When you imagine ways to give back to your community, you might think of volunteering at a local soup kitchen, sprucing up a run-down building with a mural or having a bake sale for charity. Two entrepreneurs from Boise believe that doing good, though, can be as simple as doing business. "If we can take online shopping and turn it into a force for good, how cool is that?" thought Russ Stoddard, who along with Antonia Chappell recently launched a website called Social Good Network. The site generates donations for U.S. non-profit organizations every time one of its members buys something online. Yes, that means that splurging on that dress you’ve spent late nights on the internet coveting doesn’t have to be such a guilty pleasure.
How does it work? You create an account on socialgoodnetwork.com and use the site to search for whatever it is you want to buy online, from pumps to plane tickets. Over 200 (and counting) online retailers partner with Social Good Network, including stores you probably already have bookmarked for online shopping like Shoes.com, Amazon, Free People, iTunes, French Connection, Groupon, Expedia, and Toms. For each eligible purchase made through Social Good Network, you earn credits to donate to a cause you care about.
You’ve probably had the experience of checking out on certain websites that give you the option of adding a dollar or two for charity to your total. Social Good Network works sort of like that, except members don’t have to spend any more than the cost of the item they’re buying in order to give to a non-profit. The donation money comes from a commission that search engines like Google automatically make for directing users to a retailer’s site. The difference is that instead of pocketing their cut, Social Good Network gives half of it back to the community (the other half goes to keeping the site up and running). And the really cool thing is that you can give your credits to literally any registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the U.S., whether that’s your local humane society or a more well-known group like Habitat for Humanity.
Social Good Network’s idea is so brilliant because it allows you to support a charitable organization just by doing something you probably already do a lot. "Every moment of my day is packed with options, and I care about the results of the decisions I make,” explains Catie Young, an executive assistant in marketing. “When it comes to shopping, I like online for its convenience, and Social Good Network helps me create as much residual positivity as I can."
So go ahead, hit up those online sales—just check Social Good Network for what you’re buying first—and know that you’re giving back while getting a deal.