You Call Your Representatives, I Donate Money

Edit: Closed this on Feb 11th, only got a total of 10 emails. Ended up donating $500 to Planned Parenthood.


Recently, I wrote about the merits of donating at the end of the tax year. Now I am contradicting myself by donating $25,000 to the ACLU one month into the year. If I fail to have a profitable year gambling,  (not that unlikely as someone who plays poker tournaments for a living)I will be unable to write it off. Here’s why I am donating anyway:

I am pretty shocked at what is happening right now. I didn’t expect Trump to get his shit together so quickly. I didn’t expect him to face so little resistance. I didn’t expect him to be so blatantly xenophobic. I was shocked to see Giuliani publicly say Trump asked him how to make the Muslim ban legal.

The future scares me. Facebook, Google, Amazon, know a lot about their customers. If down the road the government were to subpoena them, some scary Science Fiction-esque possibilities come to mind… I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But I keep having thoughts in the back of my mind that those who are publicly anti-Trump in the future could end up on some shit-list where they have even less rights than everyone else. If that’s even a thought I am having one week into his presidency… this is a scary time.

I want to do something. There are already a lot of matching drives out there.

Here are some of them:

  1. Andrew Barber on twitter matching donations up to $25,000 for the ACLU.
  2. Boztank on twitter did a $25,000 drive that filled up in about 1 hour. He  tweeted that he will be posting more drives shortly.

If you’re aware of other matching drives, please tweet me @ DanSmithHolla and I will add them to this post.

I don’t want to take away from them, they are doing great work, but I am going to try a different approach. This is a very expensive and arduous fight, and coming at it from many angles will be effective.

I read on twitter and LifeHacker that one of the most effective things someone can do is call their representatives in Congress. I want to combine this proactive approach with a charity drive to encourage people to make those calls.

I am donating $25,000 to be released up to $5 at a time. Rather than matching charitable donations, I am matching calls to your representatives. You make 5 phone calls to your senators and/or congressperson where you express your thoughts about what is currently happening with immigration or other major issues. Email a screenshot of your phone logs and the state you are calling for to ACLUcharitydrive2017 at gmail dot com and I will donate $5 to the ACLU. I will be matching $1 per call, up to $5 per person.

Here are my logs for the morning. If you didn’t feel like being extra chatty, I think each call would take about 1 minute. o0bfxx

Based on the honor system, if you are someone who already calls your representatives, I would appreciate if you would make an extra 5 phone calls.

5calls makes this very easy. You enter your zip code, click from the list of issues you want to discuss, they give you the number and a sample script as to what to say. This is another blog post hyping 5calls.

Here is one sample script.

Hi, my name is [Name] and I’m a constituent from [City, State, Zip].

I’m calling to tell [Senator/Rep’s Name] that our community does not support Trump’s Muslim ban, and we expect [him/her] to take an immediate stand against this unjust executive order.

[Optional: add anything else you’d like here]

Thank you for your time.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your entire home address to ensure your call is tallied]


I believe that doing *anything* will make you feel better about the situation. I’ve received a lot of thanks for the most recent drive. And while it is very much appreciated, I would appreciate participating in these 5 calls even more.

This drive will be go on until February 28, limit $5 per person.

Thanks your for consideration,


Edited to add: I am giving myself the right to make modifications to this as I see fit, everything will be in good faith.

You Call Your Representatives, I Donate Money

Drive Complete, Final Tally over $1.7 Million!!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!

The drive is officially over, and the response was overwhelming, with 134 different people donating. The results were already great, and I was even more blown away when Martin’s brother Tom (known as ChipotleAddict in the DFS world) decided to unleash a huge surprise by donating $500,000 himself once we hit a million. Tom also made a very large donation last year, and shared these thoughts.

The limited details I know of their story are amazing: two guys who plan on making a huge difference in the world by doing the thing they are the best at: fantasy sports. I can’t say enough great things about these two guys who really epitomize the effective altruism movement.


Here are the results of the drive. $8,556
Against Malaria Fund $287,535
Give Directly $115,173
Just City $9,750
Liberation Prison Yoga $12,868
Lineage Project $4,000
MAPS $31,100
Zendo 0
Massachusetts Bail Fund $10,325
SCI $13,131
GiveWell Unspecified $7,670
Subtotal $500,408
Dan’s  Match $175,000
Martin’s Match + Extra $525,000
Tom’s Donation $500,000
 Total  $1,700,818

I would like to point out some of the changes that will be possible thanks to these gifts.

  1. SCI: Around 2 billion people in the world are infected with parasites and intestinal worms; around half of them children. This illness doesn’t exist in the first world because it is so cheap to fix;  for around $1.19, a child can be dewormed. Tens of thousands children will be dewormed thanks to this initiative.
  2.  Against Malaria – Malaria is also very cheap to prevent. Malaria is primarily transmitted via mosquito bites. Mosquito nets are remarkably effective at preventing mosquito bites and cost only $2.50 each. 500,000 people per year die each year due to malaria and it is almost entirely preventable. There are conflicting stats on the cost to literally save a life, but $3400 on the end means thousands of lives will be saved. This doesn’t consider the serious burden on the economy that is caused by illness. According to this Harvard study, every $1m spent on Malaria treatment is $12m in economic relief.

3. Give Directly: In Kenya, there are people who are living off of 65 cents per day. Give Directly wants to experiment with the idea of a universal basic income and see how it works out.


The idea of a universal basic income really interests me. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but I fear it will actually go on to even further widen the gap between the rich and poor. An off-the-cuff example is that the most common job in America is truck driver. Self driving cars could put those people out of jobs in the nearish future. Without getting too much into politics, I believe a universal basic income could be effective here, and getting more data would be huge. For $1 per day we are supporting someone in Kenya and this  ground breaking study!

My friend shared a story with me that I wanted to post here.

“The ‘headboy’ at the school I was teaching at was this really nice kid. One day he collapsed and had what looked like a seizure. The other kids and teachers stood around him waving books to try and cool him down. One of the teachers contacted his mom and said he needed to go to the hospital, but his mom refused because she was scared they would charge her money. We later learned that he’d collapsed due to starvation…his family could only afford a little food, so he let his mom and little brother eat while he went hungry.”

People are living off of of less than what I generally tip a waitress for bringing me a water. I can’t even fathom that.

4. Just City: In the last  6 months, Just City has bailed out more than 35 people. In their own words, here are some of their plans.

“All of our work is focused on making our criminal justice system smaller, fairer, and more humane. Every dollar we’ve raised so far allows us to pursue not only much-needed reforms to the money bail system, but also reforming Tennessee’s expungement laws, driver license, and sentencing policies, improving humane conditions in our jails, and working on many, many other criminal justice issues that destroy families and communities.”

5. Massachussets Bail Fund:

In the three year since they’ve been open, 396/401 clients have shown up for court. Half of these cases have been closed, and half of those have been entirely dismissed. They could have been held in jail indefinitely and likely would have needed to plead guilty to get out of jail. Some of these bails cost as little as $25!!!

This summer, they had to shut down for three months due to a lack of funding. I am very confident this money is going a long way.

6. MAPS: I plan on having a phone call with someone at MAPS this week to discuss where the funding will be going, but I plan on following their lead. I am expecting it to go to a combination of research with regards to MDMA treatment for PTSD and for Zendo funding.

MAPS hopes to have MDMA become an FDA approved prescription medicine by 2021. I think when  used intelligently, this kind of experience can have a great impact.

7. Liberation Prison Yoga: “This donation and matching funds will affect the lives of 300 incarcerated men, women and youth through 10 two month Liberation Prison Yoga programs with group discussion, opening meditation, physical yoga, guided relaxation and mindfulness tools taught in a kind, non-invasive manner.  Students often tell us their life has changed after just one class. Two months of yoga provides a complete path to physical and mental health, and tools to create inner peace amid chaos inside prison and in the world.”

Many people involved in these programs have drug problems or issues with mental health I couldn’t imagine how difficult dealing with that must be from the inside of a prison cell.

Quick plug: if your New Year’s Resolution was to start meditating and you don’t know where to start, download HeadSpace right now where there is a week long free trial! Meditation can literally change your brain in 8 weeks

8. can’t believe this is something I even have to write, but is fighting hard to try to keep climate deniers out of Trump’s Cabinet. Obviously this is a huge and very expensive battle. I am stealing this blurb about who Donald Trump has picked from an email I received this morning.


  • ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson, a top funder of climate denial and attacks on climate action, for Secretary of State.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA head, even though he spent most of his time in office filing (and losing) lawsuits against the EPA. He even let an oil company write some of his official correspondence.
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Department of Energy. Perry is on the board of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, and said he wanted to eliminate the agency altogether.
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior. Zinke has been fighting to dig up as much coal, oil and gas from public lands as possible.

None of these men are qualified. They are all implicated in Big Oil’s web of corruption. Their denial of climate change makes them a direct threat to the health and safety of people across the country and planet.


There is a social stigma about donating publicly, but I don’t really understand why. I think people tend to romanticize the idea of sacrifice, when it makes more sense to focus on results. If you convince someone else to donate to a cause you believe in, that can make a very real difference. That seems much more relevant to me.

Logically, it seems clear to me that being public about donating encourages others to donate. I haven’t found any data that backs me up, but this article suggests the same point.

If anyone would be copying this format, I would be happy to give you advice via . Each year I hired someone to go through all the emails and update all the spreadsheets which saved me a huge amount of time for a negligible cost. If someone were interested but didn’t want to commit the time to running a drive, I would consider running it for the right project.

Some final thoughts on Charity Projects 

  1. Don’t use GoFundMe. They take out 8%, and even worse they are not eligible to a tax write-off.  If you are donating $500 to go fund me, $463 goes to a cause. If you get a 27% tax write off, you can donate $635 and have the same effect. This is almost a 40% difference. I am not very informed on the topic and am not vouching for the site, but I believe YouCaring is strictly better. Fees are much lower, and some youcaring organizations are tax deductible (but make sure to always talk to a tax professional).
  2. If you are running a charity’s website and are 501c3, please make that very visible on the site! Similarly, if you have any sort of matching challenging running on your website, I think it should be made very clear on each part of the website.


Thanks for all the support guys ❤


Drive Complete, Final Tally over $1.7 Million!!!!