Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Seattleite Spotlight: Doug Clerget of Dollar Per Month

Saving the world, one dollar at a time.

Though he’s only 33, Doug Clerget has already notched some truly impressive achievements, including a certificate in financial management from Wharton, a successful career as a real estate broker/developer and his recent appearance as a contestant on ‘The Bachelorette’. But two things matter most of all to this Northwest native: Dollar Per Month Charitable Foundation, the revolutionary philanthropy site he co-founded last December, and Austin, his 12-year-old son.

Doug Clerget of Dollar Per Month. Photo by Charlie Ainslie.

How did being raised by your grandfather (a well-known local philanthropist also named Doug Clerget) influence your attitudes about giving back?

My grandfather was a guy’s guy. He was responsible for a lot of good things in Federal Way, because that’s where he decided to set up his roots early on. One of the lines grandpa always said was, ‘I only ever took what I need, and I gave the rest away.’

How did fatherhood shape who you are today? 

During my senior year of college, I found out I was going to be a dad. I planned to go to Harvard graduate school but when I found out, I canceled everything to be a dad. My son ended up being born at 25 weeks. He was only a pound and a half at birth, and spent four months in the hospital. He’s had some health issues, but now he gets straight A’s and just finished his first kids’ triathalon. Austin is a stud. He’s a voracious reader, and he’s actually really excited about DPM. I got lucky because Austin is not just a good kid, but a good person.

Where did you get the idea for Dollar Per Month?

About a year ago, I was thinking about leaving my real estate career and going to UW med school to be a pediatrician. I was talking to Austin about what we were going to do. He remembered something I once said about “one person changing the world”, and told me he didn’t think just one person could change the world. I started thinking about it that night, and that was the start of DPM. I thought, you know what, I can show Austin and change the world.

You teamed up with your cousin, Jason Clerget, to launch DPM last December. What did each of you bring to the table? 

Jason is the creative side. He is extremely intelligent and business-minded, but he is amazingly good with graphics and design. The reason the site looks so cool is Jason, and we wanted DPM to appeal to the Facebook generation. I do a lot of the organizational stuff, interface with the charities, handle a lot of long-term business planning, etc. I’m pretty good at thinking about what we need to do today, tomorrow, next month and next year to achieve our goals.

What’s the significance of the name, ‘Dollar Per Month’?

We struggled with the name. But we thought ‘Dollar Per Month’ said exactly who we are. Most people have an extra few dollars every month. With one less coffee or lunch out, you can create positive change by combining a little extra money with everybody else’s extra money. All of a sudden, we are talking about a lot of money that can be put to good use. If you’ve got an extra dollar per month, give it away. If somebody doesn’t have a dollar per month for charity, those are the people we’re trying to help anyway.

How does the site work? 

DPM hosts three charities per month that have been vetted for making a difference and affecting real change in their given field of philanthropy, and have a track record of financial responsibility with donor contributions, allowing them a platform through which DPM members can learn about that organization. And it provides a fun and engaging way to give back to those organizations by allowing voters to vote. The monthly pool of money is dispersed at 50, 30 and 20 percent, so no charity loses. Our goal for the site is to operate at 90 to 95 percent distribution; this means that for every dollar that comes into the site, at least 90 to 95 cents are donated to the charities that DPM supports.

What is the Social Impact Score?

The Social Impact Score is a fun way to keep track of your DPM profile and build your philanthropic social network. The best part of the SIS is that a person doesn’t have to give the most each month to be a Top Donor. They can easily accomplish this be being active on the site and sharing information about DPM via other social networking sites. The site automatically tallies these numbers and showcases the Top 100 scores.

What is the ultimate goal of DPM? 

The goal for DPM is $10 million a month in donations. Everybody thinks that is a huge number. It’s actually not. Very roughly, there are 250 million active daily Facebook users in the United States. If I can get 1 percent of Facebook to donate $4 a month, then that’s $10 million a month.

Overall, how was your experience on ‘The Bachelorette’? 

The overall experience was really great, genuinely. I’m my own worst critic watching the show now, but living the experience was amazing. I met some very cool and talented people and I got to travel to places that weren’t even on my radar to visit. I am very happy that I made the decision to go.

If you could go on another reality TV show, which one would you choose?

That one is easy. I would do ‘The Amazing Race’ with my cousin Jason. I love to travel and I love competition. Jason and I make a great team and travel well together. It would be a ton of fun.

The three charities selected for July are Modest Needs, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Network. Please visit Dollar Per Month online for more information about voting for these organizations, making donations and building a Social Impact Score – as well as details about the swanky fundraisers DPM puts on every month.

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About Brad Nehring

Brad Nehring is a lifelong resident of the Seattle area. He is currently a freelance writer, but has previously worked for the US Forest Service, Amazon.com, and the Peace Corps, among others. His hobbies include hiking, playing basketball, and designing tattoos.
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