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Foolanthropy 2004

Foolanthropy 2004
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By David Gardner
October 15, 2004

Dear Fellow Fools,

At the end of every year, for a thousand reasons, many of us give money to other people, causes, and organizations. It's called charity. These are acts of generosity, often undertaken with beautiful motivations. At The Motley Fool, we celebrate these. And for an eighth consecutive year we're proud to inform you that we're doing this too, and would love for you to join us.

We call it Foolanthropy, and if you've read the title of this letter, you now know how much we've raised together as Fools, worldwide, over seven wonderful years!

Welcome to Foolanthropy 2004

What is it? Think of it as an interactive, cooperative charity drive -- the Internet's first and most successful.

As many of you know, The Motley Fool's continuing 12-year-and-counting mission is to help our members make better investment decisions. Starting in 1997, it occurred to us that we wouldn't be a complete solution for our members if we didn't help them make better charitable investment decisions. And we knew we wouldn't be effective guides at this if we didn't work on a completely voluntary, disinterested basis. So for eight years now we have served as a venue for questing after the best charities in America, and facilitating donations to these outstanding organizations on a strictly voluntary basis -- ourselves included.

For most human beings, the act of giving is a critical motivation. We want to give. In doing so, we feel better about our world and ourselves. And if we make effective decisions about how and to whom to give, we truly better our world. It is also unfortunately true that if we make poor decisions, we risk wasting our donations. Due to unforeseen and unintended consequences, we may even ironically worsen the world! That's why, through our Foolanthropy effort, we at The Motley Fool aim very simply to help you make the best of your giving. To make every dollar count.

Where We Are Today: The Charity Selection Process

Here's how the process will work:

1. First, read through David Gardner's explanation of what characteristics make a Foolish charity. These are our five Foolanthropic tenets that highlight how we think about effective giving.

2. Starting today, we welcome your nominations of worthy charities. We've opened a special and free discussion board where you can do so. We'll accept nominations through Sunday, October 31st.

When you nominate a charity, keep these things in mind:

  • The organization should meet the criteria outlined by David at the link above. Please also note that we select national, not local, charities because Foolanthropy "involves the public at large," and as a company, The Motley Fool is focused on national solutions. This will be the standard by which all nominations are evaluated.
  • We'll be selecting the finalists directly from these nominations, so you'll want to make a good case. Even those outfits that don't ultimately make it may still reap great rewards if you persuade others on the discussion board to look into the charity.
  • It can help your case if you explain what concrete end results Fool dollars can accomplish through the charity. For example, you might explain that for every $1,000 that the Fool drive contributes to "Clothe the Spaniels, Inc.," 100 cocker spaniels will be clothed.
  • Try to include contact information for the organization, such as phone number and/or website.

3. Once nominations are closed, our Foolanthropy committee of volunteers (employees of The Motley Fool) will select the five organizations that will be our Fool charities of the year. We'll announce those charities on November 12, 2004.

4. On November 22, we'll begin soliciting donations to the finalist charities. Throughout the drive, we'll keep you updated on our progress.

5. To make this a little bit more fun, in keeping with the way we do things around here, The Motley Fool will award a $10,000 contribution to the one charity that receives the most support, dollar-wise, from the Fool community. (Other Fool contributions will be given to each finalist.)

We'll also be contributing ourselves through individual donations from Fool staffers and The Motley Fool coffers. Here are the key parts of the drive:

  • $10,000 award contribution from The Motley Fool, Inc.
  • Direct donations from Fools worldwide.
  • We'll revive our popular "Here's My 2 Cents" campaign, whereby we'll donate 2 cents to the drive for every post made to our Fool.com discussion boards in December. That's right -- for every 50 posts made, we'll chip in a dollar. That might not sound like a lot, but we've got lots of boards and lots of posts.

The Goals

Here are the goals we've set for this campaign. We most cordially invite you to join us in trying to achieve them:

  • Introduce the Fool community to a host of worthy charitable organizations.
  • Make the world a better place through our united efforts.
  • Raise a lot of money.
  • Astonish the world by demonstrating what hundreds of thousands of Fools can accomplish when they work together.
  • Have fun watching the goodwill pour in.

So be sure to nominate your favorite charity and start scrounging around in your pockets and behind sofa cushions for some extra change!

Thanks in advance to all of you who decide to join us in support of some great charities that will deliver dramatic returns on even the smallest investment. It may be an old clich�, but we join our Foolanthropy partners in assuring you that every little bit does help. Just think how astounding the results can be if each of us, more than 2 million members worldwide, gives just $1!

[graphic] David Garder's Signature

... on behalf of The Motley Fool's Foolanthropy team