Tag Archives: mollygive

MollyGive 2019

After much deliberation, I decided to not do MollyGive 2019. This was a bit of a blow, especially after MollyGive 2018 having a lot less reach than previous years. (For MollyGive 2018 I supported a large, matching donation to the Software Freedom Conservancy.)

I’ve spent the past seven months paying helping a friend pay their rent. I’ve paid for groceries, train tickets, meals, coffee, books for people I know and people I don’t. Medications for strangers. I stopped keeping track of the “good” I was doing, and instead just gave when I saw people in need.

This is counter to my past behavior. I’ve been burned a few times when offering funds to people who have a major need in their life — thousands of dollars to help people make major life changes only to have them instead use the money on other things.

I believe pretty strongly that, generally, people in need know what they need and are capable of taking care of it themselves. I don’t think it’s my place to dictate or prescribe. The experience of being burned and my thought about people knowing what they need were at odds.

At the same time, I saw people suffering around me. People who know what they needed .People in positions I’ve been in: food or medication? A winter jacket or rent? I have the resources to take care of those material needs, so I supported them when the opportunity presented itself.

I have a friend who is scheduled to have surgery this spring. They have been given advice on how to fundraise for the surgery. In fact, people facing  the prospect of life saving, crushing debt generating treatments are given lots of information about how to run successful crowd funding campaigns. This is appalling. You should be disgusted by it. You need to be disgusted by it.

Giving to charity helps. Giving to your neighbors helps. However, this is not enough. The sheer level of suffering and injustice in the world, in your country, your neighborhood, your home is sickening and giving ourselves a reprieve by donating to charities will not fix these systemic problems.

All of that being said, I have made donations to non-profits, and will make more. I hope you’ll join me in supporting groups that are doing good, necessary work. I also hope you’ll join me in striving to bring about the big societal changes that will make it so we don’t need so many charities.

My career has been in non-profits, it is my dearest hope to one day be out of a job. In the mean time, I’ll continue to work, and I’ll continue to give in whatever ways I can.

Conservancy Match

In January I was at Linux Conf Australia and had the idea of forming a group match campaign for the Software Freedom Conservancy. The Conservancy is one of my favorite nonprofits, and I had been interested in trying to level up my giving while not putting myself into dangerous financial straits.

A match campaign is when an organization, a person, or persons offer/s to give a nonprofit a large(er) sum in the event they can raise an equal amount during their fundraising activities. For example, Private Internet Access has pledged $50,000 to the Conservancy as part of the Conservancy’s matching donation efforts.

I wanted to participate in the fun of running a match donation, but recognized that the amount I could offer was paltry in comparison to most matches, as well as being not actually enough to inspire participation from potential donors. I realized that instead I could work with others others to help reach a number — I picked $10,000 somewhat randomly — and began asking around. With the help of Karen Sandler, Conservancy Executive Director, we surpassed that $10,000 and found ourselves with a $15,000 match.

The Conservancy seemed like a natural choice as a recipient of a somewhat scrappy attempt at a match — they consider themselves to be a scrappy organization, doing a lot with very little. They support free and open source software projects — and unless we have good projects, we don’t have anything to offer people looking to be more freedom respecting in their own lives and their works. They do copyleft compliance work, without which copyleft (and licensing in general) would be meaningless — the licenses need to have teeth in order for any companies to actually follow them and the promise of copyleft to be followed through. They work every day to spread the message and value of software freedom around the world, reaching people who need to be made aware of the way their rights extend to digital spaces and technologies. In the spirit of full disclosure, I also consider the staff of the Conservancy to be among my friends, and I enjoy seeing them at conferences.

I’m really excited (these words don’t capture how excited I am) that I get to participate in something so cool and inspiring as a group of people who want to encourage others to give. I hope you’ll consider making our match successful by supporting the Conservancy.


In January I was at LCA, which was an amazing experience. Thanks to Chris Neugebauer, I had my first opportunity to speak to an entire conference attendance and give a lightning talk. (I recommend watching the other lightning talks, but the link goes directly to mine.)

Over the three, long minutes I somehow managed to talk about small donor fundraising, MollyGive, some cool tech nonprofits, and my newest donation project. (By “talk about,” I mean “mention in a single, run on sentence.”)

Inspired by the success of large matching donation programs and driven by the delusion that there is such a thing as a middle class philanthropist, I found some great people to join me in joining a $10k matching donation fund for the Software Freedom Conservancy’s spring fundraiser.

I don’t have the resources to put up a donation large enough for a match on my own. While I care a lot about the Conservancy (and a number of other nonprofits, charities, and causes), I can’t really justify to myself making a significant donation to a single organization–especially when there’s the potential to double a whole slew of donations through MollyGive.

In addition to wanting to see more of this (in general), I’m still hoping to find a few more people for the spring Conservancy match. We’re close to $10k, but not there quite yet. There’s no minimum, but I think $500 sounds like a nice number.

Even if you can’t join in building the matching fund, I hope you’ll join in helping to meet the match come fundraising time. 🙂

MollyGive 2017 wrapup

MollyGive 2017 has come to an end. Thanks, team!

Notes: An introduction

As always, I had a lot of fun with MollyGive. Sometimes it’s a little disappointing, but it’s also hearwarming, exciting, and full of discovery. I learn so much about the people in my life and what they care about.

As my salary is a matter of public record, I am going to spend this year talking not just in percentages, but specific numbers.

I worked about 75% of the year. The donation fund this year sat at just over nearly $4.8k. We went over this. That was unintentional…

Whenever a charity asked if I would pay the transaction fee, I did.

The donations

Basic numbers

Tithe funds: $4,794
Amount donate: $5,107.92
Percentage of income: 10.65%
Charities reached: 53
Number of donations matched: 64
Mean amount: $100
Median amount: $92.87
Mode amount: $100
Charities receiving over $100: 8
Charities with the most donations: Givewell; Software Freedom Conservancy
Number of charities outside the US: 3

Note: mean, median, and mode calculations were based on aggregations of donations per charity.

This year I grouped donations into the following categories:

  • animal rights
  • civil rights
  • digital rights
  • disaster relief
  • education
  • environmental (justice)
  • Givewell
  • medical
  • nonprofit support
  • political support
  • poverty support

Charts and graphs

Here are some charts I made.

Number of donations by organization type

A bar chart in multiple colors showing donations by category.

A pie chart in multiple colors showing donations by category.

Value (USD) of donations by organization type

A bar chart in multiple colors showing donations by amount.

A pie chart in multiple colors showing donations by amount.

The Charities

Most of these are 501(c)3s, registered charities. There are some 501(c)4s. I actually cheated my own rules: over the course of the year, if someone said they were giving to a crowdfunding medical campaign, I gave $50 to it. I later donated a matching amount to MassCare. I -also- donated to one educational crowdfunding campaign and then made a matching donation to a project that supports growing technical communities.

There are some charities I like, that I normally donate to, but I just ran out of funds this year. 🙂 They’ll be at the top of my list next year.

    • 350.org
    • Act Blue
    • Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)
    • AIDS Lifecycle
    • Alloy
    • American Forest Foundation
    • American Indian College Fund
    • Animal Rescue League
    • ARC Cancer Support Center
    • As You Sow
    • Barrets Town
    • Black & Pink
    • Casa Myrna
    • Charity Navigator
    • Congenital Heart Walk
    • Conservancy
    • DSA
    • EFF
    • Effing Foundation
    • END Fund’s deworming program
    • Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative
    • Evidence Action’s Dispensers for Safe Water
    • Evidence Action’s No Lean Season
    • FSF
    • GiveDirectly
    • GiveWell
    • Giving Spirit LA
    • Go Fund Me – Medical
    • Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program
    • Hispanic Federation
    • Homeless Coalition
    • Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program
    • MassCare
    • National Parks Foundation
    • Operation USA
    • OSI
    • Parts and Crafts
    • People for Fairness Coalition
    • Public Lab
    • Rosie’s Place
    • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
    • Secularism.org.uk
    • Sightsavers’ deworming program
    • Somerville homeless coalition
    • Southern Poverty Law Center
    • Water Foundation
    • Woodhull Foundation
    • You Caring
    • YVIO

    My thoughts

    Lessons from this year

    Over the past year, I’ve participated in running several nonprofit, small donor fundraising campaigns. I took what I learned from these to push MollyGive with mild-aggression. I’ve been running MollyGive since around 2012 (I think), and this is the first year I’ve used the entirety of the funds.

    It always makes me a little sad when people like, retweet, and share relevant social media bites but don’t participate themselves. Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken to giving them the benefit of the doubt (after my initial sigh): I remind myself that not everyone feels able to give.

    This year, out of curiosity, I spoke with a few of them. I also had someone else approach me and offer a similar explanation: They think MollyGive is a great idea, but, since they have more means, and are planning on giving anyway, they don’t want to take that opportunity away from someone else. That was nice to know, and nice to think about. Thanks, friends for being so thoughtful with your giving.

    General thoughts, personal thoughts

    MollyGive is still a very silly name, that feels a little egoizing to use. After a number of years, I’ve gotten used to it. The first year it felt like a bit of a lark. Having just wrapped up its sixth year, I’ve found that other people have come to take MollyGive as seriously as I do–even though the name seems a little silly. As I’m writing this, I wonder if giving something a silly name helps it be more fun, or more approachable.

    I can’t get over how generous everyone was this year. I really can’t.

    It was suggested to me that I am outsourcing a not-insignificant amount of my decision making. This is true–I believe in expertise. I trust the opinions of others, especially concerning things I know little to nothing about (e.g. nonprofits working on education reform).

    Lessons for next year

    I think next year I am going to put a soft limit on the amount a given charity can receive. This is for personal reasons. I was using funds from outside the tithe account at the end of the month (see: going over 100%!!!). I am excited about the outcome–really–but I also wished I had been able to reach some other groups that I like and didn’t have a chance to get to this year.

    I’d love to somehow expand MollyGive. One suggestion someone gave me is to invite people who want to give, but want to outsource their decision making, to join me by promising their funds.


    I don’t think I’ve ever written this before, but I’d like to thank Katrina Romangoli. She put the idea for MollyGive into my head in the early 2000s. I’d also like to mention Madeleine and Chris Price Ball, for the inspiration their yearly giving brings me.

    I’d also like to thank the socio-economic situation that allows me to do this. I am really grateful.

    To everyone who donated: thank you so so so much. We gave over $10,000 to charities. I’d like to give a special shout out to the people who helped me find new charities I’d never heard of, the student who is struggling financially who gave $20, and the people generous enough to give over $1000.

MollyGive 2017

Monday launches one of my favorite parts of the year: MollyGive.

Frequently Asked Questions, Frequently Questioned Answers

What is MollyGive?

You donate up to $100 to a charity and I match it. I know many of you will be waiting until the last minute to donate (I do that too, usually), but I’ll be traveling December 24th – 31st. So, donations in by December 24th at 10AM EST.

How many charities can I give to?

As many as you want! I actually have a really hard time getting people getting people to tell me about their donations during MollyGive (maybe I have bad branding?), so, srsly, go wild.

What counts as a charity?

A 501(c)3 in the United States and something kind of flexible for non-US entities.

What about GoFundMe?

GoFundMe is not and should not be a substitute for public welfare and support. Unfortunately, it is. I give to medical GoFundMe campaigns and then make a donation to match that one to a healthcare reform advocacy group or Planned Parenthood.

Families USA is one President Barak Obama likes, and they do reasonably well on their CharityNavigator ratings on metrics I think are important.

Can you match my donation to the Linux Foundation?

No. You can’t really donate to the Linux Foundation. It is 501(c)6. This is a not-for-profit, not a non-profit. You could -give to- or -join- the Linux Foundation. Additionally, it’s a member based organization. They’d likely take my money separately if I contacted someone there, but I doubt I have enough for it to be really worth their while.

Where else won’t you give?

  • Organizations that are not 501(c)3s, with a special bitterness towards those who misappropriate terms like “donate” or misrepresent themselves.
  • Red Cross
  • Organizations that sell or “rent” donor lists
  • I’ll also be grumpy about ones that -share- donor lists, but I’ve been trying to do better with being grumpy about it.
  • Charities known for misspending funds.
  • Charities that are doing work I just disagree with.
  • I prefer to not donate to charities with high budgets because they simply don’t need the funds as much as other organizations.
  • I prefer to not give to groups who have highly paid EDs.
    • There are lots of reasons why one should pay an ED well–namely that a nonprofit is in direct competition with for-profits for qualified and skilled EDs. I just don’t think -anyone- needs to make that much.
  • The FSF. I should say, I won’t -match- donations to the FSF. I am a member and donate in addition to that during fundraising campaigns. I also work there. You should still totally donate to the FSF.

How do I pick a good charity?

That’s…up to you. I like to use Charity Navigator to help evaluate charities. (Disclosure: Charity Navigator gives the nonprofit for which I work a near perfect score, so I am a little partial to their judgment.)I’ve used GiveWell in the past, but am a little disillusioned with their methodologies at the moment. I’ll spare you all why for now.

Where do you donate? I don’t want to give somewhere you’re already giving.

If I donate there, I probably already care about it and would welcome the chance to give more. 🙂

I failed to do an analysis of my giving from 2016 (or 2015 for that matter, I’ll uhh, try to get up on that). You can however read a bit about past years.

I work in the digital rights sphere, with an emphasis on free software. In addition to my paid and volunteer time, I donate to a number of groups including the EFF, Fight for the Future, the FSF, the Open Source Initiative, and the Software Freedom Conservancy. The ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts do a lot of good work around digital rights as well.

I care a lot about environmental justice, gender justice, and prison reform and support.

I like to donate to charities that aren’t things I work on. Deb Nicholson once said: whenever I feel like I’m not doing enough for a particular cause, I donate to it, to support those who are working on it.

You named it after yourself?

Actually, no! David Nusinow did that.

Why are you doing this?

This has become a more complicated answer over the years.

Why: Option 1

I tithe–that is to say I set aside 10% of my take-home income and donate it to charity. It’s hard to figure out what to do with it all, and how to do as much good as I can. It’s great to have other people make those decisions for me.

Why: Option 1.A

You tithe? But don’t you have student loans/rent/a nonprofit salary/other financial responsibilities?

The world has lots of problems. If I wait until I am in a better position to help out then I may never do so. Additionally, there are problems RIGHT NOW that need immediate response (e.g. disaster relief), and things that will take lots of long-term effort (e.g. environmental justice). Why wait?

Why: Option 2

Matching donations are used to encourage others to give–it’s a lot easier to give $10 when you know it’s going to become $20. It’s encouraging to give $100 when you know it will be $200. I want more people to donate to charity–regardless of whether they can afford $5 or $1,000.

Why: Option 3

This is usually in response to someone accusing me of having a pathological need to give:

Who cares?

Why: Option 4

I love me some tax deductions.

Why: Option 5

Middle-class guilt.

MollyGive 2016

Since I lost my job over the summer, I figured I wouldn’t do a MollyGive this year. However, as we’ve been moving through the final weeks, I started feeling sad about this.

My favorite thing about December is donating the money I saved throughout the year. So far it’s been to Casa Myrna, Free Software Foundation, Open Source Initiative, and Software Freedom Conservancy. (Also Parts & Crafts earlier in 2016.) Giving makes me happy, and giving is important to sustain and support the important (an frequently necessary) work of non-profits.

With that in mind, I want to spend the last two weeks of 2016 doing what I’ve done for the past few years: matching donations.

Make a donation of up to $100 to your favorite nonprofit(s), and I will match it until I am out of funds. Even if you think you’re too busy to volunteer, go to meetings, or participate in actions, you’re not too busy to make a major difference!

Here is last year’s MollyGive announcement, for some more info: http://deblanc.net/blog/2015/11/30/mollygive-2015/

MollyGive 2015

MollyGive 2015

I am pleased to announce the return of MollyGive for the 2015 donate-all-your-money-to-charity season!

MollyGive will run from December 1st, 2015 – December 25, 2015.

Here are the rules:
1) You donate up to $50 to a charity*
2) You tell me that you donated up to $50 to said charity
3) I then donate a matching amount to said charity**

And we all win!

*If you would like to donate more than $50 to a single charity, tell me and let’s see if I can match it.

**as long as I don’t find them actively offensive

Some more deets

What is this?

Every year I tithe. At the end of the year (December), I take whatever is left and do matching donations.

You can donate to more than one charity

If you want to support the EFF, SCI, PP, and the Red Cross, cool! I will donate to each of them as well.

Handling organizations I expect will get multiple donations

I expect that organizations like the EFF, Wikipedia, and the FSF will get multiple donations from amongst those most likely to donate (i.e. the people most likely to read this, i.e. my friends). I’ll send those in a batch on December 25th.

Why I am doing this

When I was younger, tithing was like $1k a year, which is actually not hard to give away with all the runs/walks/bikes/musicing for charity people do. Now that I have a much fancier job, it’s a lot harder. Sure, I could just drop all the money on the Red Cross and call it a day, but:

  1. I’m not convinced it’s the most useful thing I can do
  2. I want to encourage others to give as well
  3. I don’t care about other organizations that  have needs

We all have our causes. I work in edtech supporting a community developing free software. Great, I care about education and software freedom and I get to spend every day working on both. I’m not very inclined to, on top of that, donate a bunch of money to the cause.

I also care about things like the environment. I ended up in a position in my life where I’m not working on helping out with that (if you have ideas on how I can do more, I’d love  to!), but I can give money to it.

MollyGive enables me to help causes I don’t really think about. I don’t especially care about Native American college attendance more, or as much, as I care about, say, Earth Justice. However, one of my friends thinks the American Indian College Fund is really important. It’s great that, together, she and I can help them.

In Summary

Give early, give often, send me the deets. Let’s help some people.



Past MollyGive Donations