High-tech options make giving to charity easier

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This year there are several new ways to donate before the tax year ends even while dashing through holiday shopping.

An iPhone application launched Wednesday lets shoppers give to charities just by walking into stores. CauseWorld, which will soon be available on phones running Android software as well, offers people the opportunity to earn points, or "karma," by visiting participating stores and restaurants. Users don't have to purchase anything and they can donate their points to any of nine charities -- including locally based groups such as the American Red Cross and GlobalGiving -- helping these groups do any number of good deeds, such as feed a chimp, donate a book, or plant a tree.

The points are backed by funds donated by Cit and Kraft Foods.

Meanwhile, companies such as Infield Communications are making it possible for people to send donations by text message from the mall or wherever they may be.

And for all those people too busy to even walk into a store?

Many charities have links on eBay, where donations jumped to $50 million this year. Web sites such as GoodShop donate part of the purchase price to nonprofits.

And there's a blizzard of online gift-card options. The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington this year offers gift cards, allowing recipients to choose from among hundreds of local charities.

Oh, and after the holidays, when those forgotten holiday gift cards turn up in desk drawers? They can be donated at, and most of the money will go to charity.

-- Susan Kinzie

© 2009 The Washington Post Company