An effort for neighbors to help neighbors overcome COVID-19’s economic blows is showing promise in Durango.
Matt Taylor, who launched AidtoAll in early August, said a new online charitable model has distributed $61,793 in aid with another $31,000 in the pipeline to go out in the next two weeks.
So far, 250 people have been helped. Those recipients came from 39 households and 12 people who applied and received money since AidtoAll’s website went up 2½ months ago.
AidtoAll is working to provide assistance to needy applicants within a week of their online request for help. Applicants are eligible to receive one round of funding each month.
After going live, Taylor said he soon realized tweaks were needed – especially speeding the time people receive financial assistance.
Initially, AidtoAll envisioned a one-month period between receipt of a request for assistance to delivery of a pre-funded credit card, called a Relief Card, but Taylor quickly realized it was important to speed assistance to people in need.
“Now, we’re trying to ensure aid is going out as quickly as we can. And it’s definitely weekly,” he said.
Taylor, who retired as CEO of FIS Worldpay on New Year’s Eve 2019, launched AidtoAll in the first week of August.
The website, www.aidtoall.org, provides a fast, secure, direct and timely way for residents of La Plata County who are struggling with job losses, cut hours and other financial blows from COVID-19 to get assistance from more fortunate neighbors – anyone who can provide donations, often as small as $10.
The second generation of the software behind AidtoAll will be ready in November.
The website essentially functions as an exchange where people in a community who have been unaffected by the pandemic can meet neighbors who have taken bigger hits since the novel coronavirus emerged in March.
So far, Taylor said the most generous donation received by AidtoAll is $5,000.
AidtoAll has received 87 donations from 80 unique donors. Donations have totaled $106,076, with 66% of donations coming from La Plata County residents and 75% of donations coming from Coloradans.
The average online donation has been $331.
On a bigger scale, the plan is to test the proof of concept of AidtoAll – combining the modern tracking, convenience and security capability of credit cards with delivery of charitable aid – in La Plata County before offering it to communities across the nation.
Letters from the first two applicants seeking aid convinced Taylor he needed to speed delivery of money to applicants.
“I realized the amount of courage and vulnerability it takes when people are asking for help. They need funds as soon as they can get them,” he said. “These were strong, hardworking people, families that were caught in the cross-hairs of an indiscriminate equation. They just ended up on the wrong side of it.”
The ability of modern payment methods to track how money is spent creates an essential element to ensure money is spent appropriately.
Taylor said the ability to track money provides assurance to donors their charity will be spent wisely by recipients in their path to recover from the novel coronavirus.
He said the ability to track spending has allowed AidtoAll to examine how individual recipients use the money. For example, one person spent heavily on such things as laundry and cleaning supplies. As it turns out, the applicant was setting up a house-cleaning business.
Another recipient with a heavy gas bill turned out to be an applicant working as an Uber driver. Expenditures on lodging and hotels came from people displaced from their homes by COVID-19, he said.
“Studying the analytics ensures that people are doing the right thing with the spend,” Taylor said. “The accuracy and sophistication of the platform is the most important thing because we realized it was working. And we wanted to make sure that we could build to scale,” he said.
So far, examining purchases from AidtoAll’s Relief Card shows recipients have spent 33% of their money on food and groceries. After food and groceries, the next top five categories for purchases by recipients were for fuel, utilities, auto repairs, health care and pharmacy, and cellphone/internet expenses.