They say the winter holidays are a season of giving. Acclaimed poker pro Dan Smithis taking that to another level with his charity drive, which could raise as much as $350,000 for a group of select charities.
This is the second year in a row Smith has done a charity drive. In 2015, he and fellow poker pro Dan Colman pledged to match donations up to $70,000. With the help of other donation matching sites, Raising for Effective Giving (REG), and, of course, the scores of people who donated, they were able to raise over $210,000 for a quartet of charities; Deworm the World, Against Malaria, Machine Intelligence Research Institute, and The Massachusetts Bail Fund.
Smith said the initial idea came from a New Year’s resolution to give back to the world somehow. “I saw a charity running a matching drive, and got an idea. I did some math and saw if I ran my OWN matching drive, every $1 out of my pocket would be $4 towards a good cause. And it has been very successful. Two years ago I donated $25,000 and it raised a bit over $100,000. Last year I donated $35,000, (which I get to write off on my taxes) to raise $210,854.”
This year, Smith is back at it with even loftier goals. He is flying solo and trying to raise and match up to $175,000 for nine different charities detailed on his website. Smith grouped the charities into three categories. There is a group for efficient giving, where a dollar can stretch rather far, a group of charities designed to help those in the prison system, and a group Dan describes as, “a few charities that I believe attempt to get to the core of certain issues,” rather than charities that try to solve smaller scale problems.
Smith has a presence on Twitter as @dansmithholla, but other than placing some wagers on the election, he generally refrained from discussing politics or the election. Now that the results are in, many are looking for ways to reach out, be more philanthropic, and contribute and Smith put in ample time researching an array of causes to cover many areas of interests and offer something for someone of any political leaning.
“The political landscape certainly has a lot to do with it,” Smith explained when discussing the motivation behind expanding the project. “The world is in a crazy place right now, and it’s hard to think of productive ways to make it better. It’s scary.”
Since Colman and Smith started the pledge matching initiative last year, others in the poker community have followed suit. Dan Shak launched a drive to raise $35,000 in tandem with REG last month. Numerous poker pros over the years have displayed a penchant for philanthropy, playing in charity tournaments or donating a portion of their earnings to a cause. Smith’s tact is a little different in that not only is he contributing, but he is pushing to get numerous others involved and ensuring the capital is beneficial to donors who can write the money off on their taxes and to seek out charities which are efficient with the funds they raise. Throw in the fact he is matching pledges himself and it is entirely likely Smith will raise over a quarter of a million dollars for these organizations by year’s end.
If you have questions about his program, Smith has volunteered to research them himself. He will not be matching donations for charities not on his list because of his extensive vetting process, but he is open to answering questions. Questions regarding the drive can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in donating have until the end of the year to participate in Smith’s matching initiative.