Saving the World One Click at a Time
by Clark L. and Kathryn H. Kidd
Since getting our own email system more than ten years ago, we’ve corresponded with people from all over the country. We’ve struck up friendships with people from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, have communicated with friends when they were summering in France, and have become so dependent on our daily email fixes that we choose hotels that have modem access so we can even check in when we’re on vacation.
But if we want to communicate with our Utah friends, we have to do it by telephone. Every time we broach the subject with them, they tell us in a horrified voice that they would never subject their children to the smut found on the Internet.
If you live in Utah, DO NOT WRITE TO US AND INFORM US THAT YOU USE THE INTERNET. We assume you do, or you’d never be reading this column. We’ve been told in frosty tones that Utahns have more computers per capita than do people from other states. This may well be true. It may be that our own personal friends are the only people in Utah who do not have Palm Pilots stapled to their fingertips. But by May of the year 2000, only one friend of ours had braved the world of email, and she only signs on at work. Even our editors in Utah, who send us email all the time, have never comprehended the fact that they can actually put a letter in both our mailboxes simultaneously by addressing the letter to one of us and sending a copy to the other spousal unit. One or the other of us always gets email correspondence that is addressed to both. And if they don’t do email, it’s a sure bet they aren’t exploring the net.
The common misconception of our Utah friends is that the Internet has two uses for adults — doing genealogy and downloading dirty pictures. If you aren’t interested in smut or family history, they ask us, what’s the use in spending money for an Internet connection? Our older friends, temporarily exiled from Zion to serve in the Washington D.C. Temple, are learning how to use computers, but strictly in order to email their grandkids. They proudly tell us how ignorant they are of the actual Internet, which is riddled with pornography. Their intentions are noble, but staying away from the Internet because pornography can be found there is reminiscent of the Amish, who refuse to have electricity in their homes because the electrical current in those wires may have been used in other homes to do something evil, such as power a television set.
Future columns may tell you of the joys of online shopping, and we may even gloat about how, thanks to the Internet, we’re able to write fact-ridden nonfiction books without ever going to a library to do research. But if you want a quick conversion to the Internet, the best way to do it is to show you how you can save the planet just by going online and clicking a button on the computer. You don’t need to use your charge card. Everything is free. Other people will pay for your acts of kindness, allowing you to save your money for the newest and prettiest CTR ring on the market. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
Speaking of free lunches, we’re going to start your tour at a place where you actually can provide a free lunch to someone in the world. This is The Hunger Site (www.thehungersite.com), where with two clicks of the mouse you can provide up to four cups of food per day to an impoverished person somewhere in the world. The Hunger Site was started by a man who was so committed to the cause that he did it for free. You’ve got to admire dedication like that!
This site works sort of like a “Walk for Halitosis,” except that you as the “walker” don’t have to do anything more strenuous than visit the site. You don’t even have to recruit your own sponsors. This is done for you by sponsor-recruiting professionals. Such a deal.
Each sponsor agrees to supply money to pay for one-quarter cup of food for every person who visits the web site during the course of a particular day. (The actual purchase and distribution are handled by the United Nations World Food Programme.) The more sponsors who sign up every day, the more food you’ll be donating whenever you visit the site. Currently about 300,000-400,000 people visit daily, so a daily investment for the sponsor costs about $2,000. In return, a small ad for each sponsor is featured on a button that can be clicked to receive information about the sponsor or shop at the sponsor’s site. We’re counting the days until an enterprising member of the Church, or the Church itself, agrees to be a sponsor for a day, using the ad to invite people to order a free copy of The Book of Mormon. Voila! You can feed the hungry, spread the Gospel, and get a little positive PR for the Church, all at the same time.
If you like the concept of The Hunger Site and wish you could do more, your wish has been granted. On May 1st of this year, a companion site was launched. Visitors to The Rainforest Site (www.therainforestsite.com) can reclaim pieces of land that are purchased on their behalf by The Nature Conservancy, through donations by the site’s sponsors. Apparently there are far fewer people ready to save the rainforest than there are people who are willing to eliminate world hunger, because you can currently sponsor a day’s worth of land reclamation for less than $200. But during its inaugural week, you could buy back about 19 square feet of rainforest land with every visit.
If you bookmark the sites, a visit to The Hunger Site and The Rainforest Site will each take you about thirty seconds daily. By any standards, this is not a bad minute’s work. In fact, it’s so easy to make donations that you may be tempted to visit the sites over and over again, donating lots and lots of food or land instead of just a little bit. Don’t bother. The computer program is smarter than you are, and it can keep track of how many times you’ve visited the site during the course of the day. Only the first visit counts, so all you’ll accomplish by visiting the site again and again is a possible case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Remember — one a day, just like multiple vitamins.
After you’ve done your daily clicking, you may want to do even more. Have no fear. GreaterGood.com (www.greatergood.com) allows you to support any one of a number of worthwhile causes by shopping at various online sites. Currently GreaterGood.com has more than eighty retail sponsors who donate up to 30 percent of the cost of your purchase to any worthwhile cause you select. The causes you can choose range from the Special Olympics to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. You can even Save the Children without going through Sally Struthers, or donate money to good old Brigham Young University.
In case you’re wondering if you’ll be paying higher prices to shop through stores that sponsor GreaterGood.com, relax. You’ll be paying exactly the same amount as you’d pay if you visited the sites without going through GreaterGood.com. And occasionally you’ll find specials that are not offered to people who visit the site without going through GreaterGood.com. For example, a recent promotion from Dan’s Chocolates allowed GreaterGood.com users to take $10 off a purchase of $29.95 or more. In addition, the company has a program where you can get six gourmet chocolates delivered free to your home, in exchange for a $1 donation to charity.
They even pay the shipping charges.
The only thing you must remember if you want to donate money by shopping through GreaterGood.com sponsors is that you have to go through the site and designate a recipient ahead of time instead of just going to the vendor on your own. This means the thousands of dollars that Kathy spent buying books through Amazon.com last year didn’t help anybody but Kathy, because she didn’t know Amazon.com was a sponsoring corporation. If she can remember to go through GreaterGood.com in the future, she can actually do some good in the world.
These aren’t the only charitable sites on the Internet, but they’re enough to get you started — especially if know how to use a web browser. A search on the Google browser (www.google.com), our current personal favorite, showed 37,199 hits when we searched for “charitable causes.” If you find a cause you like that we may not know about, write to us at [email protected], or [email protected] If we get enough good sites, we’ll spotlight them in a future column.