In 2014, after dropping out of high school at 16 to become a programmer, I started Hack Club. I had so many questions. How would finances work? How did other organizations get donations? How did they budget and spend their money? How much does it cost to run a program that reaches 1,000 people? What is an appropriate monthly salary for an employee? How much do lawyers and CPAs cost?
For me, learning to program was largely possible because of open source: the code of so much software written by both professionals and hobbyists is available publicly on GitHub. When you see under the hood at how software is made, you learn yourself. But nonprofits don't work that way. They are enigmas to outsiders. While top-level information is available to the public via IRS Form 990 (example), the actual budgets and details of spending are closely guarded secrets—often not even donors, staff members, or board members are privy to how nonprofits spend their money.
That lack of transparency creates an ivory tower of nonprofits that is near-impossible enter as an outsider. Since it's impossible to learn from what other organizations are doing, this results in a world where you have to be born into a high-priest class to successfully start a nonprofit and receive major gifts.
We’d like to do things differently at Hack Club.
A totally transparent nonprofit not only shows others how to do it. It also increases accountability. This is a goal of the Liberman family, who have inspired and supported Hack Club's transparency goals over the last year. In 2019, Hack Club won the Frank Prize of $1M to support growing Hack Club's programs and to support Hack Club in increasing transparency. Two weeks ago, we announced we were publicly opening Hack Club's bank account.
While a bunch of transactions in a bank account is great, I want to summarize Hack Club's spending in May 2020 publicly. This is something that I wish other nonprofits did when Hack Club was first getting started.
Consulting Income ($5,000)
This was a one-time project to advise Think Together on their September 2020 school re-opening plans.
Thank you to all the new donors to Hack Club this month. You make Hack Club possible. We rely on donations to keep Hack Club free for students. Donate here.
Please note that Elon Musk also donated $500K this month, but the gift didn't hit our account until June 3rd, so it will be included in the June finance update.
People including taxes ($57,625.25)
For the first time, Hack Club staff is growing beyond 3 people. When we were still tiny, we all took essentially the same salary of $4K/month. Now that we're growing, we still need to figure out how we want to think about salaries as an organization.
Hardware Chris Purchased for Simone and future AMAs ($1,201.11)
Minecraft Server ($59)
Mail Team ($117.49)
The above numbers are on a cash basis, meaning they only include transactions that hit our bank account or cards this month.
In some cases, there are expenses that we have committed to in May that have not yet hit our accounts, like rent for the space that the team is currently staying in. I've done my best to list all known missing transactions below:
Please note: there may be errors in this post. While I have pulled the numbers directly from HCB, I did mess around a bit in a spreadsheet and have not double checked my work. I believe that all numbers below are approximately correct.
If you’re interested in seeing the Google Sheet I used to calculate the above numbers, you can see it at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UDw7YewsS5wJIVm0Uh5wOGlM2Ddv-kZVrD3QqIypvRQ/edit.
Please note that while the above encompasses all of HQ's spending in our HCB account, it does not include GitHub grants to clubs, postage bought by Mail Team, or grants made from our internal "Discretionary Fund" to students in need that is funded by Ron Conway.
Thanks to Christina, Melody, and Lachlan for their help writing this post.