Virtual Giving That Gives Back

Virtual Giving That Gives BackPresent the Perfect Present By Donating Wisely Online

By Anita Doberman

As online shopping has exploded in popularity, online charitable giving also has begun to grow. And as the holidays approach, the perfect gift that gives back can be found for almost anyone on your list.

From the animal lover to the environmental preservationist or the arts patron, nonprofit organizations offer gift-giving opportunities in the name of donations in abundance online.

Giving a donation in honor of a friend or family member isn’t the generic, catch-all gift idea it once was. A charitable contribution can become the perfect present by considering the recipient’s passions and personality. You also can have the option of tailoring the gift to your budget.

The new trend of donating online certainly has made giving easier and more efficient, but it also has raised new concerns about consumer fraud through some of these well-meaning transactions.

If you have decided to donate online, keep in mind that you need to do some background work to ensure that your information is safe. A good start is with an old standard, the Better Business Bureau. The consumer protection organization has created an online charity reporting and evaluation system ( that provides a wealth of information.

It also is a good idea to research the charity by reading its annual report, often found online, which will allow you to determine exactly how donated dollars are being spent.

There also are steps that you can take by simply looking at a charity’s Web site. Make sure the information is up to date and provides full contact information. You may want to contact the charity off line first to ensure that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.

And, as a general rule, don’t give through a third party but through the charity’s official Web site. Also, don’t assume that a Web address ending in “.org” is a charity – anyone can purchase this type of address.

In addition, read the fine print or terms of donating, keep records of what you have given, and most importantly, verify that the page requesting the information is secure. The characters “https://,” rather than “http://,” should precede the page’s URL, or Internet address.

And remember, scammers are very clever. They can mimic Web sites or even addresses. So be wary of links that appear in unsolicited e-mails.

By taking a little extra time and a few precautions, you can give a thoughtful, personalized gift that will make a difference long after the holidays have passed.



Mission Love Seeds (, based in Destin, helps impoverished villages in the Philippines. The organization provides basic help and support, such as obtaining water or food, and it also has religious services twice a month in conjunction with Antipolo United Methodist Church.

Destin Inc. Wings of an Angel ( provides cancer patients free flights to world-renowned medical facilities. The organization is the first of its kind and can help people in times of stress and uncertainties when dealing with cancer.

Give Kids the World Village ( is a 70-acre, nonprofit resort in Central Florida that helps children with life-threatening illnesses.

St. Jude ( is a pediatric treatment and research facility at the forefront of providing medical care for children. The organization, which relies on some of the country’s top researchers, accepts all patients, without regard to the family’s ability to pay.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (nationally,; locally, has been fostering positive relationships for children at risk for more than a century.

Doctors Without Borders ( delivers emergency care to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or manmade disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries.