Evicting the Elephants in the Room

Elephants in a room

There are only 6 monthly grants left to give. 6 remaining shots to see what Charitocracy can do, and what it can be, before we ride off into the sunset. We want them each to count, and to maximize the joy and minimize the controversy and strife. And that's why, for the first time since officially opening the website in September 2016, we're intervening in the winner eligibility process.

What we're doing

After discussing at length with family and friends in recent months, and receiving unanimous approval from Charitocracy's board of directors today, we'll be marking all of the abortion-related causes, on both sides of the issue, as ineligible to receive votes. Here is the complete list:

  • The Brigid Alliance
  • First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • National Institute for Reproductive Health
  • National Network of Abortion Funds
  • Planned Parenthood

This is in no way passing judgment about the worthiness of these causes. But they will no longer be in contention for the final 6 future grants from Charitocracy. Any current votes for them will be cancelled circa July 11. Also, new abortion-related causes cannot be nominated going forward.

Notably, three of the currently top-ranked causes (#1 First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center, #3 National Institute for Reproductive Health, and #8 Planned Parenthood) will be immediately affected.

Why we're doing it

The reasons can best be summarized in this bullet list:

  • Abortion-related causes have been the greatest source of hurt feelings, moral quandaries, and subsequent donation cancellations on Charitocracy. For a nonprofit built with the goal of filling everyone with the joy of giving, instead we're often leaving a bad taste in donors' mouths.
  • First Concern finished in 2nd place every month for the past 8 months, and in the Top 3 every month for the past 19 months, but it is always overtaken by the end of the month. This pattern is unlikely to change, because there's too large a voting bloc against it.
  • Of the donors voting for First Concern, I imagine many do it because they actively support the anti-abortion counseling common at Pregnancy Resource Centers, aka Crisis Pregnancy Centers, perhaps due to personal or religious beliefs. Then there are some who vote for it to support pregnant women in general, unaware of the biased counseling the women tend to receive at PRCs. (Further reading here if you're interested.) But there's a third group of voters that is most troubling to me: those who don't want First Concern to win at all, but who are gaming the system and voting for it out of worry that if First Concern doesn't win now, it'll win an even bigger grant in a later month.
  • For almost two years now, and especially in the past year, voting behavior has been dominated by voting against causes instead of voting for causes. I see more votes than ever being cast early in the month for whichever cause has the best chance of beating First Concern. I really can't wait to see which aspiring causes thrive in the ecosystem once the canopy of controversial abortion-related causes is thinned out!
  • Finally, and I think importantly, the donor who nominated First Concern quit Charitocracy almost a year ago. The strife was replacing all the "good feels" of Charitocracy with negative ones for her. We don't have a policy of disqualifying causes nominated by folks who aren't active on Charitocracy any more, but I do think it puts this action we're taking now in a bit of a different and more sympathetic light.

How you can help

We hope you can understand and respect this decision. Our board is lucky to have a mix of women and men with a variety of life experiences, personal beliefs, and political persuasions. This decision was not made lightly, but it was made unanimously and with the enthusiastic expectation that it'll yield the most universally positive and memorable outcomes for Charitocracy's final months.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Truly. We want to make this adjustment with full transparency, eyes and ears wide open. Your feedback is welcome and important, as always.

And finally, go forth and vote your passion! There are still some 130+ nominated causes on Charitocracy, and about half of them have never won a grant from us yet. So many of them are deeply meaningful, innovative, and impactful. If recent voting has left a bad taste in your mouth, too much voting against and not enough voting for, here's a chance to show what you're really about!

3 thoughts on “Evicting the Elephants in the Room”

  1. Heya Benj,

    I’m sorry if my blatant campaigning last month precipitated this, if only because PP’s broad array of non-abortion related services will be out of the running.



    1. Not at all, Joe! It was no one specific thing, just over a year of friction with one nominee stuck in the Top 3 indefinitely. PP has won twice and the others have all won at least once, so I felt better resolving it this way and giving some of the other amazing causes their turns to be contenders. I have a feeling we won’t be too disappointed in the selections these final months! 🤞

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