When a new Trump tweet hits the internet, in most cases it is bound to spark ire and frustration among his opponents. But now no matter how misguided, outlandish or just plain insulting Trump's words might be, you can rest easy knowing that something proactive has come from his ignorance. If you subscribe to ChirpChange, every time Trump tweets, a donation will be made to a charity of your choice.
"We're trying to turn a negative into a positive," ChirpChange founder Bret Levine tells Bustle. "I think it's a way for people to feel both empathetic as well as vengeful, in a way."
Levine created the service as a way to turn something bad into something good, to put it simply. When you subscribe to the service, you can select your donation amount, anywhere from 2 cents per tweet to 99 cents per tweet, as well as your charity of choice, the options currently being Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Sierra Club, and Southern Poverty Law Center, among others. Then, every time Trump tweets, your micro donation is automatically made. It's continued altruism you don't have to lift a finger to accomplish.
"It's a way to get back at Trump. It's a way to donate to charity. You can donate if you don't have a lot of money. You can feel like you're part of a larger movement, You can feel like you're making a difference," Levine says.
It wasn't any single moment or vitriolic tweet that sparked the idea for ChirpChange, Levine says, but rather the overwhelming feelings he had hearing Trump's rhetoric both during the campaign and after the election. It was the xenophobia, the "disrespect and aggression" toward women, and the condemnation of immigrants that pushed Levine's frustration with Trump toward the brink. As a social scientist, Levine says Trump's "blatant disregard" for "evidence based decision making" naturally offended him.
"I know after the election, how I felt," Levine says. "Personally, it felt like a friend had died. And I knew if I was upset, other people were certainly upset as well. And I had to watch it unfold through his tweets."
Levine had heard about the concept of "rage donating," where people were so upset that they donated a lot of money to feel like they were doing something to protest Trump's election. He decided he wanted to merge that concept with the president's preferred "marketing strategy," as Levine calls it, and ChirpChange was born.
"I think this presidency, more than any in recent memory, has really called into question identity and what it means to be an American."
The charities Levine selected all support causes that the Trump administration's agenda would aim to undermine. Planned Parenthood has received the most donations so far, Levine says, which he attributes to how blatantly the organization stands in the government's cross hairs.
Since the service launched on April 18, ChirpChange has raised about $600 for the charities it highlights. Levine acknowledges that the company is still young and building steam, but he says it has doubled the amount of users in the last month, and continues to grow and gain more support.
"It speaks to how upset people are," Levine says. "He is triggering a lot of not just anger but action. I think this presidency, more than any in recent memory, has really called into question identity and what it means to be an American. But also what it means to be a human being. And it seems to boil down to the fundamental question of 'Do you care about other people?' And that seems to be the trigger and that seems to be the dividing line between those that support Trump and those that don't."
Levine says there is a growing industry around Trump's tweets, from an app that will alert you if any companies you are invested in are mentioned by Trump on Twitter, or a machine that prints out Trump's tweets and sets them on fire. A recent campaign by ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is crowdfunding to kick Trump off of Twitter, but Levine doesn't agree that is the way to go. He knows that Trump will never stop sharing his most hateful ideas, whether it's on Twitter or in some other manner. So you might as well make something positive out of it.
"[With ChirpChange], I think you can rest easy knowing that every time you hear about something heinous going on in this country that's perpetuated by Trump, you can know you're doing something about it," Levine says.