Philanthropist portfolio. Where to start?
Build your philanthropy portfolio from thousands of unique projects from around the world
Hello! My name is Anton Sokolovskiy, I'm 20 and I created Humance, a platform that gives you the opportunity to grow corals in the Pacific Ocean, save sharks from extermination in Indonesia, elephants in Kenya, remove plastic from the ocean, plant mangrove trees in the Philippines, and much more.
When I was in high school, a friend and I started a charitable foundation that specialized in environmental issues.
It was 2018... We were 16 years old and we felt like superheroes as we planned to plant trees and clean up the forests during the summer holidays, between preparing for the upcoming school exams. We registered a charity, opened a bank account, ordered branded clothes and made a plan for our action to save the nearby forests. All was well, but only up to a point…
That moment was the beginning of our foundation. The feeling of euphoria quickly faded, and reality hit us in the face, destroying all our Napoleonic plans. People were suspicious, mistrustful, and we could not find the money to buy seedlings and everything that we needed for our mission. We faced many problems, experienced them first hand and understood how the charity market really works, especially in the CIS countries.
After two months of unsuccessful attempts to put our plans into reality, we closed the foundation and returned to our studies. But the thought of defeat haunted me and sounded like a challenge. I analyzed our actions, the mistakes we had made and thought about how I could solve the problems of the market. At that time, I already had a successful experience with my first web service, which I had launched a year earlier at the age of 15, so I immediately looked for a solution in IT.
This led me to create a platform that would bring together unique organizations from around the world and make them accessible to philanthropists from all corners of the Earth.
I highlighted the main problems every philanthropist faces. I wanted to solve them with the platform.
Fraud. This is a huge problem because foundations' money often goes to the wrong place. Most people subconsciously associate the word «charity» with gray schemes and kickbacks. Foundations are not trusted by default and people do not want to be involved with them.
Limited to local organizations. Philanthropists don't have access to the vast number of unique organizations across the planet. Think of the fires in Australia, the breathing machines during COVID-19, war in Ukraine, floods and other disasters that have rocked the world. Even in such moments, philanthropists from around the world do not have full access to the local teams and organizations that are solving these problems, and have no way of making a difference.
Project tracking. People support an organization and then it disappears from everyone's radar. There is no normal way to monitor, track the projects you have supported and enjoy the process.
Pressure for pity. Many foundations press for pity and compassion, making every story as sad as possible, trying to elicit sympathy and asking for as much money as possible. This is often used by scammers and it’s already only disgusting.
Organizations. On the other side of the barricades are great organizations from all over the world, doing unique projects and improving our planet on the ground, but they need funding. This forces them to focus on their websites, most of which are stuck somewhere in the 00's, marketing and endless attempts to raise funds, but not at all on project implementation.
Change the world. Here it's simple. We all dream of changing the world and influencing the development of our civilization. Not in the abstract, but in the real world.
Over the next 5 months I created a clickable UI/UX prototype, coming up with many tools and features that could solve each of the problems. It was in a futuristic style as I envisioned my creation as a «console for improving the planet». At that time I called it the GCA (Global Charity Association).
Once the prototype was ready, a rather difficult phase began that still sends shivers down my spine when I think about it.
It was 2019, my 17th birthday was approaching... I already had a pretty good understanding of design, but the technical knowledge wasn't there. The experience of building a few landing pages on Tilda and a few small sites on Wordpress was not the right background to allow me to develop a fairly complex financial system on my own.
It was clear to me that I needed to hire at least one developer, or better still, a team to help me turn my ideas into code. But that would require a huge amount of money, which I obviously didn't have. I also knew that raising pre-seed for a 16-17 year old kid was beyond the realm of fantasy. FFF was also out of the question.
A vicious circle? Almost…
I soon figured out how to hire a development team without the money. I decided to make a startup blog on YouTube and show step by step how I am building and growing my startup, what problems I am facing and how I am solving them. The main goal of the blog is to develop a platform by barter.
I decided that I would make an agreement with a beginning web studio to develop my platform in exchange for a series of videos in which we would explain and show all the stages of website development using my platform as an example. Of course, these videos would be filled with native advertising for the web studio, which would bring them new clients. Win-win, I thought.
I thought of everything, figured it all out, and invested the $3,500 I had saved in video equipment. Then I put together a content plan in chess order that consisted of a storyline about the startup and single videos on popular related topics (self-development, motivation, etc.). The singles were designed to attract new audience and the startup storyline was designed to retain them.
Then I learned to shoot and edit. The point of no return was when I deliberately stopped advertising for a service I had started at the age of 15, which I was running at the same time and which was making a good profit. This reduced the time needed to maintain it to a minimum, while at the same time the regular customers provided enough income to live on. At that moment I deliberately burned my bridges and convinced myself that there was only one way forward - to launch Humance and to change the world.
For several months I followed the strategy and posted videos for my blog, but everything went in a negative scenario. It wasn't easy to get my YouTube channel up and running from scratch. But one night everything changed…
I happened to be sitting in the cafe next to a couple of guys who were fiddling around with a camera stabiliser. As it turned out that evening, one of them was called Roma and he ran a YouTube channel for models with an audience of 40,000, as well as publics for models with an audience of 20-30,000 on VK and Instagram. He was from the province, had recently moved to the capital and his «hunger» was off the charts. He was shooting with rented or borrowed equipment and did not have good camera skills. It became clear that we were on our way.
Over the next few months I helped him with interviews, modeling shows and we even filmed a music clip. In return, he helped me with YouTube, organizing interviews with charity leaders and other videos for my blog. We agreed on a plan B in advance — if it didn't work out with my channel, we would use his YouTube modeling channel and publics to barter with a web studio.
Autumn 2019 arrived, but my channel's audience was still not growing. It became clear that there was no other way — we had to go to Plan B. We picked a day, I collected a list of addresses and made appointments with web studios.
A few days before the meetings, another important event happened that changed everything — I saw an advertisement for a big forum for entrepreneurs to be held in 5 months' time. The idea came immediately. I decided that a story about a 17-year-old boy who created a «console for improving the planet» could be an inspiration and motivation, especially for a young audience. So it would be cool to «launch» it right from the stage of this forum.
I was excited by the idea and decided to take action. I wrote a good letter describing the concept of the platform, my proposal, attached a link to the prototype and sent it to info emails. Of course, nobody replied... Then I found the Instagram profile of this event, sent my letter and received a short and concise «no».
I was disappointed, but decided to keep going. Using Google and spending a little time, I found the personal profile of a businessman and head of a large corporation from the Forbes list, who was the main organizer of this event. I sent him the same letter and... we agreed to meet the following week.
The next day we started our planned journey through web studios. While we were listening to the rejections again and again, and Roma was shocked by the amounts from 20k to 180k USD that were offered to us as a price for the implementation of the platform — I crossed the studios off the list. Nevertheless, we didn’t give up.
With one of the web studios (80k usd) we spent more than 2 hours in a meeting room. The first hour we tried to agree on the barter through the modeling channel and groups. When it became clear that it would be impossible to agree, I decided to try a combination I made up on the fly - I told them about the Forum for Entrepreneurs and the presentation on stage. Then I said that everything had been agreed and resolved, and that the only thing left was to technically build a platform before the event so I could present it and launch it from the stage. In the process, I was able to speak natively about their web studio in front of an audience of thousands of entrepreneurs, which should bring them new customers. They were interested in the proposal, and after another hour of discussion, we outlined a list of preparatory work and shook hands.
The following week I met with the deputy businessman, told him about Humance and my proposal, showed him the clickable prototype and the prepared deck. When he asked about the status of the project and «will you make it in time», I confidently answered «we will, the team is working». He said «okay» about the forum, but shifted the focus to what they would be interested in investing in the project.
We spent the next 6 months negotiating a partnership and investment that followed a very different scenario. Their main corporation and competencies were far from the IT sector, but as it became clear during the negotiations, they really wanted to implement a certain concept and launch a subsidiary web3 startup.
As a result, I received an unusual and attractive offer to become a partner and CEO of an early-stage web3 startup, get it on its feet, and later launch Humance together, getting a fairly large round at once (almost 7 digits in $ at pre-seed). I was still 17 at the time.
I thought about it for a long time, but in the end I accepted the offer. I froze Humance for a while and immersed myself in the crypto world in the role of CEO of a web3 startup. Gradually we assembled a great team, added corporate advisors, found and hired outsourced a unique development team that built crypto exchanges and complex fintech products.
For about a year, our team under my leadership worked on an NFT marketplace with an cool concept before it became mainstream. It was an interesting time. But that's another story, I'll leave this stage without details (NDA).
At the age of 19 (summer 2021), due to certain things, the launch of Binance NFT Marketplace and disagreements with the board, I decided to leave the web3 startup and return to Humance, as I already had unique practical experience and the necessary resources.
Soon I created a new UI/UX, hired a frontend developer, then a backend developer, and then a small outsourced team. They did the technical side, and I did a little bit of the frontend and everything else. In a year and a half, we built the Humance web platform that we're releasing in open beta on this week.
At Humance, we bring together unique teams around the world, each working locally to improve our planet by growing coral to restore reefs, removing plastic from seas and oceans, planting trees, protecting rare animal populations, and more.
Philanthropists get access to these teams and their projects, can explore and support them, control costs, track implementation, and more.
Organizations can use Humance to raise funds for their projects from philanthropists from all over the world, generate reports, communicate with them, publish content about projects, and much more.
But first things first.
Fraud is the first problem I wanted to solve with Humance. We have implemented many checks and features to do this:
Onboarding verification. We perform a complete review of the organization when it registers on the platform. Most fraudsters are eliminated at this stage.
Project verification. Each project is created through a special form that includes 5 steps. In this form, we ask for information about the project and team members, a detailed list of costs, and documents. This is similar to a pitch deck for a startup.
Next, the created project goes through a rigorous review in Humance. If it meets all requirements and guidelines, we approve it and publish it. If not, the project will be rejected.
Public costs. Anyone can see a list of costs for any project on their page. From the same list, we automatically generate the total amount needed to implement the project.
Project statuses. Every project consistently passes through 3 statuses — Fundraising, Implementation, and Completed. Projects are never lost or misplaced.
Each organization publishes news articles during a project implementation, showing their progress, successes and failures. They are released in a storyline format. Users can easily read and comment on them, the overall UX of interacting with articles is similar to Medium.
Organizations can quickly and easily create articles for projects with a handy block editor like at Notion/Medium/VC/Teletype. Users who have supported the project will be notified when new articles about it are published on the platform.
Inspired by investment portfolios on stock exchanges and my previous startup experience, I decided to implement a «Philanthropist Portfolio». It includes all the projects that the user supports on or off the platform (Humance Connect, more on that below). Now you can keep all your projects in one place. They don't get lost anywhere and you can easily keep track of them.
Later, we'll expand the functionality to include detailed statistics, public profiles where you can see someone else's portfolio, and much more. It's really interesting to see the most advanced user portfolios.
When trying to connect people from different parts of the world, the issue of language barriers immediately arises. Creating multiple language versions of a static website is not a problem, but user-generated content is... And we solved it.
Because we monetize every project, the value per unit of content for us is thousands of times higher than on other UGC platforms (Instagram, Twitter...). That is why we create automatic translations for every project and every article, and then correct them with a native speaker.
It provides an opportunity to hack the language barrier, allowing organizations to reach a broad audience of philanthropists by creating content in a language they are comfortable with. Philanthropists, on the other hand, get access to content from exotic organizations in a language they are comfortable with, without machine translation errors or artificial pitching.
English, Russian and Ukrainian languages are already available.
This section will talk about the features and additional products that will be released in the foreseeable future. Some of them are already in development, some are in the prototyping stage and some are still on paper. It would be very interesting to have a mini custdev and get your opinion on what about them in the comments.
Humance Connect is a product based on our API that can be connected to online stores, services and a variety of other businesses. Connect allows you to make the world a better place with every purchase from your store/service by automatically transferring a portion of the funds to a «random» project in Humance.
The customer, in turn, automatically receives a chain of emails with the content of a random project that has received funds from his or her purchase.
And now for the details…
Without going into too much technical detail, our algorithm prioritizes projects based on certain parameters. Then it forms a «funnel» and fills it with funds from all connected stores to the project with the highest priority.
By focusing the flow of funds from a large number of stores on one project, the needed amount accumulates quickly and the project moves into implementation stage. Then the funnel moves on to the next project. It's like a conveyor belt.
With funnel technology, we minimize the time from receipt of a customer payment to project implementation, and we give the customer a unique experience with a new project with every purchase, even in the same store.
Let's take the example of an online store. When a customer buys an item in a store that uses Humance Connect, the customer leaves his or her email and name. This information, along with the payment amount and the necessary keys, is pulled through the «funnel».
Then comes the most interesting part. The customer begins to get a chain of emails with the content of a random project that received funds from his/her purchase in the store.
Introduction. «$12 from your purchase at the Example Store will be transferred to the "Building of the coral nursery To'a Ora" — French Polynesia, Moorea» (any project can be dropped)
Implementation begins. «The required amount is raised, the team moves to implementation»
Content (series of letters). Content about the implementation of the project is pulled from Humance
Completed. «The project is completed. If you want to repeat the experience, come back to the Example Store, make a new purchase and immerse yourself in a new unique project»
Each time the customer gets a new unique project, a new experience and emotions.
I expect to see an increase in retention and new sales for several reasons:
Unique experience. Many customers will want to repeat the experience, it will make them come back to the store and make a new purchase. As a result — an increase in repeat purchases and an increase in LTV.
Word of mouth. The customer will not miss the opportunity to tell his/her circle of friends/social networks about the purchase of products in the Store Example and the unique experience of participating in the project of growing coral on another continent. As a result, an ordinary store can become a real «viral monster».
Make the world a better place. A store can focus consumers' attention on making a positive impact on the world when they shop, make it a marketing cause, and build loyalty.
Negative carbon footprint. A company can reduce its carbon footprint to zero or even negative by tuning Humance Connect to tree planting projects. As a result, a negative carbon footprint can become a marketing gimmick and increase sales.
Humance Connect can also be used offline. A clear example that immediately comes to mind is clothing. The customer makes a purchase and leaves his or her name and phone number at the checkout. We then deliver the content of an exotic project on another continent, to which the funds from his purchase of a coat or a pair of sneakers have been transferred.
For large services, it is possible to integrate Humance Connect directly into the site/application using APIs, in a variety of formats. For example, in the case of online banking, it is possible to collect cash-back and use Connect to distribute it for improving the planet, right in the bank's application. As a result, a human spends more time with the bank app and gets emotional.
But you can also do something really crazy with Humance Connect. If we don't trivialize and take the iPhone as an example, it is possible to implement different body colors and link them to the specific directions (works with other products as well).
When the iPhone is first activated, it is possible to initiate a project selection in the appropriate color group, transfer some funds from the purchase to improve the planet, and then display the appropriate content in a separate app. It's pretty fun.
Although even the thought of buying a new Tesla with a certain amount automatically deducted for green energy development is quite appealing. Of course, through the on-board system, it is possible to link each Tesla to a specific energy project and allow the owner to track the implementation through the on-board system.
Will Musk call? :)
Humance Connect can be configured and customized for each company through the control panel. Here you can also track statistics, control the distribution of funds, create your funnels, and much more.
I think over time we will be able to penetrate most people's lives by integrating Humance Connect into popular services in different areas. Anyone who buys groceries, a car, a plane ticket, eats at a restaurant, or pays for a cab will be able to automatically improve the planet and track all their projects from their smartphone. In one app. It's like having the whole world in your hands.
Towards the summer, Humance Connect will be available to a limited number of companies, for whom we can individually configure and customize Connect to fit any of the available business models.
If you are a representative of a particular service and would like to be one of the first to integrate Humance Connect into your business, feel free to contact me.
In the near future (hopefully in spring) we will release the Humance app for iOS and Android. It will have the standard functionality as well as additional features and capabilities. By the way, this was my first UI/UX for the app. It seems to have turned out quite well.
Closer to the fall, if we get the legal part implemented in time, it will be possible for US tax residents to get tax deductions on their tax declaration for the amount spent in Humance. Thus, the use of Humance will be conditionally free for individuals and corporations, both for standard transfers to projects and for using Humance Connect.
We will gradually seek to add the same capability in other jurisdictions that offer tax deductions for charitable giving.
In addition to this list, we have a lot of unique tools and features that we will gradually implement in Humance. We will also improve the existing functionality and UI/UX.
I have been preparing this article for several months. It is quite long, although I have removed many sections and details in order to reduce the length of the text. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading it.
This week we launched Humance, and we're going to work hard to make this day the beginning of a big story. Like any early-stage startup, right now it's really important for us to have support. And here's what you can do to make that happen:
Try Humance and support your favorite projects. It would also be cool if you could create your own account and become part of the Humance community.
Share the feedback. Write in the comments or to me in Telegram about what you particularly liked and what you had trouble with.
Distribute. Share this article or a directly link to the Humance platform with your friends. Everyone matters. That's how we can rock the virality, because your friends will in turn share with their friends, they with their friends.
Repost. This also applies to distribution. Repost the Humance video on social media. This is very important because it will make the video really viral, attract more funding for unique projects from all over the world. Link for Instagram, link for Facebook, link for Twitter.
Doing each of these points has a significant impact on Humance's growth. Thank those who will help us in this way.
I also plan to expand the Humance team in the near future. We will need more frontend and backend developers, mobile developers, UI/UX designers and other specialists. For some positions I allow completely remote format. If you have the relevant competencies and would like to work on an interesting product — contact me. I would also be happy to meet the advisors.
If you want to follow the Humance fate, it will be most convenient to follow me on Instagram, where I will try to share the news, all successes and failures. Write to me on Telegram @sokolllovskiy or email with any questions. Believe in yourself, take action and everything will definitely succeed.
Let's change the world together 🚀🌍