Y Combinator, the seed accelerator known for its powerful alumni network, announced today that it will fund nonprofits in every new graduating class. Applications for the winter 2014 class opened today.
The accelerator first tested nonprofit funding with Watsi, a crowdfunding site for surgical procedures in the third world that was part of the 2013 winter class. “We had a hypothesis that many newly founded nonprofits could benefit from the same techniques we use to help startups,” wrote Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham on the company’s website.
Unlike startup companies, where a share of equity is exchanged for funding, the accelerator’s nonprofits will instead receive charitable donations. “We won’t have any financial interest in these organizations” said Graham, who notes nonprofit funding will be an experiment for Y Combinator.
We don’t know how many nonprofits we’ll fund, or what type of ideas we’ll like. We like Watsi a lot, because they help people who really need help, and do it in an efficient and transparent way. But fundamentally this is an experiment, just like YC itself was at first. So we don’t want to tell people too precisely what we’re looking for, because we’re not sure yet what we’re looking for.