Last month, I noticed a few people on my Facebook feed sharing a link to a Reddit post that announced the launch of something called the Pineapple Fund. The person behind it wrote that they’d been an early investor in Bitcoin and felt as though at a certain point, enough money is enough, and he or she now wanted to donate $86M in Bitcoin to charities.
Although I stepped out of the active CEO role at Pencils of Promise at the end of 2015 to launch MissionU, I’m still involved as Founder & Board Emeritus and constantly look for ways that I can support our work. I immediately sent the link to the team and said that we should fill out an application form for a donation through the Pineapple Fund website, which the team submitted right away.
We heard nothing in response.
A few days later, Susie from the PoP team saw that charity: water became the fifth recipient of a Pineapple Fund grant (in the amount of $1M) and encouraged me to email my friend Scott Harrison (Founder & CEO of charity: water) to ask for advice on how to succeed in the application process.
Scott replied right away and shared that he’d simply cold emailed into the website and advised me to use a subject that would grab attention.
Over the next few hours I crafted an email from the heart, with a subject line that I knew would get opened. Here’s the actual text of my email:
Subject: You are the reason I started Pencils of Promise
Over the next seven days, I heard nothing in response.
But on the eight day after my email was sent in, on my way home from brunch with my wife and twins, I saw an email from Pineapple Fund. Here’s what it said:
First, apologies for my delay in getting back to you. I’ve been super swamped with emails and personal / family commitments around this festive season.
We’d love to make a $1 million contribution to Pencils of Promise, even though it is outside of the scope of work we usually fund. Would you be able to set up bitcoin payment processing facilities?
As I read those words, my heart started beating out of my chest. I was absolutely thrilled, but nothing is definitive in my mind until funds hit the bank.
Fortunately, our brilliant team member Carlo had already setup www.pencilsofpromise.org/bitcoin as a processing gateway in the hope that this contribution might come through, so I shared the URL with our mystery donor and held my breath.
10 minutes later, Pencils of Promise received $999,999.99.
At that point, I ran around my house with joy, and danced with our twin babies to celebrate (we do a lot of dancing together) the impact that I know that donation will have in the world.
Major shoutouts to the whole PoP team for helping make this happen, and to Scott for your generous advice.
The lesson here is simple.
Be willing to make the ask when it comes to something you believe in. Unless you put yourself out there, you’ll never know what could have been. And if you enter into that situation with optimism and look to find the best in others, people will surprise you with generosity beyond comprehension.
Pine, whoever you are, I hope that one day you’ll reveal yourself so I can thank you in person. The world needs more people like you… Thank you for inspiring us all!