Creative Ways to Give to Charity

Modern methods of donating include biking, texting and shopping online.

Modern methods of donating include biking, texting and shopping online
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GoodSearch. Similarly, this search engine (powered by Yahoo!) will donate about a penny per search to the charity or school of your choice. However, Daniel Borochoff, president of CharityWatch.org, an organization that evaluates charities in the U.S., says consumers shouldn't rest solely on a tool like GoodSearch. "A penny for a click is nice, but it shouldn't replace your regular annual contribution," he says. (GoodSearch.com)

GoodDining. Launched by the makers of GoodSearch, the website lets consumers earn money for charity by visiting more than 10,000 select restaurants, bars and clubs. The site requires users to register a GoodSearch account with their debit or credit card, and they must pay with the registered card when eating out to obtain the rewards. Anywhere from 2.5 to 5 percent of your payment is deducted – with the specific rate determined by each restaurant individually – and users can bank an additional 1 percent by completing a survey following their visit. (GoodDining.com)

Socialvest. The online browser and iPhone app has partnered with hundreds of major retailers such as Macy's, Target and Gap, and enables shoppers to earn money for a U.S. nonprofit organization of their choice. Consumers can purchase items online or in-store. Brick-and-mortar shoppers can compare prices and find the biggest givebacks using the mobile app's barcode scanner. (Socialvest.us)

[See: A Step-by-Step Guide to Homebuying.]

Shopkick. Used by most consumers as a rewards program for purchases, this app can also be tapped for making donations to charity. Smartphone users can link their Visa or MasterCard and earn points – or, "kicks" – when they shop at participating stores. They'll earn kicks for walking into the store and can earn more by scanning barcodes on featured items and purchasing certain products. Instead of redeeming your rewards for vouchers or gift cards, there's an option to donate kicks to causes like feeding American families. (iPhone, Android)

Charity Miles. You can walk, run or bike to earn money for charity through this mobile app. The physical activity benefits both your stamina and choice of charity. Bikers earn 10 cents per mile, and walkers and runners earn 25 cents per mile, courtesy of corporate partners. (iPhone, Android)

Reaping emotional rewards. New giving methods can make donating to charity easier for young adults. However, Franklin of Bolder Giving says the experience is different than making a direct personal gift. "You don't have the same emotional connection," he says. "At the same time, I think it's great to support conscious consumerism. It's great to see people aligning their values with their spending."