You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color are you, and why?
I like dark green because it reminds me of the woods of northern New England.
What is your day job?
I am the co-founder of a crowdfunding platform called Shared Nation, which tries to democratize philanthropy by aggregating the money of small-dollar donors and allowing them to effectively invest together to have more clout. In a way, it’s like a massive giving circle, made possible at a large scale by a group decision-making technology we’ve developed.
What is the focus of your philanthropy?
I mainly invest in solutions that address climate change, racial inequity, women’s rights, gender justice and broadening democracy. I’m just as interested in the root causes that lie beneath these issues (fear, greed, ignorance, racism, inertia), though the social sector doesn’t usually address them very directly.
In general, how have you seen philanthropy/development change and grow since you began?
If I take climate change, I’ve seen some increase in understanding the severity of the problem and its potential consequences, but I’m still surprised at how little urgency and coordination there is sometimes. It also seems that much of the work in the sector focuses on advocacy and policy alone versus innovation in practice and behavior change, and that’s worrying, too. (I do think our NEID giving circle did a nice job trying to remedy that in our own small way.)
What inspires you to keep working for your cause day after day?
It’s an existential challenge for hundreds of millions of people, particularly poorer people. At a minimum, it will cause suffering for generations. I believe that we have (or can develop) many of the solutions we need, which encourages me, but we have lots of work to do to rapidly spread what works and take on those who stand in the way of progress.
What do you see as the most important upcoming trends in philanthropy?
I’m struggling to limit myself to one. I think it’s probably some combination of: the huge wealth transfer coming from the baby boomers; nascent political movements (some dangerous, some promising); shifts driven by climate change, including population dislocations; and shifts (again, both exciting and concerning) driven by new technologies. I’m particularly interested in seeing whether global connectivity can actually live up to its promise of empowering marginalized populations.
What has been your most impactful experience with NEID?
I’ve really enjoyed learning from experts in the field. The quality of the speakers and the hands-on site visits was outstanding. In the Shared Nation crowdfunding community, we’re trying to figure out how to replicate that for a much larger audience.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, which actor/actress would you want to play you and why?
My life is so boring, and my personality is so nondescript…it would have to be someone who could make something out of nothing. Maybe Meryl Streep? It seems like she can do anything.
If a theme song played every time you walked in the room, what song would it be?
A theme song? I don’t know. I will say that the song Hold On, I’m Coming by Sam and Dave runs through my brain a lot, though I don’t know why. Some other songs I love are A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, Estranged by Guns N’ Roses and This Sky by Derek Trucks.