iGive is an online portal to a wide variety of online merchants. Instead of going directly to the merchant’s online store, members start their online shopping experience at iGive.com.

There are over 650 online stores represented, with at least 1 new store being added every week. Some of the most popular online stores include Lands’ End, Barnes & Noble, Staples, eBay, Target, Dell Computers, The Vitamin Shoppe, Petsmart, QVC and Petco.

With iGive up to 26% of the purchase is donated to charity. The percentage varies by merchant, but one of the great things about iGive is that you know beforehand how much that percentage will be.

Some stores offer flat dollar donations (rather than a percent-of-purchase). This is particularly true for magazine/newspaper subscriptions, financial services, credit cards, loans, and similar services.

Just browse through the mall directory and you can view stores by category or alphabetically, see a description of the store and the donation percentage.

Benefits for Shoppers & Non Profits

iGive is equally concerned about the shopper’s experience and the benefit to non profit organizations. The system is free and simple for both members and organizations to use. Members can support any cause. They can choose from a list of thousands of charities already registered or add a new one.

Besides offering shoppers the ability to help a worthy cause, iGive offers members a steady stream of coupons, sale announcements, and exclusive discounts.

At a conference in July of this year I met Nassim Nazemi, who has been with iGive since 1999 and manages its website content. We talked about the site and how fits into the growing popularity of online shopping.

She points out that, “Whenever possible, we try to partner with stores that have been suggested or requested by our members, dozens of whom write in every week to tell us about stores they’d like to see at iGive.com.”

iGive also adds a layer of comfort and security in what can be an uncertain world of online shopping. Nassim comments that “by partnering only with high-quality, reputable online stores, we’re able to reduce much of the anxiety that online shoppers may experience.”

In fact on the off-chance that you have a bad experience with one of their stores, iGive will jump in and provide an extra level of support to make sure that shoppers receive the proper attention from the store’s customer service folks.

“Our commitment is to the iGive member, and we will discontinue any relationship with a store that proves itself to be unreliable or dissatisfying to our members.”

iGive Helps A Wide Variety of Causes

iGive has advantages over other online malls. Bahareh Sahebi, who works closely with registered causes, said that “sites like Schoolpop and UPromise limit the types of charities which can be supported. In those two cases, it’s limited to educational organizations and money for college.”

In contrast, members of iGive can support any cause in the U.S. or Canada and it doesn’t need to be 501(c)3 to qualify.

Support for the charities that sign up for the service is available in the “Cause Toolbox.” Printable flyers, pre-written emails, graphics and other tools are included to help groups get the word out.

How much can a charity expect to raise using iGive?

Since its inception in 1997, iGive has given over 2 million dollars to worthy causes all across the US and Canada. In fact it has sent checks totaling $374,892.95 for the 2006 year to date.

The amount that individual organizations can raise depends largely on the number of shoppers that participate. iGive estimates that groups receive an average of $20 – $50 per shopper per year.

One thing to keep in mind is that even a seemingly “small” percentage donation on a big ticket item (such as most computers and electronics) will mean a sizeable donation.

To get a better idea, you can view a list of organizations and check amounts sent out over the past 120 days.

Unlike other fundraisers, iGive is more of a long term fundraising program. Checks are issued monthly, 75 days in arrears to allow the merchants time to report merchandise returns. So it may take a few months to start seeing the benefits.

Of course the more people use it, the more funds will be raised. Plus aside from publicizing the program to supporters, there’s really not much work involved. People are shopping online anyway, so why not participate in a system where everyone benefits?

Nassim sums it up by saying, “We’ve found that simply presenting iGive.com as a free, easy, supplemental way to raise funds for the organization is quite effective. In our experience, once folks realize how easily iGive.com works, their only question is “why isn’t everyone doing this?!”

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Posted on 02 October 2006

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