A Tiny, Priceless Coin: Interview with Kathryn Hawkins of Razoo


Gone are the days when you handed your money over to a charity organization…and the relationship ended there. If your heart felt short-changed by this business model, you’ll be happy to learn that we’re in more enlightened times, where the dazzling interconnectedness of the online world allows you to see where your money goes and learn how it’s helping the causes you believe in.

But where do you go first? Today we’re delighted to welcome Kathryn Hawkins, the editor at Razoo – a philanthropic site that can justifiably claim to be the only place you’ll need to go to donate to the cause of your choice. Tall tale? Not when you consider the millions of opportunities to give and Razoo’s  top-quality journalism outlining the most pressing charitable stories in the world today. These combine to connect you as never before with the recipients of your donations – to learn the human stories behind the headlines and know your place in shaping them.

Mike: Thanks for dropping by, Kathryn! In your opinion, what the number one way in which Razoo’s approach to charitable giving is distinct and groundbreaking? What features and services are you most proud of?

Kathryn: First and foremost, Razoo is the only online charitable giving platform service in which every single penny of your money goes directly to the charity. Usually, as much as five to 10 percent of your donation is eaten up in transaction costs, but Razoo passes it all straight on. Razoo also has a search engine that lets you browse through more than 1.6 million US-based nonprofits, checking out their ratings and reviews from Charity Navigator and Guidestar, as well as videos, the nonprofits’ newsletters, and any newspaper articles that mention them. If you’re a fan of a particular organization, you can even update the nonprofit’s organization page on Razoo.

What stories have you covered at Razoo that you think aren’t getting the press they deserve, making you want to shout them from the rooftops?

Human trafficking is a big one, for sure. I’ve done a few stories related to that: a Giving Guide to anti-slavery organizations, a story about a group of teen girls who created a nonprofit group to rescue children from slavery in Ghana, and a profile of five former slaves who’ve transformed their traumatic experiences into something positive, serving as activists to help end human trafficking. An estimated 27 million people are enslaved, some even in the United States. True numbers could be much higher, as many cases of human trafficking are never reported to officials. I think it’s an essential issue for everyone to learn about. Also, if you can spare a few dollars, make a donation to an anti-trafficking group like the Somaly Mam Foundation or the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking to fund efforts to shut down human trafficking rings and provide counseling and support for former slaves.

We’re curious about the unusual name ‘Razoo’ – what the meaning behind it and why was it chosen to sum up the company?

A “razoo” is a New Zealand term for a coin of little worth. The word was chosen because it represents our vision of philanthropy – that everyone can make a meaningful contribution, no matter how small or large their individual donations are.

What can regular visitors to the website expect in terms of articles, news, updates and upcoming attractions?

We’ve recently started doing a “Daily News” section, with articles spotlighting current events related to social issues and philanthropy, including information on how the everyday person can help contribute to the cause. We’re also planning some big upcoming features, including interviews with celebrities (secret for now, but all will be revealed soon). But our biggest event of the moment is our March Goodness contest in which Razoo is giving away grants of up to $10,000 to the charities with the most donor supporters on Razoo. If you want to create a fundraising page for your favorite organization, you can also win an iPod. But it runs until the end of March, so there’s not much time left to get involved!

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Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.