In the face of a natural disaster, a truck full of donated teddy bears can only help so much.
That’s one of the reasons Milford residents Andrea and Phil Wojcik decided to start the Charity Wishlist, a website that works with non-profit organizations to provide the public with a specific list of items needed by those experiencing a crisis, like Colorado flood victims, or those with on-going needs, like the Food Bank of Delaware.
“There are people who want to do something, but they simply don’t know where to go or what to give,” Andrea Wojcik said. “We want to become that central repository for aide during natural disasters [and ongoing needs]. We want to help fulfill that natural giving desire.”
Knowing precisely what is needed by a non-profit and where to send donations is something The Charity Wishlist hopes to accomplish by working with non-profits to generate a list of items that is easily updated as those needs change.
Currently, there are two wish lists available at www.thecharitywishlist.org: one for Colorado flood victims and one for the Food Bank of Delaware.
The site went live six weeks ago, and the Wojciks are working diligently to gain awareness and dispel doubts about donating through this new outlet.
“We’re striving for increasing awareness on two fronts,” Andrea Wojcik explained. “For the organizations, we want them to let us help them through social media, postings online without getting charged. We need those organizations to come to us so we can start helping them. And the public at large, for the people who want to give but don’t know where to go.”
The Wojciks do not collect a profit from this venture, and participating organizations or individuals will not be charged for services. All processing fees are calculated into the price of donations, allowing Charity Wishlist to donate 90 to 95 percent of any proceeds raised. Only a small percentage, usually around 8 percent, goes to processing fees.
“We do this as volunteers,” Phil Wojcik explained. “We try to ensure people that every possible penny that comes through we are giving to [participating non-profits]. If someone ever feels uncomfortable, we’ll show them all of the donations.”
The site allows people to make monetary donations for specific goods, which the Wojciks plan to purchase in bulk, package and send to the participating organizations. As donations are made, lists are generated that are available to the public so they can see how their donations are helping.
“[Donors] want to make sure people are actually getting something, so we figured what better way to be a voice for the organization to the general public,” Phil Wojcik said. “We can tell people this is what they need, here’s the address, or you can donate money and we’ll make the purchases and send the supplies.”
Page 2 of 2 - The site is designed by Phil Wojcik, who has worked as a programmer for more than 15 years, and he explains that it is completely secure for donations, there is no cost for the participating organizations and it is also able to serve as an online presence for those organizations who cannot afford individual websites.
“I took a lot of the technology I’ve designed, built and implemented for multiple clients and merged it together in my own integrated system,” Phil Wojcik explained. “It’s fascinating because most companies would put a $7,500 price tag on a project like this.”
The site’s technology runs in a hyper-secured cloud environment with encrypted servers that are tested for hackability, Phil Wojcik said. The site does not store any credit card information, but rather simply a person’s first name, last name, email address and amount of donation, all of which are stored in separate databases and kept so that a list of donations can be produced and shared with the participating charity. Phil Wojcik said the site includes the same technology he built for clients like Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab and Citigroup.
In an effort to increase The Charity Wishlist’s visibility, the Wojciks have entered a competition to win a Superbowl commercial, hoping that exposure would increase participation by both those in need and those with the desire to help out.
“We’re getting people who seem interested, but maybe haven’t taken that next step,” Andrea Wojcik said. “It just gives you a good feeling when you know you’ve directly impacted someone’s life, even if it’s just one day that you gave them something they needed, a hot meal or a pair of gloves so they can survive the dropping temperatures out in Colorado. This is a way for us to fill in the gap.”
For more information or to support the cause, visit www.thecharitywishlist.org, www.facebook.com/TheCharityWishlist or follow them on Twitter @charitywishlist.