We need to maximize our climate impact by changing large companies, meaning companies worth at least $1 billion. To impact a $1B company each month, we would need to make a $50M investment each month. The threshold at which that becomes possible is when the size of our fund surpasses $1 billion. This is the goal we all need to achieve.
Some companies with lots of money would try to spend money on marketing upfront to achieve this goal. But we don't yet have the money to do that, and we wouldn't want to do that anyway, since we're trying to build a movement. The right way for us to grow is through word of mouth... with all of our supporters referring other people to join us.
Although we don't have money now, we will have money if this goal is achieved. On the day our fund hits $1B in size, we can expect that 365 days later our 1% annual fee will have brought in at least $10M in fee revenue. The people who refer their friends will deserve the credit for achieving this goal, so we want to thank them by paying them $5M.
We will split up the $5M in rewards among the top 4,766 members who refer the most people. We will create a ranking of our best referrers, weighted in favor of earlier referrals, and go down the list like this:
- One person (#1 on the list) gets $50,000
- Five people (#2 - 6) get $25,000 each
- Five people (#7 - 11) on the list get $10,000 each
- Five people (#12 - 16) on the list get $5,000 each
- 4,750 people (#17 - 4,766) on the list get $1,000 each
Anyone who fills out the commitment form
will immediately be given their personalized referral link. Whenever we track that someone signed up and committed to invest via your referral link, it's counted as your
referral and moves you up the ranking list.
Also, if we fail to ever reach the $1B goal then no money gets paid out to anyone and we all have a cry about it.
What counts as a qualified referral?
All referrals are tracked, but ultimately, when we hit $1B and finalize the referral count, you will only get credit for referrals if these conditions are met:
- You are a paying member of Trick or Treat during the month following the month when the referral happens. For example, you can refer 10 friends right away, before you're even a member, and as long as you are a member by the following month, you'll get credit. If you cancel your membership after a few months you will still get credit for all the qualified referrals you already made during the months before the month you canceled.
- The person you referred is verified to be a significant supporter of Trick or Treat in at least one of the following ways:
1) They have an active membership at the time that our fund hits $1B.
2) They had an active membership for at least 12 months, at any point.
3) We may or may not eventually build software to allow people to verify that they are investors in our fund, via an API integration to their brokerage. If we enable this, then anyone who verifies having at least $500 invested in the fund at the time that our fund hits $1B is a qualified referral.
4) If we enable investment verification, anyone who had at least $500 invested for at least 12 months, at any point, is a qualified referral.
- Your friend joins within 3 months. If more than 3 months pass between when someone clicks your link and when they join Trick or Treat, you won't get credit unless they click your link again.
- The referrals are authentic. A weasel could try spending $200 to create 20 paid memberships (to try earning $1,000) and then cancel them all after a few days. When we detect patterns like this indicating that a certain referral link is signing up inauthentic members, we will invalidate such referrals at our own discretion.
Who is eligible to participate?
This is a lawyer question, and a lawyer hasn't reviewed this yet, so I'm honestly not sure. The safe answer is that this referral program is open to US residents aged 18 or older. That's all I can guarantee, pre-lawyer. I see no reason why organizations and businesses couldn't also participate. I see no reason why people outside of the US couldn't participate. So anyone optimistic can just start sharing the link and hope that after legal review we will consider you eligible. No promises. We may disqualify people who are on the OFAC sanctions list. We will update this page later.
How will payment work?
You can choose between two approaches. If you just want money, then the first approach is for you to provide us with a W-9 (US tax form). Once we receive it we will mail you a check (or hopefully a cool, easy digital alternative). Then we will issue a 1099 for you and you will be responsible for paying taxes on the money received (or not, I don't really know, this isn't tax advice, ask your accountant).
The other option is to accept the reward as a gift card (or multiple gift cards) to a major brand. Some people on the internet say that this would NOT be taxable. Other people on the internet say that we may have to issue 1099s for giving out gift cards that are cash equivalent value. I do not yet have clarity and I will update this when I learn more.
If international participants end up being eligible then we'd probably need to collect something like a form W-8BEN.
By participating you agree to provide any required tax documentation prior to receiving payment. This is a hassle that doesn't exist when a random app pays you a $5 reward but it's worth it because... uhhh... we're giving out $5 million.
How many friends will I need to refer to get a $1,000 reward?
There's no way to predict what the actual number will be, but my best guess is that the number is shockingly low
. You will likely conclude that sharing your link widely is well worth your time. Read on for my assumptions and the math I did as I designed this program.
Vanguard's median account balance is $60,900. Their average household-weighted allocation to equities was 63%. Here I will make a wild guess that a committed Trick or Treat supporter would have a similar portfolio and would choose to invest 5% of their equity investments into Trick or Treat. That would mean that our average supporter would invest $1,918.35 into our fund. With that as our average investment size, we would need 521,281 people to invest in order to reach the $1B milestone. Very achievable.
The number of people who will participate in the referral program will likely be higher than the number of people who actually invest in the fund, but to be conservative about the popularity of both our pre-commitment form and this referral program, let's assume that those numbers are the same. That is, the conservative estimate of the total number of people who will be invited to refer a friend is 521,281. For referral programs about 1 in 5 people invited to share actually do share (according to Extole
, their median advocacy rate sits at around 19%). That means we expect that only 99,043 people will actually refer someone (I'm ignoring shares that lead to zero referrals, for simplicity).
So that's an average
of 5.26 referrals per person, but really (per Extole
), referral programs follow a power law distribution. A very small percentage of people will refer large numbers, and the majority of people will only refer 1-3 people. So I actually made an example data set of how this might play out! The Google Sheet (and accompanying charts) are here
This data seems about right to me. It's very close to following a powerlaw curve. Exactly 99,043 people making exactly 521,281 referrals. Nearly half the people refer 1 or 2. The median person refers 3. A small number refer a ton of people. So if this were to turn out to be what actually happens (no way, obviously), then you can find the answer to the question by scrolling down this data set. You'll see that person #4,766 would be the last person to qualify for $1,000, and they would qualify with 14 referrals. There are many factors that could bring this number down even lower! For example, what if several celebrities refer like 10,000 people each? That would lower the number to less than 14. What if 250,000 people sign up from hearing about us in a conversation, on TV, on a podcast, etc? If that happens you might only need like 7 referrals to get $1,000. What if the average investment amount is actually higher, like $5k? That would bring down the threshold. And then of course there is the time-weighted point system....
How does the time-weighted point system work?
Early referrals are more valuable than later ones. The referral that gets us to our first million dollars is worth more to us than the referral that takes us from $996M to $997M. It's hardest to grow in the earliest days. So, rather than treating all referrals as if they are worth the same, we will assign each referral a certain number of points, based on how early it was made. The ranked list which we will use to determine who gets rewarded will not be based on the number of referrals. Instead it will be based on the number of points. Here is the point system:
- 10 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of $0 - $100M
- 9 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$100M - $200M
- 8 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$200M - $300M
- 7 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$300M - $400M
- 6 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$400M - $500M
- 5 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$500M - $600M
- 4 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$600M - $700M
- 3 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$700M - $800M
- 2 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is in the range of >$800M - $900M
- 1 points for referrals made when the counter on our website is higher than $900M.
Note that the points are allocated based on the actual form submissions that we receive on our website (which are then updated into the counter on the home page). However, the milestone which triggers us to calculate the final points and pay out the rewards is when we have $1B invested in our actual fund, which is different from the counter on our website. We can expect that some people will fill out the form committing to invest $10k, and then for whatever reason they won't actually invest it. As a result, we might see the counter on the website reach $1.25B or $1.5B before the actual size of the fund finally hits $1B. So even if the amount committed on the website exceeds $1B, we will continue awarding 1 point for every referral until the actual fund hits $1B.
One might expect that when all is said and done, the average referral will be worth 4 or 5 points. If that's true, but you get your referrals in the early days when they are worth 10 points each, then the number of referrals needed to earn $1,000 would be even lower for you, approximately 50% of the numbers discussed above. So it's totally possible that you'd get $1,000 for like 3 referrals. I suspect the number will end up being a bit higher than that. We'll see!
What other details should I know?
- We are using the GrowSurf service to track all of our referrals. If a referral is not tracked in GrowSurf, it does not count. Be aware that there will be some cases where you might send a referral link to a friend and they will sign up, but if their browser blocks the sorts of cookies or trackers that GrowSurf uses to count referrals, then the referral won't count. If counting every referral is important to you then you can ask your friends to make sure cookies are enabled on their browser before they use your referral link.
- When people click your link they will see our normal home page, plus a little banner at the bottom that says: "NAME invited you. To accept, enter your email on this page. 🎃"
- When you first receive your referral link you should save it for future use! If you can't find it, post in our member community and we will help you track it down.
- As noted above, your referrals counting depends on you being a Trick or Treat member. We track this using your email address. Therefore, the email address you use when you fill out our "commitment to invest" form must be the same email address that you use when you join our community. If you think you have made a mistake on this, contact us in the member community.
- It would be a natural thing for someone to want to keep track of their referrals, but we don't offer a tool for this. You will receive an email notification on most occasions that someone becomes a member after clicking your link. But a full-on dashboard is not worth building, because the numbers will be unverified until after the program ends. Once we hit $1B we will take the time to verify which referrals are qualified, remove fraudulent referrals, cross-check the time at which referrals were made and funding milestones were reached, and allocate points accordingly. Throughout the campaign we will be able to share numbers about the overall numbers of referrals that have been tracked, and how many referrals individual people have made. This can give you a vague sense of how well you're doing, but ultimately none of these numbers count until after our verification process has finished.
- If there is a tie, the winner will be whoever made their first referral earlier. For example, if there are 50 remaining $1,000 rewards to give out, but there are 100 people who all have the same number of points, then those 100 people will be ranked by how early they made their first referral, and the first 50 will be given the rewards.
- We reserve the right to delay payments 90 days if we need more time to investigate potential cases of inauthentic referrals, and deal with verification. Logistics related to legal compliance may require additional time. You should be prepared to wait to receive your rewards until roughly 16 months after our fund hits the $1B mark.
- Hey, I'm really impressed that you read this far. That is a sign that you will be very successful in life. I hope all these details make sense, but keep in mind that you don't have to worry about any of this. The point of this entire project is to address the climate emergency, so feel free to just share it because you believe it is worth sharing, go on with your life, and then be pleasantly surprised if you later get a financial reward.
I don't have a referral link yet, how do I get one?
Fill out the form on the home page
. Be honest about how much you would invest. If you don't plan to invest in the fund you can enter $0 and you're still allowed to participate in the referral program.