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A New Approach to Giving with Dollar a Day

We all want to make a difference; be part of progress. But so often we’re left asking the questions: How can I get involved? What can I give back? How do I find organizations doing work I care about? A new organization, Dollar a Day, has set out to help you answer those questions.

Their model is simple: feature one new nonprofit a day and everyone who has signed up donates $1. That’s $365 a year to 365 different nonprofits. Add hundreds of individuals to the list, and you start to make a real difference. And, if you’re just interested in discovering great organizations Dollar a Day will let you sign up without committing to donating. Not a bad deal.

We had the chance to speak with Dollar a Day’s Cassie Marketos about this new, revolutionary approach to philanthropy:

What sparked the idea?
Dollar a Day officially launched in October of 2014, but the idea began years before that, when co-founder Perry Chen was thinking of how to make philanthropy more accessible — fun, more affordable, and — crucially — more discoverable. Most people want to do good in the world, but they’re busier than ever, and it’s actually challenging to discover new nonprofits that resonate with you. Dollar a Day was created to solve for that problem. We wanted to make learning about great nonprofits incredibly easy. Literally: as simple as signing up.

Why do you think Dollar a Day is a revolutionary approach to philanthropic giving? What makes it different — in action and in efficacy — from traditional philanthropic giving programs?
At its heart, Dollar a Day is really about discovery, which we think is a very powerful thing. We believe the biggest impact we can have is introducing people to nonprofits that resonate with them. We think of our daily email, which highlights each day’s featured nonprofit in a few short sentences, as a gateway for our community to give directly, start volunteering, learn more, or simply share a nonprofit with friends and family. These are all actions that can have a tremendous effect, but aren’t what people might expect from a philanthropic endeavor. We think that’s really special.

What challenges are you facing as you battle decades-old approaches to philanthropy?
Inspiring people to give is tough for any nonprofit and with Dollar a Day, our challenge is a little different. We’re not asking people to donate to us— we’re asking them to get excited about the idea of discovery overall; about learning something new everyday, and the bigger picture impact that can have. For us, it’s much less about the money given through Dollar a Day than the long-term results of that discovery, which is a nuanced message that can definitely run counter to people’s expectations. That means we have to do an extra extra good job of telling our story when we are asking people to become donors. We have to find the right ways to inspire them and make them want to get on board.

If you could break the chains of a “giving” stereotype, what would they be and how would you break them?
That donations aren’t the only way to help! Change is fueled from all directions — including having a public that is more aware of nonprofits and the issues they’re working to solve. Some of the coolest interactions we’ve had with our community members are when they tell us an organization we highlighted woke them up to a problem they hadn’t even been aware of. Often, they are enthusiastic to continue exploring the issue and other ways they can contribute: volunteering, spreading the word, and becoming an advocate in their own right.

What are some of your favorite featured charities that might resonate with the CreativeMornings community?
Oh! There are so many amazing organizations. It’s always hard to choose.

  • Books Through Bars is a started-small project based out of Philadelphia. It started when a small, independent press mailed a book to a prisoner who wrote requesting reading material, and has since blossomed into a full blown donated book distribution service, providing thousands of books to incarcerated people each year.
  • The Laundromat Project puts art in some very unusual — and cool! — public places, working with local communities to produce pieces that resonate on very personal and positive levels.
  • Architecture For Humanity creates truly inspiring structures that are also sustainable and highly affordable. (Trust us, gotta see it to believe it.)
  • Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation is an iconic NYC-based ballet company — I think many people might not even realize it’s a nonprofit!

To learn more, sign up, or get involved visit dollaraday.co

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