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Benj and Jessica launched a nonprofit. Follow our journey as we built a 501(c)(3) and a web site, and now usher in an endless stream of worthy charity nominees and monthly grant winners!

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It’s Going To Be a Happy New Year

We managed to get one concrete thing done in 2015 before the holidays: incorporating in the state of North Carolina. We've started 2016 by tackling Form 1023, which is the IRS paperwork necessary to request tax-exempt status and classification as a 501(c)(3) public charity. It takes an average of 110 days for the form to be processed, so there's no point doing any software engineering until our Form 1023 is shipped off. I promise I'm not procrastinating!

There's an "EZ" impossibly short version of the 1023, which we were very tempted to use, but it's only good if you don't expect to exceed $50,000 per year in donations for 3 years. Assuming every Charitocracy participant gave the minimum $1 per month, that would mean a maximum of just over 4000 users, even at the end of 3 years. No way, right?! Sadly, if the 1023-EZ is a 1st grade book report, the non-EZ version is a PhD dissertation.

As part of it I need to project financials for 3 years. It's a total stab in the dark, and I don't know whether to be conservative or optimistic in my estimates. This document will become public if/when the IRS grants our tax-exempt determination. Whether I'm way over or way under, you'll all be able to laugh when looking back 3 years from now! But I intend to aim for the sky and try to get us there, unless our accountant talks me back down to Earth.

Now, assuming we get this tome off to the IRS next week, we'll commence two parallel missions for the next 4+ months: (1) build Charitocracy from the ground up, and (2) line up as many prospective participants as possible so we hit the ground running during the first month we're operational. To that end, please like us on Facebook and share with friends and family. There's a Facebook widget on this blog page for your convenience. Facebook likes will make as good a proxy as anything until we're ready to take initial signups! You Facebook holdouts can keep following along on Twitter or email (look for "subscribe to blog via email" on this page).

Jessica expects 100 participants for the first month. I want 500, please. Let's make it a happy new year!

Make It So

Winter Is Coming

"You know nothing, Benj Lipchak."  The meme potential is endless.

If you haven't heard, my wife Jessica and I are launching a nonprofit in 2016.  The basic concept involves mobilizing many small donations into a big pool, and voting on how to spend it.  Our mission is to make it easy and fun to give money to good causes, and encourage everyone to make philanthropy, even at a small scale, a priority and source of pride in their daily lives.

Toward the end of October I started a one year unpaid leave of absence from the job I love in order to tackle this project head on.  We're starting from scratch, so I expect it to take the full year to bring this operation online.  While I have zero experience in this space, Jessica has been around the nonprofit block a few times organizing and leading community nonprofits and gaining/maintaining tax exempt status.  This blog will detail our trials and tribulations while launching Charitocracy.

Many friends have already offered to help.  We'll use this forum to broadcast specific help requests when they arise.  Eventually we'll need guinea pigs to beta test our software.  I'll need to write all of that software first, but if you want to volunteer for some of that, too, I may be able to accommodate!  But today the call to action is for you to follow us.  Whether that means signing up for email updates (look elsewhere on this page), subscribing to our RSS feed, liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, or sharing this blog with likeminded friends and family, any or all of the above would be greatly appreciated!  Also, if you have any advice to share, please don't hesitate to leave comments on our blog posts.

Thank you, enjoy the holidays, and try to keep warm!

Charitocracy Is Coming