Innovative Charities: Springwire and Donor’s Choose

Miranda Moore

It is not uncommon for some people to grimace at the mention of charities. The stereotypical complaints given about charities are usually that the society now has your information so they won’t stop calling you during dinner or you have no idea if the money you donated is even going to that cause.

Though these situations have been proven at times, keep in mind that with a little research you can actually dig up an honest charity with a worthy cause. There are also more charities out there besides those related to cancer or other illnesses. More and more charities are thinking of new ways to fight everyday problems. Springwire and Donor’s Choose are a couple of these charities.

What is Springwire?

Springwire, formerly Community Voicemail, began in Seattle, Wash., in 1991. The idea of the origination was brought to life after the founders saw just how challenging it was to connect homeless people with no way to receive phone calls with job opportunities, according to the charity’s website.

Nvate innovative charities Springwire social services Donor's Choose teacher funding

Credit: Springwire Facebook page

The idea was simple—give the homeless a resource that stayed constant, even If they could not. The success of the program spread to serve more than 50,000 people in 400 cities around the country, according to the charity’s website.

Springwire connects those in need with social services and support networks in their area. By providing free access to communication outlets, Springwire offers people a way to get out of a crisis.

Springwire provides a solution known as “communication hubs.” Communication hubs are able to get social services up-to-date on helping people who don’t always have access to social media or other forms of communication, according to the charity’s website.

Hubs establish a network that connects a mass of very low-income people with valuable information and resources in their area through tools they may already be using: email, texting, social media, or voicemail. Hubs are also able to gain local funding from governments, foundations, and corporations.

Community Voicemail is still around and is now a vital part of the communication hubs. This service is distributed through nearly 2,000 social society partners across the United States and Canada. Community Voicemail provides its patrons with a private and local 10-digit number. The number looks like any other phone number, and does not draw any attention to the user.

Once the number is dialed, the user is transferred to a voicemail box where participants can record their own personal, professional greeting, which enables callers to leave messages. Users can receive messages 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to, nearly 70 percent of participants reported that they achieve their goals, whether that be finding a job, paying bills or buying a home.

Resource Broadcasting is another part of Springwire’s communication hubs that enables social service agencies to send and receive voice and email messages to Springwire participants who might otherwise be unreachable. Messages can be received nationally or locally, according to the charity’s website.

Springwire is always open to accepting more partners and providers. Go to their website and click on “Work With Us,” where you will find links for providers and partners. If you only wish to volunteer, there is a link on the same page and you must fill out a form.

What is Donor’s Choose?

Donor’s Choose was created and founded by Charles Best, a history teacher, according to the Donor’s Choose website. He began to realize that he was pulling money out of his own pocket for school supplies. To remedy this, Best created a website where teachers can post classroom project requests and anyone with as little as $1 can donate.

Nvate innovative charities Springwire social services Donor's Choose teacher funding

Credit: Donor’s Choose Facebook page

Pretty soon 10 of Best’s colleagues posted projects, however the problem being that Best didn’t actually have any donors. So, he anonymously funded these projects himself and in response, people thought the site actually worked. In turn, rumors started to spread. In 2003, Oprah became aware of their efforts and recognized the charity, and the rest is history.

How does Donor’s Choose Work?

The process is simple. Teachers post project requests and people can give donations starting at as little as $1, according to the Donor’s Choose website. Once the project reaches its goal, the materials are shipped to the school. The donor will receive photos of the project taking place, a letter from the teacher, and insight into how every dollar was spent. If a donor gives over $50, they will receive handwritten thank you notes from the students. Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

A project request will stay posted for up to four months. However, teachers can set shorter deadlines, if they choose to do so. If a project goal is not reached, donors will get their donations returned as account credits, which can be used to choose a new project to support, have the charity choose a new project for them, or send the teacher they supported a gift card.

Donor’s Choose serves grades kindergarten through 12 in all 50 states in public and charter schools. According to their website, 70 percent of the projects are successfully funded.

Visit the Donor’s Choose website to find a project to help.

It is easy to be put off and be wary of certain charities with the recent increase in corporate greed. Just remember that there are legitimate cases out there that need help. Giving is not only good for them, but it also provides the giver with the reward for helping someone less fortunate than them.

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