The bottom line of any commercial campaign is to make a profit, thus any benevolent actions are entirely circumstantial (good intentions or not). The merchants are gambling that all things being equal (price, quality, choice), you’ll choose the vendor who donates to charity over another company who doesn’t, thus the bottom line is, well the bottom line, not the charities.iGive.com is one of the new online ventures attempting to capitalize on your desire to give. The site touts over 350,000 shoppers and over 1,600 participating stores, to include Amazon, Best Buy and Walgreens. Before I expand on this idea, let me first say, I'm not saying this isn’t a fabulous idea—only that that the skeptic in me has questions.
So how does iGive work? First you sign up. Alarm flags immediately start a-fluttering. What list am I going on? How secure is the site, etc. etc. But let’s presume for a second, my issues are moot. Presumably, once you’re a member, all you have to do is shop. iGive is certainly a convenient place to do all your shopping. But do they honor discounts? What about sale prices? Does your credit card giveback (airline miles, Amazon points, cash back, etc.) still apply? I didn’t have the chutzpah to sign up for iGive, so if you have any of these answers, please comment on this blog!
After the shopping, even more questions arise. How do I know what iGive gives to your charity? Who regulates these sites? And on the humanitarian side, the ethical question arises. If you, the consumer, don’t have to do anything except shop as you normally would, are you truly being charitable?
Don’t get me wrong, I think any money going to charity is a wonderful, but I personally like some of the other ideas better. For example, some shelters now let you shop for the items the charity needs (socks, underwear, etc.) I know where my money’s going, I know what it’s being used for, and I did the giving. I also think iGive, like all charities, should be fully researched before utilized. Personally, I'm on the fence, but if more money goes to charity for money I'd spend anyway, I'd like to get onboard. If you have personal experience, please let me know.