Philanthropy. From WordNet at Princton: “S: (n) philanthropy, philanthropic gift (voluntary promotion of human welfare)”
I just spent two days ruminating about stuff. And by “stuff” I mean the things I tend to buy to make myself feel better. Books and jewelry often fall into this category, as I pick the things that I think will match or signal that I am the person I wish to be. It doesn’t really work that way, but there isn’t a reading buff in the world that hasn’t been seduced by the possibilities of symbolism.
So, this last two days, I took a portion of the discretionary part of my latest paycheck that usually goes to new books or impulse purchases, and I reacted impulsively to calls for donations online. In so doing, I realized that I’ve been pretty quiet, as far as online support for good causes goes. This is me not being particularly quiet anymore.
I was introduced to DonorsChoose.org in that great way that online communication works. Someone who I read online frequently posted a link to someone else, who I read less frequently, linking to a classroom project that resonated particularly with the online subculture I hang around in (albeit quietly). A classroom in LA wanted individual copies of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, which I had read not-too-long-ago, and had the book rock my world. So I donated to the classroom project, flush with the enthusiasm of a reader who wanted to share her new favorite book with the ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD (seriously, you should read Parable of the Sower).
And then, not too long later, someone else that I read online donated her birthday to DonorsChoose – making a giving page, with projects in her area, and thus introducing me to the concept.
I learned how to use my account, created a Giving Page with projects in my State, set up a monthly donation, and haven’t regretted it since. I had to renew my monthly giving today, which lead to me re-doing the giving page, adding it to my sidebar here on this blog, and in general being more actively aware of what I was involved in than I had been previously.
DonorsChoose is a transparent organization, posting their Financial Reports where anyone on the internet can find them. They recently celebrated their 10th Anniversary as an organization:
- DonorsChoose.Org: Education Charity Celebrates Ten Years In HuffPost Exclusive (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
They are a Charity Navigator 4 star charity, with 92% of their income going to their programs.
And they are a prime example of large-scale crowdfunding, something the Salvation Army has been doing for a while, but which became easier with the advent of a large, engaged online population.