2020 was a tough year. Full stop. For those fortunate enough to be in a position to help, it was often hard to know where to start and how to measure one’s impact. Much of the giving we did personally and via Notation was done through informal recommendations from friends and networks — For example, our friend Enmi Kendall organized a critical mask drive for Elmhurst Hospital in Queens at the beginning of the pandemic, all done via email threads and venmo payments. In the end, she raised over $100k for the effort and we collectively delivered 40,081 masks. Wow!
So we were already primed when we met Emily Rasmussen and Arrel Gray, and they showed us Grapevine, a new social platform that organizes giving circles, and makes them dramatically easier to administer and operate, democratizes the process of directing donations among groups, and improves transparency for reporting and impact. In an environment in which the large social media platforms have become toxic, we believe Grapevine has the opportunity to change the narrative on how social platforms can coordinate positive behavior, helping both community organizers that create and run giving circles as well as those in need.
As we spent more time with Emily and Arrel, we also discovered that philanthropy is not just in need of new products and structures, but that it’s also a very large market and business opportunity ($450B donations in 2019), growing rapidly, largely recession-proof, and driven by individual donors (70% of gifts annually) rather than institutional or corporate interests. So in addition to wanting to be involved as donors on the platform, we also decided to invest in Grapevine.
As part of this investment via Notation, we’ve also decided to personally run several matching programs on the platform in the years to come. Today we’re announcing our first one — a $5k matching effort to members that choose to donate to “Accelerating Access x Opportunity in Tech,” a new giving circle run by our friend and co-investor Steve Schlafman. We encourage you to learn more about this effort and to consider becoming a member, where we’ll all have the opportunity to vote and direct donations to organizations that further access and opportunity to underrepresented individuals in the tech community.
We couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Grapevine story, as investors, as personal donors, and as active members of the community. There’s a lot more work to be done, let’s get to it.