A continuing series on how the internet has changed everyday life (big surprise huh?), charitable giving has been changed as well. In terms of large charities there are now sites like Charity Navigator that let you find out how efficient, focused, reliable, etc. the charities are before giving. I consider this to be a great benefit both to stewardship of my personal finances and an encouragement to transparency and integrity on the part of the charities.
In terms of small, directed charitable efforts (which is what led me to write this) there are now sites for that as well. I suppose it probably started with KickStarter for businesses but now there are sites that are much more open-ended. The one in question is GoFundMe which I became aware of when a commenter at my favorite blog was unfairly (his boss admitted as much) suspended from work with no pay and another commenter created a funding drive to provide a month's living expenses for him and his family. After that, another commenter created a drive to get a book published.
Which leads me to my point, which is that I have started my first GoFundMe drive. It is for another commenter at the same blog who has been there for a couple of years and whose comments I've appreciated. He is a divorced single dad with one son a little older than my oldest and due to a job/state change has been unable to get insurance because of pre-existing diabetes and heart condition. On Monday, at the urging of other commenters, he went into the ER even though he was hesitant to due so because of finances. It's good he did since he is scheduled for a triple-bypass this coming Monday. The fund is to help him with the medical expenses associated with the surgery as well as helping him retire the debt from his *last* medical problem. The commenters at the blog we mutually read have already been very generous.
The nice thing about having a third-party site (even though they do take a small fee) is that a lot of the organizational aspects are taken care of and it greatly simplifies communication and expands awareness of the giving opportunity while adding legitimacy to the campaign.. Beyond the actual site though, I used Twitter both to contact the person who had first made me aware of GoFundMe and the recipient since I don't have phone numbers or even emails for them. I used the mutual blog (and Twitter again) to let people all over the country know of the need and chance to do something so that we are already 10% of the way to our goal. And I did it all starting yesterday afternoon. The quick response time may well be the single greatest change in private, small charitable giving. Combined with the wider reach offered by social media, it is a change that has potential for a lot of good.
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