Fifty For Fifty!

Last night we passed our goal of raising $50,000 for teacher's projects that bring families closer to the classroom. The Gotham Gal and I are delighted. This has been an amazing gift that all of you have given us. Almost 10,000 students and their families will benefit from your generosity.

This is the fifth monthly campaign that this blog community has done via Donors Choose. In past years, we've raised about $20,000 each year from about 200 donors. This year, we raised more than $50,000 from 314 donors (and counting). That's a big step up!

We will leave the Giving Page and blog widget up for the remainder of the month. Hopefully we can raise a bit more for classrooms. At the end of the month, we will wrap this up, I will write a final blog post with the stats on the campaign, and I will list all the donors and link to their twitter handles if we have them.

On November 9th, from 6-8pm in the USV Event Space, the Gotham Gal and I will host a meetup for all the people who donated in this campaign plus some of the wonderful people from Donors Choose who make it possible to do this. We will get a Meetup page up shortly so people can RSVP for that event. It will be limited to those who gave in this campaign.

I talked to Charles Best, the founder and CEO of Donors Choose, about this campaign last week. He said that there are only a few other communities in the world that can rally around a Donors Choose campaign like this. This is a special place and you are special people. I am so gratified to be the "bartender" of this joint.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. David Noël

    Epic. Congrats to us for reaching the goal together. #goosebumps

    1. fredwilson

      nice use of the hashtagi think the last one i got in a comment called me #socialmediamoroni like yours better!

      1. Dale Allyn

        I thought you were the #technocommunist.  Still holding that domain (.com and .org, etc.) for you.  😉

        1. fredwilson

          i may need it

          1. Dale Allyn

            Just let me know, Fred. 

  2. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    That’s amazing. Congrats to you Fred and the AVC community.

  3. Dave W Baldwin

    Congratulations to everyone participating!

  4. Vishal Sood

    Congratulations to Fred and the AVC community. 

  5. William Mougayar

    Going from 20K to 50k is an amazing achievement.It shows the synergy effect with Gotham Gal 1+1 = more than 2x.Congratulations.

    1. fredwilson

      she has always made me bettermy secret weapon

  6. Rohan

    Congrats Fred, and all. 🙂

  7. awaldstein

    Congrats to everyone!My sense is the power and creativity of this community is just starting to be tapped.

    1. fredwilson

      well if that is so, then it is time to turn on the boosters because this community has been providing me with one hell of a hand of cards to play for some time now

      1. Mark Essel

        You’ve got Aces.

        1. fredwilson


          1. Mark Essel

            Belated happy Five Zero.may the next 50 be just as wild of a ride

          2. fredwilson

            thanks Markso happy to see your words around here again

      2. EmilSt

        Also to me. Cheers!

        1. fredwilson

          that’s our little secret, isn’t it?

          1. EmilSt

            Yes, it’s kind of “secret” empowerment. Beyond learning, it creates values and coulture among members. I really enjoy being part of it. Thanks

    2. JLM

      Well played to all!  Comity, it’s a grand thing.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Comity or comedy?(Had to look that word up.  And BTW you and @daveinhackensack:disqus probably have more in common than you’d think based on this thread.)

  8. DonRyan

    Congrats. I was glad to help. This community has given me far more over the years than I have contributed. Great to be a part. 

  9. andyswan

    Very impressive.  Nice job guys.

  10. kirklove

    Congrats.I’ll have a Hendricks and Tonic please.

    1. fredwilson

      You will need it soon my friend 😉

      1. RichardF

        more likely to need earplugs 

        1. fredwilson

          And espresso

        2. andyswan

          Cone of silence

  11. reece

    nicely done everyone!

  12. karen_e

    Aw, Jeez, I’m tearing up.

  13. Denim Smith

    Congratulations Fred, Gotham Gal, the AVC community, DonorsChoose and most importantly the teachers, students and their families. Wonderful result from a one of a kind community. Now why is the Cheers theme song playing in my head?

  14. saranyan

    Thats great to hear. Congrats. #educationrocks 🙂

  15. JLM

    Congratulations to the entire AVC community.  Well played.What really happened here?  Really?Pay window!Fred threw the gauntlet and the AVC community picked it up and dove through the pay window and now a bunch of worthy causes are funded. Is this a great country or what?

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Sure, it’s a great country. For donating pocket change (relatively speaking) to charitable projects with seemingly negligible potential ROI, wealthy folks can engage in an orgy of self-congratulations.

      1. JLM

        Dave, Dave, Dave — time for a charm school refresher?I don’t agree w/ you at all about the ROI but pissing on a guy’s parade — priceless!Played like a real Grinch!  Thanks for brightening my day knowing there is one in every crowd.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          JLM, doesn’t the apple polishing get tiring after a while?If you disagree about the ROI, measure it and prove me wrong. Have the kids in the reading projects take the verbal SAT now, and then have them take it sometime after they get their bag of free books, or after their parents come to play board games with them at school, or whatever your donations are paying for. Compare the difference in scores with that of a control group.I’m sure the sun will continue to shine on Fred’s parade regardless.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Dave,Are donations given to change test scores or to change behavior?  If one believes that children need to read more, or that parents need to become involved in their child’s education, through reading at home and or playing board games, will you see a change in scores over night or will you see the beginning of a trend?Its kind of like exercise, one can go pump iron and ingest steroids and overnight they will appear bigger and stronger but if you are looking at improving ones life and longevity, then you are looking at life style changes more than a quick fix.Personally, I think the focus on test results has destroyed education because it put all the emphasis on standardized testing I would rather see us focus on education as a life long adventure, and thus reading in homes, reading outside the classroom, and rather than relying on government and the school system we change our focus to local communities…….oh, and we can view this blog as a local community….

          2. Guest

            Carl,Saw a couple of your posts here today.RE: your ‘focus to local communities’ comment aboveI am sending you an email from my charity account with a blurb I posted on a Facebook page of a supporter who is doing a book drive for the children’s literacy outreach charity my wife and I co-founded. It is so in tune with your comments above feel like I have to share [ universe speaking or some other type of strange hippie nonsense 🙂 ]I hope to goodness you get up to KC sometime and let me buy you a coffee or something. Definitely want to meet you in person sometime.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Carl,”Are donations given to change test scores or to change behavior?”Realistically, they probably won’t have much effect on either, so it’s moot.”Personally, I think the focus on test results has destroyed education because it put all the emphasis on standardized testing I would rather see us focus on education as a life long adventure..”For a minority of smart, motivated kids, “education as a life long adventure” works. For the rest, that approach is naive and unworkable.Most of these kids are going to graduate (or drop out) into an economy that has little use for them, no matter how many books they’ve read or board games they’ve played. Dealing realistically with that challenge would be a better use of the mental energies of you and other thoughtful folks than engaging in constant quixotic attempts to “fix” or reform education.

          4. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Dave,What exactly is the challenge that we should deal with?  Is it education or the fact that our economic system cannot create jobs?If I were to apply your logic then all of the effort and money expended in start ups, incubator labs, entrepreneur centers, and such is all a waste of time because less than 1 in a 1,000 new start ups get funding.  

          5. fredwilson

            we need naysayers in this community. it is too easy to drink the koolaid. i love it when dave or prokofy or another member calls bullshit on something i say or do. i may not agree with them, but the debate is healthy.

          6. David Semeria

            You’re missing the point Dave.The big win here is to get a bunch of relative strangers to dip into their pockets.To paraphrase Josh Kopelman’s  famous post on the Penny Gap, the difference between words and even a small symbolic action is huge.Sure, Fred can get a couple of hundred people to post strong declarations of support on his blog, but it’s another thing to get the same number of people to click on the pay button.I don’t have a view on the ROI, and frankly I don’t care. If Fred thinks the cause is worthwhile, that’s good enough for me. Call it “social proof” if you like…The key point is that Fred crossed the Penny Gap, big time.

          7. Dave Pinsen

            “I don’t have a view on the ROI, and frankly I don’t care.”That’s part of what makes this whole exercise one of status posturing and self-congratulation.

          8. K_Berger

            Dave, while you may be right about the ROI or test score evaluation in the short-term, it doesn’t make this meaningless. My wife is a fantastic teacher (6th grade math and science) who comes from a family of master educators and the perspective I have picked up is that she waits a whole year sometimes for a struggling child to have an ‘ah ha’ moment.  If that child can get turned on to education, or reading even, that can cause a paradigm shift that flows through their whole life.  So maybe they don’t score much better on a test THAT YEAR in school, but they will read more for the rest of their life or have a warm, mental connection to a teacher that will make them more open to learning forever.  That is definitely a good thing.

          9. Dave Pinsen

            K_Berger,Certainly a good thing if you’re wife is able to achieve that, on occasion.

          10. JLM

            The world has not yet demonstrated a meaningful shortage of critics.There is something to be said for having even a bit of skin in the game.  Amongst those who have a bit of skin in the game, a bond can develop.  How a community forms is not as important as the fact that it does, indeed, form.All fundraising is about vanity.  The vanity of supporting the judgment of someone you hopefully trust as a substitute for doing the due diligence yourself.  Everybody wants to be on the “winning team”.So what is your point?

          11. Dave Pinsen

            Charity isn’t always about vanity. It’s not unheard of for donors to make large contributions anonymously. This is at the other end of that spectrum, small contributions to projects of indeterminate (to put it charitably) value, made with great fanfare. I’ve already made my point, which you can see in my previous comments.________________________________

          12. fredwilson

            we make most of our charitable donations anonymously

      2. Jim

        Hi Dave, I gave because Fred asked and it is important to him ( I’m in CA and no nothing about Donors choose). And Fred, along with this community, including you, enriches my life and educates me nearly every day.It’s no deeper or complicated than that.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Same reason I gave a couple of years ago. Nothing wrong with that. Some of the reactions here seemed a little over the top though.

      3. fredwilson

        ah, but how do you know the ROI is negligible?

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Call it a strong hunch. But feel free to measure it and prove me wrong, using the method I suggested in my comment to JLM below.

      4. Robert Thuston

        Dave,”Group think” is common, and it’s comments like this that free up others to think for themselves.  So 10 points for that.  For me, this community is about growing and expanding my perspective, as well as calling things into question even though they may be programmed socially into me.Thank you for your comment,  Robert

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Hi Robert,Thanks. +1 to you for being open minded. 

    2. fredwilson

      if you had a blog, it would have to be called

  16. jfccohen

    Congrats and happy birthday, Fred.  Cool idea, cool execution and loyal following.  It would be cool to see a post later on with some stories of some specific examples of students who were helped by the money.  Video/interview/writing sample/audio clip???

    1. fredwilson

      donors choose sends that kind of stuff to the donors who give more than a certain amount ($25, $50, ??)

      1. Charles Best

        Even a donor who gives $1 gets photos of the project taking place, a thank-you note from the teacher, and an impact report from the teacher. If you give $100, you also get physical student thank-you letters.On behalf of 9,273 students, THANK YOU.

        1. Jfccohen

          Why not share with everyone and get even more people to either donate or take more/different action?  Positive change is powerful and contagious.

  17. Aviah Laor

    This blog is a glimpse of a new era. Virtual reality that conquers the real one.

    1. awaldstein

      Hi AviahActually I don’t think about this as being virtual. The magic of today is that it all runs downhill to us, to you and me, in the real world. Online is simply another facet of the whole.Early communities online were about a virtual world to escape to and live in. Communities today are about connections and info and new friendships that play out and make life better online but off moreso.I bet the friendships, jobs, customers, funding connections, product insights, mentorships and deal closing bits of insight that have rolled down from here to us is significant.I apologize for this rant, but I’m a community-as-building-block fanatic of sorts 😉

      1. Aviah Laor

        I read your comment and can’t stop smiling, It is a magic.

        1. fredwilson

          he’s got a way with words. i think he may be a marketer 🙂

      2. daryn

        To use Fred’s analogy, being here is like being at a good bar: where there’s always interesting topics in the air to discuss and debate. Those venues exist in real life, but it’s hard to round up all of your friends often in meatspace (I hate that term by the way, what’s the 2011 version?). Here, we get that opportunity every day. 

        1. awaldstein

          Yup, agree fully.

        2. Aviah Laor

          But the analogy is getting weaker. It’s the “network of engaged users” thing. When Fred says “we invest in networks of engaged users”, NOW it seems obvious. Like saying that investors in cars invest in “taking people from place to place”. But it is not obvious.For the first time we have a tool that balance community and individualism. It’s a tectonic shift and it happens really fast (e.g. after the 1848 revolutions Europe needed ~150 years, two world wars and an iron curtain to fall before most of the continent got independent states)

          1. fredwilson


        3. Dave Pinsen

          “but it’s hard to round up all of your friends often in meatspace (I hate that term by the way, what’s the 2011 version?).”I nominate meetspace as the 2011 version.

  18. Steve Hallock

    Hi Fred,Belated happy birthday.  May I suggest that in the future you provide some sort of “giving tiers” almost like kickstarter?  I understand that this may feel a bit strange in the context of charity, but I think you potentially would have raised more.Personally, I did not know what to give.  I have a budget every year that I give to charity that I have already used.  When I saw your post, there was no question I would give regardless of the charity – meaning it was more about supporting this community than anything else.  However, I had no idea how much to give.  I seemed to remember the $100 number from a previous drive (maybe it was the $20k from 200) so that’s what I gave, but almost certainly would have given more if it was indicated to me in some way, especially if I still had charity budget left to spend.As an aside, although I would have given regardless, I really do love the charity you chose and am very happy to see all the money raised.  I get the sense that it really will directly impact kids.  You can’t ask for anything more.All the best,Steve

    1. fredwilson

      great suggestion and thanks so much for the birthday wishes and the donation

  19. RacerRick

    Awesome.  Great work, Fred.

  20. Joe Yevoli

    Congrats, Fred! And everyone!

  21. Dan Sweet

    Congrats Fred! Has to feel great knowing you’ve enabled so many to get more personally invested in such a great cause. Money is great and getting people to give is a great “gateway drug” in my experience. Separates the people who talk about giving back from those actually willing to. I think the next step is finding away for people to give of their time in person as well that has the potential to dramatically increase the lifetime value of the giver/recipient relationship. In the same way MBA Mondays is using Skillshare to move into the physical world I’d live to see a similar evolution in giving happen. Maybe a new company, maybe something for the DonorsChoose roadmap?

    1. fredwilson

      that company is called and my wife and i are investors (its a for profit) and the gotham gal is on the board. obviously we agree with you bigtime

      1. Dan Sweet

        Now we just need to complete the circle and get the winning projects the $50K goes towards that have services/labor components of their projects to submit them to and then you can push some traffic their way so local people can get involved IRL.

  22. aarondelcohen

    Hey that’s great Fred.  Really speaks to the broader Wilson brand and not just the AVC community.  I hope I can turn up in November and finally meet Joann.

  23. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    Congratulations!  Being a “newbie” to this blog I was not aware that Fred does this on an annual basis but I immediately went to Donors Choose and looked to see what local area schools where attempting to raise funds.  I found one class…I would really love to see Donors Choose become the method of choice to raise funds because I am soooooo tired of buying candy bars, bags of fruits, and or having catalogs thrust at me where I have to buy stuff.  Not real sure if you see the same in NYC but you could gain 50 lbs a year if you actually ate the candy bars….So, it appears that now there are 5 local classes raising funds via Donors Choose and so far no other donations other than mine….looks like I will continue to be drowned in candy bars and forced to buy stuff from catalogs that I have absolutely no need for…Gotta work a little harder at it!    

  24. ShanaC

    Congrats…less complaints this year too!

  25. Robert Thuston

    I’m impressed, and enjoyed the process of donating to a tangible classroom.Sometimes teachers just lack resources and some support.  I have read in an inner city school classroom twice a month for several years.  The majority of the teachers are caring and disciplined with their students, but lack resources and support.Projects like this spell hope for teachers.  They are not the end all be all answers, but it’s amazing how it can have a snowball effect.  Projects like this open “adjacent doors” for incremental improvements as well as further involvement from others.When reading my first year, we just read to the second graders.  Second year, we gave the students a reading log to record the books they read.  Third year implemented prizes when the second graders read a certain number of books.  This year, we’ve implemented infrequent meetings between readers to share best practices.Donors Choose gives people a starting point to get involved.  And sometimes with the unpredictable behaviors in homes, schools are the best areas for influence.Thanks Fred.

  26. Guest

    USA is a great country indeed. And congratulation from the AVC community. But this is bigger than this country, indeed AVC and the internet extends globally.  I sit in Singapore, I gave yet there is not international option to register as a donor on  This is bigger than the USA.

  27. fredwilson

    I have an idea about that. I might post it to get feedback

  28. andyswan

    Stop coddling the rich Charlie

  29. Mark Essel

    I’ve been reading batch processing AVC on the weekends in the AM before Michelle wakes up. Had time to jump into discussions a couple of times this week and it was great.Busy at work and keeping my eyes open for new opportunities closer to my heart.

  30. andyswan

    LOL Halliburton!