Ecommerce now accounts for more than 20 percent of all sales, and that number will only continue to increase over the next years and decades. While the vast majority of that money goes to ecommerce platforms and vendors, it’s surprisingly easy to donate to good causes through your online orders.
In this article, we’ll cover three of the simplest ways to donate money while shopping online. With a little extra work, you can divert a small portion of your cash to a charitable endeavor, whether that’s saving wildlife or distributing clean water. Every cent counts, and we can all make a difference by being more conscious about our spending.
Use Ecosia or a Similar Search Engine
Google is responsible for the vast majority of web searches, but there are a number of other effective search engines out there. Ecosia is a particularly good option for those who want to support good causes since it puts the vast majority of profits toward planting trees.
With Ecosia, you won’t even have to shop online to contribute to reforestation—they support planting trees through search engine ad revenue. That makes it one of the easiest ways to make an impact on the environment while using the internet.
Donate at Checkout
More and more ecommerce vendors are allowing customers to make donations during the checkout process. This is a convenient way to round up or add an extra dollar or two for a good cause.
If possible, look for vendors that match donations rather than simply routing them from customers. That way, you’ll double your donation and support a business that truly cares about charitable giving.
Take Advantage of Virtual Coupons
Virtual coupons are simple ways to save money while shopping online, and some providers split the difference by keeping some of the discount for a specific cause.
If you get 10 percent off a given order, for example, the coupon provider might give you a 7 percent discount and send the remaining 3 percent to a charity. Some may even allow you to choose the charity you want to donate to or pick one from their list.
Switch to Amazon Smile
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the US, and it’s often the easiest way to get a product shipped quickly. While Amazon faces more than its fair share of controversy with respect to anti-worker and anti-climate policies, buying from Amazon is sometimes much more convenient than the alternatives.
If you need to buy something from Amazon, consider switching to Amazon Smile to donate one-half of one percent of your purchase to a charitable organization of your choice. Of course, you should always try to buy local and simply donate some extra cash to charity whenever you have the opportunity. 0.5% is a relatively small amount—just $1 out of every $200 spent—but it’s still enough to make a difference on a large scale.
To ensure that 1/200 of your purchase goes to a charity rather than Amazon, remember to add “smile.” to the beginning of “amazon.com.” The same selection is available on both versions of the site—the only difference is that purchases made at smile.amazon.com will be eligible for the Smile program.
Use Donation Boxes
Donating at checkout is still more common than donating separately through a donation widget, but this alternative is rapidly growing in the world of ecommerce. Donation widgets are a great way for ecommerce sites to increase awareness by letting visitors know about any charitable causes they’re involved with.
Smaller vendors, particularly musicians, artists, and artisans, also rely on donations for funding so that they can continue to work. This might not be a “charitable cause” in the classical sense, but it’s still a good way to support someone creative if you care about their content—especially as artists struggle to monetize their work in an increasingly digital landscape.
A similar principle also applies for people who create and distribute free software online. Adblock and other programs are entirely free to use, but their creators still spend a significant amount of time creating those programs and helping people use them.
With that in mind, you should consider donating whatever you can afford if you have the opportunity to donate to someone who has provided a product or service that you appreciate. If you have a website that receives regular traffic, consider leveraging that traffic to support an artist or charitable cause that you truly care about.
From education and economic development to environmental protection and wildlife conservation, the world needs people who have a little extra to contribute to charitable causes. These are just a few of the easiest ways to do more good by making donations while shopping online.