Giving to Charities Online

It's the season of giving and for many that means more than just giving to family and loved ones. In a recent poll, more than 70 percent of Americans said they plan to give to charity this holiday season. As Bill Stamps reports all it takes to give these days is just a few clicks on the computer.
Whether the country is going through good times or bad financially, Americans have always been known for helping out their fellow man during the holiday season. Some stick dollar bills and coins in the Salvation Army's Red Kettle, others write check to their favorite charities. But these days, more and more givers are logging onto the internet.

"All you have to do is have a working computer, or Blackberry, or whatever you can use to access our website and make a donation."

That's Bettsy Ballard with the Houston Food Bank. She says most of their donations come from checks in the mail, but the number of people using their online service is increasing.

"In general, on any given month, about 130 people or so donate through are website, which is just wonderful. We’re so grateful for that."

Ballard says in the month of November the Food Bank received almost five times as many online donations as they have in the past.

Andrea Fineman works for Interfaith Ministries, which runs the Meals On Wheels program for seniors. She says they’re also seeing more people donate online.

"We do send out letters about Interfaith Ministries and we do send out some emails and people can donate to us either through a check or online."

Not all charities are seeing a big surge in online activity. Thao Costis runs SEARCH Homeless Services in downtown Houston. She says they’ve tried Facebook and other sites but so far they just aren’t getting many donations by way of the internet.

"If we’re not making or asking for a specific activity or a specific event it's not intuitive for people, so we don’t get that much traffic."

The poll that showed more than 70 percent of Americans plan to donate to charity this year also shows the majority of givers plan to donate more than 100 dollars. That’s good news to Houston charities who say they need all the help they can get.