Charity Malls are becoming more popular as a means of fundraising for charities, and have received some attention because of it. Charity Malls let users donate money to their favorite charities simply by using a specific website as a starting point for their shopping, and selecting the charity of their choice as the recipient for any money they have ‘raised’. As a result, many of you have asked us to rate these online malls, and asked us about the validity of the charity malls’ claims that merely going about your regular online activities will somehow result in donations to the charity you specify.
The Charity Malls that purport to help charities raise money must earn money in order to pay the organizations. Charity Malls receive a percentage of revenues from the stores where purchases were made, and in turn, donate a portion of that percentage to the charities.
While it does no harm to use these sites, be aware that most of them are set up as for-profit companies, and as such, we are unable to evaluate them. In addition, it is sometimes hard to find out exactly how much of revenue is donated to charity (for examples see Benevolink, The Hunger Site, and Buy for Charity.), and the majority of charity malls do not vet the charities allowed to benefit from use of the site.
Therefore, if you choose to use one of these types of websites we suggest you research which charity mall to use, and that you pick a benefactor that has been highly rated by Charity Navigator. And since only a very small percentage of a charity’s revenue is generated via charity malls, don’t let your shopping experience be a substitute for writing the charity a check with a tax deductible donation.