As I mentioned not so long ago, and starting on November 1st, Fight Aging! will be doing something a little different in 2016 to support the end of year SENS rejuvenation research charitable fundraising efforts coordinated by the SENS Research Foundation staff. I would hope that I don't have to repeat to the audience here just how important this work is to the future - for ourselves, our descendants, for humanity as a whole. Aging is by far the greatest cause of suffering and death in the world, and we stand on the verge of being able to treat and prevent the causes of aging. Yet we live in a society of bread and circuses in which medical research is given little attention and little funding in comparison to the benefits it can bring. Medical research for aging receives but a tiny fraction of that pittance. Most of the important lines of work leading to human rejuvenation through repair of the cell and tissue damage that causes aging are still near-completely funded by philanthropy, through the foresight and generosity of communities like ours. If we can push things forward to the point at which they are picked up by established funding sources, that is a victory, one that leads to companies and products in development. We have achieved that for some types of rejuvenation therapy, but more must be accomplished yet.
So we in the grassroots have all been pitching in for years now, nearing a dozen fundraisers by my count, and this year we saw the big leap ahead represented by Michael Greve's $10 million pledge - a significant step forward. It was also a year in which we found smaller fundraisers more of a challenge than in the recent past. Donor fatigue is a real concern; the new crowdfunding platforms are an amazing tool, but reaching out several times a year produces diminishing returns. We've been taking things project by project and year by year in an ad-hoc manner, each its own effort, a new outreach. This is a long race of many years, however, not a series of sprints. The SENS Research Foundation's new Project|21 initiative should remind us of that, as their goalposts are explicitly set five years out, with a lot of implicit followup to continue on from there. Similarly for those of us who have invested in startups working on SENS technologies this year and last: a biotechnology startup is a project that comes to fruition in its own time, and that is likely five years or more in the average case. So perhaps we advocates banging the drum in the grassroots need to slow down a little and set up for the longer haul in our initiatives.
It is with this sort of thinking in mind that Josh Triplett, whom you may recall generously aided in setting up the 2015 matching fund, and I are each putting up $12,000 to encourage existing supporters and new arrivals to become SENS Patrons: to set up recurring monthly donations to the SENS Research Foundation. This will start when this year's SENS Research Foundation end of year initiative starts, on November 1st, and this Fight Aging! support will slot into that broader effort. Starting on November 1st, from the $24,000 fund Josh and I will match - dollar for dollar - a year of donations for anyone who becomes a SENS Patron by creating a new recurring donation. We think that this is a good way to help set up a solid of philanthropic grassroots support. Take a moment to look back at the history of the our community, all the way back to the launch of the Methuselah Foundation's 300, a group of people pledging monthly donations to the organization. The 300 initiative was instrumental in launching the Methuselah Foundation, and thus also instrumental in launching the first SENS research programs years before the SENS Research Foundation spun off into its own organization. The 300 remain an important part of the Methuselah Foundation's support today, providing a solid core of funding for a range of projects, including rejuvenation research. That is a good thing to emulate, we think.
$24,000 is a start, not the final word. We are looking for additional supporters willing to add their weight to this SENS Patrons matching fund. If you are interested please do contact me. The more people to put their shoulder to the wheel, the faster it turns. The way that organizations become attractive enough for high net worth donors to write seven figure checks is for there to be a large crowd at the gates, demonstrating their support. When it comes to philanthropy, wealth always follows the enthusiasm of the crowds, and it is the role of advocates and early donors to help draw in those crowds, to persuade ordinary folk just like you and I that this business of rejuvenation biotechnology is serious, plausible, and, given the funding, imminent. Bootstrapping a movement is always hard, but in this case the payoff is truly enormous. We are entering the era in which money can buy additional years of healthy life, which today means paying for progress in the right lines of medical research, and we can help to make it happen.