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Posted on Fri, May 21, 2010 : noon

Pioneer High School student starts online charity

By Jenny Serwach

Damian and Brandon (Close)[1].jpg

Damian McGlothlin, left, founder of, and Brandon Pederson, the site's community outreach coordinator.

Photo courtesy Chris McGlothlin

The idea for Damian McGlothlin's new charity is, oddly enough, similar to online movie rental business Netflix.

The Pioneer High School junior wanted to start a charity where people could use a website to donate, picking and choosing where their money went - like how Netflix allows folks to choose a movie to rent online. 

By creating, he's made that vision a reality.

"When Damian was 13 or 14 and we were living in Kentucky, I donated a check to the Red Cross to help out the victims of the tsunami in Asia and my son asked where that was money was going and wondered why you couldn't pick and choose who you donate to," said Christopher McGlothlin, Damian's father and the chief information officer for Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). The way the website works is simple: Users create an account then log in to read descriptions of people they can donate money to. 

Currently on, for example, visitors can read a profile about an elderly couple having trouble paying rent due to the difficulties of having to pay for cancer medications. Donating to is unique because users choose exactly who they donate to - such as the elderly couple - and exactly what their donation helps with.

Finding a way to make into a not-for-profit organization was a challenge, Damian McGlothlin said. Since typically donations to individuals are counted as gifts instead of charitable donations, making the donation process anonymous was essential to making the idea work.

Domino's web designers Eric Sweetland and Jeff McCrumb helped with the website design and privacy to help make the a more secure place for people to make donations. McGlothlin's friend, Brandon Pederson, a junior at Dexter High School, also helped develop the site and serves as its outreach coordinator.

Perhaps surprisingly, finding people to donate to was a challenge. McGlothlin worked with organizations like the Hope Clinic in Ypsilanti and Friends in Deed in Ann Arbor to find and screen people who need help and put their stories on the site.

The identity of people profiled on the site is kept private and thus their real pictures and names are not included.

"Friends In Deed has received assistance from for three families. Thanks to this assistance, we were able to help these families resolve a critical emergency in their lives." said Helena Prince, executive director of Friends in Deed.

One of the families helped was a 61-year-old woman who had to take a medical retirement due to stage three inoperable lung cancer. She and her 62-year-old husband were forced to choose between the wife's medication and their rent, because they did not have sufficient income for both. Thanks to funds provided through and Friends In Deed, they will not have to make this choice while they wait for her Social Security Disability to begin in June.

Although the site currently focuses on helping people just in Washtenaw County, McGlothlin hopes to expand it in a few years and plans to continue working on for years to come.

"It's pretty tough to balance promoting the site with SATs and ACTs and soccer and everything, but the fact that it's online makes it easier to manage," McGlothlin said.

Jenny Serwach is a student studying journalism and political science at the University of Michigan-Flint and is a summer intern at She can be reached at



Sat, May 22, 2010 : 9:20 p.m.

To answer the FAQs from earlier in this thread, YouChoose1 Inc. is a 501c3 organization managed by a professional board with broad charity and corporate management experience. The organization is fully licensed in accordance with and compliant to all IRS and state solicitation licensing requirements. 100% of every dollar donated to any selected recipient goes directly and entirely to that recipient, as articulated on the website, not to the general operations of the website (whose minimal costs are funded by a small, separate nominal operating fund.) Any other questions, please contact Thank you, YouChoose1 Inc.


Sat, May 22, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

A great story. Hope it goes well. This is a great example of charity beginning at home.


Fri, May 21, 2010 : 10:56 p.m.

Damian & Brandon, we'd love to have you guys present at the next meetup! E-mail organizers at for details. We've had other non-profits present, including The Generation Project ( ), which is another donor-directed program you might find interesting. There's also over in Grand Rapids, a platform for matching needs and volunteers. You should also consider chatting with folks at NEW ( if you need any help with non-profit governance, fundraising, or finding other non-profits to work with. Good luck, and congratulations on the launch!


Fri, May 21, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

My hat is off to these young men for using their talent and ideas to help others. I hope this venture is very successful.


Fri, May 21, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

A noble idea, good for them.. but... The site is in dire need of a FAQ that explains how it is funded, if any money goes to the overhead of the site, how it is audited, as a 501c3 it must have a board of would be good to know who that board is... Although this is a feel good story, the operation of a non-profit, especially one that solicits donations (do they have a solicitation license, as is required by law?) is not an easy task, and start-up non-profits are prone to fraud and mismanagement... I'm not asserting that is what is happening here, but without more public information about these items, they are limiting the credibility of the effort.. I hope they get these ducks in a row and turn this into the successful venture they imagined.