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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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Nominate whenever the day ends in Y

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Come back later

For over four years, Charitocracy has accepted new 501(c)(3) nonprofit nominations during the first week of each month. Only the first week. If you came up with a brilliant idea for a new nominee on the 8th or the 28th, you were out of luck. After week 1, the Nominate page at Charitocracy would simply tell you to come back next month. "Set yourself a reminder to come back."

This experience has been borderline donor-hostile, based on the number of complaints I've received from friends. I can only imagine how strangers may have reacted. For those who have been silently seething since 2016, I apologize! It's never been the biggest fish for me to fry, since we've been flush with great nominees since our first week online. But that's not the case for Charitocracy OBX, where we don't yet have enough nominees to form a full Top 10. So I've finally addressed this limitation to encourage more nominations.

Nominate whenever

Now when you visit the Nominate page after the first week of the month, you'll no longer be told to come back next month. As long as you're logged in as a donor, and you haven't already cast your vote elsewhere, you're good to go. (You can easily cancel any previous vote by hitting the ❌ button next to it on the Dashboard or Vote pages.) Now you can search for your favorite nonprofit, write a paragraph or two about why other donors should vote for your nominee, and then click Nominate!

Queued until next month

It's still important to give everyone a chance to learn about new nominees. Informed voting decisions are important! And we want all the new nominees for the month to have a fighting chance before we narrow down to the Top 10.

That's why we queue up nominations to post at the beginning of the next month. There's nothing for you to remember: your nomination will post automatically early next month, and your vote will automatically be cast for it 100%. Easy peasy. Try it out now! Or nominate whenever the mood hits you some day. We won't tell you to come back later.

still waiting for my nomination

Trademarks registered, now hear the origin stories

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Charitocracy's registered trademarks

Our trademarks actually registered last summer. The days were warm, the sun was shining, and I had better things to do than write blog posts about... paperwork. Today, it's cold and the sun is shining on and off. Writing about Charitocracy's trademark registrations might turn out to be this winter day's highlight. 🎉

Check out the fancy new Circle Rs below!

Origins of the name


When coming up with the concept for this nonprofit in early 2011, I purchased a couple domain names just in case: azillion.org and onlyadollar.org. One of these would have worked fine, but I couldn't get super excited about them. They were missing that certain something. And my brainstorming wasn't coming up with anything better, at least not anything with an available domain name!

Over dinner with my friend and Apple coworker, Jeremy Sandmel, at some point between 2011 and 2015, I described the meta-charity I wanted to create some day. A mix of charity and democracy, where donors would mod charities up and down to decide which get crowdfunded.

"What's it called?"

"I don't have a name for it yet... Just a few lame possibilities."

"How about Charitocracy?"

In the moment I thanked him for the suggestion and laughed it off as a mouthful. But on the drive back from dinner, it clicked with me. Rhyming with meritocracy was almost certainly Jeremy's intention, but I was slow to get it. Better late than never! And most importantly, the .com and .org domains were available. ✅

Years later when reminding Jeremy of his important naming contribution to Charitocracy, he didn't even remember it came from him. Or perhaps he regretted sticking me with a five syllable name that's difficult to say and spell? Regardless, I'll never forget! It might take a while, but hopefully it grows on you... I think I'm finally getting used to it.

Origins of the logo

Unlike the name, I fell in love with our logo the moment I saw it.

I commissioned a logo on Crowdspring, asking for some sort of mix of charity, voting, and the power of the people. I also noted how I'm partial to bold lines a la Keith Haring. Over two dozen artists generated over one hundred entries, fine-tuned with my continual feedback. One of them by Connie Zegers of the Netherlands was clearly it. Thank you, Connie!! ❤️

It cost me less than $300. You can read some of the details of my Crowdspring journey if you're curious.

Registering the trademarks

I'm a DIY kind of guy, especially when it means saving Charitocracy from unnecessary expenses. So when I discovered the series of videos on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website walking viewers through the process of registering trademarks, I binged them all. They are outrageously goofy, and it gave me some confidence that the bar might not be too high when it comes to completing this paperwork.

That's not to say that hiring an attorney is a bad idea for most people. If you want to be sure it's done right, and you have the budget for it, don't let me talk you out of it. But if you have a reasonably high attention to detail, no fear of handling digital art files, and the patience to hunt down all possible conflicting names and logos in the database of already registered trademarks, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The entire process took a couple days of learning and doing, and then over 6 months of waiting. Piece of cake!

You can see our trademark (service mark, actually, if you want to be a nerd about it) registration certificates, applications, etc. at these links for our word mark and design mark, respectively.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and belated celebration of our successful registrations. My baby Charitocracy® is all growed up. 😍

not a baby

December 2020 winner Maddie Potts Foundation

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Charitocracy's 52nd check to December winner Maddie Potts Foundation for $1600

We have good news about December winner Maddie Potts Foundation, right after this quick update...

Nominate Whenever You Want

For all of you who have ever wanted to nominate a cause at Charitocracy, but was struck with the notion during some other than the first week of the month, I have some welcome news for you. For all of you who have contacted me with this feature request, I say to you years later: You were right and I've finally addressed it. For those of you who never noticed the strict first-week-of-the-month-only nomination timeframe: Nothing to see here, carry on!

It's still important to give donors an opportunity to familiarize themselves with new nominees. We want them to debut in a bright spotlight versus being buried in the noise by in-progress Top 10 or Top 3 votes. So nominations that come in after the 1st week of the month will be held in a queue until the 1st week of the next month. But you can get the nomination in as soon as you think of it. Meanwhile it gives me some extra flexibility as to when I go through the steps of "onboarding" it. Win/win!

December 2020 winner Maddie Potts Foundation

As the ball dropped on New Year's Eve we named Charitocracy's 52nd monthly winner. Congratulations to Maddie Potts Foundation, nominated by donor Wildtreemichelle. They honor Maddie, giving back via scholarships, sports facility upgrades & opportunities for individuals ​with disabilities. You can find their website here.

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 Maddie Potts Foundation next week. We've already gotten one big one, in fact! Keep 'em coming...

So finally please take a few minutes to get a glimpse of who Maddie was and what she represented to her teammates. Then feel good about your part in our collective $1600+ grant to help keep Maddie Mentality alive.

Have a great January (and 2021!), stay safe, and be sure to log into Charitocracy to update your votes or nominate a new cause!