Keeping a not-for-profit Catholic apostolate afloat on the turbulent, troubled waters in the current economic climate is no easy task. Still, we can't remember a time when it's been smooth sailing. Just when you think you've got one leak plugged up, another crack materializes -- whether it be in the form of postal rate hikes (which crept up again in May), rising printing costs, canceled subscriptions, the banning of our ads, etc.
So we are always on the lookout for new ways to keep our struggling ship on the crest of the wave. To that end, we recently signed up with www.GoodSearch.com, an Internet search engine that donates a percentage of its advertising revenue to nonprofit organizations like the NOR. (For more on how this works, see our New Oxford Note "Don't Just Search, GoodSearch," March.) GoodSearch operates an online shopping mall called GoodShop. When online shoppers make purchases after clicking through GoodShop, the nonprofit organization the shopper has chosen to support benefits by receiving a percentage of the sale.
The way this works is that the online merchant that makes the sale (Amazon.com, for example) pays a commission to the website (GoodShop) that directed the customer to the merchant's website. GoodShop then passes a portion of that commission to the nonprofit organization the customer has chosen to support (the NOR, for example). This is what's called affiliate marketing. And the best part is that you, the customer, pay nothing extra to support causes such as the NOR. Your ordinary online purchases can become a vehicle for charitable donation -- with nothing extra coming out of your pocketbook.
We have been heartened by the support of our readers who have taken advantage of GoodSearch and GoodShop as cost-free ways to support our apostolate.
The NOR was recently invited to join another online shopping network, www.GivingCart.com. GivingCart operates the same way as GoodShop, using affiliate marketing. The difference between the two shopping malls is that GivingCart bills itself as "a portal for Catholic internet shoppers." GivingCart's mission, as stated on its website, is "to support approved Catholic parishes or organizations, auxiliaries connected to the Catholic Church, and other organizations that serve the Church," including the NOR. GivingCart, which describes its service as the "Catholic Way to Shop," has teamed up with over 300 online stores, including Amazon.com, eBay, 1-800-Contacts, BabyWise.com, Dean & Deluca, Hotels.com, the Gap, Staples, Priceline.com, eVitamins, Stamps.com, among many others. Now, when you make an online purchase after clicking through GivingCart, the NOR can benefit -- at no cost to you! (If you can't find the merchant you're looking for at GivingCart, it might be listed at GoodShop; both sites can be utilized to support the NOR. Several merchants, however, give a larger percentage of the sale to GivingCart than to GoodShop.)
GivingCart is itself a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and is operated by three young Catholic laymen -- Justin Schneir, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville; Ben Olsen, also a Franciscan alumnus; and Ben Dunlap, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. Each of these young men has a family and a fulltime job. In the spirit of the generosity they espouse, they each devote their spare time to maintaining GivingCart. They created GivingCart "in response to a sharp decrease in tithing and the coincidental emergence of e-commerce technology," for the express purpose of helping the Church "thrive and grow in the modern world." Internet spending, they say, "doubles every year," and the "potential for revenues generated by GivingCart" and shared with Catholic organizations "is virtually unlimited."
All one need do to take advantage of GivingCart is to visit their website, www.GivingCart.com, and create a free membership account. When creating the account, you may choose the Catholic group you wish to support, including the NOR. One must log in to one's account in order to click through GivingCart to shop the over 300 merchants who've partnered with them. GivingCart keeps tabs on the funds each member has raised for the Catholic apostolate he's selected, and how much that apostolate has raised in total.
Please consider supporting the NOR by using GivingCart to initiate your online purchases. With your help, our humble vessel will maintain its position in the armada led by the glorious Barque of Peter.