Not To Be Trusted With Knives











{July 13, 2008}   Help Make My Dream Come True

Just the other day I came home to find a package in the mail. And in that package was:

  1. a dragon
  2. an invitation to become a fairy godmother
  3. a letter saying that I’m really a witch and inviting me to attend Hogwarts
  4. all of the above

Believe it or not – and I’m not making this up – it was (b). And I even have the tiara to prove it!

The invitation came from DreamBank – a new Vancouver company that helps people fund their dreams. The 411 on them is basically this:

  • most people get gifts they don’t really want
  • most of those unwanted gifts are wrapped in wasteful wrapping paper and shipped (burning up fossil fuels and polluting the air) to the people who don’t want them and end up dumping them in a landfill
  • so, instead of getting crap you don’t want, you set up a “Dream” on DreamBank‘s website to fund something you really do want – and tell your friends & family to support your dream in lieu of a gift
  • to sweeten the pot, any interest accrued on the money that’s sitting there in your dream fund goes to a charity of your choosing (from among their partner charities).

My fairy godmother invite included, along with that wicked cool tiara, a coupon for me to donate $20 to any dream on DreamBank. Hence, I get to help grant someone’s wish!

Upon checking out DB, I knew immediately what my dream I wanted to post – the dream of paying off my student loans! However, in setting up my dream on the site, I discovered that the maximum you can ask for is $20,000 – so my dream is officially listed as “To Pay Off 1/3 of My Student Loans.”1

One other thing I did notice is their fee structure – since DreamBank is a for-profit company and all the interest on money being held in your dream fund goes to charity, how do they make their dough2? Well, two ways – there’s a $2.25 fee taken from every donation made to your dream, and then they get 2.5% of the total when you cash out. At first I thought “this seems like a lot” and “hey, why don’t people just give me money and cut out the middle man?”3 But, as I think about it, I can see how the site might facilitate people supporting your dream more than if you just asked them for cash. I imagine if you just told people to give you money to help you pay for that dream trip to BlogWorld/buy tickets to the Olympic gold medal hockey game/put a downpayment on your first home, they probably wouldn’t be overly receptive. But I could see people donating through a site like this, much they do when you are raising money for something like the breast cancer run or other charitable donations. And if people who want to donate to your dream in lieu of a gift feel that $2.25 per transaction is high, when they put it in these terms:

Think of it this way—a $2.25 fee is cheaper and less hassle than driving to the mall, purchasing and wrapping a gift. (Source)

… that puts it into perspective.

And one thing I do want to give them props for is that this info is found on their on their fees page, subtitled “The Large Print,” which is quite easy to find. I can imagine other people might hide this type of info in the “fine print,” but DreamBank really is completely transparent that this is a for-profit company that mixes business with charity. And I think the fact that the interest on all the donations made goes to some really good charities is what I like most about this site. Either way though – their transparency in letting you know the exact fees you are signing up for lets you chose if this is the best way to raise money for yourself.

And speaking of – are YOU interested in posting a dream? If so, you should do it now, because:

The first 5000 people to post their dream will be automatically entered into the “Win your Dream” contest. Each dreamer will have 5 chances at winning their dream amount up to a total of $1500. If the dream is less than $1500 the prize winner will still receive the full $1500. DreamBank will also donate $250 to the charity that is associated with each winner’s dream.

I’m kinda hoping that *I* win the $1500 myself, but hey 5 people get to win, so sign up if your so inclined3.

Oh ya, and while you are there, don’t forget to support my dream!


So who is Fairy Godmother Beth going to donate her $20 to? Well, I’m up in Sun Peaks right now and forgot my coupon with the instructions of how to donate my $20 back at home, so I have a few days to decide. If anyone wants to make suggestions of who I should donate to, I’m all ears!

1Yes, I owe $60,000. Over $60,000, actually, and that’s after making payments for over a year already. At the current rate (i.e., $850 per month), it will take me another 8 years to pay these off. See why this is my dream?
2I also thought “I’m hungry!” but that’s really neither here nor there.
3I’m always kind of interested how people make money on the Internets, perhaps because I’m cheapa, so everything I use through the tubes is free!
      aGiven that I pay $850 a month in student loan payments, can you blame me for being cheap tho? Srsly?
3And post a comment here if you do. I’m interested to see who else I know has a dream that they want to fund!

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Darren says:

Wow, thanks for the great write-up–you described it better than we could. And that’s a sweet looking tiara you’ve got there.



Beth says:

I know – I’m thinking of adding that tiara to my everyday work wardrobe!



Kalev says:

Well… I think that given they take 2.5% when you cash out, they outght to adjust your dream amount by that to reflect it. Otherwise, you’ll want $1000 but you’ll only get $975. Not that big a deal on $1000 but when you starting getting to $10,000… $250 is a lot of money.

Plus, as we discussed previously, there really should be some sort of tier system/sliding scale when it comes to the charge per donation. $2.50 represents 25% of a $10 donation but only 2.5% of a $100 one. That discourages getting small donations (or rather, makes getting small donations MUCH less useful) which completely negates the impact of “sharing” the cost of your dream among many people. But if you think about, it nets the company WAAAAY more money for small donations–and most donations are not likely going to be of the $100+ variety. And honestly, a per-transaction fee AND a cash-out fee? Talk about double-charging… what are they, Bell and Telus?

Overall, mixing business with charity just sounds like a really bad idea and leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. Kinda like how awful it is that non-profits and charities have adopted “business language” when describing their organisations (or like educational institutions have). Non-profits and charities are NOT businesses. They are non-profits and charities… and money should never be their bottom line, yet when you mix them with for-profit enterprises like this, it drives them to the bottom, so to speak.



Beth says:

what are they, Bell and Telus?

Non-profits and charities are NOT businesses.

I don’t see this as a charity trying to be a business. It’s a business that is also giving to charity, which to me is totally a different thing, because they aren’t a charity who is focusing on their bottom line, but rather a business who is focusing on their bottom line, but who also give some cash to charities.

I agree that the per-transaction fee, regardless of donation amount, can make a big difference on those smaller donations. But if you are thinking about it from the idea of you-aren’t-shipping-and-wrapping-a-present angle, it would cost just as much to ship a small expensive present as it would a small cheap one.

As for adjusting your dream amount – they actually suggest that you take that into consideration when you are setting up your dream total. Since mine is only a fraction of my total student loan debt and $20,000 is the max you can ask for, I couldn’t adjust mine upwards to account for it.



What a great blog post, Beth. Thanks so much for checking out DreamBank, and for so perfectly summing up our defining points.

Kalev raises a really important concern about the inter-relationships between charities and businesses, and I’d like to speak to that for a moment. I definitely hear the concern that the needs of a business can push the intentions a charitable institution into a grey zone if they aren’t careful. Charities and business are mixed by merely being in the same world. Charities have their own bills to pay, and not meeting those costs can spell the end of the. Given this reality, charities have forged relationships with businesses as facilitators and contributors for many years.

We’ve built DreamBank so that contributions to charities are an integral part of our collaborative fundraising model, and it’s something we’re really proud of. The fees we charge are needed to ensure that we can pay our bills and keep DreamBank running and growing, so they’re necessary, but certainly up for discussion. In that spirit, we’re open to ideas about how it could be done better.

Thanks again for the comments and interest!



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