Perry Chen is an American Internet entrepreneur best known for co-founding the social fundraising website Kickstarter. Today, he has launched a platform to help raise money for nonprofits that are doing highly effective work, but may not be as well known to a larger audience. The platform is called “Dollar A Day. The idea is simple. Everyday they will donate a dollar a day to specific nonprofit, encourage others to donate, and promote the nonprofit’s work to their network via a brief email newsletter.
The site features innovative and high impact nonprofits with responsible track records in six key areas: Education, Health, Economic Development, Arts & Culture, Environment, and Human Rights, selected using this criteria. Says Chen in an email interview, “We independently select each nonprofit, and review their website and public materials to write the paragraph summary which we share in our daily emails, and on our public calendar. If a nonprofit wants to be considered for Dollar a Day, we’re happy to hear from them. We’re always looking for nonprofits to feature.
Chen has learned a lot from launching Kickstarter, “The biggest lesson has been about the power and scale of the web, and the ability for a large group of people to come together to make up a greater whole, not just in dollars, but in momentum,” he said in an interview email with me. He goes to say, “But while funding is a big part of Dollar a Day, we think potentially the biggest impact Dollar a Day can have is introducing people to nonprofits that resonate with them via our daily emails. Which is why we offer our daily email to anyone for free, regardless if they signup as a donor or not.”
Chen will be building up the network of people by leveraging his network and others. Says Chen, “But it’s all about building something that’s compelling to people, that we’ll want to join and share. That we feel solves a need for us. Things can spread fast and wide on the web if it excites people. That’s what we hope Dollar a Day will do.”
This project is a labor of love for Chen. Dollar a Day was built by a mostly volunteer team collaborating over the course of a year (usually one night a week). They wanted to build something small and simple that could have a big impact. Says Chen, Our hope is that the platform can help people bridge the gap between good intention and action — and that’s why we’ve focused on discovery as the heart of Dollar a Day, via the daily emails. We know everyone won’t read every email each day, but if you discover a few nonprofits that you love, and then engage further, that’s very exciting. And we think it’s very possible.”
You can sign up for the email here.
Chen appears to be using “lean start up” principles with this (MVP). It will be interesting to see if it and how catches on and of course what they learn from the launch and how they pivot.
Nonetheless, perhaps this is an example of what Laura Arrillaga-Andreesen called for at the recent TechCrunch event – that technology start ups should bake philanthropy into their DNA. She said that start ups have a unique opportunity and approach to philanthropy given its entrepreneurial mindset. “There’s this convergence with a new generation of entrepreneurship and a new generation of social consciousness,” she said at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. “We’re seeing that business models and philanthropic models are not mutually exclusive. Social good has to be part of the business model.” Laura Arrigllaga-Andreesen will be launching a MOOC on Giving 2.0 this month.