Motley Fool 1999 Charity Drive Launches!

By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)

(Oct. 14, 1999) -- Relentlessly searching for better solutions.

That's one of our core values here at the Fool, and we even apply it to our annual charity drive. For the last two years, the money we raised went to Share Our Strength, an organization that has been very successful in finding new solutions to fighting the old problems of hunger and poverty. Some changes are afoot, though, in the way we'll be running our 1999 drive.

If you've been with us a while, you'll recall that in 1997 we raised more than $120,000 for charity, and last year the total was over $200,000. In other words, the Fool community -- Tom and David Gardner, the Fool staff, and fellow Fools like you -- has so far chipped in nearly a third of a million dollars to help those less fortunate than us. (And if you think about it, who isn't less fortunate than we are? After all, we're on the road to financial independence. Many people are still peering at their maps, trying to find the road, while others still refuse to ask for directions.)

This year our charity drive will be interactive, which is more in keeping with the Fool spirit of cooperation. We're asking you to nominate worthy charities. And once we reduce the list to a manageable few, we'll let you decide how to allocate your charity dollars. What could be more Foolish than that?

The Charity Selection Process

Here's how the process will work:

1. First, read through David Gardner's explanation of what we're looking for in a charity -- of what characteristics make a Foolish charity.

2. Starting today, we welcome your nominations of worthy charities. We've opened a special message board where you can do so. We'll accept nominations through Thursday, November 11.

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

  • The organization should meet the criteria outlined by David at the link above. This will be the standard by which all nominations are evaluated.
  • You want to make a good case. We'll be selecting the finalists from these nominations. And even those outfits that don't ultimately make it may still reap great rewards if you persuade other readers on the message 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 $50,000 that the Fool drive contributes to "Clothe the Spaniels, Inc.," 1,000 cocker spaniels will be clothed.
  • Try to include contact information for the organization, such as its phone number and/or website.
3. Once nominations are closed, employees of the Motley Fool will select a few organizations from those nominated to be the Fool charities of the year. We'll announce the finalists by Monday, November 22.

4. We'll then begin soliciting donations to the finalist charities.

5. A $10,000 initial Fool contribution will go to the charity finalist that receives the most support, dollar-wise, from the Fool community. Other Fool contributions will be distributed evenly among all finalists.

Where the Money Will Come From

Once the featured charities are selected, we'll invite all our readers to join with us in a great month of giving. We'll showcase the featured charities and will offer you several easy ways to contribute to any or all of them through us. Heck -- we can even make a Foolish competition of it, seeing which charities draw more contributions.

We won't just be hitting you up for money, though. We'll be contributing ourselves through individual donations from Fool staffers, as well as from our company coffers. Here are the key parts of the drive:

  • We'll kick off the drive with a $10,000 contribution from The Motley Fool, Inc.
  • We'll welcome direct donations from all Fools.
  • 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 message boards. 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. And we're actually starting this part of the drive right now.
  • We hope to be adding some corporate partners to our drive. They may increase the amount donated per message board post.
  • FoolMart, our online store (http://www.foolmart.com), is also joining the cause, donating 1% of its revenues during the month of December. So if there was anything you were thinking of buying from us, this would be an especially great time to do it! (Perhaps just browse the store and see if anything interests you.)
The Goals

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

  • Introduce the Fool community to a host of fine and worthy charitable organizations.
  • Make the world a better place through our united efforts.
  • Raise considerably more money than we did last year. ($400,000? $500,000? $600,000?)
  • Astonish the world by demonstrating what hundreds of thousands of Fools can accomplish when they work together.
  • Have fun watching the goodwill pour in.
In the weeks ahead we'll update you on the progress of the drive -- especially once we begin collecting funds. So be sure to nominate your favorite charity and start scrounging around in your pockets and behind sofa cushions for some extra change!


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