Harness Online Shopping for Good: Purchasing Donations for Charities


With great excitement I wanted to share a way to help social agencies and community causes. Sometimes, and it is quite human, to have a whole set of reasons why dropping off a few items to donate is not appealing –  it’s too far, being too busy, it’s too cold outside, feeling a bit unmotivated during that time and then eventually forget about it. In many cases, making a financial donation is the most effective way to help out, but for some, it leaves out the satisfying, tangible aspect of giving an item to help a cause.

And for many, browsing for items online, looking for a cute item or something for a great price, is a fun experience. From seeing the item with all it’s details in the photo, clicking the shopping cart button, punching in the credit card number and having the item finally arrive at home, like a present waiting to be opened.

So my suggestion to work through these is: shop online for items that are specifically needed!

Places like Staples, Amazon, your favourite clothing store or your most preferred grocery store, now all have options to buy online.

This video really resonated with me, about the potential of spending money on others that can increase one’s happiness.

I would like to share some recent experiences in hopes that it can serve as an inspiration to apply this in a way that works best.

Example 1:  USB Flash Drives

Last summer, a social agency I follow on Facebook made a very specific request for donations – several 16 GB USB Flash Drives for the youth they serve as they go back to school. As luck would have it, it is back-to-school season and places like Staples have lots of deals going on. It was easy to snag a deal for a 6-pack of these items, qualify for free shipping, have it delivered to the agency’s office. I sent an email to their front office to notify them and I was told that they received in after two business days! All these happened within the comfort of my home office, just clicking away on my computer and credit card, and I didn’t even have to wear pants!

Example 2: The Case of Donating Hot Sauce with a Friend

I saw again on my Facebook home feed a specific set of donation requests for a social agency, mostly grocery items. A friend contacted me about wanting to donate as she remembered when I did the flash drive donation. We discovered that grocery stores offer online ordering and delivery. So we browsed, got a 6-bottle case of hot sauce, and notified the agency’s office to expect this delivery. Again, these happened within the comfort of my home office, just clicking away on my computer and credit card, receiving my friend’s share of the cost via e-transfer, and I didn’t even have to wear pants!

Example 3: A Case of Toothbrushes to Help Agencies that Help the Homeless

Winter has arrived in my city, and the organizations that serve clients experiencing homelessness is being hit hard with demand for supplies and a significant shortage of things such as toothbrushes, soap, socks, winter gloves and mitts. Several news articles also came about, which highlights how bad the need is. For myself, it is a bit of a tight budget month so buying gloves and mitts are a no-go. More than the other times I really wanted to ensure I get my bang for my buck. I managed to get a case of toothbrushes for a great price, with free shipping, and as soon as it arrives I will deliver it to the office location. And yet again, these happened within the comfort of my home office, just clicking away on my computer and credit card, and I didn’t even have to wear pants! Much better for me because winter had just arrived and I’d rather stay cozy.

Being able to help in the community has never been easier in this day and age, and I think this is incredible. It is kind of strange, but this is the only type of impulse-shopping I do online. I suppose it is a relief that it goes towards something that helps others, as opposed to something like a frivolous item that will be forgotten in my closet a few short weeks after it arrives in the mail.

One other thing that worth mentioning during this season of giving is to be kind to yourself. It is the season of being intensely bombarded not only with sales and promotions of consumer items to purchase for one’s self and love ones, it is also the season where almost every charity ramps up their request for donations. It is important to find that balance between making a small financial sacrifice that is feasible, but not drowning in guilt that you haven’t done enough. Every little bit helps, and the point is to set aside some time and funds to share what you can.

Happy giving!


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