Using the Whole Whale - A Nonprofit Podcast
Controversy in Qatar & Giving Tuesday is Coming (news)

Controversy in Qatar & Giving Tuesday is Coming (news)

November 22, 2022

Qatar World Cup Centers International Human Rights Issues, Corruption, And Sportswashing

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is underway in Qatar in a climate marred by years of controversies related to human rights issues, corruption, and influence peddling. While this is the first time the games will be held in an Arab country, Qatar’s bid was a remote possibility until it shockingly won the bid back in 2010. FIFA, the international governing body of football, is considered one of the most openly corrupt institutions in sports, where bribery, corruption, and influence campaigns are rampant. Since winning the bid, Qatar has faced sustained criticism for labor rights abuses since the country began luring low-income workers (largely from Asia) to work on construction projects in what international human rights groups have labeled dangerous and exploitative conditions. The country has faced renewed criticism of its internal human rights issues, particularly around women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights since fans have started to arrive. International NGOs have been long calling for accountability over the games’ human cost, and teams have been put in the awkward position of navigating complex disagreements between the Qatari government, FIFA, and the general public.
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Rough Transcript

[00:00:00] This week on the nonprofit news feed, well we're talking about a little thing called the World Cup and unfortunately, how it is mired in a number of issues of human rights and corruptions, so we'll get to that in just a bit. I'm back from Hawaii, uh, on a trip with my family. It was fun. Lot of sand everywhere.

[00:00:49] Kids love the beach. Uh, but it's, it's, uh, much appreciated. Nick, that you and Matt handled last week, I, uh, I was a little jealous. I did wanna share a few words on the FTX collapse, but we'll, we'll get to that in the future. Something tells me those dominoes are not done falling. Yeah. George, I'm sure, I'm sure that story will be making a comeback as we talk about crypto philanthropy and the fallout from that.

[00:01:16] To your point this week we wanted to talk about QAR and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. So the World Cup began this weekend in Qatar in a climate marred by, let's say, years of controversy related to human rights issues, corruption in. FIFA and influence paddling across the board. So this is the first time that the World Cup is being held in a Arab country, but Qatar's bid was considered just a remote possibility until it somehow shockingly won the bid back in 2010.

[00:01:55] And fifa, the international governing body of football. Is widely considered to be one of the most openly corrupt institutions in sports, uh, accusations of bribery up and down the whole chain. It's essentially assumed Qatar bought this bid. Um, but now this is coming full circle because since the bid was awarded to guitar, the country has consistently faced criticism for pretty egregious labor rights abuses.

[00:02:26] Uh, human rights issues, uh, workers working in extreme and deplorable conditions on the massive construction projects. And now that the World Cup itself is underway, a focus not only on the labor issues, but of just human rights issues more broadly in the country related to women's rights, um, LGBTQ plus rights, and the country's facing.

[00:02:51] Criticism from international NGOs calling for accountability and the whole thing's kind of a mess. But it's a complex situation. So, George, what, what are your thoughts on this one? This brought to you by the public service announcement that not all nonprofits are good. And I'll remind that FIFA actually is a, is a nonprofit, uh, that, that is running this.

[00:03:19] And I think, you know, you mentioned that you wrote a paper about this when you were in college back in 2010, about the human rights abuses, the, you know, the modern day misuse of labor there. Estimated deaths, which can't be accounted for. But Amnesty International and I have seen others quote in the, uh, 6,000 or more potentially that have actually just died, you know, issues of taking someone's passport once they come in and forcing them to work.

[00:03:49] Uh, you know, that it's, uh, it's an unfortunate thing to be happening in, you know, this age of , this agent of like modern globalization. When you bring the Globe's spotlight in, I think we have to be careful also about pushing Western ideals on other cultures. It's hard, you have to balance this like absolutism that we have the perfect moral compass here.

[00:04:21] So, you know, put a pin in that perfect moral compass here, baked in our western ideologies of, of, of rights and equality, and you really have to. It's hard to remove that because I do think there's some objective truth to like allowing certain freedoms of frankly, people to love each other, uh, to have providence over their own bodies.

[00:04:47] Uh, I, I, I want to believe in something like that, but also you just have to note when you're, when you're speaking with that, you know, absolutism to just be careful. The fact that they're, they're doing this. They couldn't even have it in the, the summer. They had to have it in November because it's not a climate that, uh, accommodates life in the summer.

[00:05:10] Like, no joke, 120 degrees. Like you can't take a ball in that temperature. I think the ball just sort of evaporates. It makes no ecological sense whatsoever, uh, to have done this and made this level of investment. And I really hope a touch more. Frankly, discretion and intelligence of just because they can pay doesn't mean we should do it this way from fifa, frankly from the Olympics, from these large institution, large institutions that, you know, do pull the world together.

[00:05:43] I, I think there's something very beautiful about the World Cup and I, and I hope it doesn't get lost because yes we can, we can focus here, but the truth is 5 billion people are most likely going to watch. 5 billion people are going to agree that one team beat another team. Do you know how hard it is to get 5 billion people to agree on a thing, to watch the same thing?

[00:06:07] There's just, I think, something beautiful about this, that despite all of this and the sports washing involved, like it is, uh, it is something that I'm glad everyone is still participating in and, and not simply boycotting because it's. It's easier to destroy than to create. It's harder to, frankly, some of these captains wanted to wear arm bands in support of issues of LGBTQ and human rights.

[00:06:35] They wanted to take a stand. Some are kneeling, some are showing it, but they're still participating. I'm more nervous when we stop participating collectively. And so, you know, uh, that's, that's how I'm viewing these games. I'm gonna watch. And we'll, we'll watch the news and we'll see that. And, uh, it's hard for mold to grow in the sunlight and there's a lot of sunlight right now on guitar.

[00:07:02] Yeah, George, I couldn't agree more with that, that characterization. And I wanted to give a shout out to some of the, the nonprofits that have been doing, uh, really great reporting on this. And I've been flagging it very early. And as you alluded to, I wrote a paper on. Years ago in college because the issues were, were still salient then.

[00:07:24] But Amnesty International in particular has done really great research from the beginning on workers and yeah, it's, it's really challenging. Um, and, and really actually sad, I mean, workers are essentially being lured, uh, Poor workers from Asia into this country, they're having their visas confiscated.

[00:07:47] It's not a good situation. Um, but I think to your point, the World's Cup is an opportunity to shine light on these issues, right? And I do not think we should be giving Qatar Pass. But that being said, uh, the chance to come together, Is, is really important, especially in a time of division. So yeah, I agree with that.

[00:08:15] But let's just fire everyone at fifa. I have no . I Oh yeah, let's get of those. Let's cleans. Oh my gosh.

[00:08:23] I think, I think 5 billion of people could possibly agree to that, that it's, it's really funny to see an institution solo, but an event so, Yeah. Um, , if you, if you're really into this, like do a deep dive on the bid, it's like the most outrageous thing. There was like a plane of the US delegation that flew to wherever it was, like Finland, Sweden or something for the bid process.

[00:08:52] It was like, Mid-level State Department people, a couple of us soccer people, the United States activated Morgan Freeman took him on this plane, but it was clear like Morgan Freeman didn't prepare anything for this speech. It was like this like kind of incoherent jumble of like why the, it's the whole story's wild.

[00:09:12] If you're into it, just read about it. Uh, but, but anyway, we'll leave that.

[00:09:17] Uh, yeah. Moving into the summary, I'll, I'll jump through this quickly. Meta, formally known as Facebook, the artist , formally known as Facebook Me, is gonna spend, uh, 7 million to stoke reoccurring donations around Giving Tuesday. Which is great. We'll, hope you're all getting ready for your Giving Tuesday to, to make what you can of the kickoff to Giving season, not the end, but the kickoff to Giving season.

[00:09:41] We have a bunch of those resources. Hope you find them. And, uh, another one here. Uh, Nick, do you wanna talk about what Bezos is announcing? Yeah, George. So Jeff Bezos, uh, formerly CEO of Amazon is, has announced, was giving away most of his 122 billion fortune. Uh, but this article from says, leaves many questions unanswered.

[00:10:10] Uh, It says that Bezos, thus far has resisted developing a public philanthropic identity, unlike that of his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott. But I don't know what's your take here is, is, is Bezos having a, I don't know, a conscious time? Time to do. Good moment. What's this about? I'm gonna say the following phrase, and I'm excited because I'm gonna say it so many times that people are gonna be sick.

[00:10:40] And here it is. Pledges are pr. That's it. I'm gonna say that every single time I see that, those of you listening, every time you see something like this, every time you see a post like this, I just want it ring in your head. Pledges are just pr. Cause if you were doing it, we would see the check and we saw that with Sam Bankman.

[00:11:07] Getting all that ink across all those papers about how altruistic you was going to be in the future. Right about me now for things I haven't done. It's called P, so Bezos can shove it until we see a check. That's what I think.

[00:11:25] I agree. See? See it Hit the books then we'll. We'll talk again, uh, remains to be seen. He's got some, some rockets to fund as well. So yeah, God bless him. Get it done. All right. This next one comes from out of, uh, Richfield, Minnesota, and this is actually a follow up on a story we've talked about, but, uh, there was a 250 million fraud investigation to Feeding Our Future, which has fractured trust and efforts to feed hungry children across Minnesota.

[00:12:02] Um, and it's really affecting, uh, this nonprofit and a time when it's, quote, quietly delivered 10 million meals to hungry kids and counting. So, Yikes. It seems that you just have a perfect storm of kind of bad scenarios. Here. You have 10 million meals to hungry kids. Uh, being that's a gap, like that's a gap in our safe, our social safety net, in my opinion that is being filled by this nonprofit.

[00:12:32] Also at the center of a quarter of a billion dollar fraud investigation. Yikes. It's sad to see. Hopefully it doesn't erode confidence in giving locally to food banks that you know are serving your area. The, the larger groups have have a trust gap to fill. I'd say the ones that are, you know, chapter based and working out there.

[00:12:57] The on the onus is on communication and transparency, but please don't let that hopefully be a barrier to giving locally, supporting, uh, supporting your. Food banks and nonprofits. We, we spoke and had that podcast recently with Move for Hunger when, you know, please go back and listen to that if you haven't.

[00:13:17] Uh, because I think Adam Lloyd does a top shelf job of explaining how the need is year round and there's ways to support that. Yeah, George. Absolutely. And this actually takes us into our next article for nonprofit, which says that on behalf of a poll conducted on behalf of Vanguard Charitable conducted by interviewing 2000 US adults.

[00:13:42] Uh, it found that 60% of American donors with a charit giving budget, say rising inflation had no impact on their giving or caused them to increase their giving over the past 12 months, the nearly 24% saying they increased their giving. So we were talking about how critical time this is. Food pantries and nonprofits like that.

[00:14:06] Um, but it seems that the, the giving public is aware of that need, not stopping, giving potentially increase in giving e even in light of inflation. The survey size is a little small, 2000 adults, but. I think that's really optimistic news that the public is still committed broadly to charitable giving despite, uh, what's now kind of record setting inflation.

[00:14:37] It's a positive signal, one that we hope is, uh, is accurate as far as polls go. Giving Tuesday coming up, we're predicting that over 3 billion will be donated, uh, in and around the day, and hopefully is a, is a strong end of. Giving cycle. You know, sadly, we might as well just root for the markets to go up because that is another predictor of, uh, of giving.

[00:15:00] You know, we're past midterms, so now, uh, it's time for nonprofits to get their narratives out there.

[00:15:06] Absolutely. All right. How about a feel good story, George? What do you got? All right. This comes from the venerable ks LTV and Salt Lake City, Utah. And it's estimated that Americans will throw out more than 200 million pounds of perfectly good Turkey meat this year, uh, most of it after Thanksgiving.

[00:15:32] But this woman. Uh, Dana Williamson founded the nonprofit Waste Less Solutions, which tries to rescue unused food and donate it to community organizations that need it. And we talk about food waste a lot on this podcast. And there's a couple, quite a, a number of organizations working in this space now, but great to see, uh, local Utah resident, uh, bringing it close to home and helping out the communities in Salt Lake.

[00:16:02] Any, any percent or stats on what percent of those, uh, pounds of Turkey are actually dry because he definitely left it in the oven too long. No stats on that. Nothing there. No stats on that. We gotta call the the Butterball hotline. I love projects like this because food waste needs to be solved locally.

[00:16:21] It's a last mile problem. We have enough food, we don't have enough food in the right places. Um, going back to Adam Low conversation in our, in our previous podcast, to end on a lighter note and because he made it to the end. Hey Nick, I got a, a question for you. How, how do you organize a Giving Tuesday fundraiser to help the earth?

[00:16:42] I don't know. How does one organize such a thing? George, you plan it.

[00:16:51] That was good. That, that's, that's, that's your, that's your, that was good. The best one. All right. On that note, uh, leave a rating if you feel like it, if you feel like giving. Um, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Maximizing Corporate Event Fundraising | Move for Hunger

Maximizing Corporate Event Fundraising | Move for Hunger

November 21, 2022

Conversation with Adam Lowy, Founder and ED of Move For Hunger.

Adam shares about the landscape of food insecurity in the US and the need for year-round support for food banks - not just around Thanks Giving.  Move for Hunger is also succeeding with great in person truck pulling events that raise food, funds and awareness across the US. 


Video from the truck pull event: 




Rough Transcript

[00:00:00] Well, we've got a returning guest, Adam Lowie, founder and executive director of Move for Hunger, move for Hunger, mobilizes Transportation Resources to reduce food waste and fight hunger. And we're gonna get into how they're doing that. They were founded in 2009. So Adam, you've been at it for quite some.

[00:00:47] We met actually back in the day, my former life as Chief Technology officer of do When Adam Lowie was, was it at that time a Brick Award winner? A Do something award winner Do do something, yeah. I think it was the Do Something award technically at that point, yes. A do something. I think I still have my little exclamation point trophy from back in the day.

[00:01:11] Well, these were the sort of best of the best of young entrepreneurs in the social impact world. And I, I remember Adam at the time and we stayed friends and we stayed friends. He was a member of the New York City Global Shaper community and has really built something incredible at Move for Hunger. So, In, in your words, can you remind us, because obviously all of our audience listens to every single one of our over 250 episodes.

[00:01:40] remembers all of our guests. Can you remind us how Move for Hunger does what they do best? Absolutely. So we started, as you mentioned, 13 years ago, out of my family's moving company. We saw folks leaving behind or throwing away food when they were moving, and started to ask that question, do you wanna donate food when you.

[00:02:00] Turns out people wanna do good. You just have to make it super easy. And in this case, we were bringing a food drive into people's living rooms. Uh, today we have trained more than 1100 professional moving companies across the US and Canada to make food recovery a core part of the way they do business.

[00:02:18] We've expanded from just movers to work with relocation management companies, temp housing providers. We work with more than 600,000 apartment units, for folks moving in the multi-family industry. And we're also now tackling fresh food. So for us it's really about, ensuring that we can mobilize transportation networks to be in the right place at the right time to get food to where it needs to be.

[00:02:39] And altogether we've now collected enough food to provide more than 25 million meals, uh, to folks. And it's an incredible number, but also it's an innovative approach. We are, I'd say, generally familiar with how food banks work locally, and I think this is addressing both a problem and opportunity, uh, to, to use these resources, which are, you know, moving trucks and moments, which are moments.

[00:03:08] People relocating their living situation and saying like, yeah, there's a lot of waste in that system. How do we redirect that? And then it seems like you're expanding now to realizing that there's a huge last mile problem. As I understand it for food insecure people in our country there, there's enough food, there's enough planted, grown.

[00:03:33] In our country to feed everyone. However, getting it to where it needs to be is that last mile problem. And it strikes me that trucks are, are a good way to do that. And so maybe a little bit more on how you're expanding there. Yeah. So you kinda hit the nail on the head there. 35% of food produced in the United States ends up in landfills.

[00:03:57] And if you zoom out globally 28% of the world's farmable land. Grows food that will never be eaten which is just a wild number, you know, to think about. Hmm. and all of this, well, you know, there's now 38 million Americans including one in six kids that are going to bed hungry each night. So for us, it's really about mobilizing existing resources.

[00:04:17] You've got these companies, you've got these trucks, they're providing a service, and this is something that helps 'em stand apart from the competition. It's providing a really great service to their customers. You know, if you've ever moved, didn't know what to do with that food. Maybe felt guilty about throwing it away.

[00:04:33] Here's an easy thing to do. but it's not just about that last mile. In some cases it's about the first mile. So we're working with farmers. We are working with CPG companies, distributors. We just install a cold storage hub in Rhode Island to work with local fisheries out there, to be able to keep food cold longer so it doesn't have to go to waste.

[00:04:56] Um, and that fish is being distributed across our Rhode Island. We've done the same with some farms in New Jersey and some other places, Kentucky as well. Um, You know, there, there's a lot of reasons why food goes to waste. It happens at the farm level. Um, it happens when food is rejected. Um, we talked to, uh, a company that had bananas, um, 250,000 of them to be exact, that were.

[00:05:24] You know, the grocery stores no, no longer wanted them. They were at a port in Los Angeles and we were able to recover all of that food and get it to local food banks within just a matter of days. Um, so again, right resources, right time. Mm-hmm. , um, you could have a dented can in a 12 pack of soup. The, the grocery store isn't gonna take that 12 pack anymore because one can was dented.

[00:05:47] Oftentimes that food is discarded, and that's the reality of what's happening, not just in our country, but. . Well, I wanna come back to some of those stats, as you mentioned, one in six kids, uh, facing food insecurity. You know, we're coming up on Thanksgiving and this is a time of year where food banks get this sudden surprise amount, not surprise amount, predictable amount of support of volunteers of yet another can of cranberries.

[00:06:20] Can you, you know, from the perspective of somebody who works in the industry is like, uh, you know, you welcome volunteers with open arms, but there's a very much like, you know, where, where were you yesterday? Um, so what is the feeling at at food banks right now coming into this Thanksgiving? They're busy, right?

[00:06:41] They're, they're busy of an ever, um, part of it's for, you know, the reasons we just talked about. Food insecurity is, is at a, at a high, yes. In some cases it has lowered a little bit. Um, but then you couple that with inflation. I went to the grocery store yesterday and probably spent the most I've ever spent, and I wasn't even shopping for Thanksgiving yet.

[00:07:00] That is a reality for a lot of people that are seeing, you know, these food prices increase when they go to check out. So it's, it is becoming more of a problem than, than I'd say it has been in the past. Really where we are trying to kind of take this. As we go into the holidays is listen, hunger is a year round issue.

[00:07:22] People are food insecure on a year round basis. And by the way, hunger is a symptom of poverty. You know, handing someone a can of food is not going to solve their food insecurity problem. Um, you've got the cost of food, you've got the cost of healthcare, you've got the cost of housing. Insurance. All of these things are at all time highs.

[00:07:40] While wages are still at all time lows in, in many cases, um, yes, we're seeing some wages, um, increase, but, but that doesn't affect a lot of the minimum wage workers, um, out there that are working two, three jobs and still trying to decide between. A meal for their kids or you know, paying rent. And that is a real negotiation that a lot of families are doing.

[00:08:05] So when we think about the holidays, and I'm sure the food banks will agree, Yes, this is a busy time of year, but what we have moved for hunger at least trying to do, is create opportunities to have people think about food insecurity throughout the year, um, with different campaigns. So in February we do our Spread the Love campaign where we collect peanut butter and jelly.

[00:08:26] Um, or maybe in August we're doing our Shark Week food drive, um, where we're collecting can tuna fish cuz kids like tuna just as much as sharks do. Right. Um, in August, we're the only game in town. No one's holding a food drive in the summer. And by the way, kids are outta school. They're not receiving emergency food assistance or reduced their pre lunches.

[00:08:43] Those are the times where we really need to think about how do we put more food on the shelves of food banks and pantries. Those are the times where we need to raise our voices as hunger relief organizations and be the loudest, because that's where the difference can really be made. Yes, the food banks are gonna be fine this Thanksgiving.

[00:09:01] They're gonna feed a record number of people between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but come January two. Those shelves are just as barren as they were before Thanksgiving. And this is where we all need to come to come together. Not just to donate food, but donate dollars, donate time, um, donate your voice advocate, and really come together to make sure we can, uh, really reduce poverty, because that's the only way we're gonna reduce food in insecurity.

[00:09:30] We're such great creatures when it comes to moments of compassion, but sustained effort. It's just, it's tough. It is. It's, it's really hard. Which is why coming back to your solution make it easy. People do care, make it easy. People wanna find a, a moving company that supports move for hunger and will donate that extra food.

[00:09:55] You have a search on your site that has a network of moving companies that will actually directly assist in moving that food that last mile. And so, yeah, you can't just depend on these moments of caring, but rather you have to make it convenient and, and not just convenient for the person that wants to give, but convenient for the person that is actually implementing the process, right?

[00:10:20] So in our case, our movers, our multifamily partners, our relocation management companies, if you can create something that becomes part of their business model, becomes part of their standard operating procedure, if you. Then at some point you don't actually need a charitable cost. You know, you talk about charities going outta business.

[00:10:40] We're not trying to go outta business right now, but it's really fun to be able to see like companies like Bell Partners or fpi or Allied Van Lines like. Talking about food insecurity or food waste and food recovery as part of their marketing that wasn't happening 10 years ago. Um, but now it's something that they're touting as part of their brand, part of their values, um, and part of the service that they're offering their customers.

[00:11:08] And I think it's important that you have found this industry found an in innovative way for the industry to work in and around and directly on the cause of food insecurity. You've doubled down, really focused on how do I not just sort of ask for donations from this industry, but ask for the work, ask for their expertise in terms of moving and provided extra value along the way, and that's.

[00:11:42] Kind of where I wanna take this conversation. I'm gonna play this, this clip as a part of, part of transition where I was lucky enough to attend one of these fundraising events where all I got was a message from Adam. It was a text message, Hey, wanna pull a truck this week? And I was like, oh, what is he doing?

[00:12:02] And, and sure enough, I found myself pulling a truck. So play that.

[00:14:05] All right, Adam, so what you heard in the background was a lot of noise, music, maybe me being a little winded there. Uh, can you describe what was going on at, at this event that took place in the Bay Area, uh, the other month? It was such an incredible event. Um, we worked with, uh, bam Bay Area Mobility Management, which is a relocation association, um, in the Bay Area.

[00:14:31] And, um, we put together one of our favorite events, which is what we call a truck pull teams of 10 competing to pull a moving truck in the fastest time. Um, we had the most ridiculous venue, the USS Hornet. Which if you've never been, I, I recommend it. Um, what, what a ship that was. And they gave us the entire pier.

[00:14:52] Incredibly generous. Um, but we raised a ton of money and it was a lot of fun. And, you know, we had, we had taco trucks and beer trucks and, um, team building and people working together. To do this thing in this moment that they typically wouldn't do and everyone walked away knowing not only did they pull a truck, um, but the, the funds raised that day were going back to helping us feed thousands of people.

[00:15:16] Um, and it was probably one of our most, one of our largest truck pulls that we've done on to date in terms of, um, you know, people coming back out after the pandemic in terms of dollars that were able to be raised. Um, and. We shot a great video from it as well, uh, which has now been used and seen over and over again by others that are now inspired to wanna hold a truck pole in their communities.

[00:15:42] And that's what we're trying to think about. How do we, how do we scale these events? Before the pandemic, we were doing a lot of 'em. I think in 2019 we organized nine truck poles. Our plan for 2020 was 16 of them that we had on the books. And then obviously, Covid happened. Um, so this year we did three, and this was one of the three.

[00:16:00] And I was so happy that you were able to be there and see it in person. I didn't think that you were gonna pull it, uh, yourself, let alone drag me into pulling a truck. It's been a while. Um, but uh, you know, it's about creating these fun experiences for people and companies, and that's what we try. So I wanna unpack this because I think now that we're in a, you know, knock on wood post pandemic fundraising environment, you're combining some smart elements.

[00:16:30] One, you're focused on this industry. So you're, you're creating this package that has value, that is aligned with what they do. Moving truck, we're gonna move the moving truck. You get to pull it, truck pull. It is a unique experience. You're allowing also teams. Teams to jump in, fundraise to be a part of that.

[00:16:50] You have a unique venue potentially, but this can be done in a parking lot. This can be done in your, you know, asphalt backyard, and it can be paired with conferences. It can be paired with these industry events that are hungry. They are hungry for social ties, impact and particip. And you know, this checks a lot of boxes, so, you know, I think it was really smart to just not just run the event, but also sort of frankly bring, bring the cameras.

[00:17:22] And maybe you can talk a little bit more about how you see this expanding and how you see it as both raising awareness and also funds. Yeah, so, so during Covid, you know, I'd say prior to Covid we were doing a lot of in-person events. We loved in-person events. We did a lot with conferences and associations that we were partnered with, and then, All of that had to stop and we had to change our model, right?

[00:17:45] So everything became virtual. What, what type of virtual team building could we do? We did a virtual karaoke event. We've been doing virtual trivias. Um, we found like a lot of different ways to engage people where they were virtual wine tasting, you name it, we were doing it, um, because. We needed to find ways to not only meet people where they were, but also let them feel like they were still giving back.

[00:18:08] If you talk to most charity organizations that utilize volunteers, they were, they were at a standstill as well. People couldn't come in, so a lot of organizations had trouble actually delivering their services. Um, and it was a, it was a problem. So, It was great during that time for us to be able to be a little bit creative, reinvent a little bit of what we're doing.

[00:18:30] Now that we've kind of come out of c we're not abandoning that aspect of it. We're in some cases creating this hybrid experience, right? So, hey, if we're gonna do a food drive with you on site, uh, maybe it's one of our favorite ones we call, can the CEO or you fill your CEO's office with so much food they can no longer get.

[00:18:50] Maybe we're gonna kick that off with a virtual trivia to educate people about the issues of hunger and food waste. Because while we can't be there physically for your food drive, um, we can be there to host this great team build that then kicks off and hopefully inspires team members to collect even more food than they would have before.

[00:19:09] Right? So building up that moment, you can use the virtual. Uh, to almost, uh, work toward that in-person event. Um, and when we have these in-person events, then it's a matter of just engaging your networks and we're very fortunate to have a lot of networks that, um, we can kind of engage that way. What kind of staff is necessary to run that kind of event?

[00:19:33] Where I'm not quite sure how many people were there, it was a good amount of people, but like, what does a truck pull event staff look like from your, your. So there's definitely some behind the scenes happening before the event had happened itself. Um, but on site, again, depending on the amount of people that are going to be at the event, but we can usually manage it with two, uh, two people that are staff from for hunger.

[00:20:01] And then maybe a handful of volunteers can probably get away with four volunteers. Um, and that can run a truck full of up to 200 people, uh, most likely. Mm. You know, you hit those numbers and your math begins to, to work out. Uh, especially if you have multiple events, right? Just one and done the sort of, you know, can we do one massive chicken dinner and call it a day?

[00:20:24] It's sometimes frustrating, I guess, to watch that type of model. And that model was really shaken, I'd say, during the pandemic because, you know, it's all about this one day of fundraising as opposed to, A part fundraising, part programmatic implementation of an event that is doing the work that needs to be done, local building of awareness of funds, and also donations.

[00:20:54] Like you're pulling it together in the right way. And it also seems to be more, uh, sustainable because, You're mixing those two parts. Uh, does, does that make sense? Is that intentional? There are for profit companies out there right now today that regular companies are paying to manage their team building and employee engagement experiences that exists.

[00:21:21] Why can't we be the ones that do that better? And at least have a charitable twist and an impact arm on it? So instead of some company giving, This for-profit, $10,000 to do whatever it's going to be. Why not? Why can't we be the one that's getting that $10,000 donation, giving people a great experience?

[00:21:40] And then that company also is able to know that they were able to feed a whole bunch of people. Um, that's kind of the way we think about that. And I agree with you like that model of like the one big dinner. That's gotta be on the wayside. And we never did the big gala or anything like that. I know. I never got an invite.

[00:21:57] I kept waiting. No, I, well there was nothing to, I invited you a truck pull. Right. Um, instead it was how many of these different food drives fundraisers, special events could we do with our partners? We have a lot of partners, um, and a lot of them make a contribution every. But those partners have employees and those employees can also be champions and advocates and donors and volunteers.

[00:22:23] Um, so, you know, for any other organizations listening, you know, I do not discount the, the network that you have built with your partners because there's so much more than just a check one time to have their logo on your website. Um, you know, , anytime that we're going into a big partnership, I don't lead with a big ask and say, can you give us a hundred thousand dollars?

[00:22:47] I lead with what are you doing from an employee giving an employee engagement standpoint? What can we do to become part of your culture? Because if you do that, they're gonna stick with you. And most of our partners have stuck with us for over a decade now. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And it. It's easier. I'll say once the flywheel is going, you've got like amazing footage of these events and the history and relationships.

[00:23:12] But even starting out, you bring up this, this point that just sort of stuck in my mind for, for folks listening and looking for ideas and it's like, oh, that's easy for you to say, you know, you're dealing with moving in trucks. They're right there. It's like so easy. Like, here's what you actually just gave as a, as a solid idea.

[00:23:27] Maybe you can help me flesh it out a bit more, where. There are corporate engagement, there are corporate activities. There is somebody in HR at Major Fortune 500 companies right now looking for that corporate event, team building. I'm using keywords right now. Team building events for corporate gatherings.

[00:23:49] Take a look at what's being offered. , see the sort of ropes courses or the escape, the whatever room. Packages that that are being provided. And then ask yourself, are any of these programmatically adjacent to potentially what we do? What would it cost to get someone on our team to do event planning or bring a fundraiser in for event planning and organizing and take a shot at selling it?

[00:24:16] Does that feel like a, like a, a couple, two step approach? Yeah, I mean, it, it can't hurt, right? Like someone else is getting that business. There's a market for already. Let's put the twist on it. Um, and that's really what we're trying to, to make work. Um, And, and, and you kind of, uh, mentioned it there as well where it has to feel like it's connected to your program.

[00:24:44] So it's not like we're just picking things that these companies are doing. But there are a couple things like that people wanna do cooking classes. We haven't done it yet, but if we could find a way to make that work, like, and the costs made. A hundred percent. Um, we could probably find a way to do some sort of zero waste cooking class for a corporate event.

[00:25:08] Um, unfortunately cooking is probably one of the most expensive things from a cost per head standpoint, but we are exploring those options because they do feel very relevant in some cases to the work that we're doing. Yeah, really. It seems like you, you don't maybe wanna do all of the things you wanna do one thing or two things pretty darn well have that package ready to go so that you have the costs, the planning all in place so that it's like, and you fundraising in a box, right?

[00:25:39] Yeah. Um, and, and that, and that honestly is what the truck pull is like. We ship everything to the mover, the truck pulls up, your whole event is in the back of the truck, , right? So it's, it's so easy. Cleanup is easy. Setup is easy. Um, and, and that's what we want. We wanna create events that can scale. Um, you cannot scale a foundation, gala, dinner in 30 locations and a hundred locations.

[00:26:04] The amount of time and resources that it takes to plan those things, it doesn't make sense. You'll never be able to do. But can we scale some of the things that we're doing virtually or, or can the CEO Food drive? Absolutely. What is the price point? What are the resources? What are our costs? And ultimately, most importantly, I would say, what is the impact?

[00:26:24] Because, you know, you can do all these things and not raise any money or food in our case, and what's the point of doing it? So there's gotta be impact. The, the ROIs gonna be worth it that way. And for, I just wanna come back to the, to the staff. Cause I feel like I'm glossing over some of the complexity inherited in event planning.

[00:26:47] You know, is this a position that you would sell something potentially then hire a part-time event planner? Like what is like the zero to one for implementing, we'll say a programmatically aligned corporate event fundraising. Thing. That's, that's the secret sauce. Georgia, but , that's why I'm asking. But, but you know what I, what I a hundred percent will say is you need to create it first, right?

[00:27:21] Mm-hmm. , you need to test it, and then you need to do a few of them. Um, once you've done a few, you can learn really what your price point is, and then once you feel comfortable selling, Then you can ultimately begin to start hiring that part-time, then full-time person to be able to implement some of these things.

[00:27:38] Um, when we started, you know, we didn't have an events person. Um, fortunately my background is experiential events. I was doing event marketing before I started Move for Hunger, so I've always loved that aspect. I could, I could plan one truck pull. Could I plan 30 and do some of them simultaneously? No, you need support for that.

[00:27:57] Um, and by the way, it's not just an event planner, it's who's doing your marketing, your photography, your graphic design to bring this stuff to life. Like there are more elements that go into just those things besides the two staff members that are on site to actually physically run the events itself.

[00:28:17] You can build that small. Not everything needs to be big and grand, um, to begin with. Um, but I will say there's a lot of, uh, tricks and ways to cheat to do some of that, to make it feel grander than it is. You'd be surprised just having a branded tent, top canopy at something with your table, bring a tent.

[00:28:38] It all, all of a sudden looks like an event. A tent does not cost that much money. Um, but without that tent there, it looks like it's a much smaller spectacle. Um, but now with the tent, you've got some images that you can take and, you know, those are the things that make things feel real. Yeah, I think that makes it just like a lot more practic.

[00:28:58] Because sometimes it's, you know, like watching someone at the, you know, top of the top of their game already going full speed, being like, it's easy. You just, you know, put one foot in front of the other, you're like, no, you started small. You grinded it out. You figured it. But I think those are, those are some great first steps.

[00:29:16] Uh, alright, well. Thank you for, for sharing those points. Are there any other big things? Cuz I've already done the, the rapid fire with you at least twice I think. Um, are there any other final points, you know, you're thinking about as we we move into the end of the year for, for Move for Hunger or what's getting you excited?

[00:29:37] Um, you know, we did a few things. At the end of this year and like tried some new campaigns that worked really well. Um, and I'd say the reason that they worked really well. Was because we had the right champions in place and the companies that we were working with. So this is not only something that I planned to do more of in 2023, but also that I would really, really encourage other organizations and companies to do.

[00:30:05] And I'm just gonna leave you with two very quick examples. Um, one of which I just did last week, um, in, uh, Amelia Island, Florida. Um, we were at a conference with one of our partner. They were planning to do a little fundraiser for us anyway, and they had dueling pianos as their entertainment. Um, I talked to the CEO and and said, Hey, How much would it take to get you up there singing a song?

[00:30:29] Right? And he said a lot of money. So I got on stage and I told everyone that if we raised $5,000, he's gonna get up and sing a song. And you know what? We raised $7,500 and it was just so much fun, um, to be able to do that and to see his employees want to support his embarrassment, if you will. He's got very little shame.

[00:30:54] And it was one of the easiest fundraisers that we've ever done, and the cost was virtually nothing. I was there anyway. Um, and the same thing happened a couple weeks prior where we're in Las Vegas. Um, and it's really hard to get anyone's attention at a convention in Las Vegas cuz there's so many distractions.

[00:31:10] Um, but one of the larger CEOs of one of the companies that was there agreed to jump off the stratosphere about two weeks before you can, you can do it. It's a thing that people are allowed to. So the, one of the tallest buildings in Vegas, and I, I asked, I'm like, Hey, would you be willing to jump off this building if we were able to raise some money?

[00:31:28] And he said, I'm in. And this guy, by the way, is one of the nicest kind of CEOs, TER Global Relocation, has been a partner of ours for a long time. Such a cool guy. And. He jumped off the stratosphere. We created a lot of buzz for his company at that conference, and we raised a whole bunch of money to kind of support the cause.

[00:31:47] These are things that don't take a lot of resources. Instead, what they take is who are the people are willing to embarrass themselves? Put their lives in danger. Do something fun or silly. Small stuff, right? Let's, let's not put everyone's life in danger, but do something fun and silly. Um, and, and think about tapping their network, not just your network, but their network.

[00:32:10] Um, I know that's like basic peer to peer fundraising, but when you can do that at scale with the CEO or a C-Suite executive, it really goes a long way. And, and we were really thrilled. To see how well those two activations went for us. I think it's testament to how ingrained you are with this niche community, this niche business network, and then you kind of know it and go all in.

[00:32:35] And I think we can get a little insular in the the non-profit world where we forget that there are entire industries just around moving companies. And like that's just one of many, many, many company networks that are out there. Like, here's another game. Look at Vegas conferences coming up. Just the random Vegas conferences coming up.

[00:32:59] And look at how many random things that you didn't realize. Professional networks gathering together, looking and needing to stand out. And I think those types of opportunities will present themselves. Adam, thanks. I hope you are doing even better next year. More truck pulls and more food delivered to those in need.

[00:33:22] Uh, again, how do people find you? How do people help you? You can visit move for You can make a donation. You can hold a food drive, you can donate your food when you move, you can advocate, you can learn about the issues of hunger and food waste, and share our content. Um, and you can show up at a truck pull, uh, near you.

[00:33:40] George, I hope to have you out to another truck, pull or put your life in danger at some point in the new year. Um, and I, I always really do appreciate, uh, having the opportunity to, to reconnect my friend. Well, thanks for your work and appreciate it.

FTX Collapse & Effective Altruism (news)

FTX Collapse & Effective Altruism (news)

November 17, 2022

What The FTX Collapse Does & Does Not Mean For Crypto Philanthropy & Effective Altruism 

Crypto-exchange FTX, one of the largest such exchanges, collapsed last week, leaving the cryptocurrency world in disbelief as stakeholders try to piece together what happened and what comes next. The company’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried (known by the moniker SBF) was a visible proponent and donor to the effective altruism movement, as well as someone who built a personal brand as a prominent crypto-philanthropist. As noted by The New York Times, SBF was perhaps one of the most visible supporters of Effective Altruism, a community underpinned by a utilitarian approach to giving where donors focus on giving only to the most impact-efficient charitable causes. Created by Oxford philosopher William MacAskill, the Effective Altruism movement faces serious reputational trust issues as supporters worry it was a cover for the reckless FTX founder. It was also revealed by The New York Times that the two largest FTX Foundation grants went to nonprofits where MacAskill was on the board or directly supported the work of Effective Altruism. Bankman-Fried, who has also spoken frequently of his crypto giving, may have abused the crypto-philanthropy space to shield himself from questioning, but nonprofits should still understand that 38% of millennials own crypto and represent a major (and growing) potential source of donation revenue. (Editor’s Note: The above link is a blog post written by Whole Whale CEO George Weiner, the publisher of this newsletter. The Giving Block is a proud partner and client of Whole Whale.)
Read more ➝



The Power Law of Large Donors |  Causevox

The Power Law of Large Donors | Causevox

November 17, 2022

Rob Wu, Founder of shares lessons learned from talking to over 100 large gift officers and donors. Learn about the BAIT approach to donor qualification. BAIT - Budget, Affinity, Intension, Timeliness 


About Causevox

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We launched in 2010 and help nonprofits rally communities and raise millions every year.


From small community-service charities and national organizations to global development nonprofits.


From DIY fundraising and peer to peer to events and donation pages, CauseVox has you covered.




[00:00:00] Today

[00:00:26] on the Whole Whale podcast, we have a returning guest who may, if I'm right, may be setting the record for the, the most, uh, appearances on the whole Whale podcast, episode 50, The Data Behind Donor Retention, Episode 1 53, Analytics Answer, Who are My donors? And Episode 1 59 Survive the nonprofit software business.

[00:00:47] Rob, we always appreci. Your candor, your willingness to come on the show to talk about it. And this is Rob Ru, of course, the CEO, founder of Cause Box. He has been diligently working in the sector, I believe, at least on cause box since

[00:01:03] 20 11, 27 officially.

[00:01:08] Officially 2010. Uh, actually also the same year that whole Whale was founded.

[00:01:12] So, uh, we were joking before we turned on record of our, our various, uh, check-ins with each other over the years. And, uh, we're still, we're still doing it. Rob,

[00:01:21] I'm so happy you're still alive, George . Thanks,

[00:01:24] man. You know, we'll, we'll continue to, to check in over the years. I brought you in today though, because you are always looking for the upside for the nonprofits using ox.

[00:01:37] You're trying to stay on, you know, the, the practical, I'll say the practical cutting edge of how to raise more money for great causes. And so I was hoping you could share a bit on what you have been focused on this year with regard. Major gifts.

[00:01:55] Yes. How I see it in terms of my mission is that I'd rather be useful than to be sexy.

[00:02:03] I'd rather be valuable rather than to be a unicorn. So if you look at the field of all the animals, there are all these analogies. I'd rather be a zebra than a lion or a unicorn or whatever fancy animals there are. So, Starting cos walks Over a decade ago, you, we came into this, uh, this business to become a digital fundraising platform because there's a big gap between technology and fundraising where a lot of nonprofits couldn't go online.

[00:02:33] They didn't know how to do it. They didn't know how to utilize all the ways of social media fundraising. Digital fundraising, peer to peer. This and that. So it's been a great journey to us help accelerate that piece of digital fundraising and by bringing more and more organizations online and where we had some of our best years of growth and over covid, unfortunately, where a lot of organizations were transitioning into digital fundraising.

[00:03:01] As we see the next steps of what's coming up, I think one of my biggest frustrations is that a lot of organizations see. Online fundraising as a siloed approach where they think, Hey, I need to run an event. I need to run a gala. I need to do peer to peer fundraising. I need to be on Facebook. And they kind of just treat, uh, the, that style of fundraising as a one and done thing.

[00:03:26] They don't look at it as a process of how you can grow donors, of how you can grow gifts, how you can upgrade folks up the pipeline to become major donors. So I went on this quest to figure. When you're looking at major donors, how do folks actually get major donors? How do they qualify them? How do they really work through this process to grow a small $100 gift all the way to a hundred thousand dollars gift?

[00:03:54] And the results of this were actually really surprising, where it gave us a lot of inspiration behind what we should build next when it comes to major gift fundraising.

[00:04:03] That makes, uh, it makes a lot of. And as you're, as you're building this in this approach, the way I guess I look at it is that if you are ignoring, if you're ignoring the major gift strategy of your digital fundraising, You are missing out on easily half of the potential revenue you could and should be making.

[00:04:25] What does that actually mean? If you have a hundred donors, I can very confidently tell you that there is probably a power law distribution of their wealth and capacity to give fancy way of saying that 10% of them have 90% of the wealth, because frankly, that's just how the things in America are carved out.

[00:04:44] Thanks to capitalism, the question. That you should ask next is who are those people and what should we message them? So maybe you could pick up the thread there. Is it just, you know, smile and dial and be like, Hey, you have money. Give now please

[00:05:00] more. Right, right. It is kind of funny, like, so I did this huge research quest to, to speak to over a hundred people on major gifts.

[00:05:09] So I talked to, uh, over a hundred people who are either major gift officers, where the day to day is just about talking to rich people and China secure donations all the way to major donors who have carved out half a million dollars or more to give annual. Give to organizations. So across the board I've talked to like a lot of folks, and what's really interesting is that it's less about the message itself.

[00:05:31] Yes, having a compelling story and follow up and the exercise and activity of reaching out to prospective major donors is important, but what's actually more important? Is understanding what the process looks like. Having a complete process of taking a mass donor, which is someone who gives what, 50 bucks, a hundred dollars at your Facebook fundraising or your, your gala, that kind of thing, and having them have a strong cycle and process and methodology of identifying who are the folks that I should be reaching out to as my short list of major gift prospects so I can grow them conversations.

[00:06:09] On one end you have a lot of folks who do events and mass fundraising and crowdfunding and peer to peer. On the other end, you have just a short portfolio of a hundred, 150 people, uh, where. Uh, those are just like your prime targets and essentially you're just kind of reaching out to them and trying to secure meetings and tell 'em their story.

[00:06:30] It becomes a very one-on-one sales process, like for better work. And there's a huge gap in a middle where I've also identified that for mid-level donors, nobody knows what to deal with em. So that part gets severely ignored. And when you look at parallel, which is kind of the distribution of, of uh, I, a handful of donations can have astronomical impact on your fundraising.

[00:06:53] Uh, the, the top matters a lot, like major donors matter so much where you get a 50,000, a hundred thousand dollars gift that's transformational in terms of a small organization or if you get a number of mid-level gifts, which is around five 10 k each. Getting a handful of those, that's also transformational.

[00:07:13] But then when you look at mass level gifts, if you get additional five more donations of a hundred dollars each, that's not transformational anymore. So it's kinda interesting where a lot of folks focus too much time on the mass, not enough time on the major, and no time at all on the mid-level donors.

[00:07:30] So they're missing huge opportunities.

[00:07:33] Mm-hmm. , and that's the graduating donors, I think is maybe one of the terms I. Used in the past, how do we upgrade our donors from this level to the next level? But also acknowledge that like, guess what, You know, somebody who's given 50 bucks, maybe, maybe not. Is there, you know, wealth engine type stuff.

[00:07:51] I know Wealth Engine is a company, I know there's other, uh, data pools out there. Does that bring any extra information to you, or do you prefer just to look. The spread of donation amounts. Say like, All right, here's my bucket of people that donated an a hundred. As you mentioned, like, Oh, this person donated a thousand.

[00:08:11] That's interesting. Maybe I have a talk with them. Which way do you like to.

[00:08:15] Yeah, if you have the resources and the time, the ability is to do both approaches. That's where some of the organizations they, they really flourish because they have just a lot of different data pools to tap into. Of course, one of them would be like using folks like Donor Search and Wealth Engine and iWave, and to provide a great Kind of just well screening data where you can pipe out data into their services and come back with a rating in terms of the properties that a donor owns and if they have more of a propensity to give, you know, that kind of stuff.

[00:08:45] But really, when I talk to a lot of major gift folks, that data is rational at best. So it's not very bad. Mm-hmm. , So the most accurate information actually is previous giving. So if you have giving history of a donor, uh, the two things that typically, uh, are really great indicators of a great and major donor prospect, one would be is their, their loyalty.

[00:09:09] Meaning that are they being retained year after year If a donor is donating year after year, Whatever it amount, they already meet a qualification of, they support your organization, they know something about it. They have shown this intent to give, and they're just tied to you. So there there'll be a great prospect.

[00:09:27] The additional layer you can layer on top is actually giving amount. So donors that give it over a thousand dollars typically be the threshold. .

[00:09:35] All right, I'm back.

[00:09:38] I really like. How you were talking about the behavior, It's something that I consistently try to pull our clients toward, our teams toward in terms of finding insights, which are less about what public data we've scraped and more about, show me the behavior. Is this person acting like someone who cares?

[00:09:57] Are they showing the capacity to give through their actions? Because truth be told, a lot of this wealth data is essentially address zip code based. They pull it up and look at like, Oh, they live in this zone and live in this reason. They don't even talk about the, the reason they may have given, which is maybe it was a, a one and done check because, you know, someone's nephew wrote them one time and they don't really have a emotional connection to the organization.

[00:10:22] So I like starting with your, your own data in your backyard as you. To these fundraising experts. I'm wondering what is the most common way of starting that conversation of like, Hey, you've got a lot of money and seem to care about us. How about more like what is the shape of that? What is the cold, warm intro?

[00:10:51] Yeah, so ideally you're starting with a set of folks that have already donated to your organization. So you're looking at your own, uh, donor pool, whether you have 200 donors or 2000 donors or 20,000 donors, which is whatever. Uh, whatever you're looking at, you're starting with these. Warm donor prospects who've given something to your organization so they know something about you.

[00:11:13] So it's not a cold type of outreach. It's something that is more about, uh, having a conversation with somebody that, uh, knows what you do. So you start with that kind of formulate a list of folks typically. If you're looking at doing major gifts full-time, you can reasonably work only around 150 folks as part of your portfolio.

[00:11:32] So it has this account management focus where you short list list of folks who've, uh, given to your organization, uh, several years in a row that given over let's say a thousand dollars or whatever that threshold is. They can be higher if you're a larger organization, lower if you're a smaller organization and you come up with a list of.

[00:11:50] If you do have the ability to bring in some of the wealth data, uh, that we just mentioned, then you can use that to segment even more until you get to a point where you have 150 people that you can work on for a year. So after you have that list, then what you wanna do is, uh, basically qualify. So your goal is to get to a qualification meeting with a donor.

[00:12:11] Qualification meeting just means that you have a conversation with a donor, uh, to better understand. Uh, the capacity to give as well as their affinity to give. So those two points, capacity to give would be, uh, this basic understanding of how much wealth they have. Is, is this somebody who has. The ability to give more than a thousand dollars.

[00:12:36] Like can they give $10,000? Can they give 50? Can they give a million? Basically having a conversation, asking some questions to better understand what, essentially what is their wealth, and not in those direct terms would be the first part. The second part would be understanding the affinity to give. Why did they give to your cause in the first place?

[00:12:55] Is it because they're personally tied to your organization's work? Or was it because a friend asked a friend or something else in some other circumstance? So to better understand, essentially the affinity to give, I also like to add in, add a few additional qualifications to it based on my conversations with actual major donors who are donating hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

[00:13:17] Uh, one. The third one would be intent to give. So someone who has an intent to give, uh, that is typically a lot stronger than someone who does not have the intent to give. Intent is essentially what I, is an indicator of generosity. So someone who says, Hey, uh, I have a donor advice fund. I'm trying to spend it down every.

[00:13:40] And, uh, I already give as part of my culture, of my process, as part of my family values, then that person has a stronger intent to give and are, and will be more likely to give. All else being equal . And the second, uh, qualification that I wanna add in is around budget. A lot of major donors that I talk to, they actually have carved out budgets for giving.

[00:14:05] So when they look at their plans, look at their cash flow, uh, they look at their donor advice fund or kind of whatever they have, they think about, Okay, I have a budget. I, and I want to donate $300,000. So, and they try to figure out, how do I do that? I give to the folks that I already give to, Yes. But then I still have a chunk of it that I'm trying to figure out who to give to.

[00:14:27] So, uh, in another instance, my framework for qualification is called Bait. Bait. Yeah. The budget, the affinity, the intent. And you also need to have the timeliness to give as well, like talking to somebody at the right time. That would be the last point I didn't really touch on, which is around this idea of like, did something happen where they, they come into an liquidity event where someone sold their business or they had a windfall of some sort.

[00:14:55] So a lot of major donors I talked to, uh, come to that point where they're like, Hey, I just sold my business. I have a lot of millions to, uh, to give away. Uh, now is the right time for me to get an ask from a non. So,

[00:15:10] and being top of mind in that moment is probably pretty valuable.

[00:15:14] Yep. Yep. So after you have this qualification framework and kind of the screening then really becomes an exercise of saying, outta these 150 people that have on my list do they check the boxes in terms of, uh, being qualified for B ait?

[00:15:29] And if they do, then I will make a. So it's as simple as that. The hard part though, is actually reaching out to each one of the hundred 50 donor prospects and trying to get that conversation so you can qualify them to get to a point where you can make a ask.

[00:15:46] Yeah. I imagine people are not itching to have a, a conversation like this, and I imagine it is packaged in a different way, such as talking about, you know, the, how the organization plans to grow.

[00:15:58] Maybe it's a capital campaign, maybe it's an upcoming event. It seems like there is more effective if you've got some sort of branded thing that you can talk about as opposed to give because it's Tuesday,

[00:16:10] right? Right. It's give, because it's Tuesday is definitely not a good reason for major donors to give.

[00:16:15] It, it, a lot of the outreach that happens with major donors happens way beyond the giving season that follows every year. It's really about, uh, thanking a. For making that initial, uh, donation or series of donations and having a conversation with them to better understand why they give to the organization and how the nonprofit can better match, uh, opportunities and present opportunities of giving to the donor.

[00:16:46] So, so that's really the key, getting that conversation, doing the qualification and understanding if this major don. Prospect would be a good person to make up bigger asks too. So a lot of it just revolves around just getting to know a donor.

[00:17:04] Yeah, and I mentioned, I mean, I just kind of threw out there the like events, the capital campaign, or maybe you're asking them, Hey, it's the end of year, we're looking for someone to put up a matching gift that will help other people.

[00:17:18] Are there other programmatic activities or types of packaging? I, I guess, that these conversations revealed as more successful than others? Things that are trending more given the, you know, shift in wealth or shift in, uh, philanthropic interest? Yeah,

[00:17:37] I think was it really interesting, especially when I talk to major donors they, they, they.

[00:17:42] they profile the same as any other person that you talk to where they're really interested in causes, they wanna connect their dollars with making an impact. They want to hear a compelling story. So it's, it's less specific about the time of the year and more about, uh, what kind of programs are available.

[00:18:01] There is an information gap when it comes to major donors and major gift officers, where major donors have the capacity. And they need to know what giving opportunities are out there because nonprofits never do a good, a great job of presenting all the opportunities that someone can give because they're just limited to their, their tools that they have, like their website or social media.

[00:18:25] And then major gift officers need to figure out what makes it a donor click and then presenting those opportunities. So I do think that there. Campaigns that organizations do, if you're doing a capital campaign, like building a building, that kind of thing, uh, that, that is a great opportunity. But by and large, when it comes to major donors, uh, they're supporting the programs, uh, the annual funds or just kind of whatever gap fundraising an organization needs to do.

[00:18:51] Yeah, the opportunity. To match that donor along their interests could be, you know, around a program, something they are particularly passionate about inside the organization and like, Hey, here's an opportunity for a, a multi-year support of this program happening in this region that I know you're interested in.

[00:19:11] Mm-hmm. , but it's about, it's about matching that. But it does sound like a lot of work, right? This like tracking, tracking down 150 people, having those convers. But it does seem like you, I mean, you only need a hit rate of what? 5% if they're the right gifts.

[00:19:27] You only need a small hit rate. So that's why a lot of organizations that invest so much staff time and effort into major gifts, where if you just secure a handful of them, then it's transformational as well as when, when I look at, uh, fundraising folks, development folks at an organization, they're better equipped to have conversations and tell stories on a one-on-one basis than on a one to many basis.

[00:19:51] Uh, I think for a long time, uh, we're. We as kind of just an industry we're trying to transform, uh, kind of fundraising people who are really good at one-on-one communications and turn them into digital marketers where you're saying, Hey, like, learn how to do direct mail or learn how to do social media, or learn how to put on large virtual events.

[00:20:12] So kind of forcing people out of like their skill sets. Or what they know the best and trying to push 'em into kind of this mass fundraising. And I, I believe that if you're able to do mass fundraising well, or just do it okay, as long as you have a, a, a steady inflow of new donors. You just kind of need to set some parameters and throw them at fundraising people so they can have these one-on-one conversations, get the major gifts, and use the parallel effect to transform the fundraising results of the organization.

[00:20:46] I have this,

[00:20:47] this assumption that if you gave me the fundraising data of, you know, a donor pool, I could calculate a projected potential. Upside for a large gift. Am I like, you know, am I on some sort of, you know, data island with this? Is this like an assumption too far because you know, if you've seen one, you've seen one?

[00:21:08] Or is it pretty immutable? Once you see like major gifts implemented over a period of time that you would get a distribution saying like, All right, if you have got, you know, 30% of your audience donating a hundred dollars, here's your upside. Here's what's potentially sleeping in

[00:21:24] in your backyard. Oh, for sure.

[00:21:26] I, I think you can completely forecast it given enough data set. Now, of course, if you're a small organization, let's say you only have a hundred donors, then your distribution in your data forecasting is gonna be grossly inaccurate. But once you get to, uh, several thousand, tens of thousands of donors, then you can easily make assumptions to start forecasting.

[00:21:46] And then that's where things get interesting, where then you can know, Oh, we need to talk to X amount of people every year because then we'll close a dozen major donors. And this is implication of that forecast.

[00:21:59] I think that's helpful, especially if there's somebody listening that has a. A standard, we'll say, sort of let people donate as they're going to donate.

[00:22:10] We'll go after grants and things like that. But individual donors are just, you know, fine at this, whatever level they wanna access at. We have an annual event. But I think looking at it as saying like, you're leaving money on the table if you aren't seeing this type of. Power law in giving, cuz it certainly exists in wealth.

[00:22:25] Is that a fair phrasing?

[00:22:27] Yeah, a hundred percent fair. I, I think for a long time, uh, and this is one of my frustrations, uh, at cos box is that, uh, we're empowering folks to do kind of these mass giving opportunities, but then there's not an easy way for folks to say, Okay, now what I. These couple hundred donors that I got from my peer, peer or craft funding campaign, let me have an easy way to move them on, upgrade them into a major donor.

[00:22:53] Uh, so that's something that we're building towards, to helping organizations have, have the right tooling so that they can reach out to folks, have those conversations, qualify them, track the stages, and eventually close on these major gifts.

[00:23:08] Does it make sense to be really trying to have those. Obviously qualifying conversations earlier in the year, and then as you move to the end of the year when you know, uh, you know, tax advantages, especially for the rich, they're thinking about donations and making those final donations.

[00:23:23] Is it more extreme in that, like you gotta have those closing conversations in q4 or are large net worth individuals just dealing with DAFs and it really doesn't matter when, when that gift is.

[00:23:36] Yeah, it, it is more of a letter. It, it is not as, uh, important when it comes to time of the year. Uh, but you before, for most major gift plans, their work plans is based on an annual cycle though, where at the beginning of the year, uh, they come up with a portfolio of folks to work and then they figure out what is my work plan for each specific person?

[00:23:57] When am I gonna reach out to them and when I'm gonna make an ask, But ask, coming on a rolling basis. Uh, some donors are qualify a lot faster so they can make a proposal center proposal, make an ask for a major gift while folks, uh, sometimes just kind of drag it out depending on time of the year. There is more urgency at the end of the year, typically speaking.

[00:24:17] But, uh, for major donors, they really break this process. They're not molded into, uh, this seasonal annual in of year giving.

[00:24:27] I think it's just super helpful and it's something that continually is on my mind because we work at various levels for digital fundraising, but also just for awareness building.

[00:24:37] But inevitably it is looking at a marketing funnel where you're turning attention into interest as measured by emails, converting those folks into people that care enough to open their wallets, and then sometimes it can sort of be left. At that point of the funnel as opposed to saying, and the next phase is this.

[00:24:59] You gotta have conversations. Your CEO needs to be set up with people that have been qualified to say, Hey, here's our larger vision and here's why I need a quarter million dollars to get there. .

[00:25:09] That's right. I, I think it's, the challenge right now is to make sure organizations are set up to have opportunities for major donors to donate.

[00:25:17] Uh, or kind of presenting in that format is one of the big challenges. I think the second big issue is that, uh, organizations don't have the right tooling. You know, I, I've been on this research quest and essentially folks have been telling me that when it comes to major gift fundraising, they just take data outta their data.

[00:25:36] Their CRMs and they just manage it in their head or in their spreadsheet when it comes to major gifts. So, the, the work of someone who's touching major donors, it really isn't served by by tools. So I think that's another gap too, where infrastructure, having the right tooling, having the right process built into the tools just aren't there for folks, and that's one of the reasons why folks don't do it.

[00:26:00] Well, it sounds like a, a great opportunity and a natural evolution. Maybe you can tell us a bit more about how people find you and maybe some of these new tools that they can check out at cause box dot.

[00:26:11] Yeah, so at Cosmos we're launching a new product. The, the product name's called Morningside. For now, probably need a better name, but the idea is that we want to build, uh, a product geared towards major donors.

[00:26:24] So we call it a major donor workflow Product essentially has three different tiers, uh, three different pillars. The first pillar being that, uh, you have a suite outreach tools, so you can send. Like one on one emails to donor prospects. You can text them, you can make calls, you can do all your outreach in one tool instead of depending on your phones or depending on your email system, uh, so that you can track everything in one place.

[00:26:48] Uh, the second piece of it would be this idea around donor tracking, where you can track. What stage a donor is in from prospect all the way to committed and fulfill. So you can easily see outta my portfolio. Major donors here are folks I've had meetings with. Here are people who are qualified. Here are people who've committed but haven't paid, and here to people who paid.

[00:27:07] So you can easily see that as well as you can apply different work plans to each donor where you can chart up. Uh, for this donor prospect. I'm gonna touch 'em four times a year, hear the dates that I'll touch them. It's basically like a. Giant reminder list or to-do list that lets you easily just see what needs to happen on one day.

[00:27:26] Uh, and then the D pillar will be attaching payments. So just the easy ability for, for donors to, to, to make a payment. But, uh, And have a customized, uh, donation page, equipment page for that. As well as if you're doing an offline, then they can send in checks or, uh, forward that information to their donor advised fund, uh, for our stock transfer, things like that.

[00:27:48] Uh, essentially the idea is that we wanna be end to end when it comes to major donors. So gonna help folks not only automate but accelerate their major gift fundraising.

[00:27:57] Awesome. Really appreciate you walking through it and excited that you're gonna be helping more organizations get a, get a bit more in their, uh, in their bank accounts.

[00:28:07] So thanks,

[00:28:07] Rob. Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks George.


Crypto DAFs are 3X MORE Generous that Traditional DAFs  |

Crypto DAFs are 3X MORE Generous that Traditional DAFs |

November 10, 2022
Alexis Miller, Donor Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Lead at shares how crypto DAFs work and why nonprofits should start paying attention. When compared with traditional DAF payouts, Endaoment is showing 3x payout rate of funds- 22% to 58%.  We also discuss other ways crypto donors differ from traditional fiat donors.


About Alexis Miller

Alexis Miller is the Donor Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Lead at Endaoment, the first 501(c)3 community foundation built on the Ethereum blockchain. Alexis works to facilitate collaboration between nonprofit organizations and crypto donors. Before joining Endaoment, Alexis worked as a philanthropic advisor and a development professional. She earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and now lives in Washington DC.

Resource Links




Rough Transcription


[00:00:00] Well, we found a reoccurring guest, well I'll say organization joining us today from endowment, and they are helping turn crypto holdings into crypto givings, which is a topic that I love. I just love it. I'm long crypto philanthropy. Alexis Miller donor Engage. Strategic partnerships Lead at Endowment is joining us today.

[00:00:32] Kind of as a follow up to our conversation a year ago. We'll put that in the show notes. And Alexis, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Master's degree in Social work, Went on to donor services officer and Baltimore Community Foundation. So definitely kind of one of us, as well as working at, uh, Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

[00:00:56] So now you have landed at endowment, and maybe for our newer listeners, can you explain what endowment spelled? Endowment? Mm-hmm. . I'm not pronouncing it right. I feel like you really have to put M faces on the Dow. Can you explain what. Yes. Thank you for having me, George. And for that introduction. So endowment, spelled E n d a o m e n T.

[00:01:22] I always try to, sometimes people Google us and can't find us because we're spelled d a o, not d o w, like the traditional way. We are a 5 0 1 C three. Non-profit community foundation that essentially exists for the crypto community. So we are built on the Ethereum blockchain, so our actual non-profit entity structure is built using.

[00:01:46] Blockchain technology, and we essentially serve as that community foundation resource. So we were created really to solve two problems. The first is to allow a tax compliant and easy way for donors to be able to give Crypto or NFTs. And on the flip side, allowing non-profits to be able to receive donations that originated in crypto.

[00:02:10] No cost to the nonprofit. So that is a little bit of what we do. I will get into the details, but our kind of bread and butter is our crypto donor advised fund. So similar to other community foundations that offer a donor advised fund, charitable checking account. Essentially we do the same just using crypto.

[00:02:30] Maybe we can make sure that this makes sense, because I feel like there was a lot of words with lots of words, a lot of acronyms, because that's what technical people seem to enjoy doing by making a ton of acronyms. Maybe we start with the, as you were explaining, Dow and what that actually means. The d a o as I understand it.

[00:02:52] What, what, what does that actually mean as it's part of your name? It is part of our name, so, DOW stands for a decentralized autonomous organization and basically what that means. An organization or an entity where the decisions are being made by the community as opposed to like a top down approach. So having your CEO or your executive director make all of the decisions, you're actually putting voices into the hands of your community or stakeholders to have a say in how the organization is run.

[00:03:28] So that. A term that's used widely in the crypto space is a dow, but the concept is something that other folks are using just maybe in a little bit of a different way. So in short, we're talking about a daf, but. For crypto. Is that a fair quick summary? Yes, yes. Another acronym. You know, like it's, it's funny, my, my a donor advised fund.

[00:03:53] You're right. Yes. We're gonna have a lot of gloss. It's all good. It, it's funny cuz you know, my background's in non-profit and I feel like non-profits use a ton of acronyms and like insider language. And now I'm in this fine, I'm kind of balancing the non-profit world with the crypto world. And they also use a ton of acronyms, very different acronyms, but you know, gotta get used to both of the lingos for sure.

[00:04:16] So let's just make this tangible. Somebody has a crypto windfall. They're then interested in deploying that capital for social impact, making the world less terrible. They come to What happens? Good question. So, you know, as I mentioned before, we're built on the Ethereum blockchain, which I'm, I'm gonna get technical for a, a second and then I will make this more easily digestible.

[00:04:50] But basically the blockchain is just the technology that underpins. This whole crazy world of cryptocurrency. So think of it as like, a public ledger where basically all of the transactions and data is taking place. So what that means in practice is our nonprofit is actually set up so that you can see all of the transactions taking place.

[00:05:14] So, All money flowing into endowment and all money flowing out of endowment is technically publicly available without any personal information. But all of that information lies using what's called blockchain technology. So that's kind of like the basis, So we're built on. Blockchain technology, and when someone comes to, you know, or, they would connect their wallet that holds their cryptocurrency and they could take an action on our platform so they could open up a donor advised fund by clicking a button, they could make a direct donation to a nonprofit of their choice.

[00:05:53] Basically skipping the fund process and just giving a one off donation to any nonprofit in the us and. We handle all of the tax receipting so that individual donor is giving us their name, their email, their address so that they can get a tax deduction if they choose. And you know, within 24 to 48 hours, we are turning around that donation and getting it into the nonprofits bank account as US dollars in cash and turning it from the cryptocurrency that it originated in into us.

[00:06:29] Gotcha. And to date you have deployed, it looks like over 50 million according to the website, to a total of 924 organizations. I'm curious, uh, how has growth been? Because right now, I don't know if you've noticed things like Ethereum and others are down 60, 70% just this year. Has that slowed growth? What is it looking like for endowment right now?

[00:07:02] Yeah, so we are right at the $50 million mark and. In terms of growth, you know the market is down for sure, but our average donor is someone who has been in the crypto space since, you know, 20 16, 20 17, 20 18. And most of our donors, while they still might be, you know, down some money or down large amounts of money, They're pretty much up for when they originally invested in the crypto ecosystem.

[00:07:34] So for us, we're still seeing a lot of activity. It's definitely slowed a bit. But we're still seeing that. So to kind of like take a step back, I'll give you some, some statistics based on this year versus last year in terms of how we're doing in terms of getting money out into the hands of nonprofits.

[00:07:52] So our, and, and again, as I mentioned like blockchain, everything's transparent. We also are, so on our website you can actually see, uh, a lot of these statistics that I'm going to share. And, you know, we really try to keep our community informed. The ecosystem and the impact that people are having through using endowment.

[00:08:14] So we have granted, to date 58% of funds that are sitting in donor advised funds. So 58% of the capital that has gone into endowment has been distributed out to various nonprofits across the country. Just to give you a comparison, the average I believe this is through Fidelity, is 22% a national average for donor advised.

[00:08:39] Deploying capital. So as you can see, you know, And that's annually, I guess for the, the DAF distribution and Yeah. Yeah. Annually for the DAF distribution. So you can see that our community is really, really focused on getting money out into the community to support their favorite nonprofit or to support an area of interest.

[00:08:58] And they just need a little assistance identifying who to actually support. So 58%. Capital that has been basically ingested by endowment has been distributed out to various non-profits. And that's lifetime. That's a lifetime distribution number. Lifetime distribution. Yep. And, and we started at the end of 2020.

[00:09:15] So year to date, we've had $21.15 million donated to endowment. So 21.15 out of the 50 million has been donated. This year, you know, in 2022, and we've granted this year 17.9 million which is both of those numbers are up from last year. So if you think of, you know, 2021, the crypto market was a lot higher.

[00:09:39] Yet we've actually done more volume in terms of both donations and grants in 2022. Then, sorry, one more time. Was 17 distributed over 20? 17 distributed this year in 2022, and you have collected 21 million and we've collected 21 million. I mean, you're tracking at 80% at that point, so that, you know, I think it's even more impressive if I'm just speaking, honestly, looking at the annual cause I feel like there's many sins hidden in average numbers.

[00:10:06] Yeah. This is not a sin. This is actually. Contrary to what I would've believed in a down market where I imagine a donor coming in who has transferred over their, you know, do coin. Millions may have chosen not to liquidate, but to hold and maybe hold until it goes back up. This doesn't seem to be the case, and I am right in that assumption that when a donor comes.

[00:10:31] Connects, their wallet moves over an asset that that asset isn't immediately liquidated like it is with say, the giving block when a donation is triggered on site directly to a non-profit. So we do actually liquidate it to US dollar coin. Okay. So yeah, so we are taking in whatever cryptocurrency is donated to us.

[00:10:53] We always say that anything that there's a liquid market for, we will take. So we don't have, you know, a hundred cryptocurrencies listed on our website. Okay. We really will take anything and work with any donor who has any crypto. We immediately convert it into US dollar coin. And then it's SDC, I believe.

[00:11:09] Yes. Yeah. Yep. So U sdc and then it's granted out as US dollars to the nonprofits bank account. Mm-hmm. one, one thing we launched last month in our version two of our platform is actual portfolio allocations, which has been super exciting and was the top feedback we received from our donor community last year.

[00:11:30] So, It's always exciting when you can take feedback and actually build something or do something about it and not just say, Thank you so much for your feedback. We'll take it into consideration. So endowment just launched our version two of our platform and one of those features includes portfolio allocations where people can actually take that us d c, that US dollar coin that's in their donor advised fund and actually invest it in.

[00:11:55] Right now we have three different. Crypto native portfolio allocations that they can invest it in. So when they're not granting out, they, instead of kind of having their funds set idly, they can actually deploy their capital and hopefully earn a little bit of interest making their fund grow, which means more money to charity.

[00:12:16] I don't fully understand that. Can you explain more? How, how is my fund growing? So you're putting together portfolios I understand of nonprofits. Let's say I wanna go help the environment because maybe the coin of my choice is proof of work and it's torching a bunch of electricity and I wanna like make amends on that.

[00:12:38] Is that what we're talking about? There is a essentially an index fund for. That you had packaged for the environment, for social justice, for women's rights, Actually, The kind of the opposite. So it's actually like taking, it's taking your cryptocurrency and actually investing it in like an, the version of like an etf, right?

[00:13:01] So most donor advised funds, you're actually investing those assets in like a money market or in some sort of actual like financial investment vehicle. So, Community foundation's, Fidelity Schwab allow their donors mm-hmm. to take, you know, if you have a hundred thousand dollars in your donor advised fund, you can actually invest that in a money market or in an ETF that the board obviously approves, and you can earn a little bit of yield on that.

[00:13:29] So. Mm-hmm. , you know, when I was in the community foundation space, we would have donors in a, in a good year who were making. Eight to 10% on their money, so that capital is being invested and then you're able to actually give more money out to charity. So we're doing the same thing, but with crypto.

[00:13:48] Portfolios essentially. So instead of investing in, you know, a Fidelity ETF or something, you're investing in Ethereum or you're investing in Ave or Compound, which are the three portfolios that our board has approved right now. So you're taking your idle capital in your donor advised fund that you're not granting out imminently and you're actually investing it to hopefully yield a little bit of a return so that you have more money to grant out to charity in the long term.

[00:14:19] That's, you know, that's interesting. I won't touch on it too much though. I, I feel like one of the reasons that this year you're tracking at what sounds like four x the rate of distribution, then standard DAFs. So by the way, I'm coming up with a title of this podcast right now. I feel like a good one.

[00:14:36] Crypto philanthropists, four x, more generous than greedy. Little fiat DAFs, right, Who are tracking at 20%. In general, your overall numbers are three x, right? If we're talking 20% into 60% distribution, I'm all about the distribution. I'm all about putting the money to work. Nothing frustrates me more than money sitting on the sidelines while non-profits are out there doing the work right now.

[00:15:05] And so I get, I'll just be honest, hesitant about, Hey, here's a way for you to like stash it and make 0.78% on compound. By the way, no subtle risk to what may actually happen to that capital. Looking at what happened to DAFs this year alone, with the market dropping 20% that were in safe, I'm using air quotes, safe investments just means less freaking money for non-profits headed into a recession.

[00:15:35] You can tell I'm frustrated by that , so I think this is interesting. , but it doesn't, it it's not, It's not exciting in the sense that like getting dollars out the door, which is, which is really great. I wanna come back to, unless you have a finer point and you wanna push back on that, I'm fine to. Listen, I, I, you know, I, I agree with you for sure.

[00:15:57] Like money needs to go out into the hands of non-profits. You know, I will say that we are working at a way faster pace than traditional DAFs in terms of getting that money out. We have a four x this year, four x this year. Yes. We have, you know, a two year inactive fund policy is an example. Most community foundations have five years where you don't have to do anything with your.

[00:16:17] For five years. Hmm. Ours is two. And I will say just anecdotally, based on our community, people are super generous and wanna get money out into the community. So even if we're letting them invest a small portion of their donor advised fund, they are not necessarily investing their entire donor advised fund.

[00:16:37] They are still getting money out into the hands of nonprofits. Yeah. And we've seen this time and time again with Ukraine, with reproductive rights. All of the horrible things that are going on in this world, You know, we have been able to raise money imminently, and the fact that we send grants via a bank wire and not a check, like most traditional DAF providers, we are able to actually deploy capital in one to two days to these non-profits that really need it.

[00:17:06] So, you know, everything we do at end. Very, very mission driven and mission-aligned, and we are taking some of the traditional narratives of donor advised funds and, and of philanthropy and really flipping it on its head. My last point about this, and then we can totally move on, is our fee structure, because that is something compared to the traditional donor advised fund that really, really sets us apart.

[00:17:30] You know, we take a transaction fee, it's one and a half percent. It's super upfront and transparent on our website, and it's actually weighted at the throughput. So we take 0.5% when someone is making that initial investment into their donor advised fund, and we take 1% when it's going out to the receiving nonprofit.

[00:17:53] So we're actually financially incentivizing ourselves by taking a larger fee to get money out of the DAF and into the hands of nonprofits. Most traditional donor advisement providers are taking a fee based on assets under management. So if someone has $500,000 in their DA and they grant out $200,000, they're left with $300,000 and that.

[00:18:16] Donor advised fund provider is getting less money. So there's no financial incentive for these larger daph providers to actually get money out into the hands of nonprofits that need it imminently. So, you know, we're trying to really change the narrative and one of the reasons, and one of the ways we're doing that is with our fee structure in terms of waiting more on the output and on the throughput.

[00:18:40] Sorry. Not taking a fee based on how much money is actually in the donor advised fund. The adage, show me the incentive. I'll show you. The behavior is ringing in my ears. I wonder, coming back to the fact that you're built on Ethereum, which is a publicly auditable database living on the blockchain, that it's publicly available that I can check.

[00:19:04] You said words, they sounded. . Here's the thing. I can check that. I can check the holdings, I can look on the chain, I can see where the assets are and I can see where they aren't. I think that's a sort of like amazing trust but verify. Mm-hmm. that traditional DAFs just don't have for sure. And I think that maybe part of this ethos, it's, it's easier to stay honest when you're kept honest.

[00:19:31] For sure. We, we, That's something great about crypto Phil. Yeah, it's not just our board. You know, since we are structured as a nonprofit, you know, we do have a board of directors and it's not just our board us, us being accountable to our board and to our staff, right? But we're actually being accountable to our entire community and ecosystem.

[00:19:49] And even beyond that, because somebody who is not a donor to endowment, has no relation to endowment, can actually see that public trail on the blockchain. So anyone. Check our work can see the activity that's happening. And that for me personally, just coming out of the non-profit, traditional non-profit landscape is something that was really, really exciting about what endowment is doing.

[00:20:14] Because there is that public trail, you are able to check activity and it's just adding layers of transparency that people are really looking for. Both donors, non-profits, and just people in general. This world needs to be more transparent and upfront and, you know, inviting people into the conversation.

[00:20:33] And, you know, we definitely are doing that at endowment and, and we're kind of practicing what we're preaching as well.

[00:20:42] Okay. I was doing some back of the envelope math, so already asterisk. Be careful with that. 924 organizations have been the generous recipients of that amount of, you know, percent of 50 million that has been distributed. 924 is not a lot. That's actually a, a rather small distribution on average looks like $54,000, uh, headed toward, on average.

[00:21:06] These organizations, again, average is a dangerous number, probably throws against a power law for the distribution of this capital. So a sort of consolidation of cause. What is top of mind? What is noisiest? What is emotionally resonant of the moment? And as I explore some of the, the top organizations getting funds and community funds, it does seem like there is a pretty high consolidation around those topics of reproductive rights, of gun violence, of, as you mentioned, Ukraine.

[00:21:41] Can you tell me a bit about. How a nonprofit listening right now that is not the, in the limelight in the moment right now on that cause, how might they engage with this platform or at large crypto donors that seem to be following the shiny social issue of the moment? Sure. So I think it's important to note that, you know, we have nonprofits that are signed up with endowment that haven't.

[00:22:12] funds. Right? And that's okay because you are adding awareness to your donor community that you offer this type of giving vehicle. So you know, once a non-profit is onboarded with endowment, again, we're completely free for non-profits. So there's no contract. You know, nonprofits aren't paying. To potentially get a crypto donation.

[00:22:34] We're completely free. We're really offering this public goods infrastructure where we want every nonprofit to be able to benefit from, we call them crypto originated donations. Since we transfer it into US dollars, we want every nonprofit to be able to participate in this ecosystem and benefit from this new asset class and donor group without ever having to pay.

[00:22:55] Because if. Wait, it then all of the large nonprofits who have the budget will be able to benefit and the small grassroots nonprofits get left out. So when, you know, our CEO built endowment, that was really important to him to keep it free for all nonprofits. So that's like my first note is like, get set up with endowment.

[00:23:15] Like gonna give us a little shout out here. We're completely free. You don't have to pay and get set up and like start communicating to your donor base that you're now set up to receive crypto donations. So, You know, I always tell nonprofits like start spreading the word within your own donor community, right?

[00:23:32] If you are a nonprofit and you have a newsletter, if you use Twitter, if you use Facebook, if you use Instagram, spread the word because you don't know who's a crypto holder, and just because somebody hasn't come knocking on your door and saying, Hey, we have Bitcoin, do you accept? It? Doesn't mean that they're not holding crypto.

[00:23:49] The other aspect is on the donor education side, because. Right now, again, I'm not a cpa. This is not tax advice, like I'm not a financial professional. But crypto is tax the same way as stock is where if you have appreciated crypto assets or appreciated stock assets and you donate them to a 5 0 1 C three, you can mitigate your capital gains taxes while also taking a tax deduction.

[00:24:14] So there's actually a benefit financially why someone would donate crypto. There is an education gap because there are so many people out there who are holding crypto who would never think of it as an asset that you can donate. And I just think about non-profits and the education that they've had to do about stock donations.

[00:24:35] I mean, it has taken years and years to educate the masses that you can donate stock, and it's a change in behavior for people, you know, instead of donors putting. Their $5,000 donation on a credit card are sending you a check. If they have appreciated stock assets, they can actually donate it and it's beneficial for them and for the nonprofit.

[00:24:56] So once a nonprofit starts educating A that they are set up with a platform like endowment to receive the crypto donations, and B, start educating their donor community on the actual benefits of giving crypto, you'll probably see people coming out of the woodworks. So, That's kind of my plug for how nonprofits can kind of benefit from this and start spreading the word.

[00:25:21] And then you see nonprofits who are like totally embracing this crazy crypto community. You know, like there are nonprofits who, a lot of them are larger nonprofits, but they have a, you know, gaming in community manager, or they have like a dedicated staff person, whether on their development team or their marketing team who.

[00:25:42] On Twitter trying to find NFT projects to collaborate or learning more about the space. And I would just say like, you know, if you work at a non-profit and you're crypto curious, like do some research, like find out what's out there because there's a lot of people in the crypto space and in the nft, the non fungible token, like the little digital JPEGs as people call them.

[00:26:06] There are a lot of people who are looking to give back and to do good and just start like seeing what's out there. Because I'm not saying you should hire someone on your non-profit team to spearhead this, but if you're curious at all about the space, start doing research and talk to your team about it.

[00:26:22] Because there's people who wanna do good in this world and support non-profits. And you know, we, we now have created a platform where you're able to do. Yeah, it's, I mean, you're, you're spot on with regard to the opportunity. You know, there's, I'll, I'll pause on it cause I'm gonna put a pin in. There's no downside.

[00:26:44] I'm gonna put a pin in that for a second. Just to add to this, the idea that, because no one has come to you saying like, Hey, I'm a crypto donor, itching to give you money. Doesn't mean they're not out there. A recent study from Investipedia showed that 38% of millennials hold cryptocurrency, 38%. So there is a high probability that existing donors to your organization, uh, meaningful percent of them are, are already holding cryptocurrency.

[00:27:18] What's more, if we're talking about millennials, we're entering into in this. Five to 10 years, the largest wealth shift in human history of boomers, shifting wealth, transferring wealth to millennials. I'll let that sink in for a hot second, as you may write off. Now, that said, Alexis, it has been an adage that has kept me alive for quite some time of not being the first penguin in the.

[00:27:48] Are you familiar with that? Penguins actually, when they're trying to suss out whether or not there's a shark in the water before they go fishing, they'll all cuddle up right next to the edge, and whoever's the first penguin in the water, they see and they look over and they're like, Did Jim get eaten?

[00:28:03] Did he not get eaten ? And if it's safe, they all start jumping in and getting fish. Now where I'm going with this is that we're still pretty early. There's still a lot of confusion, I would say around. Whether or not accepting crypto hurts the environment supports terrorism. You know, blind, small puppies kills rainbows.

[00:28:25] In a more practical sense, earlier this year, Wikipedia chose to stop accepting crypto after having accepted it since very early on. Can you talk me through some of the pain points or potential honest downside? That are talked about with regard to non-profits choosing to move forward or not on accepting crypto.

[00:28:54] Sure. Before I get into that, I want, since you just gave that great stat on millennials with crypto, I wanna give another stat and stat. Stat sta an article. Sta sta sta . Yeah. So, and then I will get to your question, but so to add to that We just did an article in, In Giving Compass and in Candid, and I quoted a Fidelity research that said that, you know, One third, 33% of crypto holders have actually donated digital assets to nonprofits, and half, nearly half, 46% of those donors felt it was difficult to find charities, which directly accepted cryptocurrency donations.

[00:29:40] So that to me is saying that. People want to donate crypto, they just can't find non-profits to accept it, which is just going back to my point of like, get signed up. Because if it's not on your website and you're not promoting it, then people are gonna go elsewhere. So I just wanted to share that stat.

[00:29:59] It's something that I, you know, I have been sharing a lot recently because it just adds to the point about. Why it's so important for nonprofits to get set up to not have to pay for this, because people are looking to donate crypto and they just are gonna turn to the next nonprofit who is set up to receive it.

[00:30:17] So that is my stat add-on. To go to your point about, you know, kind of like the hesitations or maybe like the weaknesses in crypto, you know, It's a really interesting space because of a lot of the privacy and security and you know, when I first started with endowment, I was completely new to the crypto space and I had a lot of preconceived notions about like, Everyone in crypto is like a crypto tech bro, and they're sitting behind their computer and they, you know, like are all engineers.

[00:30:54] And I had all of these preconceived notions about like who is in crypto. And now that I do this for a living, I have met so many amazing people who are in the space who do not at all look like. What I imagined, and there is a huge women in crypto community that I'm, you know, I've connected with a lot of people who have similar backgrounds to me.

[00:31:17] I just found someone the other day who also has their master's in social work, and I'm like, I never thought sitting in my, you know, social justice class that I would be sitting here working at a crypto nonprofit, but here I am. So I think a lot of it is like the preconceived notions and the judgements that people make.

[00:31:34] Like there are a. Diverse people who are in the space. You know, crypto's also. International, Right? Really anyone who has access to internet can access crypto. And we've seen a lot of use cases of people who aren't able to access bank accounts, be able to open up a crypto wallet cuz all you need is an internet connection.

[00:31:57] So it's actually, there's a lot of use. Cases, especially in other countries of how people have been able to use crypto. Not just to give back like we're doing an endowment, but actually instead of traditional banking because for one reason or another they don't have access to traditional finance and banking means.

[00:32:14] So it's been a really interesting use case. On the flip side, there's a lot of securities and risks. Like I wouldn't encourage anyone to just open a crypto wallet if you don't know what you're doing. You need to be able to educate yourself on the landscape. And you see all the same headlines as I do with different protocols who are going belly up and CEOs leaving, and there's a lot of noise in the space for sure.

[00:32:39] And part of it is like having a trusted source of where to turn to. And I think for. I'm grateful that when I started with endowment, my team was super helpful in educating me and telling me like, Don't interact with this company or protocol and this is where you should focus your efforts. And you know, like different podcasts to listen to and blogs to read because there is a lot of noise and that is really important because you don't know what.

[00:33:09] Fake and what's not, and you don't know what's legitimate and what's not. So that's definitely a hurdle because if you don't have a team like endowment or a friend who's in the space, it is really hard to know what's valid and what's not. You know, speaking to like some of the environmental impacts, you know, like we're built on the Ethereum blockchain and we just moved to proof of stake, which just lowered the environmental impacts by 99 point, like nine, 7% or something.

[00:33:36] You know, a lot of other things in our world today take up a lot of energy and. Ethereum just merge, which I don't need to go into the details, but basically like the energy consumption that Ethereum is using has been increasingly lowered which has been huge for the industry. And, you know, we do work with environmental nonprofits that are signed up with us and like see the, that the benefits are kind of outweighing the, the negatives.

[00:34:03] Is there anything else specifically you wanted me to touch on in terms of like, The negatives, I guess, of the crypto space or, or the perceived negatives of the space? I suppose if there was a I'm, I guess I'm in the mind of a non-profit that is worried that they start talking about the word crypto and those headlines of fraud, of criminal activity of, you already mentioned the environmental component, which is awesome.

[00:34:35] Just. Make sure that that is clear as a bell because you are on Ethereum, literally because you exist when somebody moves their money onto there, connects their wallet and moves their Bitcoin, there it is liquidated and is actually on an energy efficient network. You are actually a net positive for moving cryptocurrencies onto a green network quite literally.

[00:34:56] So that is hopefully becoming a moot point. The criminal activity one could be one that, let's just say older donors assume that it's all Silk Road type of nefarious activities. Russian billionaires being able to avoid sanctions, fill in the blank. Cnbc, uninformed post about how crypto's being used, how is that responded to, or can it be responded to because the same arguments can, should be made about cash.

[00:35:29] Cash is the number one full stop used for criminal activity worldwide. Yeah, so, you know, I will say with endowment there, you know, there's a, an ofac like bad actor, bad wallet list that exists and. We are crosschecking wallets that interact with endowment. I don't know the, you know, I'm not, I'm not on the engineering team, so I don't know the logistics of how it happens, but you know, because people interact with our platform using their wallet, we are able to crosscheck it on the ofac.

[00:36:07] Bad actor wallet list. So that is, you know, for us as an organization, that's kind of how we are checking ourselves to your point. Exactly. There is bad stuff going on in every industry, whether that's with crypto, whether that's with cash. There are bad actors everywhere in this world. And you know, we've seen it a lot in philanthropy, like people are.

[00:36:31] Making a lot of money with their company that's maybe not doing so good in the world, and they're parking their money to be charitable and they're getting buildings named after them, and that money is dirty money essentially. So I would say like, this is my personal opinion, that. It's happening everywhere.

[00:36:50] And that just because the headlines are talking about crypto now doesn't mean that that doesn't exist in the world today. And you know, if anything, using a platform like us, people are charitably inclined and they're doing good in the world. And you know, our donors also like, Most of our donors are under the age of 45.

[00:37:09] Most of our donors have made their wealth in a very short amount of time and feel so grateful to give back to the communities that have helped them or that they live in, or that they've benefited from. You know, time and time again, we talk to donors and they say, I've never been able to give more than $500 to charity, and now I'm giving $50,000 or $500,000.

[00:37:29] And just the. Heartwarming sentiments of these people who have made a lot of money in a short amount of time is really, really inspiring. So there are bad actors everywhere. There are also people who are incredibly generous and philanthropic and wanna give back, and in my opinion, the headlines need to focus more on the use cases for crypto and how it's being used for good and how it's helping people who don't have access to bank accounts as opposed to the opposite area.

[00:37:59] Gotcha. Yeah. And thanks for, for making that point. I know it's, uh, it, it's one that probably comes up, uh, a bit. I wanna talk about one more feature on the site before we run out of time here, which are your community funds, because I think it lends itself potentially to a strategy. Can you explain what these funds are?

[00:38:18] I'm on the site and I'm seeing something like the Art Blocks Fund or the end guidance ending. And gun violence fund advised by hug and some are advised by endowment. I'm interested actually, if you can talk about the ones that are advised by other projects and other groups here. What is this? So community funds are.

[00:38:43] Really think of them as area of interest funds. So somebody could come to our site and open up a fund that is supporting gun violence, that is supporting reproductive rights or Ukraine. And these community funds are most often utilized by groups of people, whether that's an NFT project, whether that. We talked about Dows in the beginning of this conversation, whether that's advised by a Dow, whether that's advised by a group of friends, and it's really a great way to be able to raise money for the cause or area of interest that you care about.

[00:39:23] So we saw this. With reproductive rights, right? So endowment as an entity set up a protect reproductive rights fund where we vetted seven non-profits, both national and local. We wanted a combination of, you know, like the more well known organizations paired with the small grassroots non-profits. We identified seven non-profits that we were gonna split donations to those organizations.

[00:39:51] So anyone. Come to our site, make a donation to our Protect reproductive rights fund, and we would evenly distribute to those seven non-profits. That was a great opportunity for anyone who wanted to support the cause, but didn't know where to turn to or didn't wanna do the research on their own. In addition to that, we had other groups of people and FT.

[00:40:11] Artists dows different protocols, some companies that opened up their own funds that they could actually fundraise from. So an example. There's a Dow, an NFT project called Cowgirl Dow and Molly Dixon, who's their founder and artist, she set up a. Fund where a hundred percent of the NFTs were supporting various reproductive rights nonprofits.

[00:40:38] So anyone who purchased one of her NFTs, a hundred percent of the proceeds were going to this fund. And then she was using her community to actually vote on what nonprofits to support. So it was giving people a voice, giving them a say in how the funds are being distributed. And then because it was.

[00:40:57] Public fund on endowment. Anyone could just donate into that fund. You didn't have to purchase an nft. You could just go to her fund, make a donation, and know that your money was supporting reproductive rights nonprofits. So they're a really great tool in vehicle for kind of that collective giving model.

[00:41:16] You know, like in. A lot of nonprofits offer giving circles or have a way where people can kind of pool their funds together and distribute among various nonprofits, and that's essentially what our community funds are doing, is giving a say to various communities across the country that want to give back to a specific area of interest and mobilize their community to get involved in some capacity.

[00:41:40] Gotcha. This is the index fund of non-profits that I think I was thinking of earlier, but what great functionality and also transparent, again because it is built on the blockchain. Alexis, thank you so much. Are there any final thoughts, bits of advice, stats, , that that's, that you were hoping to share before we sign?

[00:42:05] No, this is, This has been great. I mean, I would just add, you know, End of year and it's giving season. And I would encourage, you know, from the donor side of things, if anyone has it, if anyone's listening and has cryptocurrency, please consider donating to your favorite nonprofit. And from the nonprofit side, get signed up with us before the end of the year.

[00:42:27] Or just do some research and like figure out what works for you. Or just survey your community and see if anyone has crypto. Like take an action, do something out of your comfort zone, this giving season. And. , you don't know where it'll lead. And I, I will end with that, but this has been great and you know, I'll give a little plug.

[00:42:46] Like for anyone who wants to learn more we have a whole like resource. Center, we have a crypto 1 0 1 dictionary for nonprofits who have heard terms like blockchain and dow and don't know what they mean and wanna learn more. It's on our website. You know, we are really here as an educational resource and if anyone has questions they're curious about the space, like please reach out to us.

[00:43:06] Our website is or on on Discord. You can email us. All of the links will be shared in the show notes and. Thank you George, this, this has been a great conversation. Well, thanks for your time and we appreciate the work. Thanks.

Greenpeace: ”Recycling is Futile” (news)

Greenpeace: ”Recycling is Futile” (news)

November 7, 2022

Reality of Recycling Comes To Forefront As Environmental Concerns Peak 

Nonprofit Greenpeace has released a new report acknowledging the gross inefficiencies and near futility of recycling, as reported by Grist. The report highlights that even while the use of plastics across the world surges, the amount of plastic that gets recycled has decreased, a symptom of a solution no match for the scale of a problem it hopes to address. Greenpeace states that “U.S. households generated an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, only 2.4 million tons of which was recycled.” Because of the complexities of sorting, the chemical hazards of the process, and the use of low-grade plastics, the U.S.’s recycling infrastructure is abysmally short of where it needs to be to reduce plastic waste. This report comes as the United Nations-sponsored COP27 climate summit commences in Egypt, where U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has warned the world is on a “highway to climate hell,” set against a backdrop of war and economic crises.




Voter Engagement Can’t Be One-and-Done  |  Voter Empowerment Project

Voter Engagement Can’t Be One-and-Done | Voter Empowerment Project

November 2, 2022

Interview with Dave Chandrasekaran, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Voter Empowerment Project. VEP leverages skilled volunteers to help front-line community-based organizations that work on voter engagement. Dave shares how they engage volunteers to support communities over time rather than just every 2 years. 


Learn how trust was built with CBO's over time and how skill-based volunteering is creating amazing impact. 


The Voter Empowerment Project (VEP) is a grassroots initiative that launched in November 2019 and mobilizes individuals to support voter turnout in high-need areas. VEP’s network of volunteer professionals provides remote technical assistance to small, high-impact, front-line organizations that mobilize voters in historically disadvantaged communities.


Find VEP on:



Rough Transcript


[00:00:00] We have a very timely guest on with the midterms coming up. We reached out to the voter empowerment project, voter, voter, and we found none other then the co-founder and executive director Dave Chandresakaran to join us on the podcast.

[00:00:46] Dave, how is it? It's going great, George.

[00:00:48] Thanks so much for having me on.

[00:00:51] Well, I could imagine, I don't know, a million other things that you are racing to do as we approach such a important time in American Politic, but I maybe we could start with your story. How did, how did this begin? I, I know 2019 was the year, but maybe you

[00:01:08] can bring us back.

[00:01:09] Sure. Our founding was back in 2019, but it really was inspired by some experiences several of us had in 2016. And I, along with many of my colleagues who are here based in the DC area, we like to every election cycle go knock on doors and go phone bank, and we try to recruit as many of our friends and colleagues to come and do the.

[00:01:30] And so in 2016, many of us were in Pennsylvania. And on, on one day I was in South Philadelphia knocking on some doors, predominantly African-American neighborhood. And there was an older black gentleman who answered the door in one case and had no interest in voting. And he explained that was because quote, you people come here every four years, you yell at us to go vote and you leave because you don't give a damn.

[00:01:52] That's something that when I tell that story, often everyone in the room nods their head. They've all experienced that when they're doing election related work. But I think the problem was as I spoke to some of my colleagues in the campaign sector, they said, You know, that's what happens. You talk to 10 million voters and you upset 2 million of 'em.

[00:02:07] It's just collateral damage. And I think as we experience what happened to people, especially communities of color after the 2016 election and for the years afterwards, a lot of people were absolutely suffering, especially people of color. And when we approached 2020, I really didn't wanna perpetuate that situation of having out of towners, parachute into black and brown neighborhoods and just tell them what to do and then leave.

[00:02:31] And so we really, were brainstorming in 2019, how can we still activate volunteers from around the country, but do so in a way that's more respectful, that's gonna have, you know, meaningful impact and really values the communities we're talking to. And so we recognize that. Hundreds or thousands of really small, amazing non-profits out there that are doing this work.

[00:02:52] And they do it year round and they're based in the community. They reflect the community. They work not just on elections or voter empower, empowerment or civics. They also work on housing and healthcare and education and criminal justice reform. So they just have far more trust in their communities, but a lot of them are under.

[00:03:10] And so we thought, why don't we find volunteers from around the country, all of whom are just really smart and have a lot of skills, and let's go to these fall nonprofits and let's say, Hey, if you have access to our network of just really smart people, what could we do for you? And so that morphed into this model where we kind of became a pro bono consulting firm for small organizations that were at the front lines of helping get out.

[00:03:32] That's

[00:03:32] so interesting cuz you hear this, You know, you people come here every four years and tell us to go vote. It's like there's this giant voter apparatus, this amazing engine that gets revved up with the order of billions of dollars and then disappears, vanishes overnight. and it in one way makes complete sense.

[00:03:55] It, it seems like there's just like a lack of feedback loops because I imagine the other side of the narrative, the people that are working for progressive change in these neighborhoods say, Well, well, well, yeah, well, we're going to do the work. Didn't you see that, this or that, or the things that happen, How do you view the, the underlying problem here?

[00:04:12] I've labeled it as a feedback loop, but clearly that's over.

[00:04:15] Sure. So if you think of the sort of electoral industrial complex, it's a multi-billion dollar industry that pops up every two years, every four. I recognize that for better, for worse, that's how our electoral system works. It's donors going to campaigns to political action committees, and then hundreds of millions of dollars spent mostly on advertising, on networks and digital space.

[00:04:37] And the whole goal is either to persuade people to vote for your candidate or to eventually get them to come out to vote. And that's not gonna change any time soon. But for those of us who want to participate in a way that's maybe. We have built our model recognizing that there's amazing groups who do this work, who can help build trust among folks who are disenfranchised, who've really been left behind and can earn their trust.

[00:05:00] When we then go and say, Hey, we'd love for you to register to vote. If you aren't, or we know you're registered, we'd love for you to go and exercise your right to vote. And what can we do to help you if there's barriers because of voter suppression laws, because of the difficulty in finding your polling place because you move.

[00:05:14] and I wish there was more emphasis on that to the larger, broader industry that's working on elections to realize that investing in these groups and doing so not just every two years or four years, but year round, that really helps a lot of these groups report that's funding comes, you know, the summer before an election.

[00:05:30] There's all this beltway influence on them of what they need to do with strings attached to the funding and then it disappear. So they hire people and then have to fire people and then find new ones again. And then, you know, and one thing I'm very thankful of is that a lot of the philanthropic community who cares about civic engagement and democracy have really moved more to this longer term investment in these kinds of organizations, multi-year grants that are big enough that they can hire and train quality staff, that they can use some of that money to invest in the community through outreach and events.

[00:06:01] And I think that is having an. But I'll be honest, as you know, the rise in voter suppression in many states around the country is making the task of helping people vote all the more difficult, You know, dozens of laws have been passed in, in many, many states that are specifically targeted at help, making it harder to vote, especially for people of color and other disfranchised communities.

[00:06:21] So I do hope that the larger industry that cares about voting rights will really look at how we invest that. and the support, not just episodically, but year round over the long term, and helping these groups really expand their impact over time.

[00:06:37] I do wanna get more into how you are working with volunteers, training them, placing them, connecting them.

[00:06:44] But I'm also curious because there's a sizeable voter engagement and, you know, midterm circus going on right now. I know you're focused on the overall, like how do we build over time, But I have you in this moment. What is top of mind for you right now? What are you looking for as we roll into what's gonna be a very noisy week

[00:07:05] politically?


[00:07:06] Our model has two. One is helping amazing small, high-impact organizations working at the state and local level who are mobilizing communities of color and rural Americans and returning citizens and first time voters and young people, and we want to really help them expand their impact.

[00:07:24] The second objective though, is activating more people in civic engagement, and so we really prioritize creating volunteer opportunities that are more accessible and meaningful and engaging. For people who otherwise wouldn't get involved. And in fact, in our first year of operations, over 80% had only participated in less than three campaign cycles.

[00:07:46] 40% had never been involved. So we see that as our mission in addition to helping frontline work. And where that really comes in this year though, is what many people are noticing traditionally in midterm election. The enthusiasm among voters and the enthusiasm among volunteers and the enthusiasm among donors is just significantly lower than presidential years.

[00:08:07] And I can honestly say that 2020 probably had the most attention compared to, you know, decades of elections. And I think we all understand why it was a very intense election. There was very vitriolic. But that really has had an impact on us when we're trying to find more people to participate as volunteers.

[00:08:21] It was much more difficult this year compared to 20. So that was huge lessons in what we need to do in a year on fact function of engaging volunteers, building opportunities that will keep them involved, keep them enthusiastic and make sure that they're available to support these groups in a year round fashion.

[00:08:38] Since that's the one, one of the most important things, I think we're seeing that the vitriol and, and devices and politics is not going, not going away anytime soon. And that certainly motivates some people. But there was a lot of people who were volunteers with us and a lot of the groups we. They just really care about helping people get out to vote.

[00:08:54] It doesn't matter whether you're liberal or conservative, it doesn't matter, you know, where the voter is in the country. Everyone should be able to exercise their right to vote, especially those who've been disenfranchised. And I think that's been a huge selling point to a lot of the volunteers that we talk to, rather than door knocking or phone banking and talking to strangers on the phone.

[00:09:11] And, you know, that's a very difficult circumstance difficult activity, and frankly, not everyone's good at. . But instead of that they can use their existing skills helping really amazing frontline groups and the staff they get to interact with. It's, it's just a much more pleasant experience. And so we certainly hope despite lower enthusiasm in these quote unquote off years, we wanna figure out how we can grow our impact in recruiting volunteers so that we're delivering for the groups that we're helping.

[00:09:33] That makes sense. And so, Maybe you could say a bit more about, I think on a macro level, I will also say that we've seen a, a decrease in, in volunteers. There are, you know, big picture things like employment levels after effects of covid involved in this, as well as inflation costs of gas for transport.

[00:09:54] That volunteering in general seems to be on a bit of a decline. What is your hope though, when you recruit volunteers at this time of year? There's a sudden surge, albeit much lower than our every four year. This is an off cycle. What is your hope though, in, in raising the, the visibility of the voter empowerment project, in front of volunteers?

[00:10:18] I guess at this

[00:10:19] moment

[00:10:19] we are very much interested next year and focusing on understanding what motivates people to volunteer, what excites them about it, and what can we do. To earn their participation. So for example, we're really broadening our investment in professional development. So we recruit volunteers. The youngest was 14 in 2020.

[00:10:40] The oldest was much, much older. They are anywhere from students in high school and college to early career professionals, to executives, to retirees. But especially for the younger volunteers, we know that there's a way we can help them develop. Help them find mentors, help them as they advance in their careers or in their education.

[00:10:58] And so we really wanna highlight that. We wanna develop that more formally so that when we approach, you know, the masses we wanna recruit to volunteer, we can say this is something that you benefit from as well. So that it doesn't rely on people's political motivation or the intensity of an election cycle.

[00:11:11] It's just an opportunity that they see that's meaningful to them. We also want to convey that volunteering to help other people vote. Perhaps it's just something everyone should. For those of us who have an easier time to vote, maybe that's a way of giving back the way. Volunteering at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, or helping to mentor young people in your nearby schools.

[00:11:31] Those are things that many of us have done over the years. This is something we all should just do and everyone can do it whenever you have time using your existing skills. We really believe that it doesn't matter what skills you have. Maybe you have graphic design, social media skills, data analysis.

[00:11:44] We need a lot of. But also just people who are really good at Googling information or really good at just writing and building information putting up to da the documents calling volunteers of a small nonprofit and getting them to come out to volunteer. There's a lot of ways people can help and, and it, so we're gonna spend a lot of time next year figuring out both what to offer and then how to take that message out to the public when we recruit volunteers.

[00:12:07] Yeah, it's a couple steps removed, I imagine, on off cycle years and timing. It is. Potentially tough to connect that, that impact, right? A volunteer who hands out and creates, you know, impact in a soup kitchen is very different than someone who builds capacity in a frontline voter empowerment organization on the ground somewhere doing, you know, as you mentioned, data analysis or marketing, pr, communications, research.

[00:12:38] You know, you're helping the people who are helping the people who are then going to vote. How, you know, are these times of year, maybe I'm getting into more specifically here, are these times of year easier because voting and the importance of voting is top of mind for recruiting volunteers? Or is it just so noisy that it is other sort of more, we'll say soup kitchen focused direct service on the ground, smile and dial types of volunteering that that overtake these.

[00:13:07] The first thing I'll say is we really wanna say there's no such thing as an off year. That voting is a thing we should think about always, regardless of whether it's midterm or presidential election. And in fact, in many places, your state or your local municipal government will have elections in odd numbered years.

[00:13:25] And there's many elections that happen. Some happen early in the year even. And so we want. Both voters understand the importance of coming out to vote, but also volunteers understanding the importance to volunteer throughout the year, throughout different cycles. And we recognize though that, that the larger narrative around what's happening, presidential election, you know, Democrats are Republicans, that's probably gonna motivate most people, but we really think that there were a lot of volunteers in 2020 who wanted to get involved, didn't know how, and once they did, they were really eager to come.

[00:13:56] Our post activity survey in 2021 showed that 97% were interested in volunteering again, and 86% said that they just had a deeper understanding of issues around voter disenfranchisement. And over 60% said that really helped them understand issues around racial injustice. And so we hope that once folks get in the door and they participate once that, they'll really come back.

[00:14:18] And we have seen that. But you're right, there's, there's, nothing's gonna make it easy to build enthusiasm at a time. People have been overwhelmed and traumatized by the pandemic and by other issues and political vitriol and criminal justice reform issues. So we wanna also be empathetic to that.

[00:14:33] Our big motto is that those who want to help, here's an opportunity for one way you can. And there's many, many ways you can help, whether it's in voting or other ways. We just wanna create a very attractive one for the people that it'll benefit and who who would like to, to get involved. And so that's really on us to make that volunteer opportunity attractive.

[00:14:51] And one of the things the volunteers really said, they appreciated volunteering in a nonpartisan way. They appreciated working with these frontline groups, most of whom are led by staff of color, who were just genuinely amazing people. And some of our volunteers built really great relationships with the staff of those groups on the ground, even if they lived a thousand miles away.

[00:15:10] Some of them joined the boards of these organizations. Some of them became direct volunteers for these organizations. Some of them became donors. So I really think that experience is one that makes it worthwhile and we hope to really amplify that message by saying, Here's this great opportunity not just to help the public, but really to help you as well.

[00:15:26] I really

[00:15:27] am interested in how you're crafting this volunteer experience. Clearly based on the, you know, exit polling, , the surveying that you're doing of volunteers that are, are part of. It is working. How many volunteers have gone through this process? Can you gimme an idea of some of the numbers and then as much as you can, Like what kind of impact can you tell these volunteers are having given the wide range of services that these volunteers are then providing to frontline

[00:15:56] organizations?

[00:15:58] Since the start of 2019 when we launched, we've had, you know, close to 500 people sign up, interested in volunteering. About a half of them eventually ended up participating, getting onboarded, getting involved in a project. But I'd say about 180 or so have been like really active in doing, in delivering services.

[00:16:15] And we certainly hope in the future to double or triple that number once we expand our capacity. We know. For most volunteers, it's really hard to balance their work commitments and other things going on in their lives during a pandemic childcare, a lot of you know a lot, and that's why we allow volunteers to volunteer when you have time.

[00:16:36] Do you have a couple hours this week? Great. If that's, if there's a project that needs someone to help edit a newsletter and you have time to do it, great. Do it. And then if you're busy for a month, that's okay. And when you're free again, come back and we'll offer what other projects are. We also want to make sure that the groups we're helping are able to receive our help without adding burden to them.

[00:16:54] And that's why one of the most important things we do is we manage the delivery of services. A lot of groups match people, They match volunteers to organizations, and I think that model absolutely works as well. But we wanted to be careful because. We didn't want the organizations to have to have an additional thing or additional person to have to oversee.

[00:17:12] So we just get the info from an organization. Let's say they wanna update their website, They want new information on their civic engagement page. They just don't have time to research it. They don't have time to upload it. We'll find a volunteer who can do the research. We'll find a volunteer who can then take that information and write copy to go on the website.

[00:17:26] And then we'll find a website expert who can then take it and put it up online, maybe a graphic design volunteer. We'll create some great graphics with it and add it to that webpage. And so, you know, multiple people are working on a. And we can get this done in maybe a week. And if folks want to go out and hire people, if they had the funds that could take, you know, three weeks just to sign the contract and then months of meetings, and then maybe it's update.

[00:17:47] So we really value our rapid response process to help these groups who are in need, who just don't have the time or capacity to do it in house. This is such an

[00:17:57] important point, and I'm really happy that we're turning towards it because I think there's this myth. All you have to do is point a volunteer at a nonprofit and boom, good things happen.

[00:18:08] Ignoring the amount, the amazing amount of project management, organizing, messaging, and generally corralling of volunteers to have an actual workable product created. Maybe you can dig a little bit deeper into how this actually works, because it sounds like you are effectively running an agency. That is leveraging volunteers to have finite

[00:18:36] deliverables

[00:18:37] that can be relied on by these organizations.

[00:18:42] Like, What, This sounds like a PM circus. What is going on? How are you doing

[00:18:46] this? So we often describe ourselves as a pro bono consulting forum for small, under-resourced voting rights organizations at the front lines of voter engage. But I think that sounds a little corporate. So we really consider ourselves an organization that gives free technical assistance in a way that is tailored to what an organization drives is their needs.

[00:19:08] But you're right, managing all of the different projects is an enormous hercule effort, and it's not insignificant. And that's one of the reasons we're really, you know, aggressively trying to raise more money from foundations, from donors, so that we can hire more staff. It really just comes down to. Good people who are organized, who can help recruit volunteers, who can help identify the great frontline groups that are doing voter engagement, and then who can help assign the volunteers of the work.

[00:19:34] But the most important is following up and making sure the services get delivered, especially since volunteers are donating their time. It's not like their staff, It's not like you have that ability to sort of really just directly have that authority to sort of order them to get certain things done.

[00:19:47] You're really asking for. , which is why we are very supportive in helping. Any time a volunteer needs help or needs information from the organization, we can help facilitate that if needed. Anytime the organization feels like a volunteer maybe isn't responding we'll step in and figure out what's going on and just wanna make sure that soup to nuts, everything gets done.

[00:20:06] And that's our really we pride ourselves in delivering things on time and in a satisfactory fashion. In a way that's equal to or better than what a private sector consulting firm would do because these groups deserve that. They don't deserve second tier service.

[00:20:21] We were talking with the podcast r i p, medical debt and how they turn $1 into a hundred dollars of leverage to alleviate medical debt.

[00:20:30] I see for voter empowerment dot. That you actually can, can claim that you are getting a three to one, right? You're getting matched on your generous founders, which is awesome. Can you explain maybe, is there a leverage where I donate $1 to essentially your amazing project managers there who are organizing all of these volunteers and these hours, Like what type of leverage do you see happening with dollars put into the organiz?

[00:21:02] Yep. I appreciate you bringing up our current fall fundraising campaign. Our, one of our board members has generously agreed to put up $10,000 in matching funds. She's gonna donate $200 for every donor who contributes this fall, and so we're very excited to be able to expand our impact by securing more funds that can both help us, you know, invest in hiring more staff, but also in different projects like our professional development program.

[00:21:31] That's gonna help create opportunities for skills training and mentorship for our volunteers as well as for staff at the partners, because a lot of our frontline partners said we really would love more professional development opportunities, but we also wanna see how we can leverage getting more financial and other types of resources to our frontline partners.

[00:21:48] And so, for example, in 2020, We recognized that a lot of our organization partners had never had voter file data before to help them target their messaging, target, their outreach, door knocking, et cetera. So we said, How can we help you access voter file data? And so we found some opportunities where they existed that were actually pretty affordable, but they didn't have it in their budget.

[00:22:07] So we were able to raise a bit of money from some donors to pay for that voter. But then we realized we have this voter file data. Well now you need to use text banking tools and phone banking tools, et cetera. And some of them didn't have that. And so we said, Okay, why don't for, you know, for the next three months, we'll pay for those services for you so you can get it off the ground.

[00:22:24] And then a lot of them had never done paid advertising on social media before, which is another key way to reach certain demographics. And so again, we were able to raise a bit of money to help them fund their digital marketing campaigns that we ran through volunteers, but we needed that tiny bit of money to help it get out the door.

[00:22:40] So that's another area where we're willing wanna expand our project to help support these organizations. And donor and foundation support is gonna be critical to.

[00:22:48] Yeah, there's a lot of leverage happening here. I, I don't know if it's even possible to say like, Oh, we do this many projects. This is the average size, this is the average output, or however it would come across.

[00:22:59] But this is a leverage play very clearly, where you are able to create the, the tool, get access to the data, and then. Offer it to organizations that need it the most, on the front line and also, you know, it seems like provide funding to them on occasion as well.

[00:23:16] Yeah, we've executed several hundred projects for the organizations and from a wide range.

[00:23:21] It could be revamping or redoing many of their websites and no critique to non-profits. But our websites are not known for being cutting edge . And we were fortunate enough to have several computer science students who then became graduates from Stanford, who were just amazing at this stuff. And we also created, you know, 50 to a hundred pieces of individual social media content, graphics, cap.

[00:23:43] That were plug and play for several organizations based on topics they described, or we analyzed voter file data for them to help them create targets of who they should go doorknob to, who they should phone bank based on the demographics and the zip codes that they wanted to focus on. Or we actually helped some groups figure out how to do volunteer recruitment better, so it could be anywhere from as simple as updating their volunteer signup form on their website to collect the information they need to better use their volunteers.

[00:24:10] To researching what are some great student groups in your area? Or if you need, say, volunteers who speak Korean or Vietnamese, let's find some networks of people who speak that. And then we would actually engage those organizations to recruit those volunteers to the frontline partners. So the projects were, were really diverse.

[00:24:25] And some would take an hour or three hours. Some would take, you know, once a week for, for three months to help execute. And it just, A broad range of ways. We help organizations and the, and create them in a way that volunteers who have different time, different skill sets and different interests can really plug in wherever they want.

[00:24:42] Yeah. This

[00:24:43] is, this is great. I'm, I feel like I'm being sold to become a volunteer. I'm like, Oh, I know how to do that. I could do that. I could, I know how this would work. Talk me through. I'd go, I would sign up on the form and then I'm contacted. I imagine I'm vetted to some extent. What would my experience be?

[00:25:00] And I guess maybe it also depends on the time of year, because right now, let's just be honest, , you're volunteering to like work for the next week. This is not the, you know, maybe the right flow, but big picture, if you care about voter engagement, it seems like a great use of, of energy and skill. So walk me through what that, you know, onboarding, What does it feel

[00:25:20] like?

[00:25:20] What does it look. Well first off, George, I absolutely would like to recruit you to come volunteer, and I know several groups have been interested in launching podcasts. Your expertise would be very, very well received. Oh, yikes. . So, in terms of the process you know, if you find our website, voter, you know, you can click there to sign up to volunteer, and.

[00:25:40] You know, you'll, we'll reach out to you pretty quickly and just say Thank you for volunteering. The signup form includes an opportunity for you to list what are the different skills you might have. It might be creative, like graphic design or social media or writing. It might be technical, like web design or data analysis.

[00:25:56] Or computer programming, or it might be sort of logistics, an administration, like helping to recruit volunteers or helping with backend HR operations. and we'll, we'll onboard volunteers just to give an overview of what the experience is like and we really get a sense of, well, what kind of time, you know, do you have now over time, over the year?

[00:26:16] And then we can add you to our list of volunteers based on the skill set you said you have. And as we approach organizations throughout the year and they share with us, Hey, right now I really need someone to help me draft some new social media content, we'll reach out to anyone who said they had social media expertise and say, Is anyone available to help this amazing.

[00:26:33] Asian Pacific Islander Outreach Group in Arizona or in North Carolina create some new social media content targeting youth from API backgrounds. . And so we see which volunteer might have both the skill set, but also the sort of experience in those communities that can help volunteer. And then we'll, we'll, you know, ma link the organization and the volunteer and we'll oversee the process, provide them with any information and support and check in as they, you know, create the social media content.

[00:26:59] We'll make sure it meets the needs of the partner, ultimately leading to creating, you know, a Google Drive full of content that the organization can, can use. And once that volunteer's completed, you know, we like to check in and see how things. and then the volunteers sort of able to come back whenever they, they are interested or if they get busy, they're, you know, we understand that and we, we, you know, give them their space cuz everyone has a lot going on.

[00:27:20] But it really is flexible, built around your, your availability, your skills, and your interests. The other thing we do is that we know some people might come in with a little bit of knowledge of something, but not a lot. And maybe they wanna enhance those. So let's say you're, you know, preliminarily good at some website design, or maybe you're someone who likes the, you know, you wanna learn more about fundraising.

[00:27:41] Well, maybe we'll pair you with a volunteer who's an expert in that on a project so you can get some sort of apprenticeship exposure. And we hope that you can develop those skills as a volunteer. Not just to be able to help other partners through v e P over time, but also that can add to your skill set as you develop your own career and can apply for jobs that look for those kind of skills.

[00:28:01] So like I said, we really want to invest in the people participating in the program as much as we're investing in the organizations we're serving.

[00:28:06] Yeah. That, you know, that makes, that makes sense in terms of just like the amount of time, like how much time is like, I'm gonna fill out this form. I'm like going through right now, I'm entering in my skills and the extra pieces that I can.

[00:28:18] You know, what is the amount of time before I would be potentially placed on a project? Or is it, it's like I get called in if the project arises that matches

[00:28:26] it. The volunteer can get invited whenever we have any project that seems to meet their skill set. So it might be that someone signs up and maybe they're someone who has video editing and video prediction skills.

[00:28:37] And at the moment there isn't an organization who needs that. Well, it might be, you know, we're not gonna reach out to that volunteer right away until we have that. But for many of the groups, they have such a broad range of needs for, for so many different skill sets that most volunteers have something that fits some project that's open.

[00:28:53] It can be as complex as doing some really sophisticated regression analysis of something, something through data, data tools, or it can be as simple as data. Just need to find out what is the demographic breakdown among 18 a plus year old in Milwaukee. Folks can just quickly research that and pull together and make it into a little, you know, worksheet that they provide to the partner.

[00:29:17] So for most volunteers, we really will have an opportunity right away. Now you did mention, you know, how about right now we're less than a week away from the election, and it's true that most things towards the election is already in motion. But one of the things the organization said very clearly is that when they need help is not only September through.

[00:29:37] Perhaps even more important, starting next year, January through next summer, the summer of 2024, that's when they have time to work on things, to take on new projects. That's when they really want to test out new tools or new ways of doing outreach. That's when they'd like to learn and take trainings on how to, they can improve their social media skills.

[00:29:58] So we really are aggressively inviting people to sign up, to volunteer right now while elections are on their. So they can help us out, you know, in November, in December, and into next year, which I think is gonna make or break voter turnout in 2024, if that's something people care about.

[00:30:13] The human

[00:30:14] response to emotion and disaster thinking and of the moment is gotta be so frustrating for you. We donate and we're triggered to donate to disasters, hurricanes, when they happen, and then the interest die. As well as the attention and then the commitment to it falls off. So it really does seem like when people are motivated in this window is, is when you would recruit the most volunteers.

[00:30:40] Is that accurate

[00:30:42] or do I have this wrong? It's a hundred percent accurate that people are certainly more motivated to donate or volunteer. In the moment in a crisis in response to a, a severe event, whether that's, as you mentioned, hurricanes like Katrina or the tsunami in Southeast Asia or it's in the aftermath of earthquakes or, you know, horrible, horrific mass shootings in the US And then certainly elections and 2020 was probably a hallmark sign of how so many people were interested in getting involved.

[00:31:11] And some found a way, but many didn't. And so we were one opportunity that many people got. And like I mentioned, a lot of folks said they appreciated our opportunity cause it was unique. It allowed them to use their existing skills and didn't put them outta their comfort zone and let them work with amazing small, frontline person of color led organizations.

[00:31:29] But I think that's the reality and I don't blame anyone for being reactive when it comes to their tism in their philanthropy or their volunteer time. I think that's just part of human nature. And that certainly was the case for me when I was younger and, you know, I evolved to become someone who really got.

[00:31:44] Year round. Volunteerism is a good thing, not just for the community, but for myself. And it can help me advance and grow as a person and in my career. So I take it upon ourselves to help educate the public that, you know, next year, next January, February, is as far away from an election cycle as you can be.

[00:32:01] That's gonna, you know, really be on people's minds, but that might be the best time to come. Volunt. And we want to earn folks interest in that by creating opportunities that are easy, that are meaningful, that are rewarding by investing their professional development. But really, we're gonna sit down with all of the frontline organizations we work with, and we work with over 30, and we hope to grow that we're gonna find out what do you need now in 2023 to help you grow?

[00:32:25] I wanna take that directly to the volunteers and say, I just heard from the most amazing frontline groups in Georgia and in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Arizona, and in Texas and Florida, and this is what they say they need to succeed. And you have those skills to help it. So we're partnering, We're looking to do an impressive outreach with universities.

[00:32:44] For example, we've contacted about 300 universities in several of the states that we're working in, over the past couple weeks, thanks to our amazing interns who are working with us this fall. and we're talking to multiple student groups in those universities saying, We'd love for you guys to volunteer.

[00:32:58] We'd love for your students to apply to intern with us, and we'd love to invest in those students so that they're getting something out of this. And we think that'll be a huge opportunity to, to both support young people, but also create a pipeline among them to become future leaders. In civic engagement, we wanna reach out to mid-career professionals, so folks who might be lawyers or data analysts or web designers and say, This could be a very easy way for you to compli.

[00:33:23] what you're doing in your day job with a little bit of just rewarding altruism out there. And maybe that'll even help you build some connections and build relationships. And then there's a lot of executives and a lot of retirees who have enormous amount of skill, and especially the retirees have a lot of time on their hands.

[00:33:37] Mm-hmm. and saying, You know, here's a great way you can help positively impact our country at a time when democracy is. So I'm consciously optimistic that we'll be able to recruit more volunteers despite, you know, this year's lower enthusiasm as we really invest in what we think is gonna matter to the volunteers.

[00:33:54] One more important

[00:33:56] part of the puzzle, I mean, you're dealing with a two-sided marketplace, which is notoriously the hardest where you're finding volunteers, but also the projects, the types of projects structured in a way that are. Package so that a volunteer can actually plug in play. But more importantly, you mentioned the, the 30 community based organizations as I understand it, that, that you have and you have built trust with because you know that is really where the actual impact occurs.

[00:34:26] Maybe you can talk a little bit about how you recruit them, how you work with them to find those types of projects, and even like what is the most common project you see coming

[00:34:35] in 2020? Yep. In late 2019 and early 2020, I just researched, you know, civic engagement organizations in the many states we were focusing on.

[00:34:47] And I could tell you it was an enormous amount of research. I built a, a very impressive list of 300 plus organizations and I just called email . And then I had emailed them a second time and then a third time, and I got a response rate of maybe about 10%, but even that was 20 plus organiz. But I heard from one of our, you know, the first organization we work with, an amazing group in Michigan called API Vote Michigan.

[00:35:05] The director has since joined our board and, and she's lovely. Rebecca, she's just been an amazing partner. She told me, you know, I got this email from you for free help and communications and social media and web design. I just didn't think it was real. It seemed too good. Definitely fake. Definitely

[00:35:20] fake.

[00:35:20] Here's three. Yeah, sure. Where's the catch? Where's the, you? .

[00:35:25] And so you're right. We really had to earn the trust as a new organization that at the time was grassroots. We weren't incorporated at the time. We were just a, I always say we were just a bunch of nerds with the Google spreadsheet and we were eventually able to earn through, you know, having her on board, having a couple others during our pilot phase, having them be able to give us quotes that we used in our email outreach to other groups to show that we were real.

[00:35:45] And so over time we built up, you know, we built connections with several groups, but the most important thing that we learned from them was that they. Didn't wanna be told what to do. And I think that's a very common relationship between Washington, DC and community based groups. Out in the field is a very didactic relationship, and that's not what we were, We were very wanted to hear from them what their needs were.

[00:36:05] But the other thing they told us is that we would give 'em a list of ways we could help and they said, I didn't even know I could access voter file data, or I didn't even think about creating video ads to post on social media. So we didn't know what we didn't know until v p came and showed us the opportunities and that I really take pride in that we were able to help expand their scope of what they wanted to do to impact other entities out there.

[00:36:26] We were fortunate enough to then get incorporated. Last year we joined a fiscal sponsor that handles all our back ends and now, Formal non-profit c3. We have our web domain, we have our formal emails, so that really helps in our outreach now. And I can assure you I haven't had as much difficulty getting organizations reaching out to me lately.

[00:36:42] Many, many want help. And so we're actually in the opposite circumstance where we have so many projects that need to be done and not as many volunteers. Oh, interesting. Come all on. But again, I think that's the heat of the election cycle. Could we really ramped up in the summer and. And I hope next year as we are past the election cycle, we have a bit more time to both grow our volunteer network to invest in them, but also work with the organizations.

[00:37:03] You know, they don't need a three day turnaround on something after the election the way they do now. So after the election, we can take a writing project on, and it's okay if it lasts three weeks, or we can do a web design and it's okay if it lasts a month, and that'll just help increase the number of volunteers who can participate since it'll fit their schedule.

[00:37:19] That makes a lot of sense, but it also sounds like a lot of work. But that's where the leverage comes in, right? That right there is, you know, building that trust packaging, productizing the types of ways that, v e P can support via volunteers and, you know, then, then move those, those projects forward. I mean, it's, it's really impressive.

[00:37:41] And I will say I'm, I'm sold. I officially, I hope I don't offend you. I literally did. The whole submission of my, my form as a, as a potential volunteer. So, maybe I'll be doing a follow up on my actual experience, because this makes a lot of sense to me.

[00:37:55] I'm always satisfied and happy when I hear a new volunteer signs up close.

[00:37:59] Very exciting. And I, I am shameless in recruiting anyone and everyone in all of my personal, professional and social engagement. So, so I'm very thankful, for you to. I should have

[00:38:08] known when I entered into this, this podcast that this would be the net result. Before we move into the Rapid Fire, any final, final thoughts, notes on the upcoming midterms, the chaos confusion or what you see with the

[00:38:22] organization?

[00:38:24] Yeah, I'd say two things. One is, uh, someone who's worked both in the voter engagement volunteer side, but also on the policy side, trying to pass the Freedom to Vote Act this past year that. . I would argue that democracy is under attack now more than it's been in well over half a century, and I haven't been around for half a century.

[00:38:40] So I've consulted a lot of folks who ha were around when the Voting Rights Act and others Civil Rights Act were passed. And they absolutely agree that the vitreal and divisiveness we have now is, is very scary. And most importantly, the laws that were passed to disenfranchise the vote have made it so that it's becoming legal.

[00:38:58] To basically impede someone's constitutional right to vote. And so we really just hope people recognize that and are able to step up again with whatever they can. So my second point is when it comes to the voter empowerment project, we believe strongly that everyone can help in at least one of three ways.

[00:39:14] You can volunteer, you can donate, or you can share. Now we'd love for you to volunteer, but not everyone's schedule allows, or maybe that's not meet their interest. But then would you be considering making a tax deductible donation at $25 during our fall fundraising campaign where you know it's gonna get matched by 200 bucks?

[00:39:31] Uh, but if for, for some reason that's not possible either, can you just take our website and post it on social media? Say you heard it on this podcast, Sounded like a neat opportunity. Maybe you know, a few friends who have skills in graphic design or data analysis or web design or writing or fund. Can you email them real quickly and say, Hey, check out this website.

[00:39:48] And we really feel like everyone can do at least one of those three things to help us try to preserve democracy. And I'm not being hyperbolic. I, you know, it's scary to think about where this country could be in 10 years or more if things continue in this way. So I'm, I'm just hoping we all can do our part and step up in whatever ways we can.

[00:40:04] Yeah.

[00:40:05] Catalyze on this, this moment of compassion and concern for the actual work that needs to be done with the organizations on the front. Makes a lot of sense to me. Alrighty. Moving into rapid fire. Here we go. What is one tech tool or website that you or your organization has started using in the

[00:40:23] last year?

[00:40:23] We recognize that doing everything off of spreadsheets was not possible. And so especially for managing all of the individuals who've donated to us and others we went to a very simple but very accessible CRM called action. And a lot of non-profits start there. There's, you know, bigger ones and more sophisticated ones that are more expensive, but it's really proven to be a very great entry level one for us to really get our, the, the hu the humans we work with into a, a, a more manageable circumstance, uh, so we can engage with them better, but also keep track of who's involved with voter empowerment project.

[00:40:57] What tech issues are you currently battl?

[00:41:00] The single biggest tech challenge we've had is being effective at project management tracking. So we've been using spreadsheets primarily, and I think we were lucky enough to have some pretty smart data people who created really sophisticated.

[00:41:12] Formula is in our project management spreadsheet, so it is very functional, but we recognize the need to move over to more sophisticated project management tools. And we're actually in the process of doing so. Uh, we have a contractor who's bringing us on to in the next week or so, one of many that's out there.

[00:41:27] And we definitely recommend to small non-profits that these tools, the one that fits your budget, the one that fits your needs. I really do think that they have a return on investment. Uh, and so we're excited to transition over. What

[00:41:40] is coming in the next year that has you the most excited?

[00:41:43] I do believe that one way or the other, the elections will motivate people to get more involved in democracy, or at least I'm consciously optimistic.

[00:41:52] And I think everything that's happening in our public discourse, is, is being felt by more and more people. I hope then we can tap into that by and recruit them to volunteer and that we'll. The broad volunteer base next year like we had in 2020 to really meet the needs of the frontline partners that we know is gonna be great next year.

[00:42:11] Can

[00:42:11] you talk about a mistake that you made earlier in your career that shapes the way you do

[00:42:15] things? Now?

[00:42:16] Throughout my career, one thing I know I've done is try to do everything for everyone, all the. And that means, especially when working with Frontline Partners, which has been a core aspect of my career, whether it's health policy or gender based violence or here in voting rights, and in this project, we really recognized the need to focus in on where help was needed most.

[00:42:37] And so we, you know, had to pick certain states where we knew voter suppression was at high risk. We also had to decide which services do we do, and which services do we know not focus on. We purposely limited our focus to voter engagement and not policy and. And then we really had to decide which groups to work with.

[00:42:54] And so we prioritized small groups that are under resourced, that are at the state and local level. Even though there's other groups that are very deservative of help, we just wanted to tailor and focus in so we can, you know, do it well for the people we're serving.

[00:43:07] Do you believe that

[00:43:08] nonprofits can successfully go out of

[00:43:10] business?

[00:43:10] I think I have a broad response to that question. I think there are circumstances where there's a very intense specific need, a need to pass this bill, a need to address this urgent climate crisis that's in a particular community where a coalition can form or a non-profit can set up and they can say, Look, we're here through the end of this problem.

[00:43:28] It might be a year, it might be five years. We're fundraising for it, we're staffing up for it, we're gonna. For the better. And then we disband, and I think that's healthy. So I think sometimes a lot of non-profits start up and then they're just in perpetuity forever, and then they're just fundraising forever and then they just become part of the Emilio.

[00:43:43] But I do think a lot of the other non-profits that are built to solve some of the most intense issues of inequity, both domestically and internationally, I, I just don't have optimism that we're gonna solve most of those issues anytime soon. And so sadly, we do need those non-profits to exist and to fundraise and to have.

[00:43:59] Over the long haul as we try to solve really big problems with really great solutions. Do you think the voter

[00:44:05] empowerment project could successfully

[00:44:07] go out of business? I will happily, you know, close up shop of the voter empowerment project. If and when every person is very able to exercise their right to vote in a, in a easily accessible way.

[00:44:22] I think the trend is heading in very much the opposite direction. And so, you know, the main reason for us incorporating is. We check, is there a need for this model long term? Is there a support for it? Is, you know, does our frontline partners think that they need this help, uh, going forward? And the answer was absolutely yes.

[00:44:38] So for as long as we can be helpful, we'll be around, uh, as long as we have the funding to do so. But if and when voting becomes as easy as it should be in the country, I will be the first person to close up our shop, free up our web domain for anyone else, and to, for us to go focus on the next big problem.

[00:44:54] We won't be holding

[00:44:55] our breath. Uh, aspirationally. I like it. If I were to put you in a hot tub time machine back to the beginning of your work with the voter Empowerment project in 2019, what advice would you give yourself?

[00:45:07] Uh, a few, a few things. One would be start earlier. Uh, we certainly were aggressive in our thinking in 2019, but you know, we should have started it earlier.

[00:45:13] The second would be to build relationships with formal entities sooner. Whether that's national organizations or especially universities. Uh, it wasn't until later that I really realized how much students were an, an amazing source of volunteers and had unbelievable skills, social media, web design, writing, uh, so start there earlier.

[00:45:32] And then thirdly, I would've invested our project management tool much earlier on because I think that would've made us much more efficient. And so I do encourage organizations to think about that instead of just relying on spreadsheets and.

[00:45:44] What

[00:45:44] is something that you think your org should

[00:45:47] stop doing?

[00:45:49] We're really exploring next year comprehensively. What should our focus area be? You know, do we continue exactly how our model is? Should we expand the organizations we work with? Should we expand how we help? Should we look into charging money for our services? I. One of the things I think we've been good at is making sure we don't have mission creep.

[00:46:07] And so I want us to resist that urge as much as possible. Cuz we've all, we've all heard the great need from the frontline organizations and so far we've been able to resist. I think there's a temptation to want to do more and to expand outward in a way that might stretch us too thin. And so that's one thing that I'm really hoping we, we avoid doing.

[00:46:25] If you had a magic

[00:46:26] wand to wave across the industry, what

[00:46:28] would it. I would absolutely love more organizations to make good on their commitments to dei. I think there's a lot of talk and a lot of great language on websites about wanting to diversify their staff and wanting to ensure that more funding is going to under-resourced organizations from historically, you know, underprivileged communities.

[00:46:46] I think it's starting, It's nowhere near where it should be, and so I'm the kind of person that wants to have this job. But if there's a great person with lived experie, That really has a better way to fit. I wanna be someone who will step out of the way and let them take the reins. And I just hope more people in the in the movement will recognize that one of the problems is who's in charge, and if they're willing to step away, that might actually help, uh, advance the cause.

[00:47:08] How did you get started in the social impact sector?

[00:47:11] It's interesting because my college focus very, was actually biology. I was really into the hard sciences and life sciences and wanted to pursue, you know, medicine over time. But before I applied to med school, I actually did an AmeriCorps program in Boston for two years working with young people in Boston, as well as focusing on healthcare advocacy in Massachusetts, and I got hooked.

[00:47:30] I loved the advocacy area. I love the organizing side. I love the policy side. You know, the thinking part of my brain. Loved problem. But the human side really loved working with people, especially people who were facing challenges. Uh, and so that really, really stuck to me and I ended up going to med school and then halfway through I ended up quitting.

[00:47:48] Cause I really missed the advocacy side when coming back to it. So I thank AmeriCorps so much for that experience. What

[00:47:55] advice would you give college grads currently looking to enter the social impact sector?

[00:48:00] I think broadly is. Really identify what is it you care about in terms of issue. Is it healthcare?

[00:48:07] Is it climate? Is it, uh, criminal justice reform? Think about the ways you, what you like to do. Is it social media? Is it writing? Is it fundraising? Is it policy? Is it organizing? And then reach out to as many people as you know that are in the field. Not everyone likes to take on college grads as mentors, but many people out there are happy to talk to you.

[00:48:25] I'm happy to talk to folks to just give them that advice. I will say this, right now, when you look at the job, If you are in development or you're in digital strategy, those are the two things. Well, you'll be employed for the next 10 to 20 years for sure. So if that's something you understand, I definitely recommend going into fundraising, Going into social media, digital strategy, what advice

[00:48:45] did your parents give you that you either followed or didn't quite

[00:48:49] follow?

[00:48:50] Uh, my, I think at a young age, certainly there was a lot of pressure to do well in school and to make. And I think, uh, I think over time I've been able to help my parents understand how great it is to be in sort of progressive non-profit advocacy. But I think probably most importantly is they're just very into family and community and just sort of, you know, loving respect and honoring people in your life and, you know, contributing that way.

[00:49:13] And I absolutely think I channeled that to the broader community at large. Uh, I will say the advice they're not, I'm not taking, that they would be mad at is going to visit them more. And so I think I know I need to do. Thanksgiving coming up, so I'll, I'll be sure to go and see them. Gotta go visit. Have you called

[00:49:28] your mom

[00:49:30] Yes. We talk, we talk periodically. Not as much as they'd like, but uh, but they've actually over the years, have become a lot more active in social justice issues and fundraising and donating and whatever. They sort of do something progressive or they donate money to a candidate or they, you know, knock on doors.

[00:49:43] My mom will always text me excitedly and so it, it is heartwarming to see sort of how we've both, you know, we kind of share those interests in sort of supporting the. That's awesome.

[00:49:52] Also, shout out to my mom, who's probably listening to this podcast. Hi mom. Alrighty, , final hardball question. How do people find you?

[00:50:00] How do

[00:50:00] people help you?

[00:50:01] Please check us As I mentioned earlier, there's three ways you can help that anyone can help. You can volunteer, you can donate, or you can share. Please sign up to volunteer. I promise you the opportunities will be fun. They'll be interesting, they'll be meaningful and rewarding, and we invest in you so you can grow your skills.

[00:50:21] If you can't do that, or in addition to, can you please donate $20, $25, a hundred dollars, whatever you can spare, our, our generous board member is matching every donation with a $200, uh, match. And so we hope to get as many donors between now and the holiday. And then lastly, can you share our website? Can you share our social media?

[00:50:40] Adam Empower Voters on Twitter and on Instagram. And voter is our website. We just need more people to know about us to know that we exist, cuz we know once folks find out about us and get involved, they really do appreciate our model and what, what it sort of allows for them to do as a volunteer.

[00:50:54] And we just need to get that word out more. And we really appreciate everyone helping us do so. You have

[00:50:59] it. Share either your time, your treasure, or your tweets. Do. I love the skill-based approach to a massive problem facing democracy in our country. I wish you all the best, and I thank you. Thank you for

[00:51:12] the work you do.

[00:51:14] Thank you George, so much for having me. And thank you for doing this innovative podcast. I, I always appreciate it and folks in the media really prioritize bringing folks on board who can talk about, you know, movement building. And so thank you so much for what you

[00:51:24] do.














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