Modest Needs

I read about a very interesting organization today. The name is Modest Needs and they're a not-for-profit organization that directly help people with short term but critical financial needs. The article I read is in the August 11th issue of Forbes.

The organization was started by Keith Taylor, an English teacher at Middle Tennessee State University in Nashville. He initially had a small website through which he'd dispense $350 a month, 10% of his income, to people that needed small amounts of money to bridge small crises. Like that little bit extra needed to cover rent, an urgent car repair, hospital bill, etc.

What I find so appealing about this is that you actually can pick who you give money to--and know that the money is immediately helpful. Modest Needs doesn't give the money to the individual, but rather to the creditor that the individual owes money to. And these financial problems are vetted by Modest Needs to ensure that they are legitimate. And, interestingly enough, Modest Needs doesn't fund the truly impoverished. They select for people that can normally pay their bills, but have occasional shortfalls. They don't want to be a crutch but rather the generous friend we all wish we had that can help out in times of critical need.

6 years ago, in 2002, Taylor opened up his website to contributions so that others could help and Modest Needs grew quickly. Right now 100% of contributions go to needy recipients though that could change. Administration costs are currently covered by private grants but when you give money, 80% goes to the recipient you designate and 20% to a reserve that pays money to people whose needs are judged so immediate that the organization immediately pays their bill. Should the private monies that fund the organization ever end, then that 20% would also be used to cover overhead as well as the reserve I mentioned.

If you're interested in helping out Modest Needs, look over this page that gives answers to typical quiestions that potential donors have. For example:

How quickly does my contribution actually get to a person who has been applied for help from Modest Needs?

Almost instantly. As soon as our donors invest all of the points that one of our pre-qualified applications needs in order for us to approve a grant, Modest Needs instantly updates that application's status to 'funded' and places the check necessary to fund that grant request in the very same day's mail.

I gave Modest Needs $50--which might put some people who know me into shock. You see, while I've made a number of loans to people I know when they run into problems, I rarely give money to institutions. But Modest Needs doesn't feel like an institution. I like that 100% of the money actually goes out to people in need and that you can pick who gets that money. Since there's the potential for feedback from the recipients, via the website, which gives you that feeling of satisfaction, this could become a habit. And a far better habit than my candy and soda habits.


GA Girl said…
I knew you had it in you...some day you'll be nice to cats. :)
Thumper said…
Nice find...thanks for sharing. I may have to drop a few bucks here and there.
Nina said…
Finding myself in exactly that position this month - not being able to make rent because of my dad's death, I can tell you I relate. When I get back on my feet, you can be sure I'll throw a few bucks their way.
kenju said…
The man who started that should get a prize!!

Thanks for the visit, Dave. I had a church for the last 5 years, but I lost interest in it when the preacher didn't say ONE word to me after Jim's stroke.
Anonymous said…
This is an interesting idea, I'll have to go and take a look. There are so many worthy causes out there, it looks like I might have to give up my mocha habit....I'd probably be quite shocked at what I spend on that.
Thanks for the 'wake up call' this morning! I'm here from Michele's and saying 'hi'!
What a neat idea. I'll check it out.
Deana said…
We gave/give 20% of all the book monies from the new book to a Quiet Needs fund. It is ran through our Presbyterian church and it is for people in the community who would never ask for it. Like people who have had illness and are having trouble with their bills, just things like you mentioned. Little bridges. I know it has helped a couple of older ladies do a car repair that is minor to some but so expensive to their montly budgets yet they have to keep the car running. It is not for anyone receiving any type of government or state assistance. Again it is a quiet needs thing. We have been so blessed in our own life I just hope we can keep giving back to our neighbors and community.
Shephard said…
What a great charity. Thanks for posting this.
Sherri In Atlanta said…
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