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.
The Breast Cancer Site
The Hunger Site
The Child Health Site
The Rainforest Site
The Animal Rescue Site
More About the Sites
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 simple.
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.
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 Day shopping.
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 come from).
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 freelance writer who has written more than 25articles for various publications. You can find links to some of themat her web site (www.rroberti-writer.com).