The Hunger Site. The Breast Cancer Site. The Rainforest Site. Chances are, if youve got an e-mail account, youve received one of these (or other similar sites) to your inbox.
The concept is simple. Click on the pretty pastel box and you have automatically and at no cost donated food, a mammogram, or 11.4 square feet of rain forest. Sound too good to be true? Skeptical of online giving? Yes, you should do some homework, but dont pass up a great chance to give either.
For example, after a Wikipedia search and some Googling, I discovered that these and other sites are owned by CharityUSA.com, a for-profit group that is the parent company of the Greater Good Network. According to their Web site, 100% of the funds generated through the GreaterGood Network pass through GreaterGood.org to our partner charities. GreaterGood.org has ultimate authority and discretion with regard to the distribution of its funds. All expenditures made are consistent with the exempt purposes of GreaterGood.org.
Nonetheless, each site claims that 100 percent of donations go to the actual charity. There are also sites for childrens health, animal rescue and literacy. Other links on the sites show their partners, year-to-date funds raised, and stories from the press.
CharityUSA does not hold a monopoly on giving sites, though. In fact, online giving is becoming fairly common. The Washington Post reviewed a few sites worth checking out goodsearch.com donates 50 percent of its revenue to more than 45,000 charities and schools. For you cybershoppers, igive.com donates to charity up to 25 percent of each purchase from stores like Macys and Best Buy. American Express allows you to donate every time you use your card (americanexpress.com/give) and other credit card companies allow you to donate your earned points. And, you can donate your frequent flier miles to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at donate.wish.org/donate/miles.
Kiva.org is especially interesting. According to its site, Kiva.org allows you to loan money to small businesses in the developing world. As these microloans are repaid, you get your loan money back. According to Bill Clintons book Giving, the repayment rate on kiva.org loans is a whopping 93 percent!
I have set up the Hunger Site and the Breast Cancer Site as daily reminders on my computer each morning. As the monitor wakes up and my coffee kicks in, I donate a cup of food and a mammogram with a few clicks before getting down to business. And I just donated $50 to kiva.org to help a furniture maker in Ecuador start up his own independent business.
So fire up that computer and click your mouse. Go find a few sites you like some will even send you daily reminders. Point. Click. Serve! Easiest giving youll ever do.
Get out and give back.
Jane Hess Collins is a freelance writer who lives in Alexandria. Please share your comments, volunteer experiences and suggestions to http://www.getoutandgiveback.com.