Beliefnet
O Me of Little Faith

Save the world, one click at a time: I just finished up writing a short magazine article about click-for-charity sites. Many of you are probably aware of these online destinations, but I thought I’d do my good deed for the week and post an overview here. Then you can go out and, with a few clicks of the mouse, do something positive between watching lame YouTube videos and keeping up with fake twittering.

First…what? “Click for charity” websites let you contribute to a worthwhile cause by doing something you’re pretty good at already: clicking your mouse. These sites receive money from corporate sponsors — who want you to see their advertising — and the sponsors then agree to donate a certain amount of money, per visitor, to a specific charity per visitor. So you load up a site, click a button for free, and a charity gets money. It costs you nothing but time.

The Hunger Site Family: One of the best-known (and oldest) such places is TheHungerSite.com, which has been around since 1999, making it nearly prehistoric in the Interwebs timeline. Once a day, you can visit it — along with its partner sites for child health, literacy, breast cancer awareness, rainforest preservation and animal rescue — and register your presence with the “click here to give” button. One hundred percent of the money from their advertisers goes to a set of partner charities.

Ripple: A similar and newer site is Ripple.org, which follows the same well-established pattern as TheHungerSite. At Ripple, you can click to give access to clean water (through WaterAid), food (through OxFam), educational support (through the Oaktree Foundation), and cash toward a microloan (through the Grameen Foundation).

Free Rice (and a Fun Game): FreeRice.com takes it a step beyond the simple click approach. Here you make donations according to the results of a vocabulary quiz. For each correct answer you give, a sponsor donates an amount of rice through the United Nations food program. The questions start out easy, but get obscure pretty quickly. Play as long as you want. Where else can you donate rice and boost your vocabulary at the same time?

Chain Store Reaction: A unique approach in the fight against human trafficking and slavery comes courtesy of ChainStoreReaction.com. It lets you select from dozens of well-known brands — including Cadillac, Dell, or Kellogg’s — then send a respectful, personalized email to that company asking that they make sure they’re not using raw materials associated with slavery. You can customize the email, but it pretty much does the trick in a forthright yet respectful way. I know that responsibly eradicating slavery from a supply chain as diverse as yours is neither quick nor simple, the form email says, and I promise to support your brand through the mistakes, discoveries, and growing pains intrinsic to really addressing this problem. All I ask is that you begin. The site keeps tabs on which brands are responding to their queries.

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There are two ways to look at sites like those above. The cynical approach says click-to-give charity sites are the lazy person’s way to make a difference…but you know what? They still make a difference. A more positive spin is to realize that these sites are another way to help you make this world a better place…even when you’re already worn out from volunteer work at the homeless shelter or tapped out from child sponsorship.

So when you get burned out from real-world interaction, it won’t hurt to let your mouse do the charity work for you. Click away.

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