If you're in the mood to give a little something back this holiday season, you can do it with some social-donation sites. We take a look at some of those in this roundup.
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Making microdonations on the Web is a little harder than it once was. Many of the services I would have included in this roundup have shuttered in the past year. In fact, there are just a handful of viable such services left.
Regardless, each of the services listed below will help you connect with the charitable organization (or person) you care about most. You can choose a cause, decide how much to donate, and you're done. It's a really simple process. And if you're in the mood to share, it should be a rewarding one.
You can use the site to donate whatever you'd like to any of the organizations. You can also get the word out about the organizations by clicking on the "spread the word" option in each donation widget. Upon doing so, your Twitter account will be populated with a link for others to donate to the same organization. It's a convenient way to be social and contribute to the fight against cancer.
ChipIn ChipIn is a fine way to start raising money for the charity you care about. It also provides an easy way to get all your social-networking friends to dole out some cash.
When you get to ChipIn, you'll need to input the cause you're trying to raise money for. You can also input how much cash you want to raise over the term of the fundraiser. From there, you need to input your PayPal account. It works well, but it's the social element that might help most. With the help of ChipIn's Facebook widget, you can put your donation box in front of all your friends. You can also add plug-ins to your Web site. Overall, ChipIn makes it quite convenient to make and receive microdonations.
DonorsChoose DonorsChoose is perhaps one of the finest charitable ideas in this roundup. And it works quite well.
In essence, DonorsChoose allows you to connect with school children, using whatever extra cash you have to help them in their educational endeavors. The site asks for teachers or schools to submit a charitable request. It can range from computers in the classroom to buying books that the school district can't afford. A required amount is added to the description. From there, users can make micropayments to give those schools what they need. Users can see how many students it would reach, how close the class is to their goal, and much more. Payments are made through DonorsChoose's payment system. It's a really neat site.
Pledgie Pledgie is a rather interesting site. You can either create your own donation drive or pledge some cash to some of the drives already on the site.
One of the first things you'll notice about Pledgie is that it isn't a very well trafficked site. The vast majority of pledges contain few (if any) donations. That might want you to turn to another service, like ChipIn, that will help you get in front of your friends more effectively.
If not, Pledgie still provides some value. You can create your pledge, enter a description, add an image, and input the kind of help you need. When someone donates, the cash comes out of their PayPal account and goes into yours. Pledgie never touches the money. I should note that Pledgie adds some social flavor to its site by allowing users to tweet about the charitable campaign. It also has widgets you can add to your site. Pledgie isn't the best service in this roundup, but it isn't bad either.
SocialVibe SocialVibe takes the idea of charitable donations and mixes it up a bit by requiring you to engage in certain activities so sponsors will donate more cash to the cause you care about.
The site features everything from smiling for a photo to getting your friends on social networks to help you perform various tasks. When you complete an activity, you receive donation credits that you can give to the charitable organizations that you care most about. I was really impressed by both the activities and the number of charities on the site. SocialVibe is a neat idea that adds an element of fun that many of these services don't. Try it out.
My top 3
1. SocialVibe: Adding an element of activity to charitable donations is quite appealing.
2. DonorsChoose: There's something awfully rewarding about helping school children.
3. ChipIn: ChipIn is a fine way to donate cash with the charities you care most about.