HDD Killers

Ideas Factory

Posted on Sunday 26 February 2006

I just wanted to run an idea for a new site past everybody that I’ve had brewing in my head for a while. Basically I’d like people to post back to say whether it’s already been done, whether it’s a good idea or whether it’s a bad idea. If it’s a good idea how could it be made better and if it’s a bad idea could the idea be tweaked slightly so that it’s a good idea?

OK, here’s the actual idea. It’s a membership site, free to join, probably hooked up to some kind of forum if there’s enough users. The purpose of the site would be to make it easier for people to make donations to charities in various ways. Each user would have a user profile and they would be able to donate via paypal, world pay or perhaps with a credit/debit card, though obviously a trusted third party company would be needed for that aswell.

Then they’d be able to pick one or more charities from the list of charities on the site, they could then setup daily, weekly, monthly or yearly donations to those charities. They could also do a one-off donation if they wanted. Aside from the list of charities, they will also be able to select the current week’s most worthy cause to donate to, which members would be able to vote on in a poll.

Each week there would be a poll to determine which charity is the most worthy cause, the poll would run for a week and then the winner would become the most worthy cause for the next week. To avoid the same couple of charities winning the polls over and over again, once a charity has won a poll it would not be entered into the poll again for a certain amount of time, maybe a couple of months.

Should any big disasters occur, such as the Tsunami just after Christmas in 2004, then the user would have the option of selecting to donate to any charities relating to that. They would be able to select ahead of time to switch all of their donations to this charity or they could donate a certain amount to that charity on top of what they donate to all of the other charities.

Google Adsense adverts would be used throughout the site in various places, the placement of them would be such that they intrude as little as possible. There would be an option in the users profile to turn these adverts off while they are logged in, if they decide that they do not want to see them. Money from advertisements would be go towards hosting costs and any excess would be donated to that weeks worthy cause (or major disaster charity if there is one). If the money from advertisements doesn’t cover the hosting costs then I would make up the difference.

I was also planning on each charity having it’s own page where people could post comments, much like a blog. Failing that perhaps each charity could get it’s own thread in a forum. Another alternative would be that each charity has it’s own sub-forum, so that members can create their own threads and discuss any events or fundraisers that that charity is running.

With just a few clicks users could setup automatic donations to any number of causes. All donations would be tracked and stored in a database so that all of the statistics junkies can see how much they’ve dontaed, when they donated it and where it went to. An overall statistics page could show things like the total amount donated by everyone and the distribution of donations.

So basically that’s my idea. It would make donating to charities (and even perhaps open-source projects) easier and quicker. With the setting up of automatic donations all it takes is a small initial time investment and PHP would do the rest.

If such a web-site, or a similar site, already exists then obviously all that I’ve said here is a complete waste of time, but if there isn’t one then I’ll begin working on it.

    Ben Rogers
    Sunday 26th February 2006 | 5:29 pm
    Ben Rogers's Globally Recognised Avatar

    It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know how well it would work, unless you can get some serious corporate backing. Not that the project itself requires much money, but you’d need to get a lot of people, become trusted, and just generally do all the right things, it’s no sideproject. Also, take into account people will want records for tax purposes, eh?

    It’s a good concept, though.

    Sunday 26th February 2006 | 6:36 pm
    Neal V.'s Globally Recognised Avatar

    Hmm, interesting idea. Heh, like online shopping for charities. Ben is right, people will want to be able to prove their donation for tax breaks. Honestly, I have no idea how that works tax-wise. But it is an interesting concept. Especially having a page for each charity where people can comment. People like to research charities, they want to know that their money will be going to help someone and not just to pay some office-jockey in the overhead or to sit in a bank helping no one. And, as Ben points out again, gathering the community is always a challenge. Having people being able to use your site to pay charities could be a bit dicey, but it might be doable. Overall, I say it’s a good idea.

    Sunday 26th February 2006 | 11:02 pm
    rhsunderground's Globally Recognised Avatar

    worthwhile, i submit. the poll concept is a bit past me, but the rest sounds good. if you need a hairy representative, let me know.

    Sunday 26th February 2006 | 11:05 pm
    David's Globally Recognised Avatar

    Ben, I’m not sure why I’d need any coporate backing. People can either trust me or not, but I would imagine that if a few people take the plunge and realise it’s not a scam, other people may become interested.

    I’ve never gotten the fact that donations can be offset against taxes. If you donate $1000, you can save $2000 in tax. Is it just an American thing? I don’t know if it happens in England or Europe. I guess it’s good for the charities but it’s donating for all the wrong reasons. Still, a good deed done for the wrong reasons is still a good deed I guess.

    All donations would of course be logged, I am unsure really of what else I would need to do for them to be able to get a tax break. Surely they would have a bank record showing money leaving their account, far more reliable from a bank than from a web-site I would have thought.

    There was another point that I was considering that I didn’t put in the entry. I was wondering whether it would be best if the money went straight from the users account to the charity and the web-site just logged the transaction, or if it would be better to transfer to an account especially for the web-site then sending the money on from there.

    If I were to setup a bank account (or paypal account, or whatever) for the site then I could hold all donations there for a set time (say a week), so that if someone decided that they didn’t want to donate that money after all, they could ask for a refund. For whatever circumstances; they added an extra 0, a big bill landed on their doorstep, someone used their computer and donated as a practical joke, they just remembered they’re tight fisted…

    However having a separate account for the site would perhaps make me less trusted. Also it may result in additional overheads, for example I think that paypal charges a certain percentage for money transfers to business accounts, I’m unsure if they have a special charity account that they don’t charge for. I would need to look into things like that.

    Monday 27th February 2006 | 5:12 pm
    lilcrazyfuzzy's Globally Recognised Avatar

    It’s quite a good idea david, if you were to do that, i’d advice not to have the money transfered to your paypal account, instead, as you said, have it directly transfered to the organisation’s account. I can imagine that if many people were to use your site and request a refund, you might be overwhelmed and get in trouble if you can’t get them their refund.
    Also people would probably trust it more if it was directly transfered to the charity’s bank account.

    Be sure to ask them to confirm their donation at least one time, and that should be alright.
    That would be just like when you make an online transaction (online banking), you can’t get your money back once you sent it.

    Anyway, keep us informed if you need a hand.

    kind regards,

    Monday 27th February 2006 | 6:01 pm
    David's Globally Recognised Avatar

    Another reason for having an account that all money goes into first would be for simplicity. Rather then making several separate charges to someone for each charity, one charge would probably be simpler to setup. It’s a lot easier to give money away than it is to receive it.

    I haven’t really researched that though, so when I do I may find that it’s all fairly simple and I don’t have to worry. I need to write a lot of underlying code before I get to that point.

    Monday 27th February 2006 | 8:30 pm
    Neal V.'s Globally Recognised Avatar

    Yeah, you see your best bet would be finding away to send it directly to a charity and not touch the money. It makes you seem more credible and reduces the chance of any financial mishaps. I don’t now how you could set that up, though, to automate people’s payments. Merely having a website that gives information on different charities and at least information on how to donate, and allows people to comment on them would be a good idea.

    Ben Rogers
    Saturday 4th March 2006 | 5:46 pm
    Ben Rogers's Globally Recognised Avatar

    You’d also have to be careful of how you organize charities. If there are too many, it’ll be overwhelming. If there are too few, you’ll seem bias. Make it VERY EASY to go through them all.

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