5 Tips for Online Charity Donations

Charity Begins @ Your Home Page this holiday season. Why? Because charitable giving has gone online with just about everything else we all encounter in our daily lives in the age of Social Media. The “iBuyiHelp concept” of giving is gradually replacing the image of the charity volunteer – outside – and braving the cold to fill a can with change for the sick, hungry and homeless. According to a recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy: 62 percent reported that they were using some form of social media as part of their online fund-raising efforts. This includes receiving donations associated with the use of shoppers’ toolbars.

The huge dollar amounts are not quite there yet (overall online charitable giving), but the reasons for this have much more to do with Web-related “growing pains” than lack of interest in donating online on the part of most givers.

Just what is the “iBuyiHelp concept?” Several Internet-oriented companies have been creating interesting ways to tie consumer shopping habits to facilitating charity donations. It makes great sense, because – obviously – there are built in incentives and rewards for everyone.

Retailers are always looking for additional ways to increase their brand awareness and business profile as well as to improve sales. One way of doing this is to affiliate themselves with some organization that creates an online mechanism to encourage customers to feel good about their purchases whenever what they buy translates into charitable contributions. There are various models that result in donations either coming directly from the customer; from the retailer; or from the organization that brings the online seller and buyer, together.

Many of us are already familiar with shopper’s toolbars. Consumers find a shopper’s program they are comfortable with, download a toolbar compatible with their web browser that has the look and feel of popular ones offered by Google and Yahoo. While these search engine toolbars have several functions related to search and desktop organization, shopper’s toolbars usually serve a single purpose. They are specifically designed to help shoppers identify retailers that somehow participate in charitable programs, which earn donations for some charity of choice.

Rather than to go into a complete technical explanation of how shoppers’ toolbars actually work, it is much more helpful to point out the important considerations most shoppers might need to consider one iBuyiHelp program over another.

1. Is the particular charity you wish to support represented? If not, is there a simple way for you to recommend that it be added?

2. Who actually makes the donation? Are any dollars added to your purchase? Or, does the retailer contribute from his own bottom-line? Or, does the shopper’s toolbar creator contribute a portion of his earned commissions from participating retailers?

3. Do you fully understand everything a particular shopper’s toolbar is designed to do? Does it simply alert you when you shop at participating retailers or is it much more intrusive; acting like spyware and tracking your every move on the Web? Not all shoppers’ toolbar are designed to do this, by the way.

4. Be sure the toolbar software you are asked to download is compatible with your computer’s system requirements, especially if you are running a Mac, using a browser other than Internet Explorer or running an older or brand new version of an operating system like Windows.

5. Have you read all the terms and conditions? Do you agree with them? Always read the fine print and understand the responsibilities of all parties.

Shopper’s toolbars are very popular these days. They offer us a very easy way to help others in need. There is no reason to avoid them. Still, it is always wise to investigate whatever is involved and determine which program is best suited to your interests and needs.

No matter how you decide to give, those receiving your donations will be very appreciative of your caring.

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