Portland has an impressive array of nonprofits serving a variety of needs in the city. It can be overwhelming to know where to invest time and money when you want to give back; if your resources are limited it’s especially difficult to know where to start. One fairly new non-profit, Dollar for Portland, is looking to help an underserved group of people while making it easy for members of the community to contribute.
The organization was started in April 2012 by Jared Walker when members of his family were left with a mountain of medical bills. He desperately wanted to help relieve his family of the debt but didn’t know how, so he organized a small fundraiser. After Jared’s efforts had brought in $2,500, he started to think about other members of the Portland community who might be dealing with the same problem. Jared discovered that although Portland does have a lot of wonderful non-profits, none of them are meeting the need of relieving medical debts, and outstanding medical debts can often result in dangerous kind of need–such as homelessness and poverty.
Jared decided to fill this gap, so he gathered a team and registered as a nonprofit. He and his team are asking the people of Portland to give just one dollar a month. They’ve made the process fairly simple for community members looking to participate: after signing up on the website, the organization automatically pulls one dollar a month from participants’ accounts.
100% of the contributions go toward relieving medical debts for families in need. Dollar For Portland identifies these families by partnering with local organizations (such as the Epilepsy Foundation Northwest). One family is featured a month; their story is captured on video and shared on social media, and they receive a check based on contributions (right now that’s around $3,000).
Although the idea for the organization was birthed in April 2012, Dollar For Portland was officially launched last August–with a large event in Pioneer Square. Since that time, the organization has helped five families; they’ve also partnered with lots of Portland businesses–such as Pip’s Donuts, Ruby Jewel Ice Cream, Barista, and Water Avenue Coffee–to raise money for, and bring awareness to the issue of medical debt.
The good news for frugal readers who want to help: if you’re already over-budget in the giving department, Dollar For Portland is also looking for volunteers–they need people to assist with fundraising gigs and community events. To sign up to either help or contribute money, check out the organization’s website: www.dollarfor.org.