“I think the center of solving problems with products and software is to just always remember that people are the heart of everything. You're solving a problem for a person.” – Adam Nash
Adam Nash is co-founder and CEO of Daffy, which is building a modern platform for giving, and in the process rethinking how we all give to the causes and charities we care about. Daffy has taken something typically only known and used by the ultra wealthy, the donor-advised fund, and made it available to anyone.
With a Daffy account, anyone can contribute cash, stock and even crypto, which is all tax deductible, and then give whatever amount they'd like to over 1.5 million charities on their platform. You can invest your contribution so that your donor-advised fund compounds in value, allowing you to give even more in the years to come, all with the goal of making giving easy and affordable enough that we can all make giving a part of our daily lives.
In this episode, we explore what Adam learned building eBay, LinkedIn, and Wealthfront and how he thinks about reshaping consumer behavior, like getting consumers to trust an algorithm, to invest their savings at Wealthfront. We talk about how the U.S. already gives 2.3% of GDP, contributing more than $400 billion to charities in 2020 alone, which is more than double major sectors like agriculture, which accounts for just 1% of GDP. We discuss why even 2.3% of GDP is too small, and how Adam is working to get that percentage up to 5% of GDP given annually through his work at Daffy. Finally, we cover everything you've ever wanted to know about giving, from how much to give to how to assess charities and how to get your kids involved in giving.
For more, explore the transcript of this episode.
This episode is our definitive guide to building a modern charitable giving platform. In it we cover:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction
- 00:02:41 – From Apple to eBay, and from LinkedIn to Daffy
- 00:05:01 – Technology asks, what have you done for me lately?
- 00:10:53 – The hard part of being a contrarian is being wrong most of the time
- 00:15:06 – Software goes beyond the products you build
- 00:17:45 – Crossing the chasm
- 00:22:56 – The basics of using Daffy
- 00:28:03 – Overcoming customer perception of giving
- 00:33:17 – What are donor-advised funds?
- 00:41:38 – Choosing a charity in Daffy
- 00:48:34 – Getting kids involved in charity
- 00:51:53 – On Personal Finance for Engineers
- 00:55:52 – Adam’s angel investing thesis
- 01:02:07 – Lessons from Clayton Christensen
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.
Our Favorite Quotes
Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:
- “When you think about founding companies, not just as what you do for your own product and service, for your own customers, for your own employees, but what you could do for the industry, it is really inspiring—especially if you believe that it's only through action that we can change things. Building companies is one way that we change the market for everyone.”
- “One of the interesting things about technology, it's both a gift and a curse in a way, is that technology is all about: what have you done for me lately? We take these unimaginable things for granted now.”
- “You have to have some humility. The world is filled with lots of smart people who've looked at problems. And chances are the solutions that you're using today, every solution, every product, every service was someone's inspired moment.”
- “The hard part of being a contrarian is you're going to be wrong most of the time.”
- “For founders, keep in mind that most of your customers in the future are not ready for you yet, that there's a whole process of phasing. There's a reason why startups and venture funding comes in phases. You solve one problem at a time.”
- “What we realize is that as generous as people are, they're not as generous as they want to be.”
- “Whatever bar you have for yourself, there's something about working with great people—and that includes investing in them—and seeing what they can accomplish that makes you realize like no, I could do more.”
5 Ways to Dive Deeper
- DAFs Explained: Daffy provides several articles defining and explaining Donor-Advised Funds and how best to use them. (5 Min)
- Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we've done: This TED interview with Bill and Melinda Gates dives into their charitable giving and why it’s been so satisfying for them. (25 Min)
- Top Charities to Donate to in 2022 According to GiveWell: If you’re ready to contribute but aren’t sure where to start, check out this list of top charities. (4 Min)
- How to Choose a Charity Wisely: This classic post from The New York Times helps you choose the best charity for you and your family to support. (10 Min)
- Tax Deductible Donations: Rules for Giving to Charity, How to Get a Deduction & 3 Tips to Save: NerdWallet does a great job of covering the basics about tax deductible donations. (7 Min)
The following books came up in this conversation with Adam Nash:
- The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future by Sebastian Mallaby
- Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore
- The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change) by Clayton M. Christensen
We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:
- LinkedIn | Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce
- Greylock Partners | From idea to iconic
- Gusto | Online Payroll Services, HR, and Benefits
- Bitwise Industries | We build tech economies in underestimated cities.
- Craig Federighi | Wikipedia
- eBay | Electronics, Cars, Fashion, Collectibles & More
- Dropbox | Brings everything—traditional files, cloud content, and web shortcuts—together in one place
- Monster Jobs | Job Search, Career Advice & Hiring Resources
- Vanguard | Mutual funds, IRAs, ETFs, 401(k) plans, and more
- Acorns | Invest, Earn, Grow, Spend, Later
- Up | Wikipedia
- Donor Advised Fund | Investopedia
- Alejandro Crosa | LinkedIn
- DonorsChoose | Support a classroom. Build a future.
- Calm | Sleep Better, Stress Less
- Headspace | Meditation and Sleep Made Simple
- 529 Plan | Investopedia
- 401 (k) Plan | Investopedia
- Charity Navigator - Your Guide To Intelligent Giving
- Personal Finance for Engineers | Stanford University
- Personal Finance for Engineers | Slides
- Figma | The collaborative interface design tool
- Dylan Field | LinkedIn
- Clayton Christensen | Wikipedia
- Harvard Business School | Graduate Business School