lends helping hand to charities

By  Jessica Williams, Youth Speak News
  • October 31, 2008
{mosimage}CALGARY - Charities, though they try to keep administrative costs down, must pay the bills. Mail-outs, phone calls, advertisements and more all cost money.

This is why Tom Williams created, a web site that supports grassroots causes, non-profit organizations and charities by giving them the means to fund-raise online at no cost.
“My goal is to make fund-raising free,” Williams told a group of about 50 students at Mount Royal College in Calgary recently.

“The principle is that my five bucks, plus your five bucks, plus other people’s five-dollar contributions can add up to something that makes a difference.”

At 14, Williams had become the youngest person ever to work at Apple computers. At 25, he left his career in the technology sector to do something more fulfilling;

“I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, not at 14, but at 25.”

He said he is now doing what he is passionate about, giving people a way to make a difference through online fund-raising.

Givemeaning users can advertise a cause or charity they’d like to fund-raise for, create a page and Givemeaning will administer the funds donated online free of charge after the validity of the project has been established.

“Not a single day goes by where I think it’s boring,” Williams said.

After four years, the web site is steadily growing, hosting a multitude of pages, from large charitable organizations to people who just want to raise $500 to support a small cause.  

Givemeaning seemed too good to be true when Lyndsey Rosevear, a University of Calgary alumnus, heard about it for the first time. When Rosevear went to Nicaragua in 2005 to volunteer with a dentist, she saw a need for clean water, basic sanitation, health and education.  

Upon her return, she and her friends decided they wanted to do something. They formed Project Nicaragua and started fund-raising through the University of Calgary Rotoract Club, which is supported by the Rotary Club of Calgary.  

Though fund-raising has been immensely successful for the team of 16 executive members and other volunteers, the group has no registered charity number and no web site.  

“The Givemeaning page helps to create awareness back at home and helps to answer the question in many people’s minds: Why should I care?” Rosevear said.

The Project Nicaragua team had to get 100 signatures within a month to verify that its project was valid.

The signatures and support were not hard to find and soon its Givemeaning page was ready for the giving to begin.  

The team has raised more than $50,000 in the past three years to help build up communities in Nicaragua. So far, through Givemeaning, Project Nicaragua has gained $2,860 of its $2,900 online goal.  

Though that’s only about 15 per cent of the funds raised in three years, Rosevear said that every little bit makes a difference.

Jude Platzer read about Givemeaning in a newspaper at her Vancouver home. She easily gained the support she needed to start her project page, to fund the printing and distribution of 5,000 brochures about suicide prevention — a cause  close to Platzer’s heart since her son Josh committed suicide in 1999.

“My son knew he was loved, but he was ill, and illnesses need to be treated,” Platzer said.

Platzer threw her efforts into founding the Josh Platzer Society, with the goal of helping people become aware of how prevalent suicide really is.

Through Givemeaning, the Josh Platzer Society has raised $3,005 to date to fund its brochure, wallet card and poster publication. The goal for the project is $5,000.

(Williams, 22, studies communications at Mount Royal College in Calgary.)

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