Oct 10, 2023

On-chain charitable funding platform Endaoment is putting together a community fund for humanitarian aid organizations, following the unprecedented Hamas attacks on Israel.

Video transcript

Unchain charitable funding platform. Endowment is putting together a community fund for humanitarian aid organizations in Israel following the unprecedented and deadly Hamas terror attacks. Joining us now is Endowment president and Ceo Robert Heger. Welcome Robert. Hi, thanks for having me. Glad to have you on. Wish you were on better circumstances. Of course, uh you're raising money here uh for a different organizations in Israel. Uh And eeee explain to us how, how this works, who, who's getting the funding here. It's important to note that these aren't just uh Israeli organizations that there's suffering of innocent people on both sides of, of the border that, that makes up Gaza and the, the Gaza Strip in Israel. And, and we really see it as critical to support humanitarian aid relief as well as, as well as people who are pursuing peace in the region. Um We've worked with prominent nonprofit uh accreditation as well as uh uh as well as review organizations in order to find the most impactful organizations in the region. Um O of course, you know, there are familiar names like Israel, um A as well as the Middle East Children's Alliance um that, that that we're hoping to support. But we, we also see people, you know, giving to the American friends of the, again da A dome which is sort of the uh Israeli Red Cross and, and, and, and it's, it's always a tragedy whenever we have to scramble like this in order to pull funding together. Um but it's also uh an underscoring of us of the importance of having really flexible crypto native donation models that allow for people to, to funnel humanitarian aid directly to the organizations that need it the most when they need it the most. So we are of course, saddened by the situation but also hopeful that uh these organizations will be able to make a real difference in, in in the region. How can one track their donations and know where they go and what they're used for? And this comes up particularly with aid to Gaza. Unfortunately, when we have people thinking that they're donating to humanitarian aid, unfortunately, with the, with the control of the economy by Hamas, ultimately, in many cases, it ends up being used for things that aren't humanitarian. Uh you know, sand bags that were meant for, for people's homes, end up being used to, to, to support tunnels and things like that. So how does one, how does one keep track of, of what's going on? Well, really, you have to become close partners with these organizations and start to understand what's happening at the ground level with these organizations. Um We make contact one on one person to person with, with somebody at each of these organizations to verify the programs that they're working with. Um In addition to using the external sources of a sort of due diligence and, and analysis of their program, we also like to work with the organization themselves. A lot of them are doing bespoke programs for this exact emergency and, and that's dependent on what their capabilities are in the region. And so a lot of times we'll see nonprofits play to their strengths, especially in moments of crisis, they will push their funding into sources that they know are reliable or that they know can actually deliver on, on humanitarian aid in this moment of crisis versus maybe what their program is on a day to day basis in times of peace, right? And so it really requires a little bit more boots on the ground, a little bit more talking with, with, with nonprofits and getting to the bottom of like, how are you approaching this particular crisis? And, and, and so for us, as we go through the selection process of, of real surfacing nonprofits to donors about who they should give to. We try to also add that context into their description on the website about how they're going through their work because ee everybody has different points of view about how they want their dollars to be spent. And there are people who are just doing, you know, Children, uh you know, evacuation of Children. There are people who are doing just medical supplies, there are people who are doing, you know, widespread refugee and uh refugee work and aid work. And each of those can be a different kind of package of impact that, that uh a nonprofit can have. And so we like to try and surface that as much as possible to donors so that they can make their own decisions about. Well, this is what I want to support. This is what I am am less interested in supporting. So, so this raises a really interesting question with regards to, you know, Blockchain based charities here because clearly there are benefits in the traceability of the funding and, and this idea of transparency associated with the actual uh funding movements. But what you're describing is a classic boots on the ground human problem that's kind of off chain, right? So, you know, and, and often some of the criticisms of Blockchain based solutions with this is that this is the oracle problem you still have to rely on, on the ground verification. How does your organization say rather than a classic sort of centralized charity? How, how, how do you make that process any easier or more reliable? Yeah, I think importantly, you have to put as much as you can on chain that there will always be this last mile problem about how to, you know, trust the evaluation of a nonprofit, but you at least want to be able to have public verifiable receipts of the impact that you're having and be able to follow the money that you've given to a nonprofit to then give to another nonprofit. You want to be able to follow that money all the way to its end destination. And on endowment, we put every single interaction with our donor advice funds or even individual donations to individual nonprofits. We put every single one of those interactions on chain. Uh whether you are signing in with email or you're signing in with uh your social account or you're using a wallet. I it really doesn't matter. We are cataloging on base on uh you know, the uh op stack L two built by Coinbase. We're cataloging every movement of funds that happens inside of our nonprofit beyond our reporting requirements, we are tracking that on chain in a way that's publicly verifiable and auditable. And that's just the first step that we should take in verifiability. There lots of really compelling, amazing on chain start ups that are looking to bring some of these verification moments or attestation moments into an on chain environment from outside in the real world, pull them into this on chain e environment and, and try to really create records of impact. Um And we see ourselves as sort of a, a first implementation of this and a a and, and sort of doing going above and beyond the regulatory requirement, which is just a file a 9 90 every year that says how much you gave to each organization but not catalog individual activities, right? Um But for us, we say every single individual activity should have a record on chain and, and that's how our system works. So, so can you talk a little bit about how the governance works then? Because it's been a, an observation made of various dos that like really the participation levels uh tend to still be concentrated in a very small number of members, something as sensitive as this. Obviously, you can see how the decentralization can be beneficial. You sort of bring forth all these ideas and there's a sort of a public verification process through the dow. But if you're not getting, you know, do you, what's your participation level, I suppose is one question and, and how, how does that function with regards to this, you know, decision making donors get activated based on their core values? And, and we endowment have a really wide spectrum of core values. And so we see different subsets of our community activating for different causes. So when uh Russia invaded Ukraine, we saw a huge explosion of activity across Europe and especially in Eastern Europe of donating to humanitarian aid causes uh across the region. And same goes for our donor cohort here in America that might identify as Jewish or might identify with the struggle of the Palestinian people um in, in, in the Gaza Strip who want to support innocent lives or support the uh sort of humanitarian aid of those who are swept up in this violence. And, and, and, and what's great about how we've built our community foundation is that it allows for people to come in and contribute when it makes sense for them. Oftentimes we see with governance that people are getting peppered with, with voting uh resolutions about things that they're not necessarily super aligned with or that they don't have anything uh a any sort of personal experience to speak about uh themselves. And so for us, what we try to do is involve those donors who are most activated by the specific moment in time or the specific crisis that, that, that they have some personal affinity with or some personal connection to. And so we encourage different sections of our community to sort of rally together, you know, in our discord, people are suggesting organizations, we have a full time staff as well that that helps kind of do some of this grunt work that uh uh you know, people have opinions on, but maybe don't want to do the uh the original research on as well. So there's a mix of, you know, what section of our community is gonna get activated by this crisis and how do we sort of bring them into the fold and involve them in, in donating and in making decisions? But then also how do we leverage our full time staff and the team of experts that we've, that we've brought together that are meant to serve some of those more traditional community foundation roles where they're saying here are recommended nonprofits that we know are doing good work or that we've spoken with. And so our goal is always to kind of showcase the best of both worlds that you can be on chain and, and get the added transparency while not just throwing away the idea of having, you know, last mile boots on the ground support or perspectives to be able to make stronger film and process like a multifaceted approach uh with, with multiple levels to it.

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