I’ve been following the discussion on the intertubes lately about an interesting philanthropy site that lets even the most meeker of us donate resources to those in need with just a simple click of the mouse. The Hunger Site has been around since 1999, but it wasn’t until recently that someone pointed out a new feature they have on their site. By simply clicking a big yellow button that says “Click here to Give”, advertisers and sponsors on the site apparently donate the equivalent of about 1 cup of food to the hungry. In addition to giving food to the hungry, you can also click on a rainbow of buttons to help fight breast cancer, give free books (my personal favorite), or click to protect 11.4 square feet of rainforest.
Other sites, such as Free Rice, offer the same sort of advertisement sponsored donations in addition to helping improve your vocabulary (for each synonym you correctly guess of a word, 10 grains of rice are donated). While I believe that this would be a fantastic way for any classroom or teacher to encourage philanthropic attitudes and behavior in their students, these sites really remove an important sacrificial element from the community equation. The sacrifice of time, energy, or resources that traditionally goes along with providing relief and/or aid to those in need.
As students learn about their civic responsibilities, usually in special middle school programs designed to educate about civic duties and global awareness, personal involvement should definitely be key. Organizations like Unicef and Heifer International have their websites setup to promote action and community awareness efforts primarily, with links to “Get Involved” featured just as prominently as donation buttons. And that’s what giving is really about, right? Getting involved, sacrificing a little bit of time out of you day, week, or year to put someone else’s needs before your own.
So start with Free Rice and the Hunger Site, as they are compelling enough to get kids to come back and give more without even thinking twice (it’s Free after all!), but take the time to stop by a few of the other sites and try to instill some life-long lessons of giving.