Casinos, Charity, Coronavirus, Climate Change

Why We Donated $100,000 to Founders Pledge

What do online casinos, charity, coronavirus, and climate change all have in common?

To answer that question, we need to dive into one of Great.com’s biggest milestones to date – a $100,000 donation to Founders Pledge, a thriving community of entrepreneurs finding and funding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing global challenges.

A Casino Company that Doesn’t Gamble with Its Values

If you’ve never heard of Great.com – we’re an online casino affiliate that donates 100% of our profits to charity. Our founder, Erik Bergman, took his previous casino company (Catena Media) from 0—300 employees and a $200 million valuation before turning 30 years old.

We’re combining Erik’s experience and knowledge of the iGaming industry with a group of marketing, communications, and leadership professionals to form a diverse and powerful team that shares a similar purpose: to end the global climate crisis.

Most companies are designed to make their owners, employees, and other stakeholders rich – but, Great.com is not. We will operate as lean as possible donating all our net profits to vetted charities aimed at addressing global climate change.

Our mission is to do the most good, and with a name like Great.com – we have a responsibility to raise the standards with every action we take. This onus means operating better than other casino affiliates and taking a more pragmatic and transparent approach to philanthropy, company culture, and social influence.

The Coronavirus Pandemic’s Effect on Charities

COVID-19 has ravished the world, decimating any sense of security and normalcy. As of June 8, there have been more than 397,000 global deaths attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the personal toll from the pandemic cannot be understated, COVID-19 has completely destroyed businesses and entire industries.

The nonprofit and charity sector has arguably suffered the most from the coronavirus pandemic with fewer people donating or volunteering globally. A recent study from The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that 20% of donors have stopped giving and will not resume until the economy returns.

Reports out of the United Kingdom suggest that roughly 10% of UK charities will be closed before the end of the year because of the economic impact from COVID-19. In the US, 13% of nonprofits have halted their operations entirely with 49% expecting to see more than half their revenue threatened by quarantined and long-term social-distancing restrictions.

To put this into perspective – in 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported approximately 1.56 million registered nonprofits throughout the U.S. generating roughly $2.64 trillion in revenue. If we remove 13% of those nonprofits that is roughly 202,800 organizations already nonoperational with almost $1.3 trillion nonprofit revenue in jeopardy because of coronavirus.

With the U.S. in the middle of a recession as reported in February 2020, by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), nonprofits can anticipate a stark drop in donations for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the damage to charities from COVID-19 extends beyond the effects felt in a typical economic recession. In a 2012 report by Stanford University on “Charitable Giving and the Great Recession,” total charitable giving decreased by 7% and 6.2% the 2 years immediately following the 2007—2008 financial crisis.

Not only will fewer donations be made overall, but the contributions that are being made are skewing heavily towards coronavirus-related causes – leaving many other pressing and important causes without the attention or funding they need to continue operating efficiently.

Charity experts like David Goldberg, CEO of Founders Pledge, advise donors “not to shy away from funding the high-impact causes you typically would support…” because donating is often a zero-sum situation with a real and impactful trade-off.  He goes on to say, “if a majority of global philanthropy is now going to COVID-19 response, it means it’s being displaced from other places.”

Watch the full interview with Great.com and David Goldberg

Historical data further supports the notion that contributions after natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and pandemics disproportionally affect philanthropy contributions. For example, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita generated billions of dollars in damage for local communities throughout Louisiana, Texas, and surrounding states.

Immediately following each hurricane there were substantial increases in donations to charities in the affected communities. Relevant nonprofits in Louisiana saw an increase of 17.18% following Hurricane Katrina and disaster-relief nonprofits in Texas saw an increase of 29.84% after Hurricane Rita.

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike any natural disaster we’ve ever experienced, so we cannot say to what extent other, also important, causes like climate change or malaria will be affected long-term. We do know that historical evidence and immediate research suggests these other causes will lose significant revenue from fewer donations overall and the reallocation of would-be contributions to coronavirus-related causes.

How We Approached Donating $100,000

Our mission at Great.com is to do the most good which boils down to finding ways to generate the highest return on our activities, investments, and funding. As it relates to donating, we look for causes that offer the best return per dollar donated while also aligning with our current purpose of combating the climate crisis.

Making such a sizeable contribution amid the coronavirus crisis was no small task. We felt a need to support the pandemic relief efforts but knowing the disproportionality of donations that come after natural disasters made us hesitant to choose a cause solely focused on the pandemic.

We found several charities directed at relief and support for the pandemic – but ultimately, we knew these causes were receiving a lot of attention already which would lessen the impact of our contribution. Moreover, we understand the trade-off that comes with donating $100,000, and if we simply put that money into pandemic relief, it would mean not putting it into another critical and pressing problem which is climate change.

After a lot of research and deliberation, we eventually landed on an organization that would address the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and our desire to maximize the return on our investment.

This organization was Founders Pledge.

What is Founders Pledge?

Founders Pledge is a global community of entrepreneurs who have committed a chosen portion of their current or future wealth to charity. Founders Pledge has a dedicated team of researchers who conduct rigorous research into which charitable organizations are the most effective in their field, yet are still in need of additional funding, to inform their members’ giving decisions. The most successful entrepreneurs tend to be data-driven and pragmatic, which are some of the guiding principles of Founders Pledge.

The goal of Founders Pledge is to empower entrepreneurs to do immense good by offering them access to a streamlined giving infrastructure, pioneering research, and a growing global community of entrepreneurs. There is no fee to join the Founders Pledge’s community, and 100% of donations made by members are given to their chosen charities – meaning that Founders Pledge relies on outside partners and funding to sustain its operations (i.e. our $100,000 donation).

When entering the Founders Pledge community, members commit to donating at least 2% of their personal proceeds on liquidity to charity. After making your commitment, you become part of the community and can begin your journey to becoming a more strategic philanthropist thanks to a wealth of research, networking events, and curated lists of high-impact giving opportunities targeting the causes that matter most to you.

Since launching in 2015, the Founders Pledge community has grown to include over 1,400 members from 30 different countries who have pledged a combined total of more than $2.4 billion. Entrepreneurs from some of the largest brands in the world like WeWork, Skype, Spotify, and Uber are members.

To date, they have generated $435+ million in contributions to charities and nonprofits related to causes like:

  • Climate Change
  • Health & Infectious Diseases
  • Animal Welfare
  • Pandemic Preparedness
  • Mental Health
  • Child Welfare

Founders Pledge and Coronavirus

While Founders Pledge is not specifically focused on coronavirus relief, they have launched a COVID-19 response fund – in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank. This globally focused fund adapts to needs as they evolve, with the research team at Founders Pledge curating a regularly updated portfolio of scalable and high-impact organizations aiming to:

  • Further pandemic preparedness
  • Stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Lessen the social and economic burden on affected communities

Founders Pledge has been researching existential risk since January 2019 and was recommending members contribute to pandemic preparedness organizations before the COVID-19 crisis took hold. This expertise in pandemics gives members peace of mind as they know that every dollar they donate to this fund will be optimized to generate a high return.

Donating to Founders Pledge’s COVID-19 Global Impact & Innovation Fund ensures your donation goes to vetted, high-impact organizations that will maximize its potential, and prevents you from falling prey to a COVID-19 charity scam.

Members and the public are encouraged to pool their resources into this single fund which will then be dispersed to vetted charities in the categories above based on where the donations can make the largest impact.

Why We Chose Founders Pledge

Unlike other organizations that may take a percentage of donations to cover operational expenses, Founders Pledge gives 100% of member donations to charity. This 100% model means they must fund their operations through other means – such as donations from corporate sponsors and other philanthropists.

Founders Pledge, like many other nonprofit organizations, has already seen a decline in contributions because of the coronavirus pandemic. With fewer donations, it can become increasingly difficult to cover general operational costs.

We chose to give $100,000 to Founders Pledge as an operational supporter. As a corporate partner, our donation doesn’t go directly to any specific cause but is used by Founders Pledge to run its organization and further its ability to build its community and secure more pledges.

In our opinion, this is a high-leverage opportunity which can offer compounding returns for years to come. With an estimated 50x return on contributions to operating expenses, our $100,000 could yield $5,000,000 in contributions over time to high-impact organizations vetted by dedicated researchers.

By contributing to Founders Pledge’s operations, we can increase their ability to empower entrepreneurs to do immense good – resulting in more strategic allocation of wealth.

“On behalf of Founders Pledge, I would like to say a huge thank you to Erik Bergman and the team at Great.com for your incredibly generous donation of $100,000. This money will help us in our mission of solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as climate change, and will strengthen Founders Pledge as we weather the effects of COVID-19.” – David Goldberg

How Founders Pledge Will Use Our $100,000 Donation

Founders Pledge was created with a desire to understand exactly how much impact (outcome) is created by a specific contribution (input) that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Naturally, we posed this same question to Founders Pledge.

How exactly will our $100,000 donation be used by Founders Pledge?

The answer was exactly what you’d expect from a data-driven, goal-oriented community of entrepreneurs.

Our donation to help cover operational expenses for Founders Pledge gives their organization more freedom to continue focusing on their core competencies as it relates to community growth, charity research, education, and infrastructure optimization.

This includes furthering their ability to achieve their goals of:

  • Directing more than $7 million in donations to high-impact funding opportunities in recommended cause areas such as climate change in 2020
  • Enabling their research team to identify tens of millions of dollars worth of new high-impact giving opportunities for members and other partners
  • More meaningfully support an even larger global community

What’s Next for Great.com?

Donating $100,000 to an amazing organization like Founders Pledge is incredible – but, it’s just the start. Great.com’s founder, Erik Bergman, has also joined on as a member and is donating millions of dollars in future proceeds from his shares in Catena Media.

We are also in the early stages of launching our first revenue-generating products: a New Jersey online casino review site and a Sweden online casino review site. We will be donating 100% of the profits from these efforts to vetted organizations such as Founders Pledge, Clean Air Task Force, and others that align with our goals and values.

In the long-term, we will build one of the most trusted and reliable recommendation engines in the world and will continue to support positive, high-impact causes.

If you’d like to learn more about Great.com and Founders Pledge, please follow the links below.