Why charity begins online

You can now raise millions by surfing the web or using email - and it won't cost a penny. Genevieve Roberts reports

"If we had just one-tenth of Hotmail's 270 million customers, we could raise more than £300m a year for charity," says Simon Martin, who co-founded the email service ippimail.

For people who are not tempted to run marathons and fail to find time to bake fairy cakes to sell for a good cause, ippimail (ippi means "a helping hand" in Japanese) is a method of generating money for charity simply by corresponding.

The email service asks customers to fill in a questionnaire when they sign up, and banner adverts are targeted to users based on their responses. Forty-five per cent of advertising revenue goes to a charity nominated by the user, such as Save the Children or the Terrence Higgins Trust, while 10 per cent goes to the open source programming community, who work to improve the e-mail software.

Charities become recipients of funds by adding a link to the website, and encouraging supporters to use the mail service and shopping directory on the ippimail website, where listed shops donate between 2 and 5 per cent of purchase prices to the site, half of which is given to the recipient's chosen charity.

Rosie Chapman, executive director of policy and effectiveness at the Charity Commission, says that the internet has become an important medium through which charities can raise funds and reach donors directly. "As the regulators for charities, we encourage organisations to look at innovative approaches to fundraising in order to maximise their impact," she says.

One of the more established sites is everyclick.com, the fastest-growing search engine on the internet, with 850,000 searches last month. Half the advertising revenue from every search goes to charity, an average of a penny per search. Users can choose to support any of the 190,000 registered charities in the country, and more than £150,000 has been donated to charities through the search engine so far.

Howard Lake, publisher of fund raising.co.uk, the leading internet fundraising consultancy, says that there are "an ever-growing number of opportunities" for charities to generate income without supporters actively donating, and Joe Saxton, chair of the Institute of Fundraising, says that sites such as everyclick and the shopping portal ushopu care.co.uk - where retailers give commission on every purchase to charity - are powerful tools for charities because they encourage "giving and forgetting".

Charles Storer, co-founder of Hope and Aid Direct, a charity with 150 volunteers, was able to send a 40-ton truckload of aid to Romania following flooding in south-eastern Europe last year, with funds raised solely from everyclick.com. He is hopeful that revenue from internet fundraising will continue to rise. "It's the only way people can support their charity without spending any money," Storer says.

www.ushopucare.co.uk

WHAT IS IT?

A shopping portal with more than 550 retailers, such as HMV and John Lewis. When a purchase is made, the shops give a commission to UShopUCare, just as with most other internet shopping portals. But with this portal, the commission is returned to the consumer and a charity donation is made automatically.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Register your details and log on. Then just shop as you would on any website. If, for example, you insure your car with the AA through UShopUCare, you receive £30 cashback and generate an additional £6 for your favourite charity.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

It depends how generous you are feeling. The cashback you generate will be sent to you - and you decide how much you want to pass on to charity. Every purchase also generates an automatic charity donation. Users can choose from any charity.

www.easyfundraising.org.uk

WHAT IS IT?

Shopping portal with more than 400 retailers, including Debenhams and Next. When a purchase is made, the shops give a commission to www.easyfundraising.org.uk, just as they would to most other internet shopping portals. But with this portal, the commission is automatically given to charity.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Register your details, pick the charity or organisation you wish to support and log in to the site. Then, just shop as you would on any internet site.

WHO BENEFITS?

Users can donate to charities, scout groups, theatre groups, Rotary clubs, or to sponsored individuals.

www.hungryelephant.co.uk

WHAT IS IT?

Another shopping portal, including high-end retailers such as Harrods, which also offers travel and the facility to change your credit-card provider.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Hungry Elephant gives 75 per cent of the commission from each sale/booking/credit-card switch to a charity of the consumer's choice. The site offers a good level of transparency - telling you exactly what commission will be raised from each purchase.

WHO BENEFITS?

Any charity that has registered with the site.

www.giveortake.com

WHAT IS IT?

More shopping, this time from retailers including Boden, M&S, Direct Line Insurance.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Again, you earn cashback from each purchase (50 per cent of the commission is given to Giveortake when a product is bought through the site) which you can either donate to charity, or keep for yourself.

WHO BENEFITS?

More than 50 charities are registered. Or you can keep the money for yourself.

www.ebay.co.uk/community/charity

WHAT IS IT?

Rather than selling items on eBay to generate money solely for the seller, this is an option to raise funds for a charity at the same time, by donating a percentage of the sale price. Users choose the charity, and eBay guarantees to transfer the nominated percentage of the sale price.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Just as you use eBay - both individuals and charities themselves can list items. When you are on the "Sell Your Item" page, go to "How You're Selling" and you will find "Donate a Percentage to Charity", which takes you to the directory of charities. All charity sales have a blue and yellow ribbon on the search results, so people can choose to buy charitable items.

WHO BENEFITS?

The seller chooses a UK charity to donate their profits to. Charities must have registered with MissionFish ( www.missionfish.org.uk), which runs the giving side of eBay, and show they are eligible for Gift Aid. If the charity does not want to profit from a sale, it can cancel the listing.

www.everyclick.com

WHAT IS IT?

A search engine powered by Ask that donates half of its advertising revenue to a charity of choice. Also offers shopping and travel bookings. Has raised £170,000 for charity so far, a figure Everyclick hopes will increase to £1m by the end of 2007.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Treat Everyclick like Google, typing in search terms of choice. If the site is your homepage, then after registering and picking the charity you wish to support, every search will raise money - without your doing anything.

WHO BENEFITS?

Every registered charity in the country is listed, and a heavy internet surfer will raise about £20 a year for a charity of their choice. If you do not support a specific charity, but still want to do some good, then by not choosing a charity you will spread the wealth across all UK charities.

www.ippimail.com

WHAT IS IT?

A free email provider that donates 45 per cent of advertising revenue to charities nominated by users. On average, each e-mail user raises £25 for charity a year. A further 10 per cent of advertising revenue goes to the open source programming community, who work to improve the email service. Also offers shopping.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Treat it as a webmail account like Hotmail or Yahoo, and rather than the advertising revenue going simply to the email provider, it will also benefit charity.

WHO BENEFITS?

National and local charities register by linking ippimail to their website. Save the Children, Breast Cancer Care, Anti-Slavery International and Age Concern Nottingham are among some of the charities already registered.

www.thehungersite.com

WHAT IS IT?

The site was created to focus on the eradication of world hunger. When you read an advert on the site, the advertiser donates a small sum to pay for food aid. On average, 220,000 users click on the site each day, and to date, more than 200 million visitors have given more than 300 million cups of staple food.

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Click once a day on the "Help feed the hungry" icon on the site. All advertising fees go to charity. Sending e-cards through the sites also raises cash for the charities.

WHO BENEFITS?

Principally raises food aid for affiliated charities, including Mercy Corps, America's Second Harvest, the Save Darfur Coalition and the ONE campaign on poverty.

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