosened their privacy settings so we can see their activity and their vote recipients. Wouldn't it be great if more of these activities had names and faces associated with them?

A call to action

After all that talk about how private your data is, now we'd like you to loosen the drawstrings and let the cat out of the bag. If you love something, set it free! Change some/all of your privacy settings to Public!

Here are reasons to make your data public:

  • Donation amounts: When others see your dollar amounts, big or small, they're more likely to give more (or more often) themselves! For once, try to be less modest.
  • Voting history: How better to hype your favorite cause than to show everyone your support for it?! And remember, this isn't a government election. There are no bad choices on the ballot to be ashamed of! Just a variety of 501(c)(3) nonprofits competing for your vote.
  • Rough location: This is just a fun way to see how far-flung (or not) other donors are. We're only talking about zip codes, or even states or countries. Street addresses aren't accepted even if you want everyone to know!
  • Friends & Giving Tree: This helps discover more friends on Charitocracy and encourages bringing more friends into Charitocracy, and in turn growing the monthly pot for our winners!
  • Activity log: This is the way to get your name and face on the activity log when you do stuff, even if you've redacted some/all of the details above. The less anonymous, the more fun and vibrant for everyone!

If some bits make you panicky and others don't, only make public what you're comfortable with. And if you don't want to share everything/anything even with friends, you can change settings to share with no one, and then feel more comfortable making friends on Charitocracy with hasty abandon. That's another way to improve the activity log: make more friends so you can at least see their stuff (still subject to "no one" privacy settings) and vice versa.

Here's looking forward to activity logs full of friendly faces and full-fledged facts and figures!

If you love something, set it free.

Spotlight on Sky’s the Limit Fund

Sky's the Limit Fund

Next in our series of posts about Charitocracy nominees, we have Sky's the Limit Fund nominated by donor obxlisa. This charity provided a grant that helped her son attend SUWS of the Carolinas, a wilderness-based treatment center for children, adolescents, and teens struggling with autism. So let's welcome Sky's the Limit to our charity of the month club!

A few words on Charitocracy

Firstly, for newcomers: 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 share this 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. (Hint: sometimes bigger is better.)

About Sky's the Limit Fund

The mission of Sky’s the Limit Fund (STLF) is to transform the lives of youth in crisis by providing grants, support, and hope through wilderness therapy programs and beyond.

Our vision is for youth to achieve their full potential as healthy and valued members of society.

Why Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness therapy programs use the wilderness as a tool to quickly and effectively impact students at risk. Experiential in nature, emotional growth wilderness programs provide struggling youth an opportunity to challenge themselves physically and emotionally while exploring the unhealthy behaviors that have prevented them from making progress in their lives. The wilderness program environment provides a supportive, non-judgmental arena in which students can process their limiting beliefs and core issues, and begin to view themselves and their abilities from a different perspective. The challenges inherent in a wilderness setting provide daily success experiences which serve to challenge old, negative beliefs and lead to new, more positive self-perceptions.

So visit Sky's the Limit Fund's page on Charitocracy to vote for, like, or discuss this cause! And finally, check out this short film about STLF:

Spotlight on Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries Homegirl Cafe

Next in our series of posts about Charitocracy nominees, we have Homeboy Industries nominated by donor skipshoe. So let's welcome Homeboy Industries to our charity of the month club!

A few words on Charitocracy

Firstly, for newcomers: 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 share this post and ask your friends to vote! That's how we spread the word and, as a result, grow the monthly pot. (Hint: bigger is better.)

Let us know if there's some way we can support you in spreading the word about Charitocracy! You're our cheerleading squad. Enthusiastic, loud, repetitive. Pom-poms everywhere. Go-o-o-o-o Team Charitocracy!

About Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Each year over 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors in an effort to make a positive change. They are welcomed into a community of mutual kinship, love, and a wide variety of services ranging from tattoo removal to anger management and parenting classes. Full-time employment is offered for more than 200 men and women at a time through an 18-month program that helps them re-identify who they are in the world, offers job training so they can move on from Homeboy Industries and become contributing members of the community - knowing they count!

“Homeboy Industries has been the tipping point to change the metaphors around gangs and how we deal with them in Los Angeles County. This organization has engaged the imagination of 120,000 gang members and helped them to envision an exit ramp off the 'freeway' of violence, addiction and incarceration. And the country has taken notice. We have helped more than 40 other organizations replicate elements of our service delivery model, broadening further the understanding that community trumps gang -- every time.” - Father Greg

So visit Homeboys Industries' page on Charitocracy to vote for, like, or discuss this cause! And finally, check out this short film about their mission:

Congrats to March Winner, NPR!

Charitocracy's 19th check: to NPR for $1073

Update on the monthly pot size

The March pot was up from February's. One dollar. $1072 to $1073. It's moving in the right direction, and a perfect reminder that every dollar counts. "It's all about the Washingtons, baby."

I sound like a TV commercial for Save The Children or Save The Animals or something. "For less than the price of a cup of coffee..." But that's really what we're talking about: a small but regular contribution that pales in comparison to most coffee budgets, yet delivers way more. And there's also the network effect. The more donors, the bigger the pot, the more fun it is for all of us, and the bigger impact we have. (Scary thought: if you all donated coffee instead. Zzingg!)

See this blog post for ways you can help. Bottom line: convince a friend to join us!

March 2018 winner: NPR

Last night night we voted in our 7th cause of Charitocracy's 2nd year. Congratulations to NPR and to donor Maurice for nominating it! You have 1 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 NPR next week.

The NPR Mission

The mission of NPR is to work in partnership with Member Stations to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

To accomplish our mission, we produce, acquire, and distribute programming that meets the highest standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression; we represent our members in matters of their mutual interest; and we provide satellite interconnection for the entire public radio system.

Check out this NPR Tiny Desk Concert, and feel good about your part in our collective $1073+ grant to help with their work!

Have a great April and log into Charitocracy to update your votes or nominate a new cause!

Platinum Stars for our Foreheads

GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency

Going Platinum

Facebook informed me today about an anniversary. Exactly one year ago I posted about earning GuideStar's gold seal of transparency. Well guess what? Today I'm here to announce that for 2018 Charitocracy has earned their platinum seal. That's GuideStar's highest level of transparency.

Indulge me for a moment while I pretend it's been a major endeavor. Wait for it... okay... The jig is up. Achieving this status is pretty much just a matter of sharing data that already exists. No sweat. We share details about our organizational structure, finances, mission and programs. GuideStar makes it super easy, so with a few hours effort, any 501(c)(3) could progressively qualify for silver, then gold, then platinum levels.

Check out our profile on GuideStar to see what's on there. This is a great site to check out before nominating at Charitocracy or casting your vote!

PCI Compliance

Another one to note in passing: we've dotted the i's and crossed the t's for credit card data handling.

We've always used Stripe for all our donations. They offer the best nonprofit discount we've found in the industry. Fees are 2.2% + 0.30 per transaction, with no fees on the first $15,000. That saved us hundreds of dollars last year. I'm grateful for that. But they've also offered the easiest and most attractive credit card entry UI in my opinion. (Maybe I need to rethink my life choices that have led me to blogging about the sexiness of credit card UIs.)

Stripe is also a breeze to setup and maintain on the backend. And one of their features is easy filing of PCI compliance documentation. This should be easy, since Charitocracy never touches your credit card data. It's stored only in Stripe's data vault, which I picture to exist deep in a mountain cavern guarded by Velociraptors. When you enter your credit card number on what appears to be Charitocracy's web site, really it's going into a separate browser "iframe" talking directly to Stripe's servers. Charitocracy simply gets a transaction reference token we can use to confirm that the donation went through okay.

All of that is to say: Stripe makes it easy for us to file our PCI SAQ A, attesting that they've taken on all the risk and corresponding security requirements themselves. We simply need to ensure Charitocracy uses encrypted protocols. And we do, via our free TLS certificates from Let's Encrypt.

We're doing everything we can think of to put you at ease, safely making your donations at Charitocracy! Let us know if there's anything else you can think of that will give you peace of mind or answer burning questions you have about Charitocracy.

Benj is back at it upgrading security protocols @ Charitocracy

Spotlight on Together We Rise

Together We Rise: No child Deserves a Trash Bag

Next in our series of posts about Charitocracy nominees, we have Because We Can - 2018, a fundraiser hosted at Together We Rise. It was recently nominated by donor SuZQ. So let's welcome Together We Rise to our charity of the month club!

A few words on Charitocracy

Firstly, for newcomers: 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 share this post and ask your friends to vote! That's how we spread the word and, as a result, grow the monthly pot. Yay!

Until a donor changes their vote, votes carry over from month to month. So do the nominated causes. So part of the fun of Charitocracy is the cumulative aspect, watching a charity's support grow over time as it breaks into the Top 10, the Top 3, and hopefully eventually #1. It's unusual for a cause to go straight from nomination to winner in the same month, though it has happened. Most recently: Hurricane Harvey relief for Houston and Hurricane Maria relief for Puerto Rico. But in most cases, it's a slow steady rise to the top over many months.

In this case, SuZQ has nominated a limited-time fundraiser at Together We Rise. More details below, but if Together We Rise wins the pot after this fundraiser's May 1 deadline, that's fine. We'll either earmark another similar fundraiser at TWR or let TWR choose how to use the funds. All good!

About Because We Can - 2018

Last March while Molly was still in foster care with us she decided she wanted to help find a way we could help other foster kids like herself. She remembered what it was like for her to leave her home and come to move in with us.

Initially entering foster care is probably one of the scariest days any kid could ever face. At a moments notice they are told to pack whatever they can fit into a trash bag. Told that they can no longer live at they only home they've ever known. That they are going to have to live with strangers now. That can be pretty terrifying for any child. Sadly throughout a child's time in foster care they may be bounced between foster homes time and time again for a number of reasons.

With that thought in mind Molly wanted to raise money to create Sweet Cases, a type of care package, in the form of a decorated duffel bags filled with a stuffed animal bear and some basic necessities to help these kids with their move into foster care. These duffel bags also serve as permanent piece of luggage these children can call their own to use over and over if needed. For every $25 raised we can put together one bag for a child. If we can add a small ray of light to the process, give it a little more dignity, perhaps even make that day even a little less scary for these kids then why wouldn't we try?

About Together We Rise

Every day, 1200 kids enter foster care in the United States. We are a non-profit that changes the way they experience the system.

Together We Rise is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of motivated young adults and former foster youth. Our vision is to improve the lives of foster children in America, who often find themselves forgotten and neglected by the public. We collaborate with community partners to bring resources to foster youth and use service-learning activities to educate volunteers on issues surrounding the foster care system.

TWR works with hundreds of foster agencies, social workers, CASA advocates, and other partners to bring our programs to foster youth across the nation. Our foundation has allowed us to provide thousands of foster youth across the country with new bicycles, college supplies, and suitcases so that children do not have to travel from home to home with their belongings in a trash bag.

So visit Together We Rise's page on Charitocracy to vote for, like, or discuss this cause! And finally, check out this touching video about Together We Rise's mission:

Congrats to February Winner, Innocence Project!

Charitocracy's 18th check: to Innocence Project for $1072

Re-grow the monthly pot!

If you noticed the pot get smaller recently, you're not imagining things. This is for two reasons:

  1. Quite a number of holiday gifts of Charitocracy were given at the end of 2016 that boosted the pot significantly throughout 2017.
  2. Some large donations and corporate matches made outside of charitocracy.org were used to boost the pot early in 2017, whereas this year we'll instead use similar large donations to grow the pot by attracting new donors, which works toward our mission and will hopefully grow the pot more sustainably.

See the previous blog post for ways you can help. Bottom line: convince a friend to join us!

February 2018 winner: Innocence Project

Wednesday night we voted in our 6th cause of Charitocracy's 2nd year. Congratulations to Innocence Project and to donor cperg814 for nominating it! You have 4 more days 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 Innocence Project next week.

Check out this video about Innocence Project, and feel good about your part in our collective $1072+ grant to help with their work!

The Innocence Project's mission is to free the staggering number of innocent people who remain incarcerated, and to bring reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.

Have a great March and log into Charitocracy to update your votes or nominate a new cause!

Over $20,000 served!

$20,000 served

The check we wrote to mikeroweWORKS Foundation this month put us over the $20,000 milestone! That's 17 checks so far, averaging almost $1200 each. And tomorrow, when we award the February pot, that total will go even higher.

You, our donors, got us here. Dollar by dollar, month by month, vote by vote: you make the world a little better. $20,000 is just the beginning!

Imagine $20,000 per month

Imagine the day when we can award $20,000 every month! We can get there. Charitocracy has the capacity to serve many more donors, making philanthropy more fun and an everyday part of more people's lives. That's our mission. Not to shake more money out of you, but to reach more people and engage them to give charitable dollars regularly.

It's not a big ask. Considering one movie ticket often costs $13, a year of Charitocracy is a bargain! And donors are more than welcome to do both. (But at least Charitocracy.)

It is not just the extra dollar in the pot that comes with each new donor. It's a new voice and unique perspective on which charities are best. It's another source of ideas for new nominations and a cheerleader to rally the votes. And another social network to spread news of the good things we're doing here at Charitocracy.

How you can help

Very simple. Think of the one person you know who most belongs on Charitocracy but isn't. A best friend? A sibling? Someone who loves philanthropy, and might enjoy a fun new outlet? Someone who's new to adulting and might get hooked early on warm fuzzies from giving? Maybe you owe someone a gift anyway? Then, simply make it your project: convince your prospect to join!

Tell them about Charitocracy in person. Show them a video or the brief slide presentation. Email them an invitation, and follow up afterwards. Seal the deal. Always be closing.

You are our sales force. Tell us what other tools you need to do your job effectively!

Thanks for this milestone, and let's work hard together to expedite the next one!

Charitocracy is for closers. *Coffee not included.

Spotlight on The Fender Music Foundation

Fender Music Foundation

Next in our series of posts about Charitocracy nominees, we have The Fender Music Foundation. It was recently nominated by donor adamjasher. So let's welcome The Fender Music Foundation to our charity of the month club!

Firstly, for newcomers: 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 share this post and ask your friends to vote! That's how we spread the word and, as a result, grow the monthly pot. Yay!

About The Fender Music Foundation

The Fender Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) national music charity that provides instruments to music education programs across the country, including schools.

The Fender Music Foundation is a music charity funded by people who want to strengthen the state of music education, people who believe music is an integral part of society and want to make music more accessible to everyone.

The donations we receive allow us to provide instruments to school music classrooms, after school programs and music therapy programs. We select programs that are in-need, ongoing, sustainable and give more people the opportunity to make music.

Our overhead expenses are covered by sales revenue, including authentic celebrity music memorabilia. Our program expenses are covered by donations large and small.

The Foundation was founded in 2005 by Larry Thomas when he retired as CEO of Guitar Center, now as CEO of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, we continue to give more people of all ages the chance to create, experience, and enjoy everything music has to offer.

So visit The Fender Music Foundation's page on Charitocracy to vote for, like, or discuss this cause! And finally, check out this sweet PSA film about The Fender Music Foundation's mission:

Spotlight on National Public Radio

NPR

Next in our series of posts about Charitocracy nominees, we have National Public Radio. It was recently nominated by donor Maurice, who previously nominated winning cause Children's Hospital Medical Center. So let's welcome NPR to our charity of the month club!

Firstly, for newcomers: 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 share this post and ask your friends to vote! That's how we spread the word and, as a result, grow the monthly pot. Yay!

Overview of NPR

National Public Radio is a mission-driven, multimedia news organization and radio program producer. It is a network with a strong base of member stations and supporters nationwide. NPR employees are innovators and developers — exploring new ways to serve the public via digital platforms and improved technologies. NPR is also the leading membership and representation organization for public radio.

In a time of media fragmentation and sound bites, NPR has succeeded by focusing on its core: in-depth, quality news. NPR has evolved from a secondary to an essential news source, with dozens of bureaus around the world and the nation. Drawing on more than 340 news staff (reporters, correspondents, newscasters, editors, producers hosts and bloggers) in the United States and abroad — from Washington, D.C., and New York City, to Beijing and Dakar, we have the capacity to stay on top of breaking news, follow the most critical stories of the day and track complex issues over the long term.

On-air and online, National Public Radio presents fact-based, independent journalism that examines and airs diverse perspectives. NPR's journalists strive for mastery of the narrative form, telling stories in ways that transport the audience to the places where news is happening and introducing the people affected.

So visit National Public Radio's page on Charitocracy to vote for, like, or discuss this cause! And finally, check out this example of NPR's non-radio work, Eclipse 2017: One Nation Under The Sun, a short film about August's solar eclipse: