Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Donors, charity organizations turn to the Internet

By Hu Ching-hui  /  STAFF REPORTER

Donors and charitable organizations are increasingly turning to the Internet as a way to make and receive donations, the United Way of Taiwan said.

The United Way of Taiwan said statistics show that more than 65 percent of Taiwanese log onto the Internet regularly, and as a result, more and more charities are turning to the Internet in search of donations.

The charity said that its collection of donations via the Internet donations grew from NT$4.32 million (US$130,909) in 1999 to NT$53.84 million last year.

Last year alone, donations collected from the Internet constituted 17 percent of all donations, the charity said.

"We do not have to spend money organizing fancy activities if we receive our donations online," said Hu Yu-fang (胡玉芳), spokeswoman for the United Way of Taiwan.

"Also, Internet donations are easy and fast," Hu said. "It is basically a you-can-do-it-anywhere kind of way to donate and collect money. It is an idea that is definitely worth being developed further."

Hu said that the organization has its own Web site and blog.

A total of 44,132 United Way of Taiwan online members also receive newsletters from the organization regarding charity activities or donation activities every one or two weeks, she said.

The Cancer Hope Association has also turned to the Internet to collect donations by encouraging members to donate their credit card refunds.

"We have been doing that by working with credit card companies since the beginning of this year," said Kuo Tsu-chun (郭姿均), spokeswoman for the Cancer Hope Association.

"It is more difficult to ask people to donate cash from their own pockets since the growth of the economy is so sluggish," she said.

"But, we discovered that many people are willing to donate their credit card refunds to charities. And this kind of donation has become a constant source of income for the association," she said.

In an online donation contest organized by Orbis International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that seeks to eliminate avoidable blindness and restore sight to those in the developing world, a total of NT$800,000 in donations were received within three months.

"With Internet activity increasing, there will be more and more Internet surfers who will join and contribute," said Liang Hui-wen (梁惠雯), spokeswoman for the organization.

The biggest hindrance for Internet donations is members' concerns about online security.

"We usually collect our money through online credit card deals or online ATM transfers. Also, we need to process an Internet transfer through three different mechanisms to make sure the transfer is good and safe," Hu said.

"Many donors would prefer to make their donations in person. If Internet safety was not such a concern, I believe that we would be able to collect more money a lot faster through the Internet in the future," Liang said.

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