Returning at home from vacation, I found my (physical) mailbox filled mostly with request from charities for money. Most of them I did pay something in the past and am willing to pay again. But digging through that heap of dead tree material made me angry, and made me realize more clearly than ever that there must be a better way for them to collect funds than that!
The motivation to donate comes from inspiring moments of reading, of being open to good thoughts and intents. These moments are mostly damaged by a feeling of being forced into dealing with heaps of letters each trying to address me friendly, but in their amount being a nuisance of too much information at the wrong time and in the wrong media.
What immediately came to my mind then was Flattr.
That's exactly the way how I'd more than happy (AND efficient!) to pay charities. I would like to answer each and every charity that sends me paper mail asking for money (or tries to urge me into a regular payment via those professionally enthusiatic young hired fundraising agents on the streets) with a suggestion to present their activities online (as many already do) and use Flattr to get funds.
To find out if that could work, I read through Flattr docs and was glad to find that they already support charities with a charity account status that has no fees. And subscriptions also fit nicely with the idea to support something on a ongoing basis.
I got stuck however in one regard: At least for me, and I assume for many others as well, donating to charities is amount-wise an entirely different category than donating to interesting web "things" like blog entries or podcasts.
For both, a monthly budget and the attention based distribution thereof, as Flattr provides it, is perfect.
But it's a significantly different donation chunk size for charity projects than for blogs. I want to give more to the latter per click (but not a fixed amount, as the donation feature would already allow).
Presently, the only way I see to work around that, would be having two Flattr accounts with two budgets. But that seems to me to be opposite to the entire Flattr idea of simply being logged in all the time to allow quick single click donations.
So I tried to imagine what extension of Flattr functionality could help. Basically, it boils down to an option to extend the donation beyond a single flattr, like subscriptions already provide on the time axis.
I'd imagine a flattr button that converts to "flattr more" instead of "subscribe". Clicking it would open a window like it does now, offering subscription (repeated donation) but additionally an option to donate a larger share of the budget, or a share of another budget.
The former (larger share) would be simple: Just offer a multiplier, so I can flatter a thing 5x, 10x, 20x instead of just 1x.
The latter (different budget) is certainly more complicated. Users would need to have the option to add more budgets for different purposes to their accounts, which is probably confusing for many. But it would help to keep separate topics apart.
These are just two of my ideas how it could work.
The point however is: I think the Flattr concept could revolutionize donations in many more areas (traditional charities is just one of them), but for that it needs to step beyond the current "all things are equal" mode, in one way or another.