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How to Raise Money for Charities by Watching Online Videos

Linda Crampton is a writer who is concerned about social issues. She hopes to encourage anyone who is able to do so to help people in need.

Many Internet users love cats. At least one website is trying to link viewing cat videos to fundraising for human charities.

Many Internet users love cats. At least one website is trying to link viewing cat videos to fundraising for human charities.

A New Way to Support Charities

Charities are often desperately seeking money to support their cause. Many people would like to help worthy charities but lack the funds, the time, or the energy to do so. An innovative solution to these problems has been created. As long as people have access to the Internet—whether it's a paid service at home or a free service in a public library—they can help certain organizations by simply watching videos.

The new donation method is ideal for the digital age in which we live. Compelling videos may attract both people who are looking for a way to help a charity and people who have no interest in doing so. In either case, the charity will benefit. The process works because the videos (or the pages on the site that's hosting the videos) are connected to advertising in some way. The company donates part of the money paid by the advertisers to a specific organization that helps others.

In this article, I review two websites that use videos to raise money for charities. The second one in particular seems to be very active. Though it’s based in France, it works internationally.

Photos of cats apparently doing human things are always popular.

Photos of cats apparently doing human things are always popular.

The Cats vs Cancer Website

Some video sites that donate money to charity come and go, but Cats vs Cancer has been in existence for several years and seems to have staying power. It seems that the public can't get enough of cute cat videos, photos, and memes on the Internet. Cats vs Cancer is capitalizing on this trend with the aim of helping people with cancer. The organization was created by two graduates from Georgetown University named Tom O'Connor and Eddie Peña. It's an IRS-certified non-profit organization based in the United States.

The Cats vs Cancer website has lots of cat videos. It also has cat photos with memes, which are wildly popular on social media at the moment, as well as cat GIFs. At the present time, the site curates content instead of creating its own.

There are prominent share buttons on each page of the Cats vs. Cancer website. Advertisers pay the organization for every page load. As a viewer explores the site and clicks on different videos or photos, they're continuing to raise money. The website enables people to make a direct donation to their cause if they prefer. According to a 2015 interview with Tom O'Connor by The Washington Post, Cats vs Cancer donates about 85% of its revenue to charity (or at least they did at that time).

The Founders Discuss Cats vs Cancer

Supported Charities

Cats vs Cancer supports a different charity each month. For example, one charity was the Vickie S. Honeycutt Foundation. This foundation was established in memory of a teacher who died from cancer. It raises funds to help educators and to support first degree relatives of people who are suffering from cancer. Another supported charity was the B-Strong Foundation. This foundation provides financial help, meals, and gifts to families who have a child with cancer. When this article was last updated, the charity was The Firefly Sisterhood, which supports women with breast cancer.

We're looking at smaller charities that are doing good work and for which maybe our contribution will be a bit more meaningful.

— Tom O'Connor in The Washington Post

Cats are cute, but kittens can be even cuter. Attractive or funny videos or photos may be useful for charity fundraising.

Cats are cute, but kittens can be even cuter. Attractive or funny videos or photos may be useful for charity fundraising.

The Future for Cats vs Cancer

At one time, Cats vs Cancer had great hopes for the future. They wanted to become the go-to website for people interested in cat media. The competition to attract cat lovers is stiff, however.

The website originated in 2013 and is still in operation, which is a good sign, but it has some problems. New videos are still being added to the home page, but not as frequently as would be expected. In addition, the other pages are not being updated. Another problem is that some of the latest videos are very short.

There’s no indication of how much money has been raised for the current charity that is being supported. Although a video on the site describes how the fundraising works, some evidence that exploring the website is helping to raise funds for people with cancer would probably encourage more visits to the site and more financial contributions.

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The site has a “Donate Meow” button for fundraising. It’s possible that people visiting the website from social media sites are using it. The site seems to post most often on Facebook and Instagram.

The organization's website offers people a chance to sign up for a newsletter. They have created a variety of ways to engage people, which seems like a good plan. The momentum created when the site was first established seems to have weakened, however.

Forming direct connections with people in need is very important, but indirect connections can be helpful, too.

Forming direct connections with people in need is very important, but indirect connections can be helpful, too.

The Goodeed Website

Instead of providing entertaining videos, Goodeed asks people to watch a video ad for at least twenty seconds in order to generate a donation. 60% of the advertiser’s money is then donated to a charity. The other 40% is used to keep the organization in operation. The site was started in France by Vincent Touboul Flachaire, who was only eighteen or nineteen (reports vary) at the time. The beta version of the program was started in 2014 and the international version in 2015. Like Cats vs Cancer, the program has been in operation for several years.

The donation (or video-watching) process at Goodeed is not anonymous. People need to register and share certain information about themselves in order to watch the video ads. Some people may not want to share the required information. Someone visiting the website can see the descriptions of the projects, but in order to watch the videos they must log into the site.

As always when sharing personal information with a website, someone considering doing this should investigate what is done with the data. It should also be noted that even though Cats vs Cancer doesn't require registration, information is collected via IP address as a user browses the site. It's also collected in a more personal form when people comment on the site's social media accounts. The gathering and analysis of user information in this way is very common on the Internet. Goodeed goes beyond the basics with respect to gathering information, though.

Translating the Website

The Goodeed website is displayed in a mixture of French and English. Over time, the amount of English has decreased. This isn't a problem for me because I use the translation abilities of the Chrome browser on my laptop. I’m also able to translate the website using Chrome on my iPad. Google says that Chrome does the same job on the iPhone and Android systems.

Sometimes an offer to translate a web page appears on the top right of my laptop screen in Chrome when it detects that a page isn't in English, provided this ability has been chosen in the browser’s settings. This doesn’t happen for me when I visit the Goodeed site, so I right-click to bring up a menu and then choose “Translate into English”. The translation is rapid and the result makes sense. It's a very useful feature.

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level.


What Projects Are Supported?

Goodeed supports NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in different countries. The menus on the website and the activities are sometimes changed. There always seems to be an interesting and important range of projects that need to be supported financially, though. I've listed some recent examples of the menus and their projects below.

  • Environment: planting trees and clearing pollution.
  • Health: providing safe drinking water, fighting disease, buying mosquito nets for a community, providing an enjoyable activity for a hospitalized child.
  • Education: supplying a community with bicycles so that children can get to school, giving books to children without them, providing tutoring.
  • Emergency: buying emergency kits for people facing a disaster, building a disaster warning system for a community.
  • Human Rights: providing support for disadvantaged people, helping people with disabilities find a job, turning unused offices into residences.
  • Nutrition: providing nutrition-packed food to people who need it, such as milk powder for young children.
  • Poverty: sending solar power units to communities that need them; supplying hot meals to homeless people.
  • Citizen Action: building homes for refugees.
  • Travel for All: providing travel opportunities for people with financial or physical problems.
  • Animals: helping animals in need
  • Food for All: helps people within France that need food

Watching a Goodeed video for 20 seconds takes very little time. While the translation of the written word on the site is fast and works well (at least in Chrome and on my system), the commentary or captions in a video may not be understood if they are in French. This might be a drawback for some people.

Any device capable of watching Internet videos could be used to help charities.

Any device capable of watching Internet videos could be used to help charities.

Helping Others by Watching Videos

Donating money or items to charities when we are financially able to is important. Doing traditional fundraising and physical work to help people in need is also important. It seems to me that there is another almost untapped method of helping others via the Internet, however.

Access to the Internet is widespread, at least in some countries. Many people visit the Internet multiple times during the day, sometimes for long periods at a time. Some people take quick "Internet breaks" during other activities. Online videos could therefore be a wonderful source of aid for charities.

Watching a cat video or checking out cat memes can be an enjoyable way to relax. It could also be a good method to help a charity with virtually no effort on the part of the donor. In order for the media to be effective, however, it's important that it's so interesting that people would view it even if it didn't help charities. Watching a video ad may not be as enticing as watching a cat video, but if it doesn't take long and if it supports a project that interests people, they'll probably be willing to do it.

Frequent viewing of videos from a dedicated individual could slowly create a significant contribution to a charity. Increasing the number of consistent viewers could be even more helpful. It would be wonderful if a viral video was linked to fundraising.

Some people can never see too many cat photos! This is Phoebe, a calico cat.

Some people can never see too many cat photos! This is Phoebe, a calico cat.

A Poll - Supporting Charities By Watching Videos

A kitten with a very alert expression

A kitten with a very alert expression

The Helper's High

I think it's important that a charity video website attracts people on their first visit and regularly adds interesting content to maintain their visitors' allegiance. Entertaining media or an indication of how much money has been raised by either an individual or in total may help to build a "helper's high". Researchers have found that this is a real phenomenon. When we help others, chemicals are released in our brain that make us feel good and encourage us to give more help.

Some people may not like the idea that our biology is playing a role in making us kind, but the important thing is that we help others. Even if this is done passively while looking at a computer screen, the effort could be very valuable. I hope the concept of supporting charities by watching online videos spreads far and wide. I also hope the sites that exist and any new ones that are created work hard to keep people interested in watching videos to raise funds for charities.

References and Resources

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Linda Crampton

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