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It’s a sad fact of life that we are not all born equal. People in some areas of the world experience staggering poverty, so it is dependent on the rest of us who can afford it to donate money to charity. This money will then hopefully make its way to those who need it most.
The Internet has made charitable giving really easy. Pre-Internet, charitable giving involved putting money in someone’s rattling collection box. But everything going online has streamlined the process somewhat. Clicking a “Like” button on Facebook achieves absolutely nothing. Crowdfunding is now the buzzword that gets money out of peoples pockets and into the hands of those who need it.
We start with a charity which helps people with a basic problem they have had forever. Those in developing countries quite often don’t need a lot of money to build a house, buy some animals, or start a business. Indeed to them, something like $50 is probably more money than they will ever see in a lifetime. But which bank or charity in the world is going to give them that small amount of money? The administration fees alone would not make it worth doing. If someone were to send the money by PayPal, how much of it would PayPal keep? Probably quite a lot.
That is why Kiva fills a much-needed niche. A registered charity, Kiva gives out what are called “microloans” which are simply extremely small payments which a traditional lender would not be interested in. This can be as low as $25 and as high as hundreds of dollars. What makes it even more worthy is that Kiva charges absolutely no interest on the money.
You simply credit your Kiva account with cash, decide to who to send money to (in $25 increments), and the funds will be dispersed by Kiva’s volunteers in that country. You will get status updates on that person’s project, and when they start repaying the loan, you will see the money back in your account again, ready for the next worthy recipient.
You may be wondering why we are including a cellphone network in the list. But TPO Mobile does something which no other cellphone network does. When they bill you for your phone usage every month, they will send 10% of that bill to a charitable cause of your choice. So the more talking you do on your phone, the higher that portion will be for the charity. So there’s something to tell Mom and Dad when they tell you to get off the phone. How will they respond when you tell them, “I’m talking to help support the World Ape Fund!”?
TPO has their feet in both CDMA and GSM, along with a US-based customer service. Since they don’t take any cut of that 10% going to charity, you can rest assured that the customers and the charities always come first with them. Which is what counts right? You don’t want your hard work talking away to be wasted. With high valued plans at a lower cost than other networks, this is a phone network you should seriously consider signing up with.
To kick you off on your charitable cellphone giving, TPO Mobile have a special offer for new customers. For the first month of service, you will get 20% off both the 3GB Caring Plan, or the 5GB Hero Plan. To take advantage of the offer, simply sign up and use the code BEST20.
When it comes to how our future will play out, it will all come down to one thing – education. If our children and our children’s children have access to top quality education, then they can go on to well-paid jobs which will in turn give them a higher standard of living.
But some schools are totally different than others. A lack of money means that one school may be struggling more than others to provide basic supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, and books. In fact, DonorsChoose.org was started by a New York teacher who was frustrated at only being able to find one copy of “Little House On The Prairie” for his students to read.
DonorsChoose.org is a charity which posts requests by school classrooms for things that they need which they cannot afford. Backed by celebrity Stephen Colbert, you simply find a project you want to back, donate a minimum of $1, and that money will go DonorsChoose.org. They will buy what the school has requested and ship it to them. You will get a thank you letter from the teacher and find out how your money was spent.
Philanthropy Connections employs a unique method where they find local charitable organizations, provide them with the funds to do their work, and then step back out of the way.
Philanthropy Connections is based out of Thailand, and they focus their charitable attentions on Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma (although they are also now helping Nepal as well). They look for reputable local groups who work to better the lives of others in the areas of health, education, social justice, and poverty alleviation, and help them with outside financing from donors. They leave the day-to-day “on the ground” work to the local groups, because in the words of Philanthropy Connections, “…they speak the language and they know the culture“.
Philanthropy Connections benefits from support from prominent personalities such as Dutch comedian Rob Urgert, and WWF Ambassador Harm Edens.
There are thousands and thousands of charities across the world. Many do good work, but there are a few rotten apples that ruin it for the rest. These rotten apples skim off the top, collecting hefty salaries and bonuses for themselves, as well as deducting “administration fees”, while a tiny fraction of what you donated eventually gets to the intended recipients.
Charity Navigator’s mission is to examine each registered charity and rate their performance (they have done over 8,000 so far). How much of the donation you give will eventually make its way to those who need it? How high are the quality of its programs and services? And how committed are they to openness and good governance?
So whenever you want to donate money to a particular charity or cause, simply look it up in Charity Navigator and make sure that you are sending your money to the right people. Because the last thing you want is for your hard-earned cash to be part of some CEO’s annual bonus.
Remember also that Charity Navigator themselves are a charity. To maintain impartiality, they accept no funding from charities. So they rely on donations themselves.
JustGive.org aims to be the middleman that ensures that your money makes its way to its intended destination. According to its site, 95 cents out of every dollar will go to the cause you designate, and in the last decade, they claim to have sent over $200 million in donations to tens of thousands of charities.
There are many ways you can send money: one-off donations, gift donations (to donate in someone else’s name), and “Immediate Needs” (say if an earthquake hits somewhere on the planet). Just send a minimum of $10 to JustGive, and they will send 95% of your donation on.
You can also set up your fundraising campaigns – for your favorite causes, in memory of your loved ones who have passed away, and also a wedding fundraiser, where you give up all those essential bread making machines and instead ask for all money to be sent to your favorite charities instead.
Razoo is another crowdfunding platform where you can raise money for your various causes and charities. Simply state a target amount that you want to make, set up your fundraising page, and start promoting it. People can then donate money to you, Kickstarter-style. You can either set up a personal fundraiser (raise money for your disabled child, or for wounded veterans for example), or a charitable fundraiser, where the money goes to a registered charity.
Razoo takes a fee of 4.9%, as well as a credit card processing fee of between 2% and 2.9%, and 30 cents.
Crowdrise has a rather bold tagline – “If You Don’t Give Back, No One Will Like You”. Which is a rather blunt way of telling people to fork over their cash!
Backed by stars such as John Legend, Sean Penn, and Edward Norton (among many others), Crowdrise allows you to (to quote their page):
Raise money for medical expenses, personal emergencies, tuition, volunteer projects, and for over 1.5 million amazing charities.
This works by giving you your own personal fundraising page, where you can explain what you are raising money for. Crowdrise claims that if you are a good typist, you can get your fundraising page up and running in 42 seconds. Your page will have a responsive design which will make it look good on mobile devices and tablets
With custom page branding, customer support if you run into any problems, and an administration fee of 3%, it’s easy to see why celebrities are flocking to endorse Crowdrise. Even the Red Cross and UNICEF are using them.
We end with Fundrazr, which is another crowdsourced fundraising platform. Like the others, you can use it to raise funds for medical emergencies, animal rescue, funeral and memorial costs, and “Personal Causes” (which covers a wide variety of areas such as family emergencies and legal issues). Fundrazr offers flexible funding where you can either access funds immediately, or wait till your goal has been reached before charging donors.
Donors can be anonymous and they don’t pay any fee to donate something. The recipient on the other hand pays Fundrazr 5%, plus 2.9% and 30 cents for the payment transaction with, say, PayPal or WePay.
How Do You Give Back?
There are so many ways to give money online these days that there is no reason why you can’t give up that daily Starbucks coffee and donate the money instead to a needy child in Africa. Instead of a caffeine boost, you instead get an ego boost that you did something good for the world by helping someone you don’t know.
Personally I’m making the wife sign up for that TPO Mobile deal. She talks too much on the phone anyway, so why not make some good out of that and get 10% of her bill sent to a worthy cause? The “Neglected Husbands” Organisation, anyone?
How do you donate online? What are your favorite platforms?
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