I’m as guilty as anybody is for wasting time online. Anyone who’s spent an 3 hours on YouTube watching pointless videos knows how quickly the internet can become the lazy man’s playground. But you’d be wrong to believe that the internet is just a foul place to be avoided. In fact, some people have already found ways for the common web-surfer to do profound good, online. That’s right, you can impact the world from the comfort of your own home (while listening to your favorite Pandora station). For starters, here are 6 of my favorites:
1. Shop to Donate
If you do any of your shopping online, then try shopping through buy4.com. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to buy the same things at the same price, with 30% of the money going to your favorite cause. Learn more from this video.
2. Click to Donate
Find a cause you like, click the button, and a third party donates money to the cause. If you think it’s too good to be true, check out www.care2.com/click-to-donate. You can click one time each day for a variety of causes. You don’t even need to create an account or give anyone your personal information. It’s that easy.
3. Search to Donate
Now you can give to charity just by searching the internet (which you already do all the time anyways). At goodsearch.com, you choose a charity and every time you run a search, they will donate money to that charity. While it doesn’t trump Google in search result quality (can anyone?), from my test run it did just fine. What’s more, if you use Firefox you can download this add-on which adds goodsearch to your search bar in the top right corner of your browser.
4. Give a Microloan
Kiva.org allows you to loan a small amount of money (starting at $25) to an entrepreneur in an underdeveloped country. It’s a small amount of money, and with a repayment rate of nearly 99% you can rest assured that you’ll get it back. Plus, the money goes straight to the people who have an idea, only lacking the money to get it started. I can’t think of a more painless way to assist developing countries on such a personal level. Kiva’s just plain cool (and their stats are too). Read some bios of the people who are looking for funding at www.kiva.org/lend. I think you’ll like what you see.
5. Volunteer a Talent
If you have a useful talent, you can volunteer to share it with non-profits with a tight budget. This is great for writers, designers, website builders, and pretty much any other service that can be outsourced. Websites like VolunteerMatch and Smart Volunteer make it easy to connect talented professionals to the organizations in need. Pretty slick.
6. Play a Game
How do you donate food to UN World Food Program while sharpening your vocab at the same time? At freerice.com, every quiz question you answer correctly donates 10 grains of rice. It’s a fun way to test your knowledge in English, Math, Geography, Chemistry, or any other subject you choose. This and other socially considerate gaming sites (like Double Impact or Games for Change) are really making helping others fun. So next time you catch yourself browsing YouTube for the next Gregory Brothers song think twice, and take a moment to click a button or answer a vocab question. That warm fuzzy feeling sure beats that feeling you get after a YouTube binge.
And just a reminder (from my Google Search Tricks post), you can find more sites like these by doing a google search using the “related:” keyword (for example: “related:www.igive.com”). Original idea from Mashable.