Friday, January 26, 2007

A Common Good

One fun thing about my hobby of philanthropy is that I get to "meet" people from all over the place. I "met" Chetan, who lives in India, is also passionate about Room to Read, and has introduced my charitable Room to Search search engine to a number of his friends. I "met" Randy, who volunteered to help with my web layout and logo for Room to Search. I "met" Madeline, who lives in New Orleans and decided that since I blogged about my volunteer experience in New Orleans, my Room to Search web site must be legit, so she told her friends to use it. I "met" Carol, a CPA who offered to volunteer her time to help me form a non-profit organization if and when I choose to do so. In fact, I've never met any of these people other than in email exchanges, but I now count them among my friends since we're seeking A Common Good. Which leads me to my most recent acquaintance:

Most recently, I "met" Eileen, who lives in India and has a web site titled A Common Good (ACG). According to her site, Eileen "joins small and fiscally efficient social-service projects in India, with small donors in other parts of the world, so that monetary and in-kind donations, in amounts that may be insignificant in the developed world, can have their greatest impact on the lives of the very poor. ACG ushers donations from donor to project at no cost to either party." Similar to Room to Search, ACG is not officially a non-profit organization. Eileen volunteers her time to raise funds for other organizations out of her passion for their causes.

Legitimacy is one thing both Eileen and I could benefit from. I think I'll revisit my earlier decision not to become a private foundation or public charity. Although most people want to trust people such as Eileen or myself that we have honest intentions and will follow through on our commitments, 501(c)(3) status would help quiet the naysayers and bring legitimacy.

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