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eBay Launches Giving Works Charity Program

Christmas came early at eBay this week, as the online auction giant soft-launched a program designed to enable buyers and sellers to contribute to non-profits and other charitable causes.

The program, billed as a joint venture between San Jose, Calif.-based eBay and MissionFish, is dubbed "eBay Giving Works", and was scheduled for an official launch before the holiday season later this month.

News of this latest philanthropic effort came just one day after the eBay launched another charity-oriented program, the Secret Santa Gift Exchange. According to Kristin Cunningham, senior manager of consumer marketing, the eBay Giving Works program is the company's largest philanthropic effort since the "Auction for America" that sought to raise $100 million in 100 days for families directly affected by the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Through these [previous] efforts, we've seen the generosity of our community and saw the impact something like this can make in the non-profit space," Cunningham told internetnews.com in an exclusive interview. "With all of that in mind, we wanted to launch a program that would enable lots of non-profits to take advantage of the trading that happens on eBay every day."

To date, Cunningham said, non-profit organizations have raised nearly $30 million on eBay, benefiting more than 500 charities in 2002 alone.

As part of the new agreement, qualifying 501c(3) organizations will be invited to register for free with Washington, D.C.-based MissionFish. The company, which specializes in back-end software for online auctions for non-profits, will coordinate participants and manage every aspect of the new program, providing eBay community members with innovative and convenient ways to support their favorite causes while buying and selling on the site.

When the eBay Giving Works program goes live on eBay, sellers interested in raising money for charities from their eBay listings will be able to select a non-profit and determine the percentage of proceeds they would like to donate. Sean Milliken, executive director of MissionFish, said that approved items will be placed up for bid on eBay with a special "charity auction" icon, and that buyers of the charity item listings will then send money to the non-profit organization via MissionFish.

"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to create and manage this tool for eBay," he commented when the partnership was announced earlier this year. "Our solution [will give] nonprofits access to a whole new revenue stream for the important work they do."

Cunningham added that once MissionFish transmits donations to participating non-profits, the company will give donors certificates confirming exactly how much they gave. These certificates are designed to be used for tax purposes, she said, and are included in the eBay Giving Works program as a service.



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