$5 on 5 is getting an overhaul…

*** This is a little long, but please please bear with me, as this is important and I’d really like your feedback.  If you’re in a huge hurry you can just skip to the paragraph that starts “So what I want to do, instead” ***

On the off chance you follow this blog much (you probably don’t, but humor me) you might have noticed that I never did get around to posting a $5 on 5 post for last month.

I wasn’t exactly being a slacker… I think I thought about it every day, I just couldn’t come to a conclusion, so I didn’t post again.  Now that the 5th has rolled around again, I’ve figure I have to do something, so I’m going to start off by sharing my thought process…

The original idea, in case you have no clue what I’m talking about, went like this:  Each month, on the 5th, I highlighted a different charity, and asked everyone to give just $5 (or whatever they could afford) — In time I hoped to build a whole group of us doing this and our combined effort would make a real difference for that charity each month.  $5 doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up, and I’d hoped it would.

Here’s the problem.  The first month I gave $5.  By the second month I had a whole slew of junkmail coming in from charities I’d never heard of.  Apparently that first charity decided to “share” my information.  Great.  I wasn’t too annoyed because this gave me more charities to choose from.  The second month I gave, and I’m pretty sure that charity didn’t sell my info, but the flood of charity mail after that first month just kept coming… and coming… and coming.

By now I’ve gotten random loose change, tons of return address labels, greeting cards, stickers, a $2 check, a really nice metal keychain w/the footprints in the sand poem on it, maps, and various other things… all from charities.  All because I gave a few $’s hoping the money would add up and actually help people.  I know the saying goes that you have to spend money to get money, and I get that these charities are trying to play on people’s sense of integrity (wow, they sent me cool stuff, I *have* to give to them now)… but I’m left annoyed, maybe even infuriated at times.

I don’t have much money to give.  I gave what I could, and they’re just wasting that money now sending mailer after mailer trying to get me to give more money that I don’t have.  I give what I can, even more than I can sometimes, hoping it will go to actually help people.  Instead it seems to have gone into mass marketing campaigns that spend tons of money to send out junk mail hoping to get tons more money to send out more junk mail… this is sounding annoyingly repetitive, because it is.

This is not what I wanted to do.  If our little bits are just going to go towards campaigns to ask for bigger amounts that’s not helping the people that actually need it.

So what I want to do, instead, I think, is to ask people to give your $5 a month (or $10 or $1 or whatever you can afford) to a person or a family or a local shelter instead of a huge organization that’s sending out mass mailings and selling their donor lists.  I haven’t figured out the logistics of this yet, though… maybe you can help?

  • If it’s a family, how do I make sure it’s a legitimate need?
  • If I know them personally (and so have verified the need), how do you know to trust me?
  • How do we send the money?  This would be much cooler if the recipient didn’t know about it ahead of time, and it came as a surprise, but that would make collecting and sending the money more complicated, as we wouldn’t want to give out their contact information to everyone…
  • Say this really works, and we get 100 people participating… getting $5 from 100 people may be a huge hassle for the receiver (just think of all those thank you letters!), I don’t want to add *more* stress to people already in need.
  • I thought about making an actual non-profit so that people could trust me, could send me the money, and I could send it out in a lump sum… but that’s way more complicated than I can handle (at least at this point).  A friend referred me here: http://visionsmadeviable.org/ but I haven’t had a chance to look into it yet.  Any other ideas?

Please share your thoughts/concerns with me here.  I really want to continue this and do *something* but I want to make sure it counts.  For this month, please consider giving your $5 donation (or whatever you can afford) to your local food pantry.  A lot of people are hurting for food right now.


Filed under $5 on 5

4 Responses to $5 on 5 is getting an overhaul…

  1. This is exactly why I stopped donating money to causes that had my name and address attached. I got burned by a big name charity selling our info and the exact same thing happened. When big name charity sent another request a few month ago, using fancy glossy paper, fancy magnets, fancy greeting cards etc etc etc I sent it all back and told them that instead of spending MY DONATIONS on that crap they could put it towards their cause instead.

    So, now, if I send money, I send it anonymously. Or I do just as you’ve suggested and donate food (anonymously) or clothing (anonymously) or toys (anonymously) etc etc etc.

    I don’t get tax receipts, but I feel like I’m making a difference without getting hassled. :)

    I like your idea about adopting a family though. Just not sure how it would work.

  2. I think that you have a beautiful heart and genuinely good nature. Sadly, though, I think the best way to help and the only way people will participate is if you know them or see them IRL. Internet is just so uncertain for most people. We donate through our church. We know the money will go to good causes and we also give things to people we know in need or through local charitable organizations. All that junk the large organizations send is exactly intended to get people to give more and sadly, as an attorney, I have seen non-profits use trust funds and other donations for absolutely non-charitable purchases and salaries. Still, I must say again, you ROCK for your efforts, Tam!!

  3. I think you will want to put a twitter icon to your website. Just bookmarked the article, but I had to complete it manually. Simply my 2 cents.

    • Tam

      There’s a twitter link by the share button up on the top right, but I guess I need to put it somewhere a little more obvious. Thanks.

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