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Kickstarter Founder's Next Project Will Crowdfund Nonprofits With a Dollar a Day

Dollar a Day is an email newsletter that fundraises for charity.


Perry Chen, co-founder and former CEO of the seminal crowdfunding site Kickstarter, has dreamed up another way to mobilize people to make something happen.

His new project, Dollar a Day, is an email newsletter that features one nonprofit organization on a daily basis. Subscribers can sign up to become donors and send a dollar a day to each chosen organization. Then, Dollar a Day — which itself is a nonprofit organization — bundles together the money and sends it off to the recipient.

“We had this mantra of what is the simplest, smallest thing that could have a really big impact,” Chen said in a phone interview last week. “I think there’s a lot of good intentions, and I think people don’t know which organizations to support and don’t have the time to do their research. It’s a small bridge between the intention and being able to take more action.”

Dollar a Day is probably one of the least hardcore startups out there. Chen isn’t even working full-time on the project, which has a staff of two and is self-funded. The technology here is off the shelf: Mailgun for email blasts and Network for Good for processing tax-deductible donations with a four percent fee. The paragraph-long summaries in the email will be based on a couple hours of research using publicly available information, Chen said.

But Chen has a demonstrated knack for devising ways to collect money that make a difference. More than seven million Kickstarter donors have pledged $1.3 billion in total over the past five years, leading the way in what’s become a huge new category of fundraising.

Notably, not much of that Kickstarter money went to nonprofits. While the site doesn’t exclude those organizations, it does not allow projects that would fund a charity or cause. Every project must result in a creation that can be shared. You could see Dollar a Day as Chen turning his attention to an area that Kickstarter explicitly neglects.

And as Chen points out, the Dollar a Day formula adds up pretty quickly. Every 3,000 donors who sign up means total donations of $1 million per year.

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