Archive for September, 2008

September 6th 2008

$5 Donation

$5 Donation

A friend emailed about breast cancer research, a topic close to him as his wife (also my friend) is a breast cancer survivor.  In his email, he said, “Do the math.  If everyone in the US donated 5 bucks that would add up to a whole lot of dinero.”

I got to wondering how much.  According to the US Population Clock there are 305,073,405 souls in the US as of 06:01 GMT (EST+5) Sep 06, 2008.  If they all donated $5, that would be $1,525,367,025.00, just over $1.5 billion dollars.

To be more accurate, though, we have to weed out the youngest and eldest who probably don’t have $5 to give out.  According to the age distribution chart from the 2000 census, 21.42% of the population was under 15 and 3.27% were over 80.  Let’s just round off to 24.5% to account for those few that might be able to give in these ages we’re excluding and perhaps adjust for changes since 2000.  That reduces the population to about 228,805,054 people and the take from that bunch is only $1,144,025,270.00. We could still do a lot with that, no question.

Note that I’m not filtering for poverty–my experience of poverty was that, while there might not have been $5 to spare for breast cancer, there was often $5 to share with a neighbor equally impoverished as oneself.  The poor are, often, the most philanthropic if you figure their philanthropy as a percentage of their wage.  If you did filter, the census said roughly 12.4% of the US lived in poverty, so only excluding them brings our total back up to 267,244,303 people and about 1.34 billion dollars.

So, let’s say we have 1.2 billion to pick a number between these filters.  Now, where should we spend it?

A Google search reveals “about 199,000” results for the exact term “$5 donation.”  You can give to Hilary Clinton, the Red Cross of Central South Carolina, and the SunFeather Foundation.  You can buy an End of the World T-shirt.  You could win a Yorkie.  You can Swing dance with Lynn Graciano & the Hot Tamales in Olympia.  The possibilities seem endless, from politics to health care to fun.  If I sent $5 to all those links, it would cost me $995,000!  You think I’m made of money?

Okay, okay–let’s say of those 199,000 links, only half are 1) current and 2) not duplicate links.  Of the remaining, let’s say only half again are charities.  Is that conservative enough?  that brings the number down to about 49,750 charity donations for an outlay of roughly $248,750.

That’s still too steep for my blood, so we’re going to have to spread things around.  If we took that 1.2 billion and divided it among the 49,750 charities, each would get $21,120 and change.  Nice, but for big charities, that’s not even pocket change.  Well, if we gave $5 monthly, we could bring the annual total to more than $289,447.  For some of those charities, that would be pretty nice; for others, not so much still.

Here’s a suggestion.  Give if you can.

And, vote to stop spending money and lives on useless wars in foreign lands for the egos of some few men.  If, as some estimate, the Iraq War costs us $3 trillion, just think–that’s about $9,834 per each person in the US old, young, rich or poor.  It’s a lot more than $5.  And had we given all that to those charities instead, each would have received over 600 million dollars.

By the way, my friend’s email had a link: Stand Up To Cancer

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