I just came across a funny new word that sounds like it should describe something wookiees do behind closed doors but actually has a more useful meaning. Wugging, or web-use giving, lets you raise money for do-gooder groups by shopping online and using search engines—things you probably do anyway.
The great thing about wugging is that it costs you nothing. The money comes from affiliate marketing programs and search-engine advertisers. Alonovo, which I’ve blogged about before, is one example of a wugging site. Here are some more:
Everyclick is a U.K.-based search engine, powered by Ask.com, that gives 50 percent of its gross revenues to charity every month. You can pick a group to benefit from your searches from a list of 170,000 organizations. Everyclick says it has raised nearly $586,000 so far.
Here in the U.S., GoodSearch follows essentially the same model. It’s powered by Yahoo, and it has 44,207 participating nonprofits and schools. GoodSearch offers more than just search, however. This year it added a shopping component that lets you raise money for your favorite group by buying from online retailers such as iTunes, Macy’s, Travelocity, and Walmart.
For more wugging fun, check out FreePledge, where you can shop from 189 merchants and choose a beneficiary from among 259 nonprofits, and Schoolpop, which lets you pay down tuition and student loans and raise money for your favorite school. (Schoolpop, it should be noted, is not exclusively web-based; users can also participate in stores and via its branded credit card.)
The wonderful world of wugging is not without its downsides. For one thing, e-commerce wugging sites (as opposed to search engines) give people an incentive to buy from large corporations whose values may not be in line with their own. Then there’s the issue of the energy consumed by shipping all those products. If you’re buying something that you could have found at a local shop, the good that comes from your wugging donation could be outweighed by the benefits of keeping your money in your community.
Still, if you’re going to be shopping and searching online (and who among us isn’t, really?), why not put those keystrokes to good use?