Friday May 25, 2012

A little change makes a world of difference

The ability to "round up" at the register to make a charitable donation is not new.  The jar of change at checkout may have been replaced by a PINpad asking for a donation, but the concept remains the same.  Now an Austin non-profit startup called MiniDonations is throwing further innovation at the concept.  What happens when you combine Mint, Facebook, and UPromise for the benefit of charities?

Co-founders Leo Ramirez and Emiliano Lozano wanted to allow the 99% to make meaningful contributions to charity, and rounding-up at the register is the least painful.  But here's where things get interesting.  After rounding-up, your receipt has a QRCode that can be scanned to "claim" the donation for your MiniDonations account.  That way the shopper can control where the donation goes as well as track donations over time.  Then the shopper shares what charities they support using the social aspects of the platform (without disclosing actual amounts).  Why should only the fat-cats get to brag about their philanthropy?  The retailer controls which charities receive the unclaimed donations.

Additionally, users can add money to their account using a credit card to increase their total donation.  Instead of making separate donations at different charity websites, all the donations can be made from one single account.  And of course all the donations are tracked to ease tax preparations.

The ability to consolidate all my charitable giving in a single account is fantastic, and adding the round-up functionality makes MiniDonations even better.  I'm hoping more retailers will consider this innovative approach to donations for their customers.

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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