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Philanthropist Uses A Little Money to Make a Big Difference - 2002-05-08


Many people want to strike it rich, but Keith Taylor's motivations were unusual. He wanted to make millions and millions of dollars, so he could give his money away. Although Taylor's dreams of great wealth never came true, he figured out a way to become a philanthropist nonetheless.

University Professor Keith Taylor said he knows what it is like to have a car break down and not have enough money to fix it. He knows what a big difference a relatively small amount of money can make.

And that was the inspiration behind his becoming a philanthropist. He is not a rich man, but he decided he could still afford to give away about ten percent of his salary, $350.00 a month, to help people facing emergency expenses.

"You might not be able to meet many needs like that for $350 a month, but you can meet some, and my thinking was that some was better than none," Mr. Taylor said.

So, two months ago Keith Taylor set up a website (http://www.modestneeds.org) and invited visitors to tell him about their financial needs.

In April, Keith Taylor said, the website helped a woman buy her granddaughter a birthday present, and funded a host of other small needs as well.

"A past due tax bill that stopped the sale of a person's home. A past due electric bill for $90. Glucose sugar test strips for a diabetic $36. The payment on a car to stop the car from being repossessed. These are not huge amounts of money, but what the money actually does in terms of the effect it has on the person is tremendous," Mr. Taylor said.

Word has spread about the website. There have been newspaper stories, television stories. In the last 10 days, Keith Taylor said, 37,000 people have visited the site, some requesting money, some donating money and others offering apologies.

"I probably have 5,000 letters from people who have written in and said: 'I would give anything to be able to support you, but I do not have the financial means to do it. If every one of those people had just sent one dollar, which is pocket change, the site would have been able to fund quadruple the number of requests it is going to be able to fund this month,'" he said.

A little money can make a big difference to a lot of people that is the message the modest needs web site is trying to get out.

As for the website's creator, Keith Taylor said giving away 10 percent of his income each month has made him feel very, very rich.

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