A man at a football match once showed me how to turn a newspaper into a weapon – you know, in case that lot tried anything. But the morning paper can also be used for good. If your wife ever goes into labour, and you can’t get her out of the house before the madness begins, cover the floor with newspapers, as there are antiseptic properties in the ink. You can also save a few trees by using papers to wrap your Christmas presents, and anyone who has a dog knows how valuable they are when it comes to stopping them from destroying your kitchen lino.
They are also pretty good at getting a story out to the world.
Yeah, I nearly forgot about that one, but you should forgive me – times are changing. Instead of the newspaper, we have blogs, social media – the Internet, and it’s through these tin cans and pieces of string that we need to spread the goodness of the world, and my god do we need it.
Goodness = Dan Smith.
For the fifth year, Dan Smith has organised a compact and bijou band of merry men (this year: Aaron Merchak, Matt Ashton, Stephen Chidwick and Tom Crowley), to transform into hybrids of Zig Ziglar and William MacAskill to raise millions of dollars for effective charities.
When I last spoke to Smith in our piece Shaking The Money Tree With The Effective Altruist: Dan Smith the World Poker Tour (WPT) Champions Club member, good guy and giver told us of his goal to raise and match $1,140,000 between Nov 27 – Dec 29.
The name of the drive was The Double Up Drive, and as Dec 29th has gone the way of traveller’s checks, I catch up with Smith to learn how the drive panned out, and I am pleased to announce, that it once again surpassed expectations.
What was the official tally, and how successful was the Drive?
“The official number was $2,718,587,” says Smith. “I believe we did a good job of reaching the small donors. We had an increase in the number of donations this year, both in unique and the number of donations. Last year, we had 714 donations, and this year we had 1,115.”
What were the significant milestones during the drive?
“I would say the pinnacle of the drive, for sure, was when Tom Crowley won the big football tournament for $2m and cashed for $2.2m that day,” says Dan Smith, referring to Crowley’s incredible win in the Draftkings and FanDuel World Championships, and his pledge to donate 50% of his winning to the drive. “There was a ton of publicity, and it was a story that really got out there. It made the front page of Reddit. I really like stories like that. I think it’s a good reminder to people that you are allowed to dream big when it comes to doing these monumental things, and also can donate large amounts of money. He said publicly before the event that he likes to announce to himself or publicly how much he is planning for charity before the event because if you win it may be more difficult to donate the really big number, but when you have decided beforehand the proportional amount of your income it’s already decided for you.”
Holy shit, what a feeling to wake up this morning and realize this actually happened. Absolutely beyond comprehension. $1,127,000 for charity
— Tom Crowley (@chipotleaddict1) December 17, 2018
What challenges did Smith and the team face?
“There were a few times on the logistical side where it was challenging,” said Smith. “At $400,000 of our $1.3m goal, Give Directly had the biggest marketing campaign – they were going to their base and letting them know about the drive, and there was a point when they were definitely getting the most of our funds. We decided we would cap them at $400,000 of the $1.3m, and introducing the cap was a bit of a challenge; then we ended up having the large infusion of more funds resolve that, but in the future, we have to slightly better anticipate how those logistics might work.
“Also the website is totally fine and sufficient, but at some point, I would like it to be cleaner, and I know some people had issues trying to donate through the website. I don’t know if this happens, but if someone tried to donate, and the website didn’t although them to do that, that would not be good, and something to work on.”
What are Smith’s personal goals for 2019?
“My priority on a personal level is my personal and mental health,” says Smith. “I can’t take care of anyone else until I first take care of myself. Then I would say a secondary thing is making time for loved ones, especially. If I don’t live in the same city as them, I have to make more of an effort.”
“I don’t especially have any poker goals,” says Smith. “I am a little burned out, and the idea of travelling for poker tournaments at this moment in time doesn’t appeal to me. I am skipping the PCA, and there is Jeju in March. I used to go to all of them. This winter I have a bunch of snowboarding trips planned with my friends, and I don’t feel like travelling across the world to play in some of these bigger tournaments. For the past few years, I have only played in these bigger tournaments. Playing a bit smaller in a stress-free environment could be a fun change, and that’s what I will be doing. I will go to LA to play WPT Hawaiian Gardens, I will play Bay 101 and LAPC, and I haven’t played the non-high roller scene in a while.
“I have heard rumours of there being a £1m tournament, and if that’s the case, I will start gearing up for that around two months out, and preparing for that. So I guess, I will take some time off early in the year except some smaller tournaments and then probably go hard at it in the spring to summer with the World Series.”
“The current model works very well, and if I only did the same project next year that would be totally wonderful, and it’s been growing for five years in a row,” says Smith. “However, I am going to look into the possibility of creating software that allows people to create their own personal Double Up Drives. People love the Facebook birthday matches, so I think if there’s an easy platform for them, I am envisaging that it’s possible to change the way people give. There are plenty of logistical things that could make this a challenge, but if there is a change to next years’ plan I would say this is it, and if not, I will continue with the current model of playing poker, hopefully winning at it, and giving publicly, and hoping that other people who want to make a difference, contribute.”
Love this, thanks pal ❤️🎅🙏🎉 https://t.co/oDM7a5zSeJ
— Dan Smith (@DanSmithHolla) December 24, 2018
Here are the charities that benefited from the DoubleUpDrive.
ACE Effective Animal Advocacy Fund $313,927
EA Long-term Future Fund $139,583
The Good Food Institute $431,282
GiveWell (regranting) $271,630
Helen Keller International – Vitamin A Supplementation Program $44,304
Machine Intelligence Research Institute $228,966
Malaria Consortium – Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Program $89,629
Massachusetts Bail Fund $49,302
REG Fund $149,052
Together we raised $2,718,587 that will be matched by the Double Up Drive. There were 1,116 donations amongst 924 unique donors.
I am working on a bigger write up; but am having a hard time getting my thoughts down. Will have it out within in a few days.
Thanks everyone 🙏❤️
— Dan Smith (@DanSmithHolla) January 6, 2019