January 19, 2008
Giving to Charity Over The Internet - Disclosure, disclosure
On January 19, 2008, the LA Times had an interesting editorial about new waves of giving to charity over the Internet. The article describes a nonprofit called "FreeRice.com," which will donate up to the cash equivalent of 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food program for site visitors who play an on-line vocabulary game. The editorial indicates that some for-profit organizations are also doing the same thing. The donations come from advertisers whose banners appear on the screen while the site visitor is playing the game. The article raises the issue of accountability, though, especially if for-profit firms are involved. Here is an excerpt:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has introduced sensible legislation that would require retailers and marketers that promise donations to charity to disclose exactly how much of the purchase price they pledge to donate and to which charity. That's a good start, but charities cannot prevent their names being taken in vain -- or collect the money promised -- unless they know about the solicitations in the first place. So the legislation also would require retailers to obtain the charities' written permission in advance.
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