CharityChecker

A browser extension that gives you the lowdown on your favorite charity sites. Make informed donations!

Inspiration

Many of us have seen articles like "How the American Red Cross Spends Your Donations" or "Think Before You Donate to Goodwill," but of those who donate, few take the time to research the credentials of the charities they are supporting. We wanted to increase the transparency in charity spending reports, and the ease with which donors can search them up, directly on the charity website. We were very surprised to find that an extension like this does not already exist!

What it does

Charity Checker automatically pulls concise, relevant information about a charity when you are on their website or secure donate page. It lets you see what percentage of your dollar actually goes to support the cause, and also gives you more detailed information about the charity's financial accountability, potential concerns, credibility ratings, and more. We also have developed an Alexa application that gives you information about a charity that you ask about verbally, and remembers which charities you previously donated to!

How we built it

TLDR: With only one cup of coffee, great mentor support (shoutout to Max and Maxwell!), a ton of snacks, even more struggling, and not enough sleep.

The longer story: We bounced ideas around and found this browser extension to be the most useful, realistic, and immediately applicable one. We split up the work, so teammate 1 worked mostly with Chrome extensions, HTML, and design; teammate 2 with Javascript and HTML (and trying to get the two to cooperate); teammate 3 with APIs; and teammate 4 with integrating everything into Alexa.

Challenges we ran into

We were originally in a larger group but needed to split up without leaving anyone out. Once we found a team, we had a hard figuring out where to even start. Due to the somewhat poorly documented API combined with our lack of web dev experience, we had to constantly troubleshoot and ask for help. Some specific pain points were going through with API calls and transferring information between different languages dynamically. The mentors and the internet were a great help in this regard!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

All of our team members were new to Chrome extensions, Javascript, HTML, using APIs, and Alexa Skills Kit, and it was the first hackathon some of us have ever done, so we're proud of the amount we learned within 36 hours! We're also proud that we got to build a working prototype and of how well we worked as a cohesive team!

What we learned

We learned HTML and Javascript, how to integrate those together, and how to feed in information from the API. We learned that we could go from an idea and way too many stack overflow answers to a product that can have a meaningful impact. We learned to ask for help when we need it and how to sit down and figure something out together. We also learned how the Alexa Skills kit works by using a Javascript Lambda Function and a JSON interaction model that represents potential Alexa dialogues.

What's next for Charity Checker

In terms of our browser extension, we see great potential in our database to expand to news sources, for-profit corporations, and government organizations. We plan to expand our data set and look at more variables/characteristics such as average employee compensation and a company's sustainability. For our Alexa application, we plan to integrate all of our extension functionality into voice commands.

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