Dollar Per Month™ is one of the most optimistic fundraising platforms looking to change the world that I’ve encountered in recent years and it’s really starting to gain traction even in its first year. I think one of the reasons that it’s been so successful is for its innovative giving model.
Here’s how it works. Everyone is invited to be a member and make a monthly donation: $1, $5, what have you. If 1 million members can give $1 per month, that’s $1M every month. And every month, DPM introduces three top-tier charities that have been vetted across a few different criteria (financial responsibility, disclosure, and impact) and asks its membership to vote for its favorite. The winning charity receives 50% of the community donations, the 2nd charity receives 30%, and the 3rd charity receives 20%. No charity loses and people feel engaged in good work that makes a difference.
I had a chance to ask Doug Clerget a few questions about how and why he founded DPM and this is what he had to say:
IS: How did Dollar Per Month™ get started? What has the response been so far?
DC: I decided to start Dollar Per Month™ because I had come to a point in my life where I wanted to do something that mattered. Here’s a bit of history: my father died when my sister and I were little and (suffice to say) our mother couldn’t provide the proper environment for us. After a few years in and out of her care, foster homes and extended stays with our paternal grandparents, the state finally removed us from our mother’s care permanently. We were fortunate enough to have our grandparents adopt us. I don’t know where I would be today if they had not stepped up. Growing up wasn’t easy. I was a tough kid, but our family did a good job helping my sister and I work through the damage caused early on. Dollar Per Month™ co-founder, and my cousin, Jason, was always there for me regardless. I am eternally grateful for both the love and support given by him and by my grandfather. My senior year of college I found out (unexpectedly) that I was going to be a father myself, to a son that I now raise full-time on my own. If that wasn’t scary enough (and it was very scary), my son ended up being born at only one pound nine ounces and spent four months in the NICU. Right after my son got out of the hospital, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. Due to the combination of all these stresses, at an age that I was not even remotely prepared to handle them, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called Ulcerative Colitis. This terrible illness almost cost me my life, but I was fortunate enough to have an emergency surgery to keep me around at least a little while longer. All of this put together landed me in a place where I really started to think about what I wanted my life to look like when I looked back on it. I came to the decision it was time to do something that mattered. The idea ate away at me of what to do until I had a revelation and called Jason on a Tuesday night and said, “We need to do something that makes the world a better place, are you in?” Jason said yes and we started putting together our ideas on what we should do. Our goal was to create an organization that met these three criteria:
1. Create a change in thinking in the social media generation, where giving back becomes something people want to do versus something people feel they have to do.
2. Reward the best non-profits in the world who are effecting real change and running their organizations with the utmost integrity, through substantial awareness of their cause and financial support.
3. Create a mechanism through which non-profits are incentivized to truly focus on creating real change and financial responsibility with their own cause due to a desire to receive support from the Dollar Per Month™ community.
Dollar Per Month™ DPM™ was founded on the idea that if we all give a little, as little as $1 each month, to organizations that are making a real difference in the world today, that those small contributions will add up to amazing things. Dollar Per Month™ hosts three new charities each month that have been pre-qualified for actively effecting real change in their given field of philanthropy and who have a proven track record of financial responsibility with their donor contributions. Dollar Per Month™ members can read about each organization, watch a video and view pictures of the work that each non-profit does. After learning about each of the three charities for the month, Dollar Per Month™ members vote where they’d most like to see that month’s pooled donation go to. Anybody can sign up at Dollar Per Month™ for as little as $1 or more. The non-profits that Dollar Per Month™ support love DPM™ because they are allowed a platform to build awareness of their mission and are guaranteed a donation. Dollar Per Month™ members love DPM™ because it makes giving back fun, easy and trustworthy. Moreover, Dollar Per Month™ members get to learn about causes and organizations that they may not have otherwise known were affecting the world today and contribute to organizations that they can trust are making a real difference to solving these problems. Lastly, DPM™ members know that Dollar Per Month™ is managed with as absolute low overhead as possible. The postscript to this story is that Jason and I lost our grandfather to his fight against cancer in early 2012 but not before he was able to see Dollar Per Month™ launched and his influence in our lives come to life in a truly meaningful way.
IS: How many members are engaged each month? What is your target?
DC: Right now we are donating over $4,000 per month to charity and growing faster every day. The average DPM™ donation (right now) is $8 per month. In order to reach our goal of donating $10,000,000 per month, all we need is 1,250,000 people. In perspective, that is less than one half of one percent of the average daily Facebook users in the United States alone or less than the population of Seattle, WA…truly not that many people. We truly believe that together Dollar Per Month™ can grow to an organization that is making a real and measurable impact in the fight to cure disease, restore our environment, protect the helpless and endangered, and create more accountability in the world of non-profits.
IS: What distinguishes DollarPerMonth from other crowdfunding sites (like Kickstarter)?
DC: Dollar Per Month™ is about making giving back fun, easy and trustworthy with the goal of truly changing the world. Kickstarter is an organization that was designed to get business / artistic projects off the ground. Dollar Per Month™ is a community of people that if we all give a little and put those resources in the right places that together we can do amazing things. There is no business aspect of DPM™, it is 100% about making the world a better place for us and for future generations. No frills, no hidden agenda…it’s a simple idea. That’s the beauty of it. If we all gave a dollar and those millions of dollars go to the organizations that are actually making a difference then we make the world a better place. Hopefully other organizations see that it’s pretty easy to get DPM support if you focus on making a real impact and maintaining financial responsibility and then make a real effort to do those two things.
IS: How do people get involved (as organizations, as members)?
DC: Getting involved with Dollar Per Month™ is INCREDIBLY easy. All an individual has to do is sign up (it takes about 45 seconds and you can literally give $1 per month) and then start talking about it to as many people as they know…in person and through social media. The great thing about the DPM™ site is that it takes just one click when you sign up or vote to have your DPM action hit your FB / Twitter. We just need more members and that’s it. The infrastructure is all already there. For organizations (other charities) we love to get their emails asking for DPM™ support. They can email us and tell us their story at firstname.lastname@example.org. For corporations (for profit) we love to be on their matching programs. Right now Microsoft, Google, Boeing, US Bank and Salesforce all match their employee contributions to DPM™ on a dollar for dollar for basis. This is amazing and we want to keep this list growing as fast as possible.
IS: How do you see Dollar Per Month™ impacting the new nonprofit giving model? Is this a new methodology that you’ve created?
DC: We haven’t created a new methodology, we’ve just taken a very simple idea and made it applicable to the world of giving back in as pure a form as we could. We wanted to take away every reason a person could have for not wanting to give back and replace it with a reason to give back…
A. I don’t have enough money to give…
DPM: You can literally give as little as $1 per month.
B. I don’t trust where my money is going…
DPM: We vet all charities that we work with to make sure they are actually making a difference in the world and that they have a strong track record of financial responsibility with donor contributions.
C. I don’t want to pay for high admin expenses…
DPM: We run Dollar Per Month™ with ABSOLUTELY as low overhead as possible and work every day to see where we can save money. We also only work with other non-profits who have a strong track record of doing the same.
D. I don’t only want to give to just one cause…
DPM: We work with 36 of the best charities in the world every year. We help causes ranging from curing disease, cleaning up the environment to protecting the helpless and endangered and everything in between. DPM members get to learn about new causes that need everyone’s attention and the organizations that are doing something about them every month.
I’m interested to see how DPM grows in the coming months. It’s a truly great idea that has a shot at making some really big changes.