FirstGiving, a Web Site to Help People Do Good

FirstGivingFirstGiving Hosted on Zooomr

Frame Muller, one of my Flickr contacts, approached me today about FirstGiving, a web site which allows you to personally fund raise on an ongoing basis to help those less fortunate. By way of disclosure, Frame works for FirstGiving’s sister company.

Earlier this week Flickr’s most popular photographer, _rebekka, launched a similar campaign to also raise funds, in her case for SOS Children’s Village. I think it is really great that some of the most popular people in social networking are using their connections to raise money for those in need. I’m hoping that by starting a site myself that this will also help build awareness for others to start their own campaigns as well. All donations of course are tax deductible.

So how does FirstGiving work? We’ll basically they make it super easy for you to set up a web page in about three steps with any 501(3)c non profit organization in their database. If an organization is not in their database you can contact them about getting it added. In my case I chose The Guardsmen, a Bay area based organization that sends about 2,500 low income kids to summer camp each year as well as provides private school K-12 partial scholarships for another 200 children yearly. These kids come from the poorest families in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve done personal volunteer work with this organzation for a number of years.

From an economics standpoint FirstGiving seems pretty efficient. They handle all of the correspodance, including receipts and thank you letters to all donors. This saves the office staff of the charities involved work. They charge 5% for handling the program. Any credit card processing charges are also deducted from the transaction.

So I figure I’ll try it out. I’m not sure if it will be successful or not but I think promoting charity is a good thing and am happy to use any platform I might have to try and help others.

I’m also going to do one other thing as well to try out associated with this campaign. I’ve never sold prints of my photography before. Well, I take that back. I’ve only sold a single print. It was a print that I sold in the Katrina Relief Auction organized on Flickr for $500. I’ve had lots of people ask me in the past if they can buy prints of my work from me and I’ve always said no and never sold any. It’s hard for me to figure out the best way to sell my work and I haven’t been ready to do this yet.

But I think what I’ve decided is that I’m going to begin offering limited edition prints of mine for sale but only for charity right now. I’ve decided that of all my images I’m only ever going to print 10 each 13×19 prints. I may do a few prints larger than 13×19 later on, but in terms of 13×19 sized prints I’ll only ever print up 10 copies of any image. Once 10 have been printed up then it’s done for life. I’ll have these prints printed up with archival quality ink, mat them, sign them and then frame them.

So to start, I’m going to say that anyone who donates $500 or more via my charity page to help kids that they can choose any image of mine and I’ll print it, mat it, sign the mat, and send it in the mail to you framed. I’m not sure how many of these I’ll be able to do as I’ll be subsidizing the printing and framing expenses, or even if anyone will be interested, but this seems like a better answer to give people in the future when/if they ask to purchase a print of mine. Most of my images are up on Flickr and my most popular images are probably in my Superfavs group.

Of course even if you don’t want or can’t afford a print it would be great, if you felt inclined, if you wanted to make a donation anyways to help the kids which you can do here.

Thanks much!

Update: Irina / Riri on Flickr along with other flickr users is raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society as well. Their blog to donate at is here.