Big news! But first, a status update, now that I’ve been back from vacation in California for a few days:
I hired a registered agent for the District of Columbia, completed 3 of their many forms, and mailed off the last of them yesterday. I still have at least one big one to go (BBL-EZ — ha!), but it requires waiting for prior ones to be processed first. Meanwhile, I’ve been following up with the ~20 states we haven’t heard back from yet, getting green lights from a bunch of them via email today. So that leaves about a dozen states we expect to hear back from in the next couple weeks, eventually granting us permission to “do business” and solicit donations in their great states. I only hope to break even on the nearly $2000 in annual fees required for the privilege to operate a charity nationwide. At least our nonprofit status is more secure than ever.
We’ve certainly done the legwork in good faith, but technically we’re supposed to wait for all the green lights before opening up the web site to take donations. Our CEO (remember her?) thinks we should flip the switch now regardless. Clearly she’s an adrenaline junky not averse to living on the edge! As Grace Hopper (the Navy’s amazing computer pioneer) put it, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” I’m inclined to agree.
So here’s my compromise: I’m going to leave the front-page of the site in its current “under construction” form. I’m going to reset the database, removing all beta test users and their nominated causes, starting from scratch. I’m going to turn on real credit card processing. And then we’re going to conduct illicit charitable business behind closed doors, like a speakeasy during prohibition. Just you and me, see. Friends and family and loyal followers. No soliciting strangers during this first month! Which is actually perfect, because it will also give me time to put together the “pitch” for the rest of the world to see on the front page.
Starting in September we’ll go through the full cycle for the first time, for real, with real $ at stake: nomination week, top 10 selection week, top 3 selection week, then awarding Charitocracy’s first check! This will depend on a bunch of you getting your nominations in starting Thursday so we actually have more than 10 causes from which to select. But based on the number of people who’ve been asking, “When will it go live already, come ON, seriously?” I’m not concerned in the least.
Pardon me, while I go finish the web site now.
Some good news and some bad news… which do you want first? Good news first? Okay, you got it!
We shipped off all but 3 of our state-by-state solicitation registration or exemption applications this week. That’s 38 different forms, fees, and combinations of certificates, founding documents, IRS letters of determination, budget estimates, and/or first-born children. Only 3 left to go, the ones where we’re dragging our heals to pay the $100/year for registered agents: DC, MI, and ND. We’ll get there!
Helping get all that paperwork done sucked all the time out of my August so far. And that means I couldn’t code up the new weekly Charitocracy touch points before heading off on vacation. You may have noticed the distinct lack of email after week 1 summarizing the new nominations. And you’ll notice today the deafening silence of no email highlighting the top 10 causes yet. We’ll get there, too!
But for now, “Life moves pretty fast.” If I don’t stop and look around once in a while, I could miss it. (Back in action circa August 25. Feel free to continue testing out Charitocracy in the meantime!)
This week has been brought to us by the letters, F, U, and the number 41. That’s not just my age, it’s also how many states and jurisdictions (read: Washington, D.C.) with whom we need to register before we can solicit donations nationwide.
Jessica and I would be nowhere on this task yet if it weren’t for the week-long tireless effort of none other… than my mother! She paved the way by pre-filling every PDF from every state that requires a paper form, each one a unique snowflake of pure charitable bureaucracy. Might one say: a charitocracy?
We still need to fill in some blanks where Ma left us sticky notes to flag the tricky bits. We still need to hire “registered agents” with in-state addresses at nearly $100/year to do nothing more than wait around and answer the door if we get served with a lawsuit. (Speaking of which, if you reside in CA, CO, MI, ND, OR, or DC you could possibly save us $100/year by letting us list your name and address instead of a for-profit company’s!) And then we need to get most of the forms notarized. Only then can I get back to the fun work, putting the finishing touches on the web site.
Speaking of which, we’re only 2 days from the end of Week 1 in the new 4-phase monthly routine. That means 2 days left to nominate a new cause if you’re so inclined! There haven’t been any new nominations yet this month, so have at it, please! Motivate us to get this paperwork done so we can turn on actual donations in September!