06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

iGive: Charity or Not?

Many commercial vendors have launched charitable campaigns in an effort to earn more of your shopping dollar. The brilliant idea: buy from the company (and there are many participating) and a certain percentage of your purchase price will be donated to charity. Sounds like a fabulous idea, right? And makes the merchants look benevolent—and maybe they are, but…

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.


Paty Jager said...

I've never heard of them, but they sound iffy to me.

Diana McCollum said...

I've never heard of them either. I'm more a hands on person. I like to give the shelter what they need.

Judith Ashley said...

Reading your post brings out the my paranoid-self. To sign-up for another way for business to track me doesn't make sense. I clicked on a bead site to research something for my local chapter and I had ads for those bead on-line stores for months. I checked out Alaska Air about the fare to Las Vegas for a conference I'm attending and I got several emails from Alaska about my trip to Las Vegas.

It is a myth to think we aren't being watched whatever the Patriot Act or now the Freedom Act says. Every time we use a debt or credit card, have the 'location' turned on our cell phones, check out a website, it is being tracked. And the store/company is creating a profile of us.

While I totally support giving to Charity, I now only give to ones where I know the people who run the program or I've had personal experience with the work they do. I'd rather drop off my donations at the shelter or Good Will, Salvation Army or ARC donation centers than order something from Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens or the other big business you mentioned and hope what I did really makes a difference. If I'm worried about them having money, I can include a check or cash and ask for a receipt.

In other words, I can easily give to charities I support in person so I know what I gave and where it went and what it is being used for.

My question is: Why involve Big Business, especially some of the businesses that don't even treat their own employees well when I can do it myself. End of my rant!

Lenna Scott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah Raplee said...

Interesting discussion. I don't use iGive. I agree that thorough research is needed before someone signs up for sites like this. Charity finances should be transparent.

Anonymous said...

I do volunteer work for a couple of local charities. I can tell you that fundraising is very, very difficult. Yes, it is wonderful that people will do direct giving like buying soap, shampoo, etc for a shelter or give $25 to help a capital campaign. However, the number of people who do that are few and far between AND the needs are usually in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Enter retailers and a portion of profits designated.

I have signed up with iGive and added them to the list of charities. iGive has been around for about 5 years. Though it doesn't work for people who want to personally know a charity and write personal checks or give items, it does work for a large group of people who shop online and want to give to charity but don't want to really think about it.

Yes, it is true that the retailers bottom line is to get you to buy from them. For them it is a marketing expense. I don't have a problem with that. I buy from the same retailers I always buy from, it's just that by doing it through iGive some small amount is going to my designated charity too. I don't provide credit card information to iGive because when I purchase online I use PayPal or Google Wallet. How much will it end up to be? I don't know--from me maybe a couple hundred dollars. However, if by having my charity listed and some cross promotion of the availability in the Portland area it may end up to be a few thousand dollars. Now we are talking substantial sums that can make a difference.

One of the charities I volunteer for has been added to the Fred Meyer Community Awards program. That is where Fred Meyer shoppers can go online and choose one or more local charities that they would like profits to go to. Whenever they use their Fred Meyer points card during a purchase, the purchase is flagged, connected to their charity and when Fred Meyer divvies up their contribution some percentages goes to that charity. (see example here http://villagewithoutwalls.org/village-101-presentations/fred-meyer-community-rewards/ )

Are they doing it because they have an altruistic nature? To a certain extent I believe they do. I believe that the majority of companies want to have a positive impact in the areas where they have shoppers. Could they give more? Of course. Many companies also have separate charitable foundations that are funded by the company and then accessed via grants.

Bottom line for me is to get more money flowing to the charities I support--more than I can ever afford to give personally. iGive provides a way for people to use their online shopping time to also seamlessly (and yes without much thought) give to their favorite cause.

Lenna Scott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Judith Ashley said...


I tried to post earlier and I'm not sure if it went through?

My name is Lenna Scott and I'm with iGive.com

First, thanks so much for posting this blog. We love the opportunity to address any questions or concerns our members (or potential members) have.

A couple of notes - we are not new. iGive.com has been around since 1997, and has helped our members raise over $8 Million for their causes.

You are correct in saying that the merchants are hoping that all things being equal you will choose the vendor who donates to charity over another company who doesn't. That is the basic premise of cause marketing. At iGive we believe that it's only positive if some of those cause marketing dollars can go directly to the causes that our members list without any extra cost to them or their causes.

The first alarm flag you mention is that you need to sign-up. iGive asks for your name, an email address, zip code and a password. That's all. According to our terms of service, we do not share this information with anyone. A primary reason for the password is so that your information may remain private. We also respect your choices as to how often we communicate with you. The only thing we require you to receive is infrequent (approximately four) status alerts.

Why do we require this? You ask about how do you know what iGive gives to your charity. First, the published donation amounts are what we give to the cause, no hidden fees, no extra costs for the member or the cause. Next the status alerts encourage you to log-on to the iGive website and check to see that your purchases are going to your cause, and to allow you to see what checks your cause has received and when they can expect another check.

iGive stores do have frequent sales and while many stores do restrict the use of coupons to iGive.com coupons, we have thousands of coupons available and often the price you will pay by going through iGive will be less than going directly to the store site. Because we are only a portal that connects you with the store, whatever points you might receive from your credit card (miles, cash back, etc.) are not impacted in any way.

As to the question of "if you don't have to do anything except shop as you normally would, are you truly being charitable?" We at iGive believe that if you are changing your everyday shopping so that it now has a component that gives back to your favorite cause, you are being charitable. But that is a personal decision. You do say that some shelters now let you shop for the items that the charity needs- We LOVE that. We encourage causes to post wish lists and encourage their supporters to use iGive to purchase those items so they get the items AND a donation. Additionally, causes are listed by iGive members. They are the causes that the members want to support, not a list we have created. If you help promote the idea that your local group can benefit by every day activity, we believe that is being charitable. We agree you should fully research any cause before you support it and we love the idea that people will research what we at iGive do before they sign-up.

There is more information and answers to many of the frequently asked questions at support.iGive.com

Judith Ashley said...

There were some problems with Lenna Scott from iGive.com's original post so I deleted it and reposted it in its entirety which is why it has my name on it but it is really from iGive.com's Lenna Scott.