Turn your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping into action

Did you know that you can make a difference while doing your holiday shopping or preparing your grocery list for your holiday meals and parties? You can! In recent years “affinity marketing” and “checkout giving” have been on the rise as our uniquely consumer culture looks for easy ways to give. Giving while getting has become quite popular as a result.

One thing to keep in mind… giving at the checkout means that your preferred charity or helpful organization gets less than it would if you donated directly. Most programs have a ‘percentage of purchase’ scale to determine gifts. If that concerns you, you may want to consider donating directly to your favorite cause, donating any time you are online using Buoy Up’s extension once we’re live (get notified here!), or volunteering your time instead.

One other thing to note: we’re presenting the list below without commentary on other issues that may be presented by the organization. So if you are currently speaking out against an issue through your wallet, you may want to double check the organization’s links to certain groups via this post on our page, or this handy list


Here are a list of programs that put a percentage of your purchase toward the charity of your choice. I’ve tried to divide them between those that allow you to choose where your money goes, and those that predetermine a charity of their choice based on publicly available information. Tweet us if we forgot your favorite and we’ll update the post!

Can choose recipients:

  • Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice at checkout. Users can choose their charity. New charities and organizations added to the database must have active 501(c)(3) status. To use the program, sign up via your existing Amazon account, select a charity, then just make sure you use the smile.amazon.com URL when you shop – everything else is automatic. Cost to the shopper: zero dollars. Not tax deductible.
  • Fred Meyer grocery stores allow you to choose a charity from a list on their web site via their Community Rewards program and have a portion of your weekly grocery purchase go toward that charity. All you have to do is link your rewards card to the program. Cost to the shopper: zero dollars. Not tax deductible.
  • We-Care is a browser-based organization that works with a variety of online stores to give 1.5% to 15% of a purchase to participating organizations and causes. You can install a tool bar reminder that will let you know when you are shopping on a site that is part of their program or shop via their “online mall.” Unlike Amazon’s Smile program, We-Care also works with service purchases like travel and subscriptions like newspapers and TV. Cost to the shopper: zero dollars. Not tax deductible.
  • iGive is another browser-based tool that gives “an average” of 3% to charities. Unlike the others listed here, organizations do not have to be in active 501(3)(c) status to qualify, so shoppers may want to do extra due diligence about the causes they select. Cost to shopper: zero dollars. Not tax deductible.

Can not choose recipients:

  • eBay Giving Works donates a seller-determined amount to charities and organizations chosen by each seller as they list their item for sale. Buyers can shop from a limited selection of seller-determined charities via this charity shop page. As an added twist, because eBay and PayPal are connected, users can also make a direct donation to the charity of their choice via PayPal using this portal. Cost to the shopper: varies. Tax deductible status: varies.
  • Walmart/Sam’s Club/Costco have a Miracle Balloon campaign that occurs throughout the year in their stores to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Cost to chopper at checkout. Dates vary.
  • McDonald’s coin boxes for the benefit of the Ronald McDonald House Charities is one of the oldest give while getting checkout charity campaigns. Cost to shopper at checkout. Year round.
  • Your local chain grocery store (Safeway, Albertson’s, etc) usually offers one of several campaigns you can choose while you shop for your holiday meal, depending on time of year. Some of the options you may be presented with include a “round up” campaign that allows you to round up to the nearest dollar for a charity of their choice, or a pin up campaign, where you purchase a paper symbol of your donation to hang on their wall.
  • More of these brick and mortar “round up”, “pin up”, and coin box campaigns can be found at Cause Marketing Forum in their annual report.

How are you giving back this year?

Image credit: Feeding Pets of the Homeless (one of the many charities we support through giving when purchasing)