Like many big businesses, eBay has a conscience. Rather than just generating loads of profit for itself, it also helps charities raise money too. Since eBay for Charity was launched in 2006, it’s raised over £65 million for more than 7,500 different charities. There are several ways eBay helps charity, some more visible on the site than others. Let’s take a closer look at how eBay has helped charities all over the world carry out their good work…
Charities can sign up for their own accounts to sell stuff on eBay. That might mean selling ordinary items to raise money or it might mean organising big, one-off auctions of special items. Charities have been known to sell items donated by celebrities. For example, several limited edition bags designed by Lulu Guinness were auctioned off in aid of children’s charity The Art Room. Sometimes they go even further, offering special one-of-a-kind experiences, like when Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas offered fans a chance to visit her vineyard and take part in a wine-tasting to raise money for The Foundation for AIDS Research.
Whatever they’re selling, in order to use eBay for fundraising, charities need to sign up to eBay’s partner charity, the PayPal Giving Fund (formerly known as MissionFish). As part of that sign-up process, charities need to submit a copy of their logo, a short mission statement, a bank paying-in slip or cheque to authenticate the charity’s bank account, and an authorisation letter including information of their charitable status. All that stuff lets PayPal make sure that the person trying to sign up really is associated with the charity they’re claiming to represent – and that the charity really exists!
Once registered with PayPal, charities need to set up an eBay seller account and link the two together. Then anything they sell through the site, big or small, will benefit their charity; funds will be paid straight into their account. eBay also offers fee credits, allowing charities to save money on fees that a non-charity seller would have to pay.
Signing up for an eBay charity account also means the charity gets a dedicated page on eBay. That page will display the logo, mission statement and a list of all auctions that currently support that charity, which makes it easier for supporters to find ways to donate. Charities also get access to reports and tools that help them raise even more money. For smaller charities, that kind of support could be invaluable, especially since it’s so much easier and cheaper to sign up for a charity eBay account than to try to create an online shop of their own. And since eBay has so much traffic, it’s also potentially a really good way to get noticed.
SELLING FOR CHARITY
Just because you’re not an official representative of a charity doesn’t mean you can’t use eBay to support it, though. Once a charity has signed up to be part of eBay’s directory of charities, anyone can decide to donate the proceeds of their auctions to that charity. So if you feel strongly about a cause and fancy doing a bit of easy fundraising, you can decide to auction off some of the junk from your spare room and give the cash straight to a good cause.
It’s pretty easy to organise too. When you’re creating a listing (if you’ve never done that before, don’t worry: we’ll explain all about it later!), you choose ‘Advanced Sell’, and then tick the charity box. You can pick your cause and then choose how much of the final price you want to donate – anywhere from 10% to 100%. You get a fee credit on anything you donate to charity, depending on how much you donate; if you donate 20%, eBay will waive 20% of the fees. Once your item sells, the percentage you chose will automatically be credited to your charity’s account.
If you also tick the Gift Aid box, the government will add an extra 25p to every £1 you raise (assuming you’re a UK taxpayer).
Charity listings are shown as such on the site too: a blurb about your charity will appear on the listing page, and a blue and yellow ribbon will be displayed next to the listing’s title, to let everyone know that your auction benefits a good cause. It’s all pretty straightforward – and definitely easier than running a marathon to raise a bit of cash for your chosen charity!
DONATE WHILE YOU SHOP
It’s not just sellers who can choose to give money to charity either. Whenever you buy anything through the eBay site, you’ll be offered the opportunity to add on a donation to your payment to benefit a randomly selected charity. Any charity that’s signed up for eBay’s directory could pop up, and usually you’re only asked to give £1. Many of us probably mean to give money to charity but don’t always remember to or find it too much of a hassle to go through the process of setting up a direct debit. By letting buyers donate just a little bit of money at a time when they already have their metaphorical wallets open, eBay makes the process painless for everyone involved – and giving money to charity always makes you feel good, doesn’t it?