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Use Your SmartPhone or Go Online for Charity

Make that end-of-the-year contribution electronically.

As 2011 approaches its end, we enter the traditional big push for charitable giving. 

A favorite memory is my father handing me a few coins on our way out of the grocery store to put in a red metal bucket.  Next to the bucket was a man cheerfully (and tirelessly) ringing a hand bell.  He thanked everyone who put money in the bucket and wished everyone, whether or not they gave, a “Merry Christmas.”  

When I got older and could read the sign, it said “.” Those bells and red buckets are a consistent reminder to give to others, especially as we rush to get one more thing checked off the “seasonal to do” list.

Giving has gone online. Text a donation. Scan a quick response or QR code. Discover charities on a particular topic or geographic area. You have lots of options.

Text a donation

Texting donations in small amounts became popular in response to natural disasters, such as hurricane relief. Amounts of $5 or $10 quickly add up to provide needed supplies and services.

If this type of giving appeals to you, here’s how:

The sponsoring charitable organization provides the phrase to text and the number in their announcements. An example would be “text GIVE to 123456”.  You’ll get a text back asking you to confirm. Reply yes. The donation amount plus a fee for processing the transaction will be on your next phone bill. You may also be charged for the text messages depending on your text message plan. Your phone bill serves as your donation receipt.

Scan a quick response or QR code

A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode usually for a Website. It’s about the size of a postage stamp usually and has random black blocks on a white background. They are starting to get fancier with company logos and colors. QR codes can be found on posters, flyers and print newspapers and magazines. There are a variety of QR Reader apps available for all types of SmartPhones and tablets. I use the free “QR Reader” app on my iPhone.  The biggest benefit of the QR code is that it gets you directly to the Web page where they want you to go. No fumbling typing in Web addresses. No mistyping of a lengthy URL.

If giving this way appeals to you, here’s how:

Scan the QR code with your QR Reader app. The Web browser on your device will open to the Web address provided in the QR code. Complete any requested information. Enter your donation amount and payment option. You’re done.

Discover charities in a particular topic or geographic area

If you know a specific charity by name, just type that into your Web browser.  Most will have a large “Donate” or “Give” label or button somewhere towards the top of their homepage. Select it. Complete the series of step-by-step tasks. An email receipt thanking you for your donation typically ends the transaction.

If you don’t have one particular charity in mind, never fear. The Web does what it does best and presents you with information and options. Here are four Websites that excel in connecting you to topic or geographic areas.

Causes combines activism and philanthropy. Co-founder Sean Parker worked with Napster, Plaxo, and Facebook prior to starting Causes. According to the Website, it’s working. $40 million has been raised for 27,000 nonprofits.

Network For Good is a nonprofit.  “. . . committed to helping donors support their favorite charities online and to enabling charities to attract resources online.“ It too is working. “. . . more than one million organizations spanning a full spectrum of missions” have benefited since 2001 when it was founded by AOL, Yahoo! and Cisco.

Razoo is local to Washington, D.C. and like Network for Good is a nonprofit. Extensive social engagement is Razoo’s special niche, which has netted over $74 million thus far. An iPhone app is available.

Charity Navigator is a nonprofit. Its distinction is the depth of research provided including the financial picture for each of over five thousand charities. Rankings, ratings, Top Ten in various categories, and a very timely Holiday Giving Guide make this a comprehensive resource.

Echoing the salutation of the Salvation Army bell-ringer from my youth, “Merry Christmas.” Hope one of these charitable options resonates with you this holiday season.

Editor's Note: For local donation opportunities, see:

Nancy-jo Manney December 22, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Two seemingly unrelated industries (non-profits and IT) have come together for good. Reminder, use technology and old fashion talking (with neighbors and co-workers) to find worthy organizations to give to. And consider giving local, first.
Lydia Patrick December 23, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Good reminder Nancy-Jo to consider giving to help others here in Fairfax. Thanks!

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