Can We Save The World Without Leaving Home?

You've probably all seen them. Your sister sends you an email petition to help abused women in Afghanistan. Your friend sends you a story about a sick child with a promise from Bill Gates to donate $0.10 to this child's care for every time you forward the email. Between my stepmother and mother-in-law, I get several of these emails every week. Signing the petitions and forwarding the emails makes us feel like we are doing something good with our time. Plus, they help people, right?

I hate to tell you this, but they really don't. First of all, there is no such thing as an 'email tracking program' that can tell how many times an email has been forwarded, so there's no way for anyone to give however-many cents to charity if you send it to all your friends. The same is true for petitions and the number of signatures collected. Plus, you can't guarantee the petition will get to the right people. Even so, is there a way that we can use our time online to effect change in the world? Yes, there is. In fact, there are several websites that serve this very purpose. Here are a few such websites.

The Hunger Site. This site-or, set of sites-will donate a set amount to its featured cause based on how many clicks they get. This works because, while there isn't a tracking program for emails, there is a way to track how many people come to a particular site. There are several sponsors that have pledged to donate per click to charity in exchange for having their ads featured on the website. In addition to hunger, there are links to similar sites regarding breast cancer, homeless animals, homeless veterans and other causes. Also, the site states exactly what the donations will go toward-a cup of food for the hungry, a mammogram for an underprivileged woman, a meal for a hungry veteran, etc. The main site is This is another sponsor-driven site. Instead of counting clicks, there are several multiple-choice quiz games that donate ten grains of rice to the UN World Food Programme for each correct answer. The quizzes are things like vocabulary, foreign languages, world capitals and math. It's a good way to brush up on your Spanish vocabulary from high school while triggering sponsors to donate rice to hungry people around the world. This is a relatively new site that works the same way The Hunger Site works. The homepage ( features 'click to donate' links to help give clean water, food, education and loan financing for a poor person. When you click a button on the site, you will be taken to an ad from a sponsor that changes periodically.

As you can see, there are ways you can help make the world a better place during your usual internet time. While they might not be as gut-wrenching as some of the stories we get, they are much more effective than forwarding emails!

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