Charitocracy rides off into the sunset

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Charitocracy rides off into the sunset
Turns out they were waving goodbye this whole time!

2023 is the final season of Charitocracy! There are 12 monthly pots yet to grant. Let's make them count!

I'll try to keep the sentimentality out of it for now, given there's still almost a whole year left to go. This decision comes after weeks of personal contemplation over the holidays and discussion with Jessica and the rest of our board of directors. It wasn't an easy decision. Charitocracy has been a huge part of my identity for the past 7+ years! But I think it's the right decision for me right now.

I'll cover the How first, then the Why. But feel free to follow up with me directly if you have more questions. I remain an open book, and ever at your service. ❤️


  • New donations, sign-ups, gift purchases, etc. are now disabled. We're going out on top with over 400 donors across Charitocracy USA and OBX!
  • All recurring donations after January 31 will be automatically cancelled. No action is required on your part. This way every donor gets at least the 12 months of grant voting they bargained for!
  • Current donors are encouraged to continue voting on through the last vote on New Year's Eve 2023. Even if your Charitocracy anniversary, the day your annual donation would ordinarily be collected, comes mid-year, you won't suddenly lose your voting privileges.
  • Charitocracy's remaining cash reserves will be distributed into 2023's 12 monthly USA & OBX grant pots. Each successive pot will be bigger than the previous one as we gain more confidence we can meet our final expenses with smaller cash reserves. Our final "season" of grants should be bigger than ever as we "zero out" our remaining funds!


  • There's been angst surrounding some of the more polarizing nominees at Charitocracy USA. For some folks, Charitocracy hasn't represented a positive force in their lives lately, either because they don't agree with the winners or due to some negative interactions online. Believe me, I can relate! And that goes for causes across the political spectrum, both ones that have and have not yet won a monthly grant. I never wanted to create something that could hurt people or cause hard feelings, so that aspect has been a bummer.
  • Meanwhile, I've spent more time than ever in the past few months fighting hackers. Rest assured, Charitocracy has never been breached, nor do we store any of your credit card information in the first place. (Our credit card processor, Stripe, takes care of that.) But what the hackers do like to do, for whatever reason, is to attack web sites and try to knock them offline. On several occasions I've had to interrupt trips or family time to literally fight bot armies (thousands of hijacked computers) flooding Charitocracy from all corners of the world with traffic, known as DDOS: Distributed Denial of Service. And the other thing they like to do is test lists of stolen credit cards by attempting to make donations from them. They automate it so I'll suddenly start getting a donation attempt every 5 seconds. Usually Stripe's fraud detection flags their attempts and reject them, but occasionally some get through. Then I have to refund the donations and eat the credit card processing fees. It's a nice adrenalin rush when it happens, but never a good time.
  • Finally, and perhaps most critically, is that I don't see a clear future for Charitocracy. The prospect of setting up Charitocracy's own endowment fund really brought into focus the fact that if I get hit by a bus, there's no one to take over, and there's no one to even gracefully shut it down. So it would be irresponsible to try to raise money for an uncertain future. While I've always run Charitocracy as lean as possible, with pride in our low overhead, the truth is that my volunteered skill set is actually a bit expensive... to replace. Not to mention I'm effectively on-call 24/7 for years on end with no good way to share that responsibility.

So let's go out there and make Charitocracy's 7th full year not only our last, but also our best! Thank you for the privilege it has been to pool your resources and make a difference in the world. I've had a blast!

Sunset through a Heart
Both images above generated via artificial intelligence using DiffusionBee on Mac. Fun!

OBCF 40th birthday $4000 grant recipient: Sea Change OBX

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$4000 special OBCF 40th birthday grant recipient Sea Change OBX

We had a BLAST on Saturday at Outer Banks Community Foundation's 40th birthday bash at the Brewing Station!

Making it rain on otherwise gorgeous day with $4000 grant

I couldn't believe the endless stream of new Charitocracy sign-ups at the event. Not to mention the scores of new donors joining without our assistance during the event and in the preceding weeks. But our card swiper was working non-stop throughout the afternoon, with the last donation received and vote cast just 3 minutes before the stroke of 5pm when we froze voting. I barely had time to escape from behind my laptop and get on stage for the final countdown!

Thanks to board members Lisa Nicholson and Sam Cortez for their assistance at the event, and to the entire team at Outer Banks Community Foundation for kicking off our partnership with such fanfare. And finally, thanks to co-founder Jessica Sands for MC'ing the event and being the darling face of Charitocracy for the afternoon. Also for lining up such talented musicians (Jonny Waters & KT Bender) to keep the party going!

$4000 grant recipient: Sea Change OBX

And did I mention, Sea Change OBX earned the $4000 grant by getting the most (44.5) votes? It only seems fitting that Jessica Loose pulled this off. The same legendary Charitocracy donor to go from zero to hero in February 2020, leading to the month-after-month local "hijacking" of Charitocracy, culminating in the spin-off of Charitocracy OBX from Charitocracy USA. I don't know about the rest of you, but I saw Sea Change OBX coming for this additional $4000 grant a mile away!

Now what?!

The day after the party we resumed the normal monthly schedule for our October grant, with a Top 10 announcement. Next, your votes will narrow down the playing field to the Top 3 contenders tomorrow night. No rest for the weary! So get your votes (re)cast and let's keep the momentum going strong!

Take a page out of Jessica Loose's playbook: don't be afraid to introduce new people to Charitocracy and convince them to support your favorite nominee. Friends, family, neighbors, random strangers on the street... They could all use a little more Charitocracy in their lives, right? And we could stand to have our monthly OBX grants grow a bit more, too. Win, win! To keep things in perspective, we're only talking $1 per month. What's that these days with inflation, a sip of coffee?

Your Charitocracy donations pouring into monthly pot
"Keep pourin'."

Partnerships and Endowments and Cakes, Oh My!

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Outer Banks Community Foundation plus Charitocracy

This bit of news about our new partnership is a long time in the making, but I'm excited to finally share it!

The Partnership

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is the most important nonprofit down here in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we set up shop and call home. Their tagline is "Connecting people who care with causes that matter." Some years ago they ran a giving circle that our family participated in. Each family would throw $250 per year into the hat, and collectively decide on which nonprofits to send the money. Sound familiar?!

We are humbled here at Charitocracy that OBCF has decided to breathe life back into their giving circle in the form of Charitocracy OBX. We will continue to offer participation for as little as $1 per month, embracing Charitocracy's mission of making philanthropy accessible to everyone. That's always been a popular option, and as always, each donor gets one vote regardless of how much they donate. However, as always, a bigger donation doesn't have a louder voice at Charitocracy, but it does have a bigger impact...

So we'll also offer donation "bundles" at the $250 per year "Golden" level, familiar to past participants in OBCF's giving circle, as well as a new $100 per year "Silver" level. These bundles include monthly contributions to the OBX and USA monthly grant pots, so you can vote on both monthly grants, locally and nationally. They also include contributions to OBCF's Community Fund as well as "tips" to help offset Charitocracy's expenses. (Remember, we're an all-volunteer nonprofit ourselves, and have to pay the costs of credit card processing, servers, insurance, etc., so these tips, while optional, are very important to keep us afloat!) Finally, the bundles include contributions to our new endowment!

The Endowment

The former giving circle at OBCF just happened to have some funds left over and looking for a new home, to the tune of over $6000. As part of our partnership they're going to assign those funds over to Charitocracy! We'll be able to withdraw a small percentage annually, and use that to top off the monthly pots, cover expenses, or whatever is our biggest need in fulfilling our charitable purpose. We'll also keep track of how much of the new endowment deposits are coming from Charitocracy OBX vs. Charitocracy USA, by looking at the monthly pot contributions accompanying each endowment contribution. That way we can maintain a fair distribution of those funds back out into the OBX and national nonprofit sectors.

This is how I like to think of it: You can give $1 now, and we'll put it in the next grant check. You can give $20, and we can continue to put it into upcoming grant checks. Or you can give $20, and we can put it into the endowment, and now that becomes the same as $1 every year... forever*.

*For some rough approximation of forever, and some rough guess at how the endowment investments perform over time. But at least OBCF has been going for 40 years now and knows a thing or two about managing endowments! They hold over $22,000,000 in ~200 charitable endowments.

The Cake... and $4000!

I'm glad I got your attention. The cake is not a lie, and neither is the $4000 grant. On Saturday October 15, from 2pm to 6pm, at the Outer Banks Brewing Station, we'll be celebrating OBCF's 40th anniversary with a backyard birthday bash! Let's raise pints of our favorite cold beverages to toast the next 40 years of charitable giving in the Outer Banks! And eat cake, and take this new partnership for a spin...

We'll be hijacking Charitocracy OBX that day in order to vote on a special $4k grant from OBCF to some lucky local nonprofit with the most votes! Every OBX nonprofit nominated on Charitocracy OBX is eligible, even if they've already won in the past 12 months. And any local 501(c)(3) that needs a nomination can either join up and self-nominate the good old-fashioned way, or email before October 1st to be auto-nominated. After the event, we'll narrow to the Top 10 for the usual October grant, and it'll be back to our normal schedule. (Charitocracy USA will remain unaffected by any of these shenanigans!)

I look forward to seeing you there! In the meantime, consider logging in and switching your annual donation to one of our new pre-configured bundles, or customizing your own perfect combination of monthly pot, endowment, tip, and Community Fund contributions. Your continued generosity shouldn't surprise me any more, but it always does. Thank you. ❤️

The Outer Banks Community Foundation invites the public to its 40th Birthday Backyard Bash at the Outer Banks Brewing Station on Saturday, October 15 from 2 – 6 pm. The free event will feature live music, birthday cake, and a $4,000 grant to be awarded to one local charity by event-goers. This community grant kicks off a new partnership with Charitocracy OBX, our new, local, online giving circle, where donors pool their contributions, nominate, and vote for local nonprofits to receive grants each month.

“Our Community Foundation was built on a model of many people making modest contributions, for the betterment of the entire community,” said President and CEO Chris Sawin. “As we reflect on 40 years of giving, we are humbled by the efforts of others and inspired to do our part to position this extraordinary organization into its next 40 years of service. We are very pleased to mark this auspicious occasion by launching a new giving platform the whole community can be involved in, starting at just $1 a month.”

[Read the whole news post here on OBCF's website.]

Outer Banks Community Foundation's 40th Birthday Backyard Bash