Local Resolutions Part 5 of 29
This is the fifth in a series of 29 ways to help your local community online in 2010. If you missed it, you may wish to read the introductory post.
In this post, I suggest that making small charitable donations publicly online is a great way to help others from behind the comfort of your keyboard, and I challenge you to start today with a donation to Lancaster’s homeless shelter Clare House. I have already written about joining the local Freecycle group, sharing traffic reports, inventing new awards, and responding to questions in Yahoo Answers.
I’m willing to bet that if you’re the kind of person reading this blog (and especially this series), you’re the kind of person who gives to charity. In fact, I’m willing to bet you do so generously—even sacrificially—and in a way that is at least a little bit strategic or methodical.
Let me suggest an addition to your method/strategy: Give money online. In small amounts. Do it publicly.
The most obvious example of how to do this is Facebook Causes. There you can connect with charitable causes eager for your tax-deductible gifts. If you’re like me, the tax-deductible part doesn’t matter one bit (as if I’m anywhere close to the standardized deduction), and if it does matter to you—bless you, and please ignore the parts of this post where I use the word “small.”
Make it a habit
Over the past six months or so, I have tried to make it a habit to give whenever a friend of mine asks me to do so online. Twice, friends have chosen to ask for donations to their favorite cause in honor of their birthday as part of the Facebook Causes “Birthday Wish” program. (If you have the Causes app connected to your Facebook account, you should receive an e-mail inviting you to participate about two weeks before your birthday.) As I result, I made gifts to the National Psoriasis Foundation and to Charity:Water (which was Twitter user Brian Soward‘s wish).
Also, because I am a fan of Image Journal (a fantastic periodical) on Facebook, Gregory Wolfe, the editor and publisher, included me in a note asking to consider making a donation to keep Image alive. I couldn’t give much, but I gave.
And then there were a few other times when friends gave me the opportunity to support them in fundraisers that had online donation systems on the organizations’ own websites.
I can’t say for sure that this is true in every case, but I know that in some cases my act of giving contributed toward positive momentum. It’s like penguins crowding together at the edge of the ice, waiting to see who jumps in first. Is this legit? Will a small gift from me matter? It takes a few brave people to show that yes, the water’s fine.
How to give online
My suggestion is to take whatever amount you typically give in charity/tithe and allot a portion of it to online social giving. I think giving online, particularly on Facebook Causes, is like the poor man’s matching gift. You know, the old standby of a big donor promising to give $5,000 if the organization can first raise $5,000 from other donors.
Well, I can’t give $5,000. But I can give $10. And when you see that I’ve given $10, that may look to you like a challenge. He’s just given $10. If I give another $10, that’s beginning to be more than a small drop in the bucket.
In 2010, consider making online giving a habit. If you do, get the most out of it by sharing the opportunity with your friends and encouraging them to catch the momentum you’ve started. Create a snowball effect.
Start right now
Because there’s no time to waste when it comes to doing good, I want to challenge you to join me right now in giving a small amount to an important cause right here in Lancaster.
As of 8:30 tonight, $0 had been donated to Clare House through Facebook Causes. I’ve just donated $10. Join me. Go to the Clare House Facebook Cause now and chip in $10.
Clare House is located on East Chestnut Street here in Lancaster and serves homeless women and children by providing a temporary home in a caring environment, life skills programs and aftercare support leading to self-sufficiency. Jennifer Powell is the executive director, and let me tell you, she is a dynamo. I know that however much we’re able to contribute, she will make great use of.
And when you feel moved to do so, challenge your friends to contribute online to a cause you care about. Invite me to do so. I’ve given $10 almost every time I’ve been asked to do so on Facebook, and that’s only amounted to $30. I challenge you to do better this year.