Meet Watsi, Y Combinator's First Nonprofit
Paul Graham
25 January 2013

Y Combinator is trying something new this batch: we're including a nonprofit along with the for-profit startups we're funding. Meet Watsi, where donors can fund medical treatments for people in need.

We'd been thinking about including nonprofits in YC. After we met the founders of Watsi, we realized they'd be the perfect one to start with.

We owe Hacker News thanks for introducing us to Watsi. When Watsi launched, they posted about themselves on HN. They were a hit with HN users and raised a significant amount of money.

After about 30 seconds of looking at the site, I realized I was looking at one of the more revolutionary things I'd seen the Internet used for. Technology can now put a face on need. The people who need help around the world are individuals, not news photos, and when you see them as individuals it's hard to ignore them.

I've seen what happens—at Airbnb for example—when the Internet's ability to connect people peer to peer enters a domain that had previously been dominated by narrow channels. Historians will probably identify this as one of the most powerful forces at work in our time. And Watsi is this force applied to a big lever.

Working at a higher resolution also enables Watsi to offer a much higher level of transparency. At Watsi, 100% of your donations directly fund medical treatments. Watsi.org is separately funded. They pay all their operational costs from their own funding, and none from your donations. They even eat the credit card processing fees. So when you donate to Watsi, you never have the uncomfortable feeling that lots of your money will be eaten up by administrative costs. Your money has impact you can measure.

I've never been so excited about anything we've funded. Try donating and you'll see why.


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