Sunday, March 18, 2007

Charitable ATMS

You can forget the old cliche about charitable checkbooks. Wells Fargo has made giving a step easier - Charitable ATMs. More than 350 ATMs in the San Francisco Bay Area have been equipped to allow direct donations to Glide Memorial Church, the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, Self Help for the Elderly, and the Headlands Institute.

ATMs have long been equipped to help remittance senders - Citibank ATMs in the Bay Area open with a screen that says, "Send money home now. Right here, from this ATM." Now they're in the local giving business also.

The entry of banks into the remittance business helped to bring the immigrant practice of sending money home into the awareness of the general public. How? By making the size of the remittance flow visible - $100s of Billions flow across country lines every year (and have since the first person migrated to a new country). Sending money home isn't news - but tracking it digitally through banking systems and reporting out those numbers is - and its big news when the numbers are as large as these. How will this same reporting effect play out on domestic giving? Wait and see.

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