Posts from hacking philanthropy

Holiday Giving

Every year at this time of the year, my office piles up with gifts that people send me. I don’t drive back and forth to work so it’s not easy for me to bring them home. So a big pile builds up and sometime in January or February, I get a big bag, come in on the weekend, and pick everything up and bring it home. As you can imagine reading this, I get annoyed by this. I know the gifts are sent with the best intentions. But sadly they are not received that way.

What I would massively prefer is a donation be made instead.

– Back a Kickstarter.

– Or participate in the Crowdrise Holiday Challenge (which The Gotham Gal and I helped make happen).

– Or help a teacher on DonorsChoose.

If you are in the giving mood, I have a specific suggestion. CSNYC, our non-profit that funds computer science classes in the NYC public schools, has a holiday wish list up on Crowdrise.

If you want to see a map of what CSNCY is funding, you can see that here.

Our wishlist was built with our existing donor pool in mind and AVC readers might find the specific asks a bit steep. So if you don’t find any of our wishes to your liking you can make a donation of any size here:

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Ice Buckets, and Generosity

In the midst of terrible news all over the place comes a wonderful hopeful heartwarming mania sweeping the nation.

Everyone is pouring ice buckets over their heads in a social viral fun outpouring of generosity to find a cure for a disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS for short.

The most famous victim of ALS was Lou Gehrig and for that his name will be forever associated with this disease.

ALS is a horrible disease. If we could find a cure for it, that would be an incredible thing.

It looks like the Ice Bucket Challenge will raise over $50mm for ALS research and possibly a lot more. That is real money that can fund real science.

I’ve been “challenged” a few times on Facebook and Twitter over the past few weeks and instead of pouring ice water over my head and then calling out additional people, I decided to donate $500 to ALS research via Ben Huh’s Ice Bucket Challenge on CrowdRise.

I am sure some of you will be disappointed that I “chickened out” and did not choose to get doused, but to me the important thing is the generosity that the Ice Bucket Challenge has unlocked.

That’s what I want to participate in, that’s what will ultimately make the difference, and I would encourage everyone to donate even if you have not been challenged.

Bitcoin and Charities

Tonight, at 6:30pm at NYU’s Eisner and Lubin Auditorium, I am giving a talk on the topic of Bitcoin and Charities. If you want to come, the ticket is $25, paid in Bitcoin, and all ticket proceeds are going to CSNYC.

We are expecting about 300 people right now based on ticket sales and there are another 100 seats left so there’s room if you want to come.

Here’s why I think Bitcoin will become important to charities.

Traditionally non-profits have spent upwards of 20% of their budget raising money.  The Internet, software, and the crowd have dramatically changed that.  Non-profits like Charity Water, DonorsChoose, and others have shown that using the Internet and the crowd can bring those costs down considerably. And now we have crowdfunding networks like CrowdRise that can help every charity be like Charity Water and DonorsChoose.

But there remains a pesky cost to online fundraising that is harder to eliminate and that is the payment processing fees. A charity may be able to lower their cost of fundraising from 20% to 5% by using these online tools, but virtually the entirety of that last 5% is going towards credit card processing fees.

This is where Bitcoin comes in. If you own Bitcoin, at Coinbase or in your own wallet, you can gift your Bitcoins to charity and save them pretty much all of their online fundraising costs.

The nirvana of charitable fundraising is that all of the money raised goes to the cause, not the operations and fundraising costs of the non-profit. Some non-profits have founders or boards that cover the overhead and fundraising costs so that all funds raised go to the cause. That’s how CSNYC works. The Gotham Gal and I cover the operating and fundraising costs. So if you make a donation to CSNYC, all of your funds go to our mission (which is bringing CS Education to the NYC public schools).

But most non-profits don’t have founders or boards that can support them like that. So when you make a donation, you are funding not only the mission, but the costs of raising those funds. The Internet and bitcoin can change that.

If you run a charity or work at one, consider signing up for a fundraiser on CrowdRise and connect with CrowdRise about accepting Bitcoin as an option. There is no less expensive way to raise money than that.

I will get into all of this in more detail tonight, including providing a basic description and history of Bitcoin, how it works, and why it is important. I hope to see you there.

Bitcoin and Charities Were Made For Each Other, They Just Don’t Know It Yet

On the evening of July 14th at 6:30pm, I am going to give a talk on the subject of Bitcoin and philanthropic giving. It will take place at NYU’s Eisner and Lubin Auditorium and we are selling tickets to the event (in bitcoin of course) to raise money for charity.

Seats are $25 and they are first come first serve. There are 300 of them. VIP seats, which, in addition to being the best seats in the house, will also come with some goodie, are $100. If you have the extra cash and are feeling generous, please step up for the VIP seats. There are 75 of them.

We hope to raise $15,000 via this event and all the proceeds will go to CSNYC‘s programs to bring computer science education to the NYC public school system.

I was inspired to do this talk because our portfolio companies Coinbase and CrowdRise have teamed up to bring bitcoin to the world of philanthropic giving. You can see this partnership in action on the CrowdRise page for the talk.

This talk brings together three of the things I have been spending most of my time on over the past year (crowdfunding, bitcoin, and philanthropy). If you want to hear me talk about the things that get me up and out of bed in the morning, come to this.

In addition to highlighting the possibilities for charities that Bitcoin opens up, I believe this event will be a great place for Bitcoin enthusiasts to meet each other. I’ve agreed to sponsor up to 60 NYU students and faculty who are working on bitcoin projects to attend the event. The NYU bitcoin community is really taking off right now and I would like to help galvanize that. And the entire HackNY summer intern class will be there. These are some of the best and brightest computer science students in the country who are spending the summer in NYC working in startups.

If you work in a charitable organization and want to understand how Bitcoin can help turbocharge your fundraising, or if you are a Bitcoin enthusiast, I think you will enjoy hearing the talk and meeting like minded folks. To claim a ticket please make your donation in Bitcoin here.

I hope to see you there.

PS – If you can’t attend, you can still donate here and check a box saying that you can’t attend but you want to support the event and the cause.