At some point in our lives, we've all bought Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout popcorn, volunteered to work at a local charity event, dropped off old clothing at the local Salvation Army or donated money to a special cause. For many of us, lending a hand or a dollar to a needy organization makes us feel good.
Fortunately, donating through eBay is yet another way to support a cause or organization you appreciate--and expand your eBay sales at the same time. eBay has developed a number of initiatives that connect nonprofits with their supporters. In addition, eBay buyers and sellers have also come up with their own ways of offering support.
eBay Giving Works
In an effort to make it easy for buyers and sellers to do business while supporting their favorite charities, eBay developed the eBay Giving Works program in 2003. "It's our dedicated program for charity listings on eBay," says Kristin Cunningham, general manager of eBay Giving Works.
Sellers can donate as little as 10 percent (or at least $5) of an item's final selling price to an organization of their choice, simply by selecting "Donate a percentage of the sale" in the appropriate field during the item listing process. More information can be found at http://givingworks.ebay.com.
Once sellers do their part by putting an item up for sale, eBay does its part to encourage such grass-roots fundraising. Sellers who set aside a percentage of a listing's selling price as part of the eBay Giving Works program receive a credit toward the Insertion and Final Value Fees equal to the percentage they're donating. So a 10 percent donation yields a 10 percent credit toward eBay fees, which encourages more charitable giving.
The eBay Giving Works program is sponsored by eBay and administered by MissionFish, which collects the donations, distributes the funds to the chosen charities and gives tax receipts to the sellers. MissionFish also screens all organizations before allowing them to participate, explains Clam Lorenz, director of operations at MissionFish. "Any tax-deductible organization qualifies, from your kid's PTA to the American Red Cross to schools and churches," he says. As long as their mission does not advocate violence, intolerance or hatred, most organizations are permitted to participate.
Currently, nearly 10,000 organizations have been certified by MissionFish for the eBay Giving Works program. Since 2000, more than $86 million has been raised for charity from items sold on eBay worldwide.
Donating a Portion of Sales to Charity
One seller who supports a cause by donating a portion of his company's sales on eBay is Nir Hollander, owner of Gem Stone King (eBay User ID: gemstoneking) in New York City, who sells diamonds, gemstones and fine jewelry.
When Hollander receives "Spotlight on a Cause" e-mails from MissionFish alerting him of upcoming charitable giving programs, he selects items to sell that will benefit the specific causes, which have ranged from disaster relief to breast cancer to health, global poverty, education and the arts, to name a few.
"I try to support all the campaigns," says Hollander, adding that he finds it natural to give back. "[eBay] made it easy for us [to give]. You need something that isn't a hassle for your business." Hollander, 33, who is also a Titanium PowerSeller (which means he sells at least $150,000 per month), relies on automation tools that make donations part of his listing template. As a result, donating has become almost second nature to Hollander and his business.
Banding Together to Donate
Tiffany Hageman, owner of Knoxville, Illinois-based My Only Princess (eBay User ID: my*only*princess), who designs and makes custom jewelry for women and children using beads, crystals, pearls and gemstones, runs quarterly charity listings on eBay with the help and support of 500 fellow eBay members who sell handcrafted children's clothing and accessories. They met on an eBay discussion board and then created a website devoted to their new group, Boutique Angels Charity Organization. The members meet online quarterly to select which charitable organization will benefit from their campaign.
In 2004, their first campaign benefited Toys for Tots. Since then, they've sold handmade items to support St. Jude Children's Hospital, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
For one week each quarter, 100 percent of the group's eBay sales goes to the chosen charity. There are usually between 150 and 300 participating listings during that time, says Hageman, and the money raised can be substantial. Their most successful program ran for four weeks and raised $30,000 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hageman, 30, spends hours coordinating the eBay charitable listings but also earns between $300 and $600 per month on her own.
The eBay Giving Works program enables individual eBay sellers to donate a portion of an item's proceeds to a particular charity, but nonprofits themselves can also list merchandise for sale and keep 100 percent of the earnings.
Marcia Layton Turner's work has appeared in Woman's day, Health and Black Enterprise. She is based in Pittsford, N.Y.