Saturday, September 5, 2009

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Shopping to Benefit Your School, a Charity, or Yourself

Being a frequent online shopper, I wanted to make my readers aware of some of the extra benefits of shopping online other than the obvious convenience of being able to shop at midnight in your pajamas. After my son started preschool when he was about 3, I learned about different ways to have a percentage of my online purchases go towards a good cause, like my son's school. There is no extra work involved on my part aside from going to each online shopping destination through a special link.

One of the ways I learned to earn extra money for my son's school is through the BoxTops Marketplace.

I was vaguely familiar with the BoxTops program where you clip the BoxTops off the packaging of participating items, but I really had no idea the BoxTops Marketplace even existed. Mainly, you go to the Marketplace and click on the retailer you want to shop with. Then a special window opens for that retailer in which you can just shop like you normally would. The only difference is that after you complete your purchase, it will know that it should send the predetermined percentage of your sale to the school you selected when you registered with BoxTops for Education.

My favorite way to shop through the BoxTops Marketplace is to shop online at retailers like Walmart, Sears, and Best Buy where you can purchase online, but pick up your items in the store. This saves me the cost of paying for shipping and handling. Some more of my favorite BoxTop Marketplace retailers are the Disney Store, Old Navy, One Step Ahead, eToys, Office Max, and eBags.


Another site I often shop through is . This program is similar to the BoxTops Marketplace, except you can choose to benefit a charitable organization or a school.

iGive shares a few participating retailers with BoxTops, but their list of retailers is much more extensive. Also, many of the retailers offer extra incentives now and then for shopping with them through iGive, such as free shipping or increasing the percentage of your purchase that gets sent to your cause. Their long list of retailers includes some that I shop with often, such as, Toys R Us, The Children's Place,, eBay,,, Stacks and Stacks, and much more.

I do think many schools are not aware of this program. Most schools do participate in the BoxTops program, but there is no reason why your school cannot be signed up for both. I think in one year, I raised about $100 for my son's preschool just from shopping online like I normally do. Imagine how much money your school or cause can raise, if more people hopped on board. My son just started kindergarten at a new school and one of the first things I did was to bring iGive to the PTO's attention and got the school signed up.


For those of you who would like to shop, but receive the cash back for yourself, there are other options out there like .

I have not used this website before, but it appears that this site has an even more extensive list of participating retailers. The rewards do not appear to be constant, so you could watch for your favorite retailer to offer a special cash back percentage and wait to shop then. For example, is currently offering extra incentives during their Labor Day Extra Cash Back Event.

Some of the retailers I shop with that are part of this program, but do not participate in BoxTops or iGive are Think Geek, Baby Phat, and Discount School Supply. For this reason, I think I will be registering for this program as well. I really am throwing money out the window since nobody is benefiting from my purchases through those online retailers currently.