Recently, I was sitting outside an italian market in Oviedo Florida (Cavalleri Gourmet, if you must know. Great place. Great food.), chatting with a friend, when a man in a wheelchair, adorned with stickers, small American flags, and a pinwheel rolled up to us and extends a sticker festooned can half filled with dollar bills and said, “Can you help me out?”
I don’t think that anyone likes to be hit up for money by a complete stranger while conversing or eating, it is likely when I am least willing to part with cash. On that day, however, I stood, opened my wallet, and pulled out the last remaining dollar bill (I tend not to carry a lot of cash, and I had spent most of what I had on jalapeno cheese puffs, olive salad, and a drink) and tucked it in the can.
“God bless you,” the man said as he turned and wheeled away.
The man in the wheelchair bothered me. I pride myself on being aware of what’s around me, yet I hadn’t noticed the man before he rolled up to us even though he had done everything possible to be noticed. I guess I’m getting old. It happens.
The incident also reminded me to review my charitable contributions that I have automatically taken from my paycheck each week. It’s not a lot, but it’s what I feel comfortable giving, and it makes giving easier, though it distances me from those who benefit from my gifts.
Maybe that’s the way most people want it, to not have to see the people who need the aid of the charities they give to, like the guy in the wheelchair. People give for many reasons, sometimes quite generously, but they often don’t care to know where and how the money is used. I, on the other hand, want to know where my meager offering goes, and every so often I review the selection of charities I contribute to, in a possibly deluded attempt at making sure my money goes where help is needed most, or at least where I think it can help the most.
This year, when I reviewed the possible choices of charities, I found that many have iOS apps available, all geared to bring givers closer, at least virtually, to the receivers. iOS apps for charities! Why not?
I thought it would be a good idea to cover some of those apps here. After all, giving is an act of kindness we all can afford. It doesn’t matter the amount of money you give, in fact, you don’t have to give money at all, just some time. These apps can help you decide where and how to give. I’m not suggesting that you give specifically to the organizations behind the apps I’m going to talk about, there’s not enough room to look at even a small percentage of apps and the associated charities. These are the apps that caught my attention.
If I asked 10 people what does the American Humane Association do, I would bet real American dollars that at least 8 out of 10 would say that the renown organization looks out of the welfare and wellbeing of animals.
That 80% would be right, of course, The American Humane Association does make it its business to help animals in distressful situations, and to improve Animal-human interaction. But what the other 20% also know is that the AHA watches out for the welfare of children as well. Human children. That 80% may also be mistaking the AHA for The Humane Society, a similar, but international organization whose focus is aiding (non-Human) animals only.
The AHA is a non-profit company that been around since 1877 and in all that time the company has managed to provide a plethora of services with a minimum of overhead. Currently the AHA has only 164 employees, yet they offer an impressive list of programs and services. Unfortunately the AHA app offers little insight into those programs and services. It does provide a nice gallery of photos of animals and kids, and there’s a link to a movie and to the website if you want to donate. That’s pretty much it.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has a much better app. The ICRC app gives you news, and photos focused on the concerns of the Red Cross, so you can keep up with how the organization is helping. There are also movies and a list of ICRC publications. There’s a lot of information in the ICRC app, and nowhere is there a link or tab asking for donations.
Even if you don’t give to the ICRC or any of its Red Cross affiliates, the app is worth a download.
If you are looking for an easy way to donate to a charity of your choice you might try the Donation Connect app.
The lists charitable organizations, linking you to information about each, then letting you donate by simply tapping your phone’s screen. You can choose to text a donation, which adds a set US$10 to your phone bill that is then directed to the charity of your choice, or you can donate by credit card or phone. The app makes giving somewhat painless.
Donation Connection may take 10% to 15% off the top of your donation to cover administration costs, depending on what the charity permits.
It’s a good idea.
OK, that’s a wrap for this week.
Direct links to more charity apps are listed below. Happy giving.