Modest Needs


Effective small gifts

Has someone ever helped you get you out of a hard place with an act of kindness? If so, you should consider passing that gift onto someone else. You can dispense a few $10 bills from your ATM to the homeless in your area; or you can employ this amazing website which does something similar with greater effectiveness.

Modest Needs, a minuscule non-profit, grants modest (under $200) one-time cash gifts to those who require just a little help to get them through a tough time. A need, if honored, is granted within 72 hours, with no strings attached. Modest Needs does this with commendable efficiency via the web (it’s not hard to be broke and still get online), heart-warming sympathy (every request is read by a volunteer), and impressive reach (220 requests granted this year, or 7% of the million dollars sought for). Modest Needs’ entire finances are completely transparent on their website. Since their inception they have spent $0 on fundraising and $0 on advertising. They are astoundingly thrifty (total annual cost to run this charitable operation: $24,000). The rest of the small change they collect goes to those to whom small change can make a big difference. They accept contributions from folks like you. It runs fast all year, not just at Christmas.

The founder Keith Taylor began Modest Needs by giving 10% of his $350 a month earnings as a way to return a no-strings kindness paid to him when he most needed it. He told me, “Those who need help can always ask for it at Modest Needs, absolutely for free. How much money we raise matters less – to me, anyway – than simply providing a vehicle for human kindness.”

It’s quite brilliant. Release a few bucks from your PayPal account. Return a random kindness. Maximize a small gift.

-- KK 12/16/04