Google & Non-Profits

With Ümloud! a real boy and granted full 501(c)(3) status, there are an avenue of options available to non-profit organizations. There are services and goods which companies provide for free or discounted based on non-profit status. I’m going to take Google as an example and talk about how this process goes in one particular case and how it could be better.

There are a few things that Google makes available to non-profits in their range of products. Some don’t need to check your non-profit status. One requires extreme but understandable scrutiny. Then there’s this middle ground which for a company such as Google, is surprisingly more complex and resource intensive than it should be.

Of all the programs and services Google offers, there are three levels of involvement to use these products. These are terms I made up since Google doesn’t classify products this way.

No Application are products that work once you set them up with no need to confirm non-profit status. Besides Google Apps, these are products that are no different to anyone, individual or organization.

Non-Profit Status Clearance are products that require a non-profit status check, but not discerning beyond established rules. Checkout falls into this category as Google wants to make sure the entity has the non-profit status for tax and legal reasons. The idea being any valid non-profit gets clearance.

Full Evaluation is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s not enough to be a non-profit, but Google making the decision to go beyond what they do for any non-profit. For Google, it’s the Grants program which goes beyond free product and is a direct partnership with the company. High bars of entry are expected here.

The difficulty I’ve had with Google is in this middle category, status clearance. The problem with these Google products is the lack of centralized application process. When you apply to any one product, the forms are similar enough as far as status clearance is concerned. The prerequisites are the same which all focus around having an entry in GuideStar to validate status. However, each product goes though each step from square one, regardless if you have already established a relationship with another product.

I would like to see Google have a one-stop shop for this middle ground. As a non-profit, I want to establish and register with Google once. Where I as the non-profit admin go to one place and have Google recognize the entity of Ümloud! as a non-profit. Then when I go to other status clearance products, the process is simply setting up the tool, rather than a human being checking if I’m a non-profit again.

Besides the reduction of time for staff to go though applications for every product, it should be easier for current and future Google products to latch onto the status clearance. Then a non-profit set of features wouldn’t need to reinvent the approval process for that product.

I could see an expansion of this with the Grants program. The first step being on the non-profit clearance list, then an organization can apply to Grants. At least then the applications to Google won’t require basic validation and spend more time on the premium standards Google has for Grants recipients.

If this can happen, then non-profits can spend more time doing their work, rather than waiting on procedure. Not to mention Google having a better handle on the organizations who use their services.

If by the off chance someone from Google reads this, I would love to talk and consult with you and your staff about this. I’m in the Bay Area and wouldn’t mind stopping by for a chat!

How I Almost Killed Amanda Palmer – Part 2

This is a two part series! Read part one to start.

Since I moved to San Francisco, I always end up backstage the first time I visit a concert venue. This comes from being a vegan baked goods delivery service for Jenny Owen Youngs. This was a favor for my friend Lynn, baker for the Rockstars. This time I didn’t have brownies in my hands, but I would have an audience with Amanda Palmer at the Filmore.

Meeting with Internal Staff

The morning of Sunday May 18th, I met with Margot Cannon, who would be my co-conspirator for this project. While I was planning the ARG assets to be completed by the Palmer Art Army, I needed someone to help me with the writing, planning, and general ‘I know a guy/girl’ task assignments.

While we had talked quite a bit before that morning, this was the first face to face about the project. We got a few things put together, but it’s extremely hard to plan this out when you have no access to the source material, regardless of its status. We were flying blind, thus our plans were pretty wide open.

Continue reading How I Almost Killed Amanda Palmer – Part 2

How I Almost Killed Amanda Palmer – Part 1

I want to talk about a project that didn’t end up happening and share a story about my personal realizations of my own success. How I reached the point where I don’t desperately need to work on a project for a major recording artist, but I can choose and wanted to work with one. This is also the platform to show my goals for this project: Enabling the players to realize their own potential in art.

This is the story of “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” – The Alternate Reality Game (ARG)
The unreleased version by me, Seg.

Who killed Amanda Palmer? CD dédicacé
Photo by Marie Guillaumet.

This will be a two or three part series of posts. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and one 3000+ word post isn’t good for anyone. It may take a day or two between posts, but I’ll get to it. This would be a good time to subscribe to the Seg On Media RSS feed

Before I continue, I want to make crystal clear that there is no ill will between me and Amanda Palmer & associates. Things didn’t work out and it was nothing personal. Incidentally, the album is available pretty much everywhere. I also want to note that I’m not going to comment on the ARG that was released for the album as it’s simply not my place to comment. That said, I am glad that a project did happen when I was unable to produce the project.

Continue reading How I Almost Killed Amanda Palmer – Part 1

Ümloud! Worked!

To say Ümloud! was a huge success is an understatement!

In 8 weeks we rebranded, filed as a non-profit, and made a successful event for our first year. $7000+ to Child’s Play successful. We certainly learned a few lessons this year which we’ll implement along with our ‘for next year’ list. Right now I’m compiling my thoughts, specifically for a panel I’ll be moderating for PAX-East this year.

Oh, it looks like I’ll be talking with Chris and others at PAX-East this year in March. While PAX will always be in Seattle around Labor Day, a second one for the East Coast in Boston is happening. I’m gathering up other panelists from other events and Child’s Play itself. The direction I plan to take is illustrate the ’empty box’ of doing a fundraiser, rather than listing specifics of any particular event. I hope to inspire others to do events with their own flavor, rather than copy/paste existing events.

For me, this is about how and why to file for non-profit status on our own. We wanted to do a local event, enlist sponsors, get a venue, and spend money on an event. We were ‘touching’ the money. We had to be a non-profit ourselves for our protection and the ability for donators/sponsors to count their contributions as charitable. It’s been a process, let me tell you! But most of it is start-up stress which will be much easier next year.

For the Internet based fundraisers like the wildly successful Desert Bus for Hope, the money earned went to a Chip-in button directly to CP. Sponsors (to my knowledge) donated mostly physical objects, so there wasn’t money taken in by the operators. Thus the operators were protected as they never ‘touched’ the donated money.

In addition to getting back to using this blog, I’ll be covering my process on creating this panel in the next few weeks. It will be mostly me and Chris developing the Ümloud! (a local event) section.

If you’re in the Boston area March , I highly recommend you come to PAX-East! The full 3-day pass is $45 if you order by Dec 31st. $55 after that, but there’s a cap at the amount sold.

Hope you all had an awesome holiday! Have a safe and fun New Years!

The Charity Event is Changing

The charity event I’m working on is still on as planned. However, we have to go through a branding change which includes name and website. I’m hoping to have everything squared away by Monday to make an official announcement, but here’s the skinny:

  • The event really hasn’t changed for San Francisco and is still on as planned!
  • December 9th, 2009 will be a charity event for Child’s Play Charity involving playing Rock Band and much more.
  • It will still be at DNA Lounge.
  • It will not be called Fünde Razor.
  • The Denver event will be Kotaku’s event, but still for Child’s Play.
  • NYC, Portland, and Austin events will not occur this year.

Fünde Razor is On!

Last Tuesday, Chris Kohler and I signed the venue contract, so it’s really official now:

Fünde Razor Logo

Wed. December 9th, 2009
7pm – 2am

San Francisco: DNA Lounge
NYC, Denver, Austin, & Portland: TBA

The other cities haven’t reported in with an official date/venue yet, but they will happen. In the next few months we’ll have plenty of information about the event, but if you’re in the SF bay area, mark your calendars now!

Working on Fünde Razor

Seg Rocking Out at Fünde Razor SF 2008

I would like to publicly announce that I am working on Fünde Razor, a charity event for Child’s Play Charity. Specifically, I am the event planner for the San Francisco event in December. While I don’t have too much to announce yet, I’ll go into a little background about what the charity event is for and my my role is.


Child’s Play Charity is a foundation created by Penny Arcade to provide video games, toys, and other financial support for children’s hospitals around the globe. The Child’s Play website can tell you more in detail about what they do.

Fünde Razor was founded by Joel Johnson (currently the editor of Boing Boing Gadgets) started Fünde Razor in NYC where Rock Band is played to raise funds and awareness for Child’s Play. Last year the event was in three cities: NYC, Denver, and San Francisco. The other cities run by other bloggers like Brian Crecente (Kotaku), Gawker Media, and Chris Kohler (Wired Game|Life). The idea is to have a nationwide event where all cities have the events on the same night. More cities and more people are involved, but I’ll wait for Joel to make that announcement.

The overall purpose of Fünde Razor is to raise awareness for Child’s Play. Come to the events if you can, but if you can’t, consider donating directly to Child’s Play. This makes the judgement of success less about the returns of the one night, but the overall fundraising goals of Child’s Play.

My Involvement

I attended the San Francisco event last December and as you can see from these photos, it was a great time with a lot of people for the 150 capacity at Shine. It was a fun time, but with a media push on the day of the event, I know that the SF event can hold a much larger audience with some additional planning. I decided to get back to the family “business”* and get back into fundraising.

Continue reading Working on Fünde Razor