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 one of the best known and most widely used giving sites. Causes is deeply integrated with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more, making it easy for individuals and organizations to mount multichannel campaigns,
Causes is a one-stop shop for grassroots organizers, nonprofits and brands that want to start campaigns, raise money and spread awareness.
It's pretty easy to get started on Causes as an individual. Just create an account (using your Facebook account is super easy) and go through a seried of steps, including choosing some causes, some organizations, and friends you'd like to share with. You can then go on to create your own campaign if you wish.
Organizations have to submit a request for a profile here. All donations are processed through Network for Good.
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 its trustworthy transactional abilities; and GuideStar which has a comprehensive listing of IRS approved charities.