Giving to charity online is now established with dozens of giving sites scattered across the web. The idea behind most of these giving websites is to enable all types of donors, however deep or shallow their pockets, to quickly and conveniently find worthy causes to support just by clicking and using their credit cards.
Giving sites aggregate many charities in one place so a potential donor does not have to hop around looking for individual charitable sites. And charities, whatever their size, can find a home where donors congregate.
Besides accepting donations, many online giving sites provide an easy way for supporters to set up their own fundraising campaigns for particular causes; and even for volunteers to find opportunities where they can provide sweat equity instead of a donation or in addition to donating.
Causes is possibly the best known and most widely used giving site. It is really an application that is embedded right within Facebook. As a Facebook user, you can go right to Causes and search for a charity that interests you. You'll also see many charitable campaigns featured on the Causes homepage.
Not every nonprofit is listed on Causes. Nonprofits that set up a page on Facebook can use Causes, making it easy for their supporters to donate. Donations through Causes are processed by Network for Good, which charges a small fee per transaction, and then sends the money on to the particular charity.
Causes also makes it easy to set up your own personal fundraising campaign for causes that you support and invite your friends to join in. There are many tools such as the popular Wish application that you can use to urge your friends to donate to your favorite cause in celebration of your birthday, wedding, the holidays, or to support your run or walk for charity.
When you interact with a charity through Causes, whether to donate, join its cause, sign a petition, or like it, your friends will see that action, further spreading the reputation of that charity.
One convenience that I appreciate is that when you've donated once through Causes, your information is saved so that it is very easy to give again and to as many causes as you like.
Besides powering many online giving sites, Network for Good has its own online giving website that provides an easy way for donors to give to their favorite charities, keep all their giving records in one place, and spread the word about those charities to friends. You can search for volunteer opportunities on the website, set up monthly giving and buy a gift card to give to a friend or loved one.
For nonprofits, Network for Good is a cost-effective way to receive donations online. Nonprofits can set up branded pages and put donate widgets on their own websites, using one of three plans at various price points.
Network for Good provides many valuable services to its nonprofit clients, including learning opportunities, the ability to send newsletters, and an events service where a nonprofit can sell tickets or take donations.
A "razoo" is a coin of the smallest value. This site believes that it doesn't take millions of dollars to make a difference—the greatest opportunities for change lie in the hands of "everyday philanthropists" who want to use their resources for the benefit of others.
Donors can search for charities, donate easily, and set up personal fundraising pages for the cause of their choice. Razoo makes it easy to use social networking to spread the word.
Nonprofits can use Razoo to process donations both from the Razoo site and from their own websites, using the donate widget, for a modest transaction fee per donation. They can even set up special campaigns through Razoo.
If you'd rather be safe than sorry about your charitable contributions and enjoy a bit of research, try donating through Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator rates charities based on very strict criteria that include financial health, transparency, and accountability.
The great thing about Charity Navigator is that you can research and donate all in the same place. There is a trove of good information besides the ratings that are given to listed charities, ranging from one to four stars.
On the home page of Charity Navigator, there are links to useful articles and guidelines, plus featured charities that change frequently. These are often keyed to hot charitable themes.
You can search for charities by name or category. If you want to find a reliable charity that helps dogs, look for animal charities. If you have a charity in mind, look it up to see if it has a rating and what it is.
Not all charities are listed at Charity Navigator, only those 501(c)(3) charities that have been checked out and rated. It is not a comprehensive and exhaustive list of charities.
You can donate to a charity right from Charity Navigator if you register. The transaction is handled through Network for Good. When you get to the donation page, you can even click on "more information" and go to the charity's listing at GuideStar where you can find pretty detailed financial information and a description.
By donating through Charity Navigator you use the services of three terrific organizations: Charity Navigator, with its ratings; Network for Good with it trustworthy transactional abilities; and GuideStar which is a comprehensive listing of IRS approved charities.
Through Charity Navigator, you can even use social media to let your friends know about the charities you are interested in; and you can write a review of a beloved charity, which is handled by Great Nonprofits. You can look up charities at Great Nonprofits before you donate to see if they have good reviews or not. The reviews might be from donors, clients, or volunteers at a particular charity. This information adds some qualitative nuance to the more quantitative information underlying Charity Navigator's ratings.