In the Trenches: How to Be Charitable

Last week, I was awakened by a call to our urgent assistance line sometime around midnight or 1 a.m. I answered to find someone in desperate need of help but not the kind of help we could provide. It got me thinking about how our business could — and should — be involved in charity.

The man who called was stranded at the Greyhound bus station in Milwaukee. According to him, he had used his money to get to Milwaukee for a job that didn’t pan out. Now he was out of money and needed to get back home.

Of course, this isn’t the kind of assistance that Cranky Concierge provides. We help people get where they need to go, but we don’t provide financial assistance along the way. This guy had found our number on the web and thought we could help. He was angry when I said we couldn’t and accused us of “false advertising,” but really there was nothing we could do. It wasn’t false advertising.

I had volunteered with Travelers Aid International at the Los Angeles and Reagan National airports while I was in school, so I thought to send him there. Travelers Aid has a branch in Milwaukee, and I know they can help in situations like this. He would just have to wait until the morning.

After we got off the phone, I started thinking about what kind of charity our business could be involved in. It couldn’t entail situations like this: There’s no way for us to verify whether or not people are truly in need of help just by chatting over the phone. Organizations like Travelers Aid are far better equipped to do that in person.

But we should be involved in charity in some way. We could donate money to an existing charity and help passively, but that doesn’t seem very fun. We have good skills that can help others. I’m just not sure how to connect everything. What do you think?

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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If you want to do financial charity, you could donate tickets to groups that need to travel for humanitarian work like the Red Cross or Doctors/Engineers Without Borders.


You pose a very good question Brett and you may have answered it in your post.  You are best at aiding travelers.  Now, I didn't know about Traveler's Aid until I read about it here, but can you volunteer to help through them.  What I mean is - let them vet the trouble and call you in when they have an exceptionally difficult case where you could help.  This way you have verification and get called when your skills are really needed and not just a bus ticket home.


It's a good idea, mbirgen.  I'm not sure it would work with Traveler's Aid specifically.  They're a decentralized organization where each individual operation does its own thing.  So I think it would be tough to work with them.  (And the one here in my hometown was just kicked out of LAX so that LA could do the job themselves.)  But I do like the idea of partnering with a group that could vet it and then let us know if they need our help.


I think it is very important to be charitable, esp as a small business owner, I find it best to help people with things you are good at. Like I enjoy helping people with web and computer issues in my spare time. 


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  1. [...] In the Trenches: How to Be Charitable – Intuit Small Business Blog A phone call last week got me thinking about the best ways to get the business involved in charity. [...]