Although there are dozens of organizations at Binghamton University that focus on community service and fundraising, it was not until the club Charity in the 21st Century began last month that students had the opportunity to do their part entirely from their cellphones.
Gary Robbins, founder and president of the club and a sophomore majoring in business administration, said he thought of the club when he was in high school after he realized most community service events took up a lot of volunteers’ time.
“The whole idea of Charity in the 21st Century is modernizing charity and basically letting people do community service from their phone,” Robbins said. “They can do it from anywhere. It’s basically revolutionizing community service events and making it way easier and more attractive for people to give back, which currently there are no other options to allow kids to donate only small amounts of their time.”
According to Robbins, the goal of the group is to motivate everyone to use their apps each week in an effort to raise money as a team each month. The club uses two apps, Charity Miles and Donate a Photo, to help users to connect with over 200 charities, including Autism Speaks, Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity. In the Charity Miles app, users raise money by walking or running. For every mile completed, the app donates 25 cents to the user’s charity of choice.
With Donate a Photo, users can post any photo through the app to earn a dollar. The money for donation in the apps comes from advertisements.
“Our goal, through the app, is to allow kids to donate only a minute or two of time each day, so over time it’ll be only about an hour a month,” Robbins said. “If we had 70 students in our club completing a weekly requirement of four miles and five photos, then we could potentially raise over $1,500 each month.”
The Charity in the 21st Century E-Board hopes the club will become SA-chartered by the beginning of next semester. However, unlike other student groups, the club won’t meet weekly. Instead, Robbins said they will most likely have weekly newsletters and will meet infrequently to help members register for the apps.
Reese Grossman and Nicholas Palin, co-vice presidents of the club and sophomores majoring in business administration, are helping advertise the club by posting flyers around campus. Palin said the club is designed for busy students who want to get involved, but can’t make a serious time commitment.
“This club will become extremely useful to students on campus who want to donate their time to a good cause, but may not have a lot of spare time in their day,” Palin said. “This will become an outlet for almost anyone on campus to help those less fortunate for a fraction of the time.”
The club’s first general interest meeting (GIM) took place on Feb. 13 and had nearly 70 students in attendance. To become SA-chartered, the club will be hosting two more GIMs throughout the semester: one in March and another later on, before final exams.
“I would love to see us get a steady and large number of members coming to our introductory meetings, so we can start in earnest donating everything we can as soon as possible,” Palin said.
Ultimately, Robbins said he wants to expand the club to other universities by having e-board members connect with friends enrolled at other schools.
“The main goal of the club is not just to grow it at Binghamton, but to have these ambassadors at other colleges across the country to be signing kids up for the club,” Robbins said. “This way the apps will be more widely used, raising more money for charities.”
Madeline Propis, a sophomore majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, attended the club’s first GIM after seeing flyers posted on campus and brought a group of her friends to find out more.
“If you have a busy schedule, this is the perfect club for you — it’s a great way to get involved on campus, as well as a great addition to a résumé,” Propis said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how much [we] can grow the club on a national level through the student ambassador program.”
Students interested in getting involved in the club should contact the Charity in the 21st Century E-Board by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.