Mobilizing a new generation of donors by helping them visualize global poverty and connect with effective projects.
The Maximin Project exists to collapse the distance between education and action in order to encourage hopeful engagement with the reality of extreme poverty. We've designed Maximin.org from the ground up to create a positive user experience: helping you understand the nature and causes of poverty, and then connecting you with the organizations doing the most good for the least well off.
By backing our Indiegogo project, you will enable us to produce a fully-functioning Beta version of Maximin.org. Why only a Beta? Because we understand that the Maximin Project’s effectiveness will be directly proportionate to the quality of our website. Like other major sites (Gmail, Facebook, etc.) we will use the Beta to conduct extensive user testing of each feature as we develop it. When we are sure that everything is ready for prime time, we will gradually expand our user base in order to guarantee the best user experience for everyone.
Partner with us to launch Maximin.org, and be a part of revolutionizing the way we address global poverty!
$50k Base Goal
Raising $50k will allow us to start the revolution by building all the core features of our site. This most basic version will create a cohesive, end-to-end experience that directly connects education to action by including an Interactive Map, 10 Recommended Projects, and our Simple Payment SystemInteractive Map
The homepage of our site is built around a color-coded map based on the Human Development Index and its composite indices: life expectancy, yearly income, and years of education. The map provides a broad overview of global development, enabling you to locate the least developed regions in a matter of moments. Interacting with the map reveals specific information about the selected region, while at the same time comparing it with the corresponding data from the user's home country. We present data about poverty in a way that is easy to understand without being overwhelming.
By presenting reliable, objective data in simple, visually compelling ways we help you pinpoint the areas of greatest need, making it easy to determine where you can do the most good.
10 Recommended Projects
This is the guiding idea behind our work: in order to engage people in the task of poverty alleviation, information about poverty must be paired with opportunities to help. Maximin is dedicated to helping you discern where your giving will have the most impact. We will recommend only those projects which best align with local needs, while demonstrating long-term sustainable success and financial accountability.
By connecting you to some of the world's best charitable organizations, we enable you to select aid opportunities based on their proven effectiveness in addressing the root causes of extreme poverty.
Simple Payment System
Once you decide which projects to support, you will be invited to make a one-time or recurring donation to help fund those projects. You can easily control how much of each donation is allocated to each project, seeing exactly where every dollar goes. The basic version of this system will allow for payments using a credit card or by direct withdrawal from a bank account and provide clear information about the overhead cost of each method. By making the act of donation as simple and intuitive as possible, we allow education about global poverty to lead seamlessly into personal investment in the solutions.
By streamlining the donation process, we make continued involvement with multiple organizations as simple and pleasant as possible. You control where every dollar goes, and you never receive any further correspondence unless you ask for it.
These profiles take education one step further by helping you understand the specific nature and causes of the poverty in each particular region. For example, if a country has an especially low life-expectancy, the profile will identify some of the key health-related issues (e.g. lack of access to clean water, prevalence of malaria, etc.) facing that area. This information will enable you to understand what kind of projects are most important. You can download an example Country Profile from our website.
More Eductional Infographics
The Interactive Map is a great tool to see the distribution of Health, Wealth, and Education across the world. A Secondary Infographic will make it even easier to identify which countries rank lowest for each metric, helping you target your giving most effectively. This infographic will be an interactive chart that visually represents not only how each country is doing with regard to Health, Wealth, and Education, but how also how many people are living in extreme poverty within that country.
Giving History & Social Media Integration
Maximin.org will make effective giving as intuitive as possible; we also want to make it as rewarding as possible. In the future, we plan to provide a detailed history of your giving, so you can keep track of the projects you’ve funded and what these projects have been able to accomplish with the help of your donation. We will also include integration with Facebook and Twitter, so you can share the projects you love and invite your friends to join in.
More Efficient Payment Processing
Our Simple Payment System will make giving to worthy projects simple and intuitive. But we'd love to go one step further by reducing the expense of payment processing so you can do even more good for the least well-off. With more funding, we plan to add Dwolla integration to our site. Dwolla processes payments at $0.25 per transaction (free for transactions $10 or less) as opposed to the standard 1% + $0.30 for direct withdrawal and 2.9% + $0.30 for credit card processing. Integrating Dwolla’s payment processing with Maximin.org will ensure that the greatest amount of each dollar goes directly to the projects doing the best work.
Our Base Goal includes 10 vetted projects that we can wholeheartedly recommend. But there are lots of people working in creative ways to do the most good for the least well-off. More funding will allow us to step up our research efforts in order to have even more projects to recommend.
We want to be good members of our community both globally and locally. As such, we carefully evaluate the social and environmental impact of our organization at every level. Whenever possible, we want to encourage social entrepreneurship by purchasing goods from companies that manufacture them in the developing world in ways that are ethically responsible. Whenever it is not feasible for us to obtain what we need from companies like that, we look for local businesses with similar values here in Columbus, Ohio.
About the Maximin Globe
You'll notice from the images below and the descriptions to the right that most of our rewards are emblazoned in one way or another with the Maximin Globe. This icon embodies our mission to use data visualization in service of global change. It illustrates how a large amount of the world’s wealth is concentrated in a relatively small number of countries while a large number of countries must make do with far less. Plus, we think it looks pretty cool!
Getting Exactly What You Want
When our project meets its goal, we will contact you to ask for specific information like shirt sizes and colors. Also, please note that the images shown below are only Photoshop mockups of our rewards so the actual products you receive will look a little bit different.
Skipping the Perks
If you'd like to help us out but don't think you would actually use the items we have designated as the perks for your desired donation level, you can select the "Beta Invitation" perk and then increase your donation amount on the next page. You will still receive our undying gratitude and the knowledge that you are truly maximizing the minimum, but nothing will show up in your mailbox and the entirety of your donation will go toward building Maximin.org.
Be among our earliest users, getting in on the ground floor of making Maximin great. Good interface design requires lots of feedback from users, and we need people who care about this project on board as we develop the site.
A full-color, die-cut vinyl sticker of the Maximin Globe. Perfect for displaying on your laptop lid, car, bike helmet, etc. Locally manufactured here in Columbus, Ohio.
Sticker size is approximate. Cup of coffee, laptop, and rustic wooden table not included.
A small poster created by our team exclusively for our donors, showing Africa’s map filled in with data from each country’s Human Development Index. This 13”x19” print is beautiful, educational, and suitable for framing. Locally printed here in Columbus, Ohio.
The final design of this poster is still in progress, but we promise it will be great!
Your choice of a black, slate gray, or fatigue green t-shirt with a white Maximin Globe on the front. These shirts are ethically manufactured by Edun in Tanzania from 100% Ugandan cotton, and locally screen printed here in Columbus, Ohio. Edun actively works to increase ethical trade with Africa, partnering with indigenous companies and committing to support of long-term, sustainable opportunities there. All 3 colors available in S, M, L, XL. Black is also available in XXL.
You'd look pretty great wearing one of these, don't you think?
A large poster created by our team exclusively for our donors, showing a full global map filled in with data from every country’s Human Development Index. This 13”x19” print is beautiful, educational, and suitable for framing. Locally printed here in Columbus, Ohio.
This poster will be styled like the African HDI Poster shown above, but it will include the entire global map. The final design is still being finalized, but here's what the colors will look like!
Our Executive Director, Steven Brown, has his PhD in philosophy from Ohio State. His philosophical work is primarily in virtue ethics and the philosophy of religion. He also writes code for our site, edits our videos, and likes to make terrariums. Talk to him about anything you want for 15 minutes over Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangout!
A personal chat with our Executive Director. Just imagine this taking place in your own cozy office space.
A Kleen Kanteen steel water bottle with the Maximin Globe imprinted into its bamboo lid by members of the Maximin Team (probably Steve) using our custom-made branding iron and a propane torch! This bottle is available in brushed or mirror finished steel and is completely free of paint and plastic. Kleen Kanteen is a certified B Corporation that responsibly manufactures its products in China and meets ISO standards for fair labor practices and a commitment to environmental sustainability.
The branding on this lid is only simulated for the time being. Well-worn leather bag full of Steve's stuff and rustic wooden table not included.
After the Beta is over and the site goes public, you can choose to have your name and/or a small picture displayed in a flag over your home city on the Interactive Map, which is the centerpiece of our site. A great way to show people how much you care about the Maximin Project!
Put your flag on the map! The contents of this flag are negotiable. We will consider any image or message that is consistent with the mission of our site.
A United By Blue messenger bag with the Maximin Globe on front. United By Blue is a certified B corporation that removes one pound of trash from the ocean for each product sold. This bag is made by workers in Southern India, under fair working conditions. Locally screen printed here in Columbus, Ohio.
Depending on stock, other colors might be available upon request. If you donate $5000, we'll make the magic happen.
Risks and Challenges
We recognize that Maximin.org is an ambitious project. In order to be successful we need to develop a simple, compelling, and stable website, while at the same time developing partnerships with the world’s best charitable organizations as well as the experts who study and evaluate their effectiveness.
Since the Maximin Project was founded in 2011, our main focus has been on building relationships with those who have the relevant expertise to pull all of this off. At this point there are lot of great people involved in this project. For example, we are working with an award-winning graphic designer who has done branding work for many of the most successful businesses here in the Columbus area, a seasoned web developer who has been responsible for several high-profile retail websites, and several people with decades of experience working on poverty both in academia and in the field. This collective skill is the reason we are confident that Maximin can handle all of the challenges that face us as we develop the first fully-functional version of this site.
We take an iterative approach to everything we do, starting small and building up carefully with lots of feedback from all relevant parties. This is true not only of our software development strategy, but our project recommendation process as well. We are constantly seeking out the input of people who know these issues best in order to determine what is really possible. It has been very rewarding for us to see how many people from a wide variety of backgrounds are getting excited about what we are up to and offering to help us out however they can.
That being said, we know that projects like these are always more complicated than they seem at first glance. Using the expertise of our team, we'll do our best to foresee issues and accurately estimate time frames. But we also commit to being transparent about the progress of our project as we go along, including any unexpected delays.
What else can I do to help?
Thanks for asking. Check this out: advocates.maximin.org
We set our base goal at $50,000 in order to lay down the infrastructure we will need to be a successful organization in the long run. That includes obvious things like web development and graphic design, but also less obvious things like the research required to recommend good projects, the legal fees required for our 501c3 application process, a little bit of office equipment, etc. We also needed to budget for all of the costs related to the Indiegogo campaign itself.
How do you select projects?
We are partnering with as many aid organizations as possible, from those that are new and relatively unproven to those that have already successfully produced long term, sustainable impact. However we also want to help you identify which organizations are most worth supporting. We recommend organizations based on financial responsibility, measurable impact, local leadership structure, etc. Those that do the best job demonstrating these values in addressing high priority needs will appear most prominently on the site.
Are you handling project selection on your own?
No. To recommend the best projects, we work closely with experts who understand the distinctive shape that poverty takes in each location. Maximin is developing small editorial boards for every region to provide content for our Country Profiles and to further develop the ranking system that we use to determine which projects to recommend. We also avail ourselves of the resources provided by organizations like GiveWell and Poverty Action Lab to supplement our own research and vetting processes.
What technologies are you using to build the site?
We are building Maximin.org using robust, widely adopted, open-source software. It is fully standards-compliant so it will work properly on all modern browsers. The front-end is written using jQuery, Backbone.js, and Require.js while the back-end is built in Django and PostgreSQL. Whenever possible, we will release our own source code and contribute back to the software projects that make our site possible.
Short answer: Probably not until sometime in 2014
Official legalese answer: Because we are still working with our legal counsel to obtain recognition of our organization’s status as a tax exempt public charity pursuant to 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, donations to this Indiegogo campaign cannot be claimed as tax deductible contributions by the donor until a Determination Letter is issued by the IRS with respect to our organization’s tax exempt status. We are optimistic that we will receive this Determination Letter by the end of 2014. In the meantime, we will move forward with our Beta testing process as soon as we have a functioning platform (sometime in the next few months). Once we receive our official Determination Letter from the IRS, all previous donations can be claimed as tax-deductible contributions by the donor (as provided by applicable tax laws and regulations applicable to each Donor), and receipts will be provided as required by applicable law and rules pertaining to charitable organizations like ours. Donors will be able to amend their 2013 tax returns at that time to include the permitted amount of deductible contributions they made to our organization in 2013. In the event that we obtain a Determination Letter prior to the end of 2013, we will provide such confirmations before December 31, 2013, but we cannot guarantee that we will obtain it that quickly.
We would like to thank everyone who helped make this Indiegogo project a reality. Special thanks to:
Jera Anderson - For shooting our video footage (thelightinus.com)
Jeremy Slagle - For branding and site design (jeremyslagle.com)
Kevin Holland - For letting us use his music (sineqube.com)