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Good Deeds Are a Click Away

As soon as you become a parent, you have a powerful incentive to make the world a better place. You also have a lot less time to devote to good causes. One solution: Do good deeds online where there are thousands of opportunities for children as well as adults.
 

The Internet is teeming with people who want to help each other. Some of the ideas that follow are simple enough for young children. Others require a parent to take the lead. They present opportunities for family philanthropy and for discussions about the importance of sharing.
 

Start simple. Network for Good has a very straightforward Kid’s Guide to Giving that helps even very young children identify meaningful ways to volunteer their time or donate their pocket money. There are also ideas about how children can raise funds for causes they want to support.

Think small. Microgiving is the latest trend in philanthropy because small gifts at the right time can often make a big difference. Globalgiving.org allows you and your kids to search for good causes all over the world. Descriptions tell you exactly what your dollars will do — $40 sends a child in India to school for a year, $100 provides clean water for 100 children in China and so on. You can also purchase gift cards that let the recipient decide which cause should receive the donation.

Check It Out

Before donating time or money to any organization you discover online (or anywhere else for that matter), do a little research to be sure the group is legit.

The Better Business Bureau  reports on nonprofits. So does Charitynavigator.org. Guidestar.com and Charitywatch.org are also reputable sources of information.

Use the network. Most social networking sites include many philanthropic opportunities. MySpace gives Impact Awards to groups that are creative about using their pages to do good. On Facebook, try searching on “Feed a Child with Just a Click.” You’ll find a list of websites where you can make donations just by clicking on an icon. Adolescents may also be interested in social networks devoted entirely to making a difference listed on www.yourcause.com or to a single cause such as climate change (www.oneclimate.net).

Enlist teens. Adolescents, especially those who need to find community service hours, are likely to respond to the energy at Dosomething.org, a website dedicated to the proposition that teens can change the world. In addition to inspiring stories, the site offers a sophisticated way of searching for volunteer opportunities by location, duration, interest groups and causes.

Treat a teacher. At Donorschoose.org, your family can adopt a teacher at a school that is struggling. Teachers post often-eloquent messages about their classroom needs. You can support a project in full or in part. To show your kids how fortunate they are, find a classroom teaching students in the same grades.

Answer a question. Many sites promise to donate every time you correctly answer a quiz question. Charitii.com is an addictive collection of crossword puzzle clues. Each time you guess the right word, you make a micro donation to one of four causes. Freerice.com also offers quiz questions including some that will help kids review for tests in geography, grammar and algebra. Knowing that you’re doing good for others can make homework more fun for some kids.

Collect for a cause. Kids love to collect things. Six-year-old Hannah started collecting socks after she met a homeless man who didn’t have any. Today, 45,000 pairs of socks later, she uses a website () to share her enthusiasm. Kids can also collect wornout bluejeans (cottonfrombluetogreen.org), video games (donategames.org) and almost anything else they no longer need. Just use a search engine, entering “donate” and what your kids want to give away.

Search for good. Speaking of search engines, consider using one that donates every time you use it. Goodsearch.com let’s you choose the charity of your choice from a huge master list. Theecokey.com donates money to environmental clean-up each time you click “search”.

Use these sites to find a cause that touches both you and your children. Then open your hearts and start a habit of generosity that will enrich your children for the rest of their lives.

Carolyn Jabs is a freelance writer specializing in online issues.

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