Frequently Asked Questions (the FAQ!)
What is Chagora?
Chagora is designed to empower the small donor in the civic marketplace. This vital public square is composed of both charitable and political entities. In the cause/candidate field Chagora is strictly non-partisan. Chagora is NOT a PAC (Political Action Committee)! Chagora is an engineered response to the failures, while unintentional, of systems to accommodate the loss of “voice” for the citizen in this political sphere which have resulted in severe imbalances in influence here addressed.
What the heck does that mean?
CHAGORA IS THE OTHER SIDE OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM!
It is a recognition of the
Power of Small Money, Large Numbers and Immediate Feedback
which has NOT before now been either enabled (or apparently imagined!) as a fundamental element of political speech.
There are three fundamental components that form the essence of Chagora:
Holding Funds in Trust
for a donor taht are dedicated for contribution until he/she determines their destinations which will be legally established non-profit entities whether charitable (tax-deductible to donor) or cause-based (not tax-deductible to donor). While contributions a donor makes may be of any legal size, the true power and need for this system arises from its ability for a donor to make very, very small contributions
(as small as 25 cents)
in combination with others a practical reality.
as well as traditional avenues of social networking with associated micro-contribution capabilities. It’s currently easier to find and connect with a group of people into skateboarding than it is to reach people in your own Congressional or City Council District. There are ways this can be enabled and facilitated utilizing systems of “scaled” anonymity similar to dating sites where people now unconnected can build trust and communication for further interaction. These systems have application for both citizens AND leaders. (Note: at this demo stage of test and development these are only hinted at!).
both for feedback and events. Here are a couple of examples of how Chagora might be used:
a) Online Debates and/or fundraisers available to both major and minor parties and candidates, whether local or national with live capabilities for online contribution. Imagine online and televised debates where citizens if they wish can each participate with the same $5 (whether you’re the richest one in town or on food stamps) which you can give in 50 cent increments throughout the debate with real-time feedback! Would the media cover it? Would candidates want supporters to participate? And most importantly would it alter the lines of influence which most impact those who represent you?
b) Live Charity and Disaster related fundraising on any level from neighborhood to world with unique capabilities for immediacy and forms of feedback encouraging trust and participation.
How does Chagora work?
Chagora enables contribution to recipients in amounts not currently economically viable by requiring deposits to your account to be at least minimally viable. From a single $20 deposit a donor could potentially make eighty 25 cent contributions.
While for a variety of reasons, most contributions will likely be a bit larger and more typical*, it is the MicroDonation capability that drives the emergence of this necessary “Online Public Square” as a counter-balance to other concentrated financial forces.
*note: Chagora has advantages for both Donors and Recipients that make it very likely to be your choice for ALL your contribution, not just Cause/Candidate MicroDonation!
1) A User/Donor opens an account with as little as $20
2) User determines distribution to legal candidates, causes and charities in amounts he/she determines.
3) Alone or with others.
4) Recipient receives a deposit
That's about as simple as it can be put. But for those who like detail:
An online system of transaction between a Donor/Registrant and his/her selected Recipient/Registrant(s) both tax deductible and non tax deductible utilizing a variety of specialized elements including but not limited to:
1. Donor registration is available to all natural persons
2. Donor registration which will include political contribution is available to U.S. citizens only!
3. One time Donor registration (online, through employer or other) with minimum deposit (as low as $20)
4. Where registration is through employer there can be secure employer matching for your CHARITY contributions if it is part of your employer/employee agreement.
5. Securely identified registration fulfills reporting requirements for cause/candidate contribution
6. Donor/Registrant can add to account at any time
7. Donor determined distribution of his/her account funds to any Recipient/Registrant as single or recurrent donation within legal limits
8. Calendar year used for Donor and Recipient accounting
9. Designation of a Residual Charity as recipient(s) by Donor/Registrant into which his/her remaining (not yet donated or pledged funds) sweep at the end of each calendar year
10. Donor/registrant statements itemizing donations broken down by tax deductibility providing detailed one stop reportable information for tax or other purposes
11. various transaction characteristics amongst which are special event fixed pledge sizes, special event fixed pledge time periods, 24/7 pledge/donation opportunities, real time reporting, donation pooling
12. Recipient/Registrant status available to all IRS recognized charities upon fulfillment of security requirements and to all IRS recognized causes and candidates without regard to political party or position (Chagora is non-partisan).
13. Electoral/Geographically localized neighborhood pages permitting event, candidate, issue, charity, etc promotion, discussion and donation within a defined pool.
14. multiple defined internally communicating pools to which Donor/Registrant may belong determined by his/her secure registration and by his/her itemized permission(s)
15. Local live events allowing local debates, fund raisers, etc targeting small and/or specialized donor pools.
Does it cost me anything?
Chagora is designed to be financially passive in relationship to your transaction. Chagora is NOT supported by taking a piece of your deposit to your account! Chagora does NOT charge you fees of its own. Transaction charges going to Visa, MasterCard, etc. are reimbursed to Chagora either by being passed through to the recipient or as a reduction in the contribution equal to that cost. This is determined by the pattern and practice of the recipient and NOT by Chagora and will be disclosed to you when you contribute to the particular entity!
For example, in most cases the cost is borne by the recipient and Chagora will simply pass it through. In other cases, like some charities, it’s tagged onto the charge card (you may give $10 but card is charged $10.39 e.g.)
In neither case will you be any worse off than giving directly to the cause, candidate or charity directly. In fact, in the first case (which encompasses most recipients) it will be invisible to you. And in those second cases, your statement may show for example (in a MicroDonation situation) a deduction from your account of 50 cents with 48 cents going to the recipient and 2 cents (e.g.) to Chagora for reimbursement of credit card charges for that recipient.
Regardless of which case it may be CHAGORA IS PASSIVE IN THIS TRANSACTION!
Why should I use Chagora?
Whether for a charity, candidate or cause, whether a donor or recipient… Why would you choose CHAGORA? The answer for both of course is because… it’s a better way.
There are certain constituencies which do well when brought together on the internet; eBay united the guys wanting to hold a garage sale with those wanting to go to one. And it created features like PayPal to facilitate that unification.
What will bring donors and recipients to Chagora?
• One-time sign-up for persisting account with multiple uses whether funded or not
• The MicroDonation capability – The Power of Small Money, Large Numbers & Immediate Feedback!
• Networking for coordinated contribution
• Live Functions – debates, fundraisers and disaster relief
• Employer Connection Ability – option through your employer to contribute something each month to Chagora Account
• Employer matching ability for your charitable contributions per any agreement
• Unified accounting providing a single statement for all your charitable and political contributions both taxable and non-taxable
• Localization providing additional opportunities to locate and support LOCAL entities now disempowered
• Corporate/Charity Sponsorships via associated corporate coupons, sales, offers etc.
• There are approximately 30,000 non-profits created in the U.S. every year. Many of them are temporary (e.g. a candidate or fund for a memorial) and/or Local. Much like the little guy holding a garage sale (eBay) they will be greatly attracted by a central place to conduct their business.
• Smaller parties, candidates and charities (whether local or not) will also be advantaged by being able to operate on a larger field at a lower cost.
• Opportunities for parties, candidates and charities in conjunction with Live MicroDonation Events.
• Corporate sponsorships and linkages with unique and varied options.• Better opportunities for locally oriented non-profits whether charity or political.
• It’s where the Donors are!
• Because of convenience, the ability to contribute in smaller amounts and its reach to those donors previously neglected, CHAGORA also results in more contributions overall both in numbers of contributors and total dollars.
No discussion of what builds Chagora can be complete without some discussion of the synergies!
• If a User opens an account to contribute for ANY reason, he will easily understand that it’s to his advantage to do his next from the same place. And then the next, and the next… for life!
• In all Live Events recipients and media provide free advertising for Chagora
• Smaller candidates, causes and charities will be the biggest initial supporters… and the larger will have no choice but to follow
• Media love scores, polls and feedback… The MicroDonation Live Debate is a huge media magnet during political seasons.
• Corporate/Charity linkages through us are free advertising for Chagora.
What about my personal information?
Please see our Privacy Statement for detail but in general, we intend to match and, where practicable exceed industry standards. The reason for that is that without your trust and reliability Chagora doesn’t stand a chance. And this is just too important of a capability to squander.
Some important points:
• Credit Card transactions are handled via a secure gateway following the best standards of the industry and not through Chagora
• Targeted Advertising, where employed, utilizes anonymous aggregate data NOT enabling individual identification
• We DO use the necessary elements of your address internally to enable the localization for placement within the appropriate electoral/geographic boundaries
• We DO NOT sell or provide that or any other individual information to charities, causes OR candidates unless YOU opt-in (that means you must actually be offered the choice!)
Obviously, when you make a contribution to a charity and especially to a cause or candidate, the legally required information for your tax-deduction verification (in the case of a charity) or their FEC and other reporting requirements (for a cause or candidate) IS provided. And further, you are certifying that it is true and accurate.
How Does Chagora Pay for Itself?
Advertising; corporate/charity Sponsorship services; Media Services; accounting services; other services
Chagora does NOT charge ANY Donor or Recipient Fees EXCEPT for passive reimbursement for transaction and/or gateway charges (see section above “Does it Cost Me Anything?”)
What is the “Chagora Concept” and why is it so important?
Hugo and Nebula award-winning author William Gibson, coiner of the term “cyberspace”, has referred to the internet as being as important to human evolution as was the development of the city. He’s right! In fact, he may be understating the case.
The internet is well on its way to significantly altering the nature of social interaction and communication in ways that have fundamental affects on social structures and institutions worldwide.
As systems evolve, as choices are made… some capabilities are enhanced, and others may be diminished… forever.
So we must take great care as we build this new “Electric City” that its structure and design serve us well since patterns developed here may persist for a great length of time… and so that we do not accidentally foreclose critically necessary capabilities.
CHAGORA is addressing the most vitally necessary corner of this new city: the Public Square.
Representative government arose and operates best with an identifiable collection of characteristics. They are not inevitable… and many of them have been eroded or lost.
The “Online Public Square” solution, as is often the case, came about by stumbling across the right question, not the right answer. The answer was easy.
In this case, finding a FIXABLE “why.”•
The FIXABLE “why” is: Why won’t the politicians listen?•
The FIXABLE “because” is: Because lines of true power are lost, blocked and/or impeded.
When the Supreme Court struck down certain legislative limitations on Campaign Finance Reform based on the concept that there is some equivalence between money and speech they are correct as regrettable as that may seem. Speech is very broad. It’s everything from a question, to a contribution… to a kick in the pants. And you know that where groups are smaller we find easier lines of communication between followers and leaders.
What I’m calling MicroDonation refers to viable Money/Speech. It’s the capability to securely and near effortlessly contribute to legal candidates, causes (taxable to giver) and charities (tax free to giver) in ANY legal amount. In a sense so you can throw a quarter at a candidate as easily and painlessly as you once could run into him or her on the street and give ‘em a piece of your mind when we lived in the smaller communities where democracy arose.
MicroDonation is a partial compensation for the loss of proximity which was essential in the development and sustainability of effective representative government.
capability is an essential Proximity Substitute.
We’re all getting fairly familiar with the whole new world of social networking! It’s a great thing… whether you’re a skateboarder, a musician, a religious follower or a nudist… you can find your group. Facilitating attractive and secure ways for you to connect with neighbors within each of the multiplicity of electoral districts to which you belong is essential for a viable Online Public Square.
It is also essential to provide tools to assist citizens, candidates and groups within local communities who can then sustain themselves with local support?
The self-government ethic, like charity, really DOES begin at home. And the breakdown on this level permeates up through the system. Effective local systems of opinion, power and motivation are REQUIREMENTS for good system operation on broader levels.
This is a compensation for the changes in scale which have limited effective citizen participation on the local level.
Electoral/Geographic Social Networking
Capability is an essential Localization Facilitator.
How do I know Chagora is truly fair and non-partisan?
By yelling and screaming at us, the press and your neighbors any time you think we’re not! I watch C-Span enough to be aware that no matter what we do, some will think we’re too right or too left… and there will be people here with strong opinions on all kinds of subjects… and one man’s “fair” is another man’s outrage…
And then some will say we should have a “Right wing Chagora” and a “Left wing Chagora” to be “FAIR”… this will be a tempting but very, very incorrect road to go down!
Again, C-Span provides a valuable lesson. Its success and respect are not because they only allow non-partisan viewers and comments. NO, it’s because they are a non-partisan platform available to all sides. Chagora, like C-Span, is actually serving very public functions!
*An important footnote: For those of you interested, the above discussion brings up interesting questions regarding monetization, the nature of Chagora ownership, oversight and finance, etc. which must be addressed. I have what I believe may be a satisfactory solution to this issue which relates to even more fundamental Chagora theoretical underpinnings not discussed here concerning possibly better methods of corporate structure design for a better resolution of the eternal tension between the “individual and the common green.”
And a final note… Chagora is committed to non-partisanship, transparency and checks and balances on ITSELF!
Why should I trust Chagora?
Leaving aside stuff like the use of trust accounts, security measures and a big speech about what a great and noble guy I am, the essence of it is...
You shouldn't! Trust but verify! We are committed to transparency and oversight. And we intend to be very careful to build in you both the sense and the reality that you are truly a part of this Chagora and have every right to know what's going on.
And rely on a sound set of principles.
And, for those basics we rely on the same universal principals underlying the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. We are starting here. But the Chagora concept is for the world.
This is your World, YOUR PUBLIC SQUARE and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!
We're looking forward to hearing from you!