Entrepreneur Deyan Vitanov: Co-founder and CEO of MyPhilanthropedia

Have you ever thought of making a charitable contribution to any of the organization in the world? The first question that props up in the minds of philanthropists is about the genuineness of such organizations. Whom to believe? The world is replete with scams and embezzlement cases.

There are whole lot of good non-profit organizations working for the welfare of the society and communities, but most of them do not get the recognition due to poor coverage or attention. Philanthropists or donors don’t know about them or can’t assess their credibility. It is in wake of this necessity that Philanthropedia was founder.


Mission statement of Philanthropedia:

Philanthropedia’s missionis to improve nonprofit effectiveness by directing money to and facilitating discussion about expert recommended high-impact nonprofits.

Philanthropedia’s vision is to inspire everyone to give with impact and improve nonprofit effectiveness. We envision a world:

  • where all experts openly share their knowledge about nonprofits,
  • where all donors give to high-impact nonprofits in social causes they care about,
  • and where all nonprofits improve their practices because of increased transparency, accountability, and open discussion.

Deyan Vitanov
Deyan Vitanov

We had an email interview with the co-founder and CEO, Deyan Vitanov.

Q1. What prompted you to start MyPhilanthropedia?

Howard Bornstein and I started Philanthropedia while at business school at Stanford. Both Howard and I believed that donors lacked good information on which nonprofits are having the most impact and we wanted to fill that gap. While working at the Gates Foundation, Howard noticed that a lot of his colleagues have a wealth of information on high-performing nonprofits and recognized that this knowledge could help everyone make better decisions about where to give. We then recruited a team, created a pilot, raised some money, and the rest is history as they say.

Q2. How the team was built over the years?

In late 2008, I went to a nonprofit panel at Stanford, where Philanthropedia managed to get a booth. At that time, we had just completed a pilot in US education, identifying 8 top nonprofits at the national level. Both Erinn and Dawn showed up at our booth, where I told them (as well as the other 40+ students) about our vision and aspirations. I guess they were really impressed because they followed up and once I got to know them it was really obvious that they had the passion and skills to join the Philanthropedia team. At the same time, I asked my two good friends and long-time collaborators Nikolay and Petar to join us as programmers and they completed our team.

Q3. What in your views is the USP of any non-profit organization or venture?
I think that the unique value proposition of every venture is different. For example, Philanthropedia offers trusted donor advice compiled from many knowledgeable experts. Donors who use this information are excited to be able to tap into the collective wisdom of nonprofit professionals who know how to evaluate nonprofits.

Q4. Is MyPhilanthropedia funded or self-supported?

We have raised about $500K from the philanthropy program at the Hewlett Foundation. We are very fortunate to have their support and advice.

Q5. How has been the response of users using your database and research to make donations?

We have received from donors, nonprofits, and experts. Everyone is excited to be participating by sharing or using the information.

Deyan Vitanov
Deyan Vitanov

Q6. What categories of nonprofit organizations you feature are there specifically based on certain areas?

We focus on 4 key areas: international causes, national causes, local causes, and disaster relief. Within each of those, we identify worthy causes and do our research to identify top nonprofits that we can recommend to donors.

Q7. What promotional activities you use to market MyPhilanthropedia?

We have tried everything you can probably imagine – SEO, SEM, quizzes, contests, and so on and so on – the list is really long. However, what has been most powerful is word of mouth, which brings the majority of our users today.

Q8. What plans are there for the future?

Currently, we are actively exploring partnerships with different organizations that can help us reach more donors faster and cheaper. Expect a big announcement in the next few weeks!

Q9. Tell us how you personally feel related to this project?

I have nurtured Philanthropedia from an idea-on-a-napkin to a full-blown organization that is a thought leader in an excited space and is funded by one of the most highly regarded foundations. As you can imagine, I am quite attached to the organization!

Q10. A message you would like to convey to nonprofit organizations to increase their effectiveness.

I believe there are 3 keys to nonprofit effectiveness: 1) willingness to learn about your organization; 2) strength to make difficult choices in order to improve; 3) recruiting the very best advisors that can help you get there faster and better. Philanthropedia wants to be a partner to those nonprofits that choose to walk down this path and promote more effective philanthropy through transparency.

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