It’s the Christmas season. We’ve passed Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, and most of us are still in one piece after the mayhem of BUY! BUY! BUY! has waned. These few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time for most to plan their holiday activities: church, travel, meals, visits, visitors, and usually most of all, gifts.
But I’m gonna go out on a limb and ask you to look around you, and honestly evaluate whether you have too much stuff, or whether anyone on your gift list has too much stuff. Too much stuff they don’t really need. To illustrate a point here, I’ll highlight this story about a couple who “cancelled Christmas” to teach their children a valuable lesson about giving and getting and where our hearts really are, and where they really should be. Look what happened when their focus was (forcibly) changed from themselves to others! My point is this: you’ve got plenty, so give to someone who really, really, really needs it, whatever “it” may be.
The next question is, “how do I find that person or those people?” Then “how do I give to them?” Thanks to the interwebz, social entrepreneurs are making it very easy to be very specific in how we can give, and bringing transparency to the giving (and receiving) processes. Too many times we make a donation, only to read a write up in the WSJ or some other publication that says the charity we supported only gives 10% or whatever to those they claim to represent. That’s changing. Here are three really great ways to support people in need, and know that your money is going to the people in need, not the people running the show.
Gofundme – “crowdfunding for everyone” is their tagline, and that’s what they do, from helping a small business rebuild from the looters and destroyers in Ferguson, MO, to paying for an individual’s education to helping a child’s family cover the medical expenses of fighting childhood cancer. You choose who you want to support and how much you can give.
WeCareCard – based in Atlanta, WeCareCard not only lets you choose who to support, but you can be the one who sets up the support network for anyone in need. When you setup a support movement, you’re giving that person or people a prepaid, reloadable MasterCard for them to use to pay for the things they would not otherwise be able to pay for, like medical expenses. You spread the word via social media – Facebook is the most powerful channel, according to WeCareCard – and then anyone can give, specifically to the movement you’ve created. WeCareCard allows you to specifically designate where the money is going, and your network to specifically donate to that cause, and 100% of the money goes to the cause. Who do you know right now who has been devastated by some unexpected life event? Ask yourself, “what can I do?” You can give.
NewStory – Another Atlanta social tech startup (featured in TechCocktail), NewStory grew out of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti in 2010, which has left hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in tents made out of bed sheets. NewStory lets you pick a family, meet that family, and build them a home, which will give them a new story of their life. You can imagine how a family living in a tent city would be vulnerable to the elements, but fathom the evil that these families are vulnerable to from their fellow human beings: sex trafficking, rape, kidnapping…all because they once had a safe home, and that home is now a pile of rubble. NewStory was launched less than 2 weeks ago, and they’ve already funded (for just $6k) a new home for one family, and have nearly completed funding for another. Again, with NewStory, 100% of your donations go to the family’s new home, built by a local ministry partner in Haiti. Then you’ll get a video of the family moving into their new home.
I love being in the technology marketplace, because just a little bit of off the shelf technology pointed in the direction of a need – a very specific need – can change someone’s life. So look around your home at how much you have. You don’t have to cancel Christmas, but you can refocus from “me” to someone whose home is 3 thin sheets or whose home is an emotional wreck because life happened.
Give. It’s easy. It’s specific and targeted. And all your donations go to the people who are in need. Give so others can have a Merry Christmas.