Invest in Giving

Note: this is the 1998 charity drive page. To see the 1999 pages, click here.

We're asking each of you, members of the Foolish worldwide community, to look into your heart and over your bank or brokerage statement. We hope every Fool will come forward and contribute anything from $1 to $10,000 to the oldest, most successful online group-giving effort in Internet history. The end of our drive is December 31st.

New Fools may not know that last year we tried something risky and exciting. Out of the blue, The Motley Fool announced the Fool Charity Fund, the Internet's first ever group-giving campaign. It was a holiday charity drive designed, built, and executed directly from right here, at fool.com. We found a fine charity (you, our Foolish contributors, chose it), and together we raised over $120,000 in just six weeks. That money opened up numerous community kitchens around the U.S., a few of which we have since had the pleasure of visiting. (And it was amazing to think, during our visits, that we all contributed to building those.) If you're new, you can find out all about the success of the venture by clicking here. Our Foolish team effort also got a full page writeup in the esteemed Chronicle of Philanthropy. It was history in the making.

OK, so I expect you're not surprised to find out that we're BAAAA-AAAAAAACK! And Foolisher than ever.

The Motley Fool's mission involves helping you save money, helping you invest and grow money, and helping you give money away. Obviously, during the holiday season we will be focusing unusually large amounts of attention on the last of those. And after a fourth consecutive strong year for the stock market, we hope you will join the Foolish worldwide community this year as we all prepare to give something back -- once again through the help of our charity partners, Share Our Strength.

I want to tell you briefly about Share Our Strength (SOS). Founded by charity visionary Billy Shore, SOS is a nationwide non-profit espousing that each of us should take whatever we're best at and donate a little of it to others. In this case, making money through investing has been our personal strong suit, and we know that many of you have done so as well. Thus, in giving back some portion of our earnings, we are "sharing our strength."

SOS will provide our money to a host of food distribution programs all across America. A bit about that. Today 35.6 million Americans live below the poverty line, defined as $16,400 for a family of four. Forty percent of those living in poverty are children under the age of 18, who simply do not get enough to eat.

The Motley Fool is all about creating solutions to any problem of serious magnitude that we can find. Many of you know of our work in the financial world, whether it has been getting millions of people the HECK away from their managed mutual funds, or inducing companies to open up their earnings conference calls, or testifying before Congress on better ways that investors might be served by their government. (Plus, we've taken more shots at state lotteries than bad golfers take in a week at Augusta.) But our Foolish mission runs far deeper. We really are out to locate any big problem, and create and effect a solution to it; the power of the Internet provides us our primary means of achieving this. What better effort this holiday season than to help those who are starving through The Fool Charity Fund?

Fight Hunger At Its Root Cause. Share Our Strength believes it takes more than food to fight hunger. Hunger is a symptom of a larger problem: poverty. Its takes short- and long-term solutions, and it takes an entire community - sharing their talent and skills - to help end hunger and poverty. Share Our Strength has a 15-year track record of supporting the most effective anti-hunger efforts in America. Share Our Strength will use the funds raised from the Fool Charity Fund to support proven programs serving low-income families and individuals in communities across America, including:

  • Food distribution programs serving nutritious meals in high-risk neighborhoods;
  • The expansion of in-school and afterschool programs providing meals and child care to low-income children in public schools;
  • Nutrition and cooking education classes for adults and children in impoverished communities; and
  • Job training programs for low-income adults.

Hunger and poverty cannot be resolved overnight. The Fool Charity Fund investment helps Share Our Strength address immediate needs while planting the seeds for long-term change.

OK, now you know about SOS. Let me tell you tonight about what The Motley Fool is doing right now. First off, we're doing all of the work to organize and execute this gratis -- our first donation. Second, we're filling the kitty with $5000 right away, to kick things off. And third, we have a new initiative this year, called "Here's My Two Cents." For every new posting to The Motley Fool website message boards that goes up between now and December 31, we will donate two more cents to this Foolish cause. Thus, for posting good stuff on our message boards at www.fool.com, you will literally be feeding people! (I don't mean to be glib about that, but it's actually true.) That's why we call it the "Here's My Two Cents" plan. Feel free to clog up our boards with great posts, though do note of course that all such posts must be in usual accordance with our basic Fool's Rules (no spamming, no bad language, etc. -- you know the deal).

Now� what can you do? Well, first off, you can contribute. We don't care about the amount -- that's for each of us to decide. What we do care about is that each Fool might make the effort to give, at some point in the next six weeks. Even if it's just a single dollar.

In fact, we're making it as easy as possible to give, via our new Contribute Now page which lists the many ways you can give (mail, fax, telephone, and direct charges online, the ultimate in convenience). And for all holiday gift orders put in at our online store (www.foolmart.com), we offer the convenience of just tacking on a bit extra right there on your order. And of course, all over our site for the next six weeks you'll see links back to these things. You won't be able to miss "Contribute Now."

A special note: Giving stock is the most Foolish way to give of all, because you don't have to pay any capital gains tax on shareholdings given to charity. So if you're sitting on appreciated stock, you should absolutely consider doing what I did last year: give it! You can give more this way, in fact, because you don't ever have to pay Uncle Sam. Details on exactly how to give this way are right here.

We also have a message board open for discussion about the Fund, about giving in general, tax help for those giving to charities, and general Fool rah-rah discussion for those who are fired up about this effort. Let me make it crystal-clear that I'd love to hear about any questions, suggestions, or comments you have about this new initiative: The new message board resides in the Fool Cafe folder. You can access the message board directly just by clicking here.

And now it's time to close.

As we assert in You Have More Than You Think, money is really just synonymous with opportunity. Money is the opportunity to retire early, to buy a house, to put a child through college. And when you give money away, you're giving that opportunity to someone else. There is no nobler use of the stuff. Please help us help each other do just that, and let all your friends know about the effort!


-- David Gardner, The Motley Fool

Just click directly into our "Contribute Now" page. We have tried to make the donation process terribly simple.