Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Give Money to Your Favorite Cause Without Spending a Dime

It's not always easy to give to the causes we support, particularly in this economic climate.

Full disclosure: I just started working with a company called replyforall. Since FF adheres only to the highest ethical journalistic standards, I wouldn't be promoting it if I didn't actually think it was a cool idea.

If you're a college student or just someone who can't really afford to give in a monetary sense at the moment, you should check it out. It's a simple, free way to give to the causes you support.

replyforall is a cause email signature that donates to nonprofit partners. Brands pay to reach replyforall users and the company shares that revenue with their nonprofit partners -- ASPCA, YouthAids,, Clean Energy Coalition, etc.

If you have Outlook 2007, Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, all you have to do is go to the replyforall site to sign up. The signature is automatically inserted into your outgoing email messages and features your selected cause and an advertiser sponsoring the signature.

Here are some other fabulously frugal ways to donate online, courtesy of replyforall:

Give Your Name. Signing petitions to Senators or foreign diplomats may seem like it won't make a difference, but sometimes just a collection of people taking a stand has real power. Just look at Amnesty International's track record. They've been relying on your names to help repeal laws, obtain stays of execution, and secure the release of hundreds of prisoners in foreign countries. Sign Amnesty's petition to free US journalists Laura and Euna.

You don't need money to give time, and now with companies like The Extraordinaries, you don't really need that much time, either. Just download one of their phone apps, and you can volunteer with those ten minutes you're waiting at the doctor's office. You can help translate a nonprofit page into a foreign language, fact check for reporters, review congressional bills, even tag images for the Smithsonian. So you can do what you can, when you can, and still make a difference.

"Friend-raise". Social networking is a great way to keep in touch with friends, acquaintances, and family members. And now, it's a great way to raise awareness about your favorite nonprofit or cause. Over 26 million people actively

Transform your search engine. We've ushered in a new age of technology, relying on search engines for answers from the momentous to the mundane. Why not fight desertification, global warming, and habitat loss at the same time? Don't just search, Ecosearch. Ecosearch is a search engine that uses Yahoo technology and helps reforesting trees and safeguard water resources in the Amazon region, which constitute today one fourth of the fresh water reserves of our planet.

For every 10,000 searches, Ecosearch and Aquaverde (their nonprofit partner) plant a tree in the Amazon and in the Canary Islands. The website even keeps a running count of how many trees have been planted and how many more searches are needed to plant another tree.

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