The Last Gift

TLDR; We’ve donated the money we had accumulated in the form of unclaimed gifts to Saint James Music Academy – a charity that provides youth in the Downtown Eastside an opportunity to learn music.

Since shutting down Give, we’ve had a bank account filled with the spare change we acquired over the years of operating. Mostly money Johnny and I invested in the form of “Gifts” to unverified artists, we stopped operations with $2,180 in unclaimed money. Our average gift size was $5, so the money represents about 430 Gifts given by Johnny, myself, and various people from all over the world.

Giving a Gift to an unclaimed artist was exhilarating. In a moment of pure connection (usually while listening to a new album or re-discovering an old one), I would use Give to impulsively create a digital promise to support this artist. I would then go to whatever social network I thought I could find them on and send a note with the link. Quite often the artist would engage with the post by liking it or replying. This really shrunk the world for me – it made the internet feel like magic and made me feel like I could have an impact and connection with anyone, anywhere.

Most often, though, the small engagement with the artist wouldn’t translate into getting them a verified account (a process in which we confirmed their identity and set up payment means). Instead, the few dollars that was sent out with good intentions made its way into our trust account and sat there waiting for the artist to claim it.

In hindsight, this aspect of Give was similar to fishing. We created a system that attempted to lure one type of our user base with Gifts of money from strangers. While our website was explicitly transparent with our intentions, you can imagine there was a fair amount of skepticism from the artists that found their profile. Money rarely comes for free, especially on the internet from strangers. The odd part was, our “catch” was trying to get the artist paid. Despite our best intentions, artists would come across their profile and leave unverified. This was probably one of the biggest disappointments in running Give.

After dissolving the company, the last remaining shard of Give was a bank account with $2180 in it. $2180 that was intended to support someone’s music. We thought it would be fitting to pass the unclaimed money on to a music-based initiative and that this would be in the interests of everyone who also sent in Gifts.

Last week we gifted the money to the Saint James Music Academy. The academy was founded on the belief that music helps and heals. It has provided at-risk youth from the DTES access to music education since 2007.

We hope this gift will help inspire more music to me made and shared.

If I was to use Give right now, it would be a Gift to Ruthven. Or, maybe I’d give to my niece, Micah Jane, because she’s making amazing art that more people should know about. ***