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Last week I had an idea. It was a great, even terrific idea, if I do say so myself. One of those slap-yourself-on-the-forehead ideas that was so obvious that I didn’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier. So tonight I set about researching the feasibility of my super-fantastic idea and I quickly became disappointed, then mad because it looks like I won’t be able to implement it.

OK, so it’s not an original idea. In fact, I stole it from a Facebook posting. But still, it’s pretty forward-thinking for my area (can you tell I’m proud of myself?). What is it? I’m sure you’re exasperated to know by now. It’s texting a donation to my local Safe Kids coalition. Yes, the simple act of typing a little code into your phone to donate money is very appealing to this CPS tech who parent after parent, event after event, asks if we take a credit card for donations. We can’t take credit cards at events because we have no way of processing them. We’re usually in the middle of a parking lot with no access to power. The best I can do now is to provide a PayPal account that they can access when they get home. Unfortunately, we’ve never seen a donation from one of these well-meaning parents who, upon hearing of our donation button on our website, say, “Oh great! I’ll do it when I get home.” Nope, not a one. I don’t blame them–their heads are swimming with all the information we’ve just given them then they have to drive home with their kids who probably distract the memory of the donation out of them. *I* can barely remember my name after an event, so I have no doubt they are simply forgetting.

So I looked into texting donations. Apparently it’s only available to non-profits who earn over $500,000 per year. Yeah right. How many are there that can do that? Only 16% can. The rest of us who scrape by with perhaps a positive balance in the bank account this month don’t qualify. There are two clearinghouse companies in the country who do this sort of thing and then you have to be approved. Holy cow! Small non-profits with little to no paid staff are going to be daunted by the process.

In other countries, it’s very easy to set up text donating. In fact, I found several UK sites able to get us started right now with no minimum income–if only we were based in the UK. I’m disappointed (as if you can’t tell) it can’t be done here in the US. Non-profits usually get a break on fees (surveymonkey.com is one online company that does discounts for non-profits) because they are non-profits and usually need money. While I don’t doubt that the huge non-profits like the American Red Cross need money as well for disaster relief, it’s the little guy that benefits most from a service like this.

I know. There are fees and fees and fees and by the time the money actually gets to it’s receiver, a chunk has been taken out, but isn’t some money better than none? If we’re able to pay the fees and at least break even on it, who’s it hurting by letting the small non-profits use these services? Seems to me that as usual, it’s some guy who wants to make a huge buck and we’re suffering for it. Figures. I’m applying anyway for our coalition. They can always say no, but perhaps they’ll start allowing exemptions and realize, as we do in child passenger safety, that they need to pay attention to the exceptions.