Many of us would love to give more to charities but find
it hard to do so when the utility and insurance companies
insist on sending us bills. And if you are like me, you
get solicitations from dozens of worthy charities but
when money is limited, find it difficult to make a choice.
Now you can donate without having to spend a dime. Take
a look at the following sites.
a click at their site will provide these causes
The Breast Cancer Site
Run by The National Breast Cancer Foundation,
Inc., the goal of The Breast Cancer Site is to protect
women’s health. By clicking on the donation button,
you are contributing towards the funding of free mammograms
for homeless, battered, and low-income women. Each day
when you visit the site, you can read the survivor quote
of the day or read a real woman’s story about
her battle with cancer.
The Hunger Site
As you may surmise, this site is dedicated
to feeding the hungry. Clicking on this site’s
button contributes toward providing food to hungry people
around the world. Food is distributed by Mercy Corps
and America's Second Harvest.
The Child Health Site
Devoted to protecting children’s health,
the money collected here is disbursed to the site’s
charity sponsors who provide needed services to children
around the world. The charities focuses on five main
areas: 1) the distribution of vitamin A, preventing
about 400,000 cases of childhood blindness each year;
2) administering rehydration formula to alleviate severe
dehydration; 3) making prostheses for child amputees;
4) surgeries to reverse blindness caused by cataracts
and trachoma; and 5) testing pregnant women for HIV.
The Rainforest Site
Carried out by the Nature Conservancy, The
Rainforest Conservation Fund, The World Parks Endowment,
The Cascades Conservation Partnership, and The Friends
of Calakmul, the goal of this site is to “preserve
the Earth’s endangered rainforests and other imperiled
habitats.” If you are interested in learning about
the site’s current conservation projects, click
on “About Our Projects.” There are ongoing
efforts in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru, as well
as Washington State.
The Animal Rescue Site
Clicking on this site’s button provides
food for animals living in shelters and sanctuaries.
More About the Sites
Each of the five charities described above has its own
home page (there is no general home page), but are all
linked to each other. In other words, no matter which
charity’s URL you go to, the others are all tied
The way this works is easy: You go to each home page
and click a clearly marked button. That action results
in a contribution towards that charity. It’s that
The donations are paid for by the sponsors of the site,
which are promoted on “tiles” throughout
the site. The procedure takes seconds and is completely
anonymous—you do not have to provide any personal
information whatsoever, unless you wish to sign up for
their free newsletters.
There are relatively few pop-ups—usually one
or two related to a special sale for a particular item.
(In actuality, the ads are “pop-unders”;
that is, they appear in a new window underneath the
one in which you are currently viewing the site. This
is less intrusive and annoying.) Although the sites
are owned by environmentalists Tim Kunin and Greg Hesterberg
and are part of CharityUSA, each site is overseen by
a different organization.
Each site has a gift shop that sells items related to
that particular charity. For example, the Breast Cancer
Site has a whole line of pink ribbon jewelry and accessories.
The Rainforest Site offers handmade and free-trade items.
Or maybe you’d like some jungle chocolate, which
“are sun-dried, slow-roasted, coarsely cracked,
and sweetened with a touch of fresh sugarcane juice.”
The stores have an unbelievably varied selection of
gifts, from jewelry and clothing to food, items for
the home and garden, art and sculptures, museum designs,
music, books, and magazines. There are links for new
product arrivals as well as for warehouse sales. The
links are updated seasonally so that you can shop for
a particular holiday. At this writing, Father’s
Day was approaching, so the link was for Father’s
The best thing about the stores is that you not only
get beautiful—sometimes exquisite—items,
but with each purchase, more will be donated to that
charity. For instance, for each spaghetti-strap Animal
Rescue tank top you purchase, the site will fund 14
bowls of food for animals. For every cinnamon shaker
(made from Vietnamese cassia trees) sold, the Rainforest
Site will preserve 1,145 square feet of land. Keep in
mind that you can purchase any item from any site, so
if you feel strongly about one (or more) particular
charity, the key is to click into that site before you
purchase so the money goes to that charity (it will
always say on the top of the page which site you have
Gifts do not stop at tangible items. For example, you
might like to adopt a Red Howler Monkey, providing a
week's worth of food, veterinary care, and rehabilitation
for a rescued Colombian red howler monkey (you won’t
actually own the monkey). Or perhaps you would like
an Agriculture Kit, providing a set of tools, including
a spade, hoe, tree clippers and wheelbarrow, to a family
in Kosovo. Or maybe a Women’s Small Business Kit
is more to your liking. This would help provide a loan
to a rural, poor woman in Kyrgyzstan to start her own
business and help support her family. At the same time,
it would save 2,290 square feet of land through The
Rainforest Site or provide 28 bowls of food for animals
through the Animal Rescue Site. There are many such
kits and adoptions to choose from, making your purchase
a socially significant one. The only drawback is that
despite the fact that you are contributing to a charity,
these gifts are not tax-deductible.
Some gifts have specific beneficiaries. The Munyumbwe
baskets, for instance, benefit the Tonga tribe of the
Gwembe Valley of southern Zambia, who, during the 1950s,
were forced to move off their ancestral land and resettle
elsewhere due to construction of the Kariba dam and
a hydroelectric power plant.
There is even a selection of gifts that give twice,
as the sites put it. Handwoven dolls made by the Keren
peoples of Burma is an example. Forced to flee their
homeland, the Keren live in exile in Thailand, and by
purchasing one of their dolls, you help the women who
created them earn a living. Secondly, for each doll
sold, another is given to nursery schools in the Kerens’
refugee camps. And funds will be provided to help nine
children through the Child Health Site!
When you click on the store link, you can click on
the charity tabs on top to navigate through the items
offered by those individual charities without leaving
the store. The site uses the shopping cart system, making
it easy to accumulate your gifts and get a running total.
There is a customer service page, which provides phone
numbers, e-mail address, and postal mail address. Additionally,
another way to contribute is to sign up for the free
e-newsletters. Each new sign-up results in extra contributions
to the charities.
The Daily Results pages give actual totals on a daily
and monthly basis, as well as information on the previous
year. For example, the Breast Cancer Site says that
in 2003, almost 2,000 mammograms were funded for underprivileged
women, with an additional 1,171 mammograms funded from
visitors shopping in the store. On May 24, 2004, 187,253
clicks were made on the site, providing 4.7 mammograms.
On that same day, 82,643 clicks at the Child Health
Site helped 1,503 children, providing 1,298 children
with Vitamin A for disease and blindness prevention,
186.3 infants with emergency oral rehydration, and 1.5
children with eye surgery or a prosthesis.
Each site has a Common Questions page that provides
information regarding how the site works, the sponsors’
roles, and the cause itself. Visitors are allowed one
click per day (you can sign up for a daily e-mail reminder),
so don’t forget to click every day. You’ll
be making a big difference.
Roberta Roberti is a Brooklyn-based food
writer who owns her own chef business and has written
a soon-to-be-published cookbook on vegetarian Italian