# Financial donations by StackExchange - how do the moderators fit in?

I have just read that at every end of a year, the moderators of all the communities under the StackExchange umbrella decide on some donations to various organizations of public international interest (or, at least, this is what I have understood of that post).

Since this also involves the moderators of MathSE, I would like to ask them to detail how this process works and, if this is not private, to what organizations they chose to allocate that money (in 2016, as well as in the past years). (Since that money is not "ours" but rather belongs to SE, the MathSE moderators are not held to be publicly accountable for whom they decide to it to, but it would be nice and transparent if they agreed to share the information asked for above.)

The relevant quotes from the linked post (all emphasis mine):

"In the next year, we grew to twenty-four employees and 130+ moderators across 38 sites, so it seemed only fitting to get our Moderators more involved in the process. An invitation went out where we offered to make a $100 donation to a selected charity on behalf of each Moderator representing their community." "[...] we are able to make the following donations to charity on behalf of the 509 moderators of Stack Exchange [...]" • I down-vote this post as I think it is not any of your business which moderator chose which organization. The selectable organizations are listed anyway and overall things are fairly evenly distributed. I cannot see what providing this information could accomplish except maybe pointless discussions. // As a mod on another site, I chose WIkimedia this year, but I do not even recall what I did last year. – quid Dec 22 '16 at 14:13 • @quid: While I myself have already said that the moderators are not legally held to be accountable for their choices concerning donations, I believe that they are morally so by virtue of the fact that they are moderators by our vote, not by birth. As such, a bit of transparency towards the electors surely wouldn't hurt. It's entirely optional, of course, but I consider it to be a good governance practice. There are mandatory practices, and there are recommended practices; I'd say that this one is among the recommended, non-mandatory ones. – Alex M. Dec 22 '16 at 14:21 • Quite frankly, I consider what you are trying to do here as a 'cargo cult.' Let's say each moderator says what they chose. What do you intend to do with this information? Will a mod's choice inform your future interactions with that moderator or evaluation of the actions of said moderator? If so, are you sure this is a good idea? Do you think feedback should be given on the choice? If so, in what form and to what end? Is the mere information about the choice enough or ought a moderator write a short essay to justify and explain their choice, contrasting the merits of the organizations etc.? – quid Dec 22 '16 at 14:44 • @AlexM. What?! Are we also morally bound to indicate who we vote for in moderator elections? real elections? What smartphones we own? This attitude of a non-negligible segment of the this community that somehow the site moderators owe the community any more than our volunteer services as outlined in A Theory of Moderation and adhere to the moderator agreement is most perplexing. For the record, I selected the charity of NYDB. – user642796 Dec 22 '16 at 14:47 • @arjafi: Your mixing of disparate things and harsh tone make me look and feel bad. Your voting in moderator elections, in "the real world" and using your smartphone do not involve your quality of MSE moderator and as such when doing them you are morally bound only towards your moral conscience and nobody else. OTOH, when exercising freedoms that come from the quality of moderator, you are morally (not legally, unless explicitly specified) bound to those who bestowed that quality upon you. The links that you are providing discuss only the legal side of moderating, not the moral one. – Alex M. Dec 22 '16 at 15:21 • I'd disagree with that, this is not actually something the community is involved in. The idea behind it was to thank the volunteer moderators for their work, it's really between the moderators and SE. It also applies to appointed moderators, not only elected ones. – user9733 Dec 22 '16 at 15:29 • @AlexM. Following this, I guess that you are also morally bound to explain every action you take on math.se that involves using a non-trivial privilege. I mean, those privileges have been granted to you by the community through votes of some kind. For example, what about the votes you have cast so far to-UTC-day? That would seem to have at least as much to do with using community-granted privileges as my selecting some charity to receive some money from the company. – user642796 Dec 22 '16 at 15:44 • @MadScientist: Thank you for those clarifications, they are indeed useful and together with your post answer my question. Why not add them as an edit to your answer? – Alex M. Dec 22 '16 at 15:52 • @arjafi: You are again deforming my arguments to suit your point of view, which saddens me a bit: I am not asking the moderators to explain their choices, but merely to make them public. It's about transparency, not justifications; about choices, not about guilt. For the record, though, I am ready to be questioned about each and every vote that I have cast (I would prefer, in fact, that voting were not anonymous); also, if I were a moderator, I would publicly state my choices for charities. Anyway, MadScientist's comment has clarified things, thank you. – Alex M. Dec 22 '16 at 15:58 • The opportunity to direct a portion of the StackExchange donations was presented as a thank you to the moderators for their volunteer work. I see this as a vote to determine how SE should direct its charitable donations. I don't see a moral obligation to make these votes public. Since StackExchange is a business with investors, it may need to disclose its charitable contributions, but the charity vote of the individual moderators seems to be as private as most other votes a moderator makes. – robjohn Dec 22 '16 at 23:34 ## 1 Answer Every year SE write an email to every moderator on the SE network. In that mail they ask the moderators to chose one charity out of a list picked by SE, usually there are around 5 different charities. For every moderator (not moderator per site, so multi-site moderators count only once) SE donates$100 to the selected charities, distributed by the choice the moderators made.

The donation is made by SE, the moderators don't get a tax deduction or anything like that. Just the amount and the choice of charities (within the SE-provided list) is determined by the moderators.

• Actually, every year from 2012 to 2016 there were five different charities/foundations. I changed your answer. – wythagoras Dec 22 '16 at 19:37
• @wythagoras That number was from memory, and in my defense in 2011 it was 4 charities, but more recent ones have 5 in the list. – user9733 Dec 22 '16 at 19:56
• I don't remember being given a choice of the amount, just the charity. Perhaps I missed an option to divide my choice among more than one charity. – robjohn Dec 22 '16 at 23:39
• @robjohn No, you didn't miss anything. That sentence is just a bit unclear because I'm switching perspective between moderators and SE there. The distribution is by the sum of all the moderator choices, but each moderator can't split their choice. – user9733 Dec 23 '16 at 9:09