SINGAPORE - A visit to online group buying websites is no longer just about snagging heavily-discounted handbags, spa treats or fried chicken deals.
Bargain hunters can now do some good too, by buying coupons for good causes from at least three websites since the start of the year.
Deal.com, for instance, offers a chance for consumers to help combat haze. People from Singapore and Malaysia can buy $10 or $20 vouchers to prevent or fight forest fires in Indonesia under a tie-up started early this month.
The funds go towards firefighting patrols, fire safety lessons in villages and schools, or the rescue of orang utan whose habitats are being destroyed by the fires, among other things.
The money will first go to the New York based non-profit Orangutan Outreach, which will distribute this to its Indonesian partners within 14 days, said Mr Patrick Linden, chief executive of iBuy Group, which runs Deal.com.sg.
The Indonesian groups include the Friends of the National Parks Foundation and Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.
Designer Helen Soh, 33, who donated $40 to fight the haze, said: "This is a creative way to reach out to the masses and pool resources for a social good.
"I may buy one dress less when I donate, but it makes the experience of shopping more meaningful."
Animal lovers who use daily- deal website Groupon had a chance to help the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals earlier this month.
More than $40,000 was raised for abandoned pets and a new shelter, in a two-week charity drive that ended yesterday.
Over the past year, iBuy Group has also worked with the Community Chest, the fund-raising arm of the National Council of Social Service, to raise $34,000 for charity programmes.
Charities can piggy back on the high traffic enjoyed by group buying websites.
Deal.com.sg, for instance, gets over a million visits a month and 600,000 people are on its mailing list; Groupon has more than two million subscribers.
"These partnerships allow us to reach out to their large subscriber base and provide a convenient platform for those who want to donate to help those in need," said Community Chest managing director Ng Ling Ling.
Chief executive of the Singapore Red Cross Benjamin William said donors can be assured that the full proceeds go to the charity.
"We have safeguards such as fund-raising agreements, detailed donation reports and statistics on fund-raising efficiency," he said.
Good deed shopping
Buy $10 or $20 vouchers until the end of the month to fight haze. The money goes to Indonesian non-profit groups.
More than 3,500 coupons, from $20 to $100, were bought to fund the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in a drive that ended on Aug 18.
Groupon also partnered the Singapore Red Cross earlier this year to provide monthly rations for needy families here.
Help a child with special needs by buying $50 vouchers from ComChest from now until Sept 6. The money will go to stationery fun packs and Sharity Elephant plush toys, or educational programmes for the children.
This article was first published on August 19, 2014.
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