Side Hustle (FAIL): Becoming a Sperm Donor

by J. Money - [Edit]

sperm donor mug

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(**If you’re sensitive to the nature of this matter, you should avert your eyes now.** But if you’re not, and you’ve always wondered how to get paid to donate sperm, you’re in for a real treat ;) This was sent in by Mike, a fellow blogger and reader, who wants people to know that not all side hustles always go as planned… Though at least he got to be famous on a blog for it! Tell us how it went down, Mike…)

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Here’s How NOT to Get Paid Being a Sperm Donor…

It all started by applying with a company in New York City that specializes in fertility issues.

If anyone is considering doing this as a side-hustle, I feel that they should know exactly all the demanding procedures involved in the qualification process. I thought I could walk into the company’s office, sign a few papers, and start donating sperm to my heart’s content.

I was in for a rude awakening.

The program has a strict anonymity policy for donors, and any expression on social media about being a sperm donor is prohibited. For example, you can’t include any identifying information in your donor profile that can also be found online (e.g., pictures of yourself, descriptions of any physical attributes, posting your donor ID#, etc.). Also, you cannot confirm nor deny that you are a sperm donor with a company in New York City.

With that being said, here is what becoming a sperm donor entails.

Basic requirements:

  1. Be at least 5’9” tall.
  2. Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  3. Be somewhere between ages 19-38 years old.

Step #1: The Application Process

Initially I had to provide the company with several sperm samples, as part of the application process. This meant commuting into the city, meeting with the donor receptionist, and *ahem*, you know, doing something into a little cup. I didn’t receive any compensation for this; however, the company did give me little perks (e.g., a $20 Amazon gift card) for submitting samples.

In addition to providing semen samples for analysis, I was also required to fill out an extensive family tree document that included information about my siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., as well as my family’s medical history. That document took about two days worth of research and digging into my family’s history to complete.

Step #2: Becoming an Acceptable Applicant

I eventually was deemed an acceptable applicant, and a donor coordinator then provided me with an orientation to the program (i.e., a general welcome presentation). I was compensated $60 for completing the donor profile and making an “initial donation.”

The company checked out all my information, provided me with a donor ID#, and entered me into their system as a conditionally qualified sperm donor. That meant that I would soon be making money through my sperm donations. This was about three months after initially applying.

Step #3: Being Seen by a Licensed Physician

The next step was to be seen by a licensed physician, and I was compensated $50 for getting a physical (turn your head and cough sort of thing). The company then asked me to provide another sperm sample, which acted as my first “retainable specimen” for the company.

(Note: I had already provided 4 or 5 specimens for them up to this point)

That day I also gave a blood sample to the company, and spent approximately 90 minutes filling out and reviewing a Medical Social Questionnaire. Though at least I was finally getting paid some real money for my efforts, as I was compensated $125.

Furthermore, to become a fully qualified  sperm donor it takes approximately two to three more months to complete the rest of the screening procedures.

Before I divulge this qualification process information, here’s what being a conditionally qualified sperm donor entails:

  • Donate at least once per week, up to three times per week
  • Abstain from ejaculation(s) for 24-48 hrs between each donation
  • Make enough to fill two small vials to satisfy an “acceptable donation” (and get paid $125)
  • Provide urine analysis once per month, which is used for STD testing.

Step #4: The Psych Evaluation

Once I reached the conditionally qualified phase, things began to run more smoothly as I would be compensated the full amount for donations. Additionally, all applicants have to submit to a psychological evaluation with a psychologist affiliated with the company in New York City.  This is another day spent trekking into the city on my own dime.

It’s pertinent to mention the travel costs associated with the application process too.  I spent approximately $180 on train tickets and random meals getting to all these various appointments.

The psych eval is just as extensive in itself. I was grilled for two hours about my behavior, attitudes, and life experiences, and was also asked to complete an additional 300-item questionnaire! Then the doctor asked me more questions about my life based upon the answers I submitted to her survey. It turned out to be a disaster, and ultimately I “didn’t pass” the psych eval.

So, after six months of going through this entire application process, in the end I was sent home packing. I never reached the fully qualified stage, and ended up sinking a lot of effort and time into something that eventually became fruitless.

In Summary…

If you think this is a viable side-hustle, let me give you my numbers from the whole endeavor. And keep in mind, again, that getting to the phase where I was compensated the full $125 per sperm donation took about five-six months from the time I initially applied.

In total I was paid $460 from the company, spent $180 on train tickets and food in the city, and then ended up shelling out another $407 to remove a virus from my laptop that was probably the result of watching too much porn (which included a $251 repair fee, and two years of anit-virus software for protecting my network).

All together, that means I netted -$127 after almost half a year of my life. Womp Womp.

So, If someone is really serious about becoming a sperm donor, be aware of exactly how thorough the screening process is, and how much effort you have to put into schlepping into the city and filling out BS medical history forms!  You’re gonna have to be in it for the long haul, and need to decide if it’s really worth it for you because the road to being able to donate regularly is anything but smooth.  #FML

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Daaang, sucks man! But appreciate you sharing! You guys can find Mike at his own blog, theRideShareLove.com, too btw. Where hopefully it’s going better ;) (Update: blog has since been shut down, d’oh.)

Anyone here have any SUCCESS in doing this? Anyone brave enough to tell us? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments… I know it can be quite profitable since you’re ALWAYS hearing about this on every last “ways to earn money” list, but who knew the process was so involved?

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PS: If this hustle doesn’t turn you on (get it? Turn you on?? Cuz we’re talking about sperm? Sigh…) check out our entire list of 60+ ways to make money on the side… Something for everyone there!

[Mug up top by WitticismsRus, and also for sale @ Etsy ;)]

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 weenie April 22, 2016 at 7:25 am

Aside from bar work, this was the other ‘side hustle’ that the guys at uni did to earn cash for their booze!

I guess regulations mean that the screenings are a lot tougher these days but it was easy money back then for 19-20 year old guys, getting paid for doing what they would do for free anyway!

I think us girls were a bit jealous – it wasn’t like we could make money donating our eggs on a regular basis!

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2 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 7:38 am

Haha true… Though you can get some mad $$$ for them when you do donate! Maybe it equals out in the end? 1 egg = 180 samples? ;)

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3 Petra April 22, 2016 at 12:27 pm

180 times of fun equals one time that you first have to feed yourself crazy levels of hormones, and then someone sticks a needle inside of you through your vagina? Yeah, I’d be the guy if I could.

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4 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Well, wasn’t meaning it in that regard – just comparing the financial aspect. It’s of course way different for a number of reasons.

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5 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers April 22, 2016 at 7:30 am

Looking on the bright side, at least you ended up with two days worth of family history. it might not have any monetary value but that can have a ton of personal value. Now you just need to go to a site like FamilySearch.com :)

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6 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 7:40 am

YES!!! New hobby right there – building out your family tree to be passed down through generations…

“Who started this tree, dad?” “Oh, your great great grandfather during his search to turn semen into cash” Haha…. The legend would be grand ;)

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7 Apathy Ends April 22, 2016 at 7:33 am

I “donated” plasma for about 3 years in college – literally grocery and beer money.

Even though my days of being a potential sperm donor are over (don’t think my wife would be into that idea) I was curious how the process/requirements worked.

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8 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 7:41 am

We’ll have to do one of these for plasma too… You always hear about that as well but have no idea how that goes down myself?

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9 Peter Noffsinger April 22, 2016 at 8:18 am

Plasma donation isn’t that bad to be honest. You can donate up to twice a week and there are bonuses for recurring donations. J, I still do it regularly so if you have any questions, feel free to ask or send me an email

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10 Brad April 22, 2016 at 8:19 am

I also did the plasma thing in college. They give you(or at least 10 years ago they gave you) a set amount the first time you go in based on your weight. Each time after that, you get a lower amount.

If I remember correctly, I got $45 the first time in and then each time after that it was $25. They would allow you to donate plasma 3 times a week(every other day).

My roommate weighed a little more. His first time was $70 with it being $35 each time after that.

All that we had to do was a basic screening the first time(it took approximately a hour). They asked us sex questions, took a urine sample, and that was it. It would normally take 40-60 minutes to donate.

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11 Apathy Ends April 22, 2016 at 3:50 pm

I went twice a week for about 1.5 hours each time, sat there and read books or studied. The payout varried depending on how desperate they were.

Ranges
1st time each week 30-50
2nd time 40-75

So you could get between 70 and $125 each week for about 4 hours total including drive time.

They usually did the huge payouts when all the college kids went back home to fill slots.

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12 Apathy Ends April 22, 2016 at 4:55 pm

In this same area, there was a medical testing company in my college area, basically they paid you to be Guinea Pigs on new drugs…… I am sure it was safe for the most part but they paid a TON of money for certain studies.

Some you had to stay at the facility and be under observation/blood draws every few hours for a week

They paid a few grand – I stayed away from that, but I had college friends do it multiple times

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13 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Awesome info guys – thx!

What a day of learning about fluids! Haha… Gotta love it though ;)

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14 Brian @ debt discipline April 22, 2016 at 8:16 am

Reading the title I feared the worst, I thought maybe an injury was involved. :) Considering the amount of time and what you are donating, you would think this hustle would be a little more lucrative.

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15 Preston @TheDrunkMillionaire April 22, 2016 at 8:27 am

Wow! Do you think they’d pay extra for a Master’s Degree? Haha!

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16 Mike B. April 22, 2016 at 9:14 am

You could have a doctorate and it’d still be $125 per donation. Go figure

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17 Revanche April 22, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Now, if degrees were a heritable trait, I bet that’d change :)

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18 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:13 pm

HAH!

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19 Lisa O April 22, 2016 at 8:42 am

I didn’t know that they required a 4 year degree ~ that just made me laugh! To bad they don’t have requirements for all people to be parents…..this might just be a different world.

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20 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Yeah – so crazy that there are people who DON’T want children and/or are bad parents who end up having them, and then there’s those who would do anything to bring children into this world – and love all over them – but can’t :( makes you wonder, man…

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21 Ramona @ Personal Finance Today April 26, 2016 at 6:46 am

Yeah, same with adoptions, that are VERY strict as well. I can appreciate the care that comes to finding suitable parents for abandoned children, but apparently there’s absolutely no requirement to become a natural parent. :D

Anyway.. awesome story.

I do think back in the day the process was a bit less strict as it’s now, so sperm donation probably worked OK for some in the past.

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22 The Green Swan April 22, 2016 at 9:05 am

I don’t think they could pay me enough to do that, wouldn’t like the idea of an unidentified “mini me” being out there. Plus, wife wouldn’t allow that at this point anyway…

The Green Swan

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23 Mike B. April 22, 2016 at 9:22 am

They do give you more money at the conclusion of the program for people who elect to have their contact information released to offspring who reach 18 (i.e., “open donors”) than an anonymous donor (it’s like $500 vs. $300 if i recall correctly); if you get that far.

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24 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Interesting!

I never thought about this before, but yeah – if I were the kid I would die to know who my blood father was when I grew up! So yes – I’d probably opt for that whether it comes with an extra bonus or not…

In another line of thought – what if you end up having like 16 kids everywhere???? Is that a possibility? What if you had super sperm/qualities and had 1,000???

OMG – I can’t take this… it’s getting too crazy to think about, haha…

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25 EL April 22, 2016 at 9:38 am

I guess it makes sense making it a grueling process because then every joe on the block would be doing it. Everyone wants high quality, even in sperm donations, haha. A lesson learned I guess. Good luck and keep hustling.

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26 The Millennial Budget April 22, 2016 at 9:47 am

Not sure what having a degree proves, that made me laugh. Never realized how long the process was. May be too long for a side hustle haha and my girlfriend will kill me if I did this so no point :(

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27 Joe April 22, 2016 at 10:52 am

Yikes! The process is tougher than I thought. I don’t qualify…

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28 Steve @ Think Save Retire April 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

Wow – I had considered giving blood or plasma in the past as a side hustle, but not this. Looks like I had the right idea. Even if I did manage to pass all the B.S. to get through their road blocks, the time, effort and expense could definitely be quite daunting.

No thanks! :)

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29 Brian April 22, 2016 at 11:52 am

After reading this, I have to wonder, as someone who is adopted and has no knowledge of their medical history if I would just be auto rejected. Maybe I should find a local place around here and find out.

Personally I would much rather be a poop donor (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/01/29/you-can-earn-13000-a-year-selling-your-poop/)

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30 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Oh my gosh, haha…. *makes note for new hustle to cover* ;)

Inline with the adoption part, though, what do you think about people electing to have their contact info given out once the kid hits 18 like Mike mentioned above? Would you want to have access to it as an adopted kid? Or do you have that chance now to find out if you wanted to? I feel like I would be way too curious not to, but I know it’s different for everyone… (Sorry if it’s a too personal question – don’t feel like you have to answer of course!)

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31 Brian April 24, 2016 at 8:31 pm

I’m an even more abnormal adoption case. I was adopted from a different country while my parents were working over there. Up until the mid 2000s it was technically illegal for me to even try to find out who my birth parents are (of course there were always ways).

The government of this country has set up a website for adopted children to connect with their birth parents where each side gets to specify the level of contact they are willing to do. Such as medical history only, email/phone communication all the way up to willing to meet. Personally I have been pretty lazy about the entire thing, because I know I ended up in a loving home and in the end, my parents provided me with opportunities I probably would not have had if I hadn’t been adopted.

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32 J. Money April 25, 2016 at 7:04 am

Well I’m certainly glad for the happy ending :) Thanks for sharing, man – pretty intriguing!

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33 Sunny April 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Well, this adopted person is pretty grossed out by a guy who would consider selling his kids for a couple bucks. Interesting that the company gets all the ‘family history’ only to keep it from the poor kids whom it belongs to. It took me 10 years to find my authentic family history, because of state laws–growing up in the dark is no picnic. When I needed extra money, I got a job at Home Depot part-time in addition to my full time job. Extra money, and no abandoned children.

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34 superbien April 22, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Sounds like you have a sore shot there, and it sounds pretty painful. I’m sorry that was so hard for you.

I’m not sure that abandonment is the right term, though. I have a friend who desperately wanted a baby, but couldn’t go the PIV route. She got a sperm donation and now has a desperately loved child in a stable 2-parent home. This kid will be the opposite of abandoned.

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35 J. Money April 24, 2016 at 11:03 am

Yeah, this post doesn’t do the *real* reasons these places exist any justice (being on a personal finance blog and all), but regardless of the intentions of donating I’ll agree it’s adding a major benefit into the world for those who have always dreamed of having kids but who cannot. In a perfect world though no one would be hurt in the process, of course :(

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36 Kim April 22, 2016 at 12:26 pm

This made me think it might be better to perform the psych eval first. Or maybe the maybe the point was to stress you out so much with the other stuff that you couldn’t help but not pass. :) Brilliant share. Thanks!

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37 Mike B. April 25, 2016 at 9:46 am

Haha yeah, not sure who is being hustled here. Or schedule it for last, and push it off as much as possible to milk the compensation checks (which are tax-free btw)? That would be my two cents.

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38 J. Money April 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

Tax-free???

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39 Revanche April 22, 2016 at 1:27 pm

What a lot of time only to lose money :/

Not that I’d have the choice as a woman but if I did, I’d always have this creepy feeling about having your reproductive juice out there under someone else’s control. I know that family is both nature AND nurture but what if your sperm went to separate mothers who conceived successfully and those kids fell for each other someday? Ewwww! (Don’t talk to me about odds, IT COULD HAPPEN!)

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40 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Yeah it could!!!

And there needs to be a movie about this! :)

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41 Catwoman73 April 22, 2016 at 4:07 pm

This wouldn’t work in Canada- it is illegal here to pay anyone for donation of any kind of tissue, including blood, eggs, sperm, embryos, or otherwise. For egg donors, travel and medication costs can be reimbursed, but that is all. There is no money to be made here, though you would be shocked how many people donate out of the goodness of their hearts!

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42 J. Money April 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Woahhh, really?? That is fascinating!

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43 Get FIRE'd asap April 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Perhaps, rather than do it for money, they do it simply for the pleasure…….

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44 Get FIRE'd asap April 22, 2016 at 8:28 pm

lol, I love this story. A whole new side-hustle angle I would never have thought of. I do recall hearing that a donor is only allowd to contribute a certain amount to ensure that there doesn’t end up being tens or hundreds of offspring with similar DNA wandering around out there. Could prove to be a big issue down the track. So it could be that you would only have a limited time to make your ‘fortune’ in this job. I did wonder, did they provide any insurance for job related injuries? Blisters, carpel tunnel syndrome, occupational overuse?

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45 Michelle April 22, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Wow, this is so interesting! I had no idea that SO much work had to be put into this, haha.

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46 Kevin April 22, 2016 at 9:40 pm

The movies make it seem so simple…

Fill out a form.. walk into a bright lighted room with horrid wallpaper..doing the business to old historic playboys… PROFIT

Guess there is more to it..

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47 J. Money April 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

Haha, I know, right?

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48 superbien April 22, 2016 at 11:04 pm

This was a great article J! Fascinating. I really associated his walking us through it.

My one question – why on earth was his laptop cleaning relevant, and why did it count against his profit? Without that, he’s still ahead, and I don’t see how sperm donation and his personal laptop are related. Unless we’re saying that he looked at that porn only for this gig? Which… Come on. But if so, mighty selfless of him to make that sacrifice! For science, and all. :D

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49 Chris Jones April 24, 2016 at 7:45 am

Exactly what I was going to post. He could have gotten that virus anywhere.

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50 J. Money April 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

Yeah, seems like a stretch but at least it made the story more interesting ;)

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51 Hannah April 23, 2016 at 4:49 pm

This is actually pretty hilarious to me… I’m surprised its not more lucrative. The ejaculation restriction seems a little crazy to me.

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52 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank April 23, 2016 at 5:57 pm

I don’t qualify. Why height matters in being a sperm donor?

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53 weenie April 24, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Maybe cos most woman prefer tall to short guys?

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54 Team CF April 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

It was worth a shot….. ;-)

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55 J. Money April 25, 2016 at 6:59 am

ZING! Haha…

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56 Amy @ DebtGal April 29, 2016 at 8:25 am

Interesting! I didn’t realize this process was so involved. But I guess that’s a good thing, considering what the, er, donations are being used for.

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