GiveLocally lets donors pick how money is used

August 19, 2011 8:34:07 PM PDT
When it comes to donations, many people have reservations about giving money and not knowing where it's really going. But a Silicon Valley company is hoping to ease that anxiety by letting them pick exactly who they give to and how the money gets used.

Single dad Reginald Thompson struggles to take care of his three young kids in San Jose.

"I work all night, I work a grave shift, then I come home to babysit my kids and get very little sleep, it's challenging," Thompson said.

He found help on a website called GiveLocally.net. The for-profit website lets those in need request assistance for specific needs. Donors can then read about them and pick and choose where their money goes.

"I've gotten rent assistance, I've gotten help with the PG&E bill, the water bill and groceries," Thompson said.

Azita Payne is among those who have helped Thompson out.

"I looked around at places to give and you really don't know where the money is going," Payne said. "GiveLocally is really transparent, it's easy use, you can pick the family you want to help and you can really see where the money is going."

Los Altos-based GiveLocally got the attention Andrew "Bo" Young III, son of the civil rights leader and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Jackson Young. He now serves as the company's CEO.

"GiveLocally.net is designed to help working class people assist one another with needs that force them to deviate from their standard budget," Young said.

The website accepts donations as small as $5 and keeps 18 percent of the contribution to cover operating costs.

Charity watchdogs recommend non-profit groups keep no more than 20 percent.

The rest should go to people like Samantha banks from Palo Alto. She will start college at American University in Washington D.C. in August. She got more than $1,000 in help for tuition, mostly from anonymous donors.

"I think it really helped and it was a real ego booster for us knowing we could find help when we needed it," Banks said.

"So the needs can vary; that's one of the things that our versatility and agility is what makes us more exciting to people because our needs span across so many demographics and so many different situations," Young said.

All potential recipients are pre-screened by GiveLocally before they are posted on the site. To make sure the money gets where it's supposed to, GiveLocally collects the money and then pays the expenses on behalf of the recipient.

"Because we don't ever saturate the site with recipients, very rarely do we have recipients who's needs don't get met, almost never," Young said.

"It means a lot, it shows that there's good people out there, with good hearts, who are willing to do good and help," Thompson said.

There is a trade off in knowing where your money's going, most of your contributions are not tax deductible.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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