Donating 'without even trying'

On Walmart’s website, an e-shopper can scroll their “shopping cart” through an endless array of electronic aisles with a simple click of the mouse. The website is not partial, offering the super store’s entire stock. They even sell specialty products that can’t be bought in stores.
Customers shop. Pick. Buy. And after a few days, a product arrives on their doorstep.
Walmart and most other department stores didn’t have a retail website 12 years ago.   
To say the least, online shopping options increased during the past decade. One of the newest developments in e-commerce allows online shoppers to donate to their favorite non-profit organizations without trying.
Through companies like Market America, customers can shop at stores like The Home Depot, Barnes and Noble and Sears and know that a portion of their money will benefit a charity or non-profit organization.
Catawba County e-shoppers, for instance, can buy online and benefit organizations like Sipe’s Orchard Home.
Sipe’s is a non-profit organization based in Catawba County that has several programs that help kids ages 1-21 with anything from school to providing a place to live.
In April, Sipe’s signed on to the new fundraising opportunity with Market America, a product brokerage and Internet marketing firm based in Greensboro. So now, citizens can visit, shop at more than 3,500 stores and donate to Sipe’s with the click of a mouse.
“It’s an opportunity for someone to give without even trying to give — they just go online and shop,” said Nan Lacy, director of development at Sipe’s. “It’s a great way for people to not give a lot of thought to giving to an organization, but still give and do something.”

Shop and donate
How it works is fairly simple. Each store, such as Walmart and The Home Depot, agreed to give a percentage of a customer’s online purchase to the non-profit of their choice. When customers log on to, they create an account, buy products and immediately start giving to Sipe’s.
Citizens won’t only be donating, though, as they will receive cash back with their “non-profit” purchases, as well. With every online purchase, a shopper receives a cash back rewards that build up over time. After a shopping period, a shopper can use the rewards as a discount for their next purchase or receive a check.
“In this economy, people will probably opt to get cash back,” Lacy said. “The cash back is about .5 percent. That might seem like a small amount, but it builds up over time.”
Sipe’s is seeking this form of fundraising to reach a new, younger audience. Lacy said most of the donors are from the older population, adding that online shopping should attract a younger crowd.
“A lot of our donor base is aging out,” Lacy said. “That’s the donor we are trying to reach, the 30-50-year-old crowd. This is something they are really into. A lot of them don’t have time on their hands to sit down and write a check to a non-profit, but they do shop online.”
Lacy added that e-shoppers do not have to worry about spam emails or Internet scams, because Sipe's website is protected and professional.
The royalties for Sipe’s and cash-back rewards for customers may be small at first, but Lacy said that everything builds up with time.
“This project works out for everyone,” she said. “It expands out and is like a big pool ripple.”