Christmas is a time for giving, not just spending on all the darn nice sparkly things out there. Assuage your conscience by making micro-donations while you shop online, says Sheila Prophet
Charities have devised a range of ingenious ways for online shoppers to give to charity this Christmas without putting too much strain on their wallets. You shop at your favourite stores online but you access them via these sites, who then make a donation to your chosen charity when you buy something, at no additional cost to you.
At Give as you Live there are more than 3,000 retailers, of varying levels of desirability and quality, but hunt through for high50 favourites including Selfridges, John Lewis, Fortnum and Mason, Liberty, Apple, Hamley’s and Graham and Green.
Giving A Bit generates cash for good causes by allowing users to work together by forming fundraising communities. Likewise Easy Fundraising, whose retailers include John Lewis, M&S and Amazon, and which has raised £5.7 million for UK causes including charities, schools and community groups. If a registered user spends £50 at Boden, for example, it raises £4.50. Taking out a new contract with Vodaphone can raise up to £40.
A very simple way to give is to switch your search engine from Google to Every Click, which uses Yahoo and raises money for charity every time users search the web or trade online. So far, Every Click has raised more than £4 million for charity.
In 2010, eBay added the My Favourite Charity feature, where buyers and sellers can support their favourite charities. Shoppers can also display the badge of their chosen charity on their profile. Look out for the eBay for charity ribbon when searching on eBay, which shows the items that benefit good causes, then when purchasing, add a small donation at checkout to that charity.
eBay says its research shows that people who pre-select a cause close to their hearts are 17 times more likely to donate. Though it might seem a negligible way to raise money, this simple online option has raised an astonishing £56 million.
The Hunger Site has a slightly different concept: simply clicking a button can help fight famine in the Horn of Africa, provide Darfur refugees with cooking stoves, get girls in Afghanistan to school in safety, vaccinate rescued animals, and more.
If there is a music lover on your gift list, head for Fairshare Music, which describes itself rather aptly as the home of feel-good downloads. You give songs, albums or videos and Fairshare donates half its net profit from every download to 21 charities, which include Amnesty, the British Heart Foundation, WWF, Friends of the Earth and The Hunger Project.
And though it is of course better to give than to receive, you can buy for yourself or drop hints to those close to you by creating your own wishlist to share on Facebook or Twitter.
For more ideas on giving to charities this Christmas, visit the Charities Aid Foundation. Or try micro volunteer site Help From Home: rather than being based on shopping, you donate your time and skills – one for even the most anti-consumerists!