Saving the world, one dollar at a time…

From time to time, I am asked if I want to donate a dollar to $CAUSE. It happens in retail establishments like Whole Foods, Safeway, Regal Cinemas, and even gas stations. The causes range from charities fighting disease to helping my state recover from wild fires. In some cases, they don’t even ask for a full dollar. Instead, they ask if they can round up to the next dollar and apply the difference as a donation. When asked, I typically say yes, especially if I think the charity is worthwhile.

For many people, a handful of change or even a dollar is not significant. We routinely waste considerably more in various parts of our daily life. Leaving lights on, running the air conditioner, buying frivolous items we don’t need, and much more. Our entire society is one of extreme waste.

The idea of a business asking for ’round up’ change or a dollar for a purchase is brilliant. Charities that mail asking for $10, $25, $50 or more often have little luck because people don’t want to commit to that much, especially when the economy is not strong. However, being asked in public, face-to-face, often in front of other people… you don’t want want to be the asshole that says no to saving children or curing cancer.

For fun, what if every person donated that 1 dollar as asked. Perhaps every movie-goer in 2012 donated when asked. According to the MPAA, 1.36 billion attended movies last year. What would that kind of money do for a worthy charity? And if each of the 25.1 million Netflix customers gave a dollar? What of Spotify’s 5 million paying customers? And Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, with their 10.2 million customers?

Yep, that kind of money put in the hands of well-run charities could do wonders to feed the hungry, assist in research for curing all manner of ills, or do other amazing feats of good. Just think… what if we saw even 1% of Wal-mart’s 100 million customers a week give an extra dollar to charity?

[Update: Several years ago, I had asked various PetSmart employees about the charity they asked customers to donate to. It is done via the Credit Card terminal you swipe your card in, as part of confirming the transaction. After several times of asking, none of them were able to give me a good answer about the charity, just a generic line about helping animals. After publishing this blog today, Sean V. contacted me to provide a link to the PetSmart Charities web site that goes into a lot more detail. Looking at the charity on Charity Navigator, you can see that they operate with minimal admin overhead, and a majority of the money goes to support their stated purpose. Based on this, I will resume saying ‘yes’ to donating to their charity when I shop at PetSmart.]

2 responses to “Saving the world, one dollar at a time…”

  1. I don’t give the ~dollar when asked. The reason is I don’t trust that the companies asking for it aren’t skimming some fees, claiming tax deductions, and similar with the funds I’m providing.

    I’ll donate to the charities I select on my own.

    • I am careful on that. For example, PetSmart and their animal charity. They don’t give the name of it, but I had read unconfirmed reports that they take too much money and not enough of that dollar goes to animals. I don’t say yes to them as a result. As mentioned, and as you do, it is about finding a charity that is worthwhile. When asking for the dollar, these companies need to have the charity information readily available. If they don’t, that is suspect too.

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