Jan. 24, 2011 at 10:02 PM ET
A site called Philanthroper takes a new approach to online giving. It lists a new charity every day, and ensures that 99 percent of the money you donate gets to that charity, rather than getting skimmed by processing fees and commissions. But there's a catch: You can only give $1 per day.
It's a cool idea if you think about it, this $1-per-day donation. Whenever I go to my Safeway grocery, I'm asked to add a dollar to fight breast cancer or leukemia, and you bet I say yes. It's just a dollar. Philanthroper operates on the same principle: Limit yourself to giving "only" a dollar, and you'll ultimately give more overall — without feeling the sting. Besides, since there's a new charity featured on the site every day (except Sunday), you can learn about many worthy causes as you participate.
The founders of Philanthroper, likening the service to a Nike Plus for giving, also provide a stats page for you to track your giving. You can see what categories have benefitted from your dollars, what causes you've championed and, yes, what opportunities for micro-philanthropy you might have missed. (Disclosure: One of the site's creators is a former colleague of mine, Mark Wilson, and yes, I did give $1 today, to Computer Aid International, which will put it towards buying PCs for Kenyan schools.)
The George Washingtons are handed over via a pay-processing service called mPayy, which only takes a penny each time, a rate that's unprecedentedly low, according to the charity site. Philanthroper itself won't take any money from donations. They are self-funded at the start, with the intention of eventually covering their own costs (and making money) from ad revenue. It's the "less profitable but far more honest solution," according to the site's FAQ.
And don't worry about losing track come tax time. Every donation is tax deductible, and every charity's credentials are linked from the site for easy verification.
The site launched today, and hopes to gather steam in the coming weeks, applying the usual Facebook and Twitter buttons for maximum peer pressurizing. After all, if you can't give more than a dollar to a charity you really want to help, you'll have to enlist your friends. OK, so you got all your friends on board and you still want to give more than a dollar? Philanthroper provides all of the information for you to make a hefty fat-cat donation directly to the charity. You just can't use it to juke your personal stats.