Spreading the Word on High-Impact Nonprofits, a Dollar a Day

A site created by volunteers and a Kickstarter founder offers you a small way to support innovative philanthropic organizations.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

One of the people behind the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is on a new mission: Get you to donate a dollar a day and learn about different nonprofits along the way.

That’s the thinking behind Dollar a Day, a service that launched Wednesday from Kickstarter creator Perry Chen and what he calls “a group of friends, mostly volunteers, who are trying to create something small that can have a really big impact.”

Donors who sign up simply provide their name, email, and a debit or credit card for a $30 charge every 30 days. That tax-deductible donation gets divvied up—you guessed it—a dollar a day to a nonprofit in one of six areas, including education, health, and human rights.

Daily emails inform anyone interested, not just donors, on the featured organizations. Just spreading the word on great nonprofits could prompt further involvement, such as additional giving or volunteering, Chen says.

The initial idea for the site came after thinking about ways people could discover nonprofits aside from those already in the mainstream.

“It isn’t that easy, or maybe that often, that people learn about new nonprofits that might resonate with them,” Chen says.

What came after working one night a week—a little more than that, in the lead up to launch, Chen admits—for about a year was Dollar a Day. Aside from ways to signup to donate or to receive the emails profiling nonprofits, the site offers a calendar that promises to profile at least the next 60 organizations to receive funds.

One of Dollar a Day’s staff members leads the conversation on which groups to feature on the site, a process that Chen says favors those developing innovative solutions to problems in one of the site’s six core areas. (An FAQ answer on the site notes, “nonprofits that support a particular religion, government, or political party” can’t make the cut.) Consistent fiscal responsibility is also assessed through publicly available documents.

Dollar a Day—itself a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status pending—does not take any money from the $30 donations for operating costs.

As for audience, there’s no one demographic or persona Dollar a Day is going after, though according to Chen, there was broad appeal in supporting lesser-known (but just as impactful) organizations.

“There’s a lot of good intention out there,” he says. “There’s a little gap in something between the good intention and the action, so that there’s just a [need for a] little bridge. The hope is that Dollar a Day can be that in terms of how people connect with and discover nonprofits.”

Chen, who moved from CEO to chairman of Kickstarter at the beginning of the year, said both Dollar a Day and Kickstarter harness the “power and the scale of the web” to maximize a collective’s impact.

In the hours before launch, Chen believes the site’s impact will lie in donor engagement.

“If people discover one or two nonprofits that really resonate with them and they go on to have further engagement with that nonprofit, I think that’s a huge success.”