For my very first post on this site, I wrote about how pets make us better, improving both our physical and mental health in myriad ways. Whatever magic there is in four paws and a wet nose, we humans are totally under its spell. But the human-animal bond is nothing if not reciprocal; in return for their compassion, their comedy and the comfort they provide us, we give them love, food, shelter, health care, toys and maybe even a spot on the bed in return.
But lately, I've been thinking bigger: what do we give pets who aren't our own?
Giving back is on my mind a lot these days, as Chris and I prepare to realize our dream of launching an official corporate philanthropy initiative at Petplan (aptly named "Petplanthropy"). We are lucky in that we have a vehicle for fundraising, a team of passionate employees, the ears of hundreds of thousands of pet parents and a number of amazing partners who help support our efforts (to date, we've donated half a million dollars to organizations working to improve the lives of companion animals -- and that's before we established a formal giving program!). But not everyone has these resources.
So what is the average pet parent to do when they want to make a big impact? The answer may lie in the small things -- namely in some of the ordinary actions we take every day.
Think about how many times per week you use your credit card at a retail store. What if each transaction sent a donation to your favorite animal charity? Online giving programs are getting ever more sophisticated, allowing consumers to direct a portion of their purchases to the charity of their choice with just a swipe or a click. Here are three of my favorites:
There are two ways to use iGive: you can install a simple web browser app that automatically activates at more than 1,400 participating stores, or you can just start your shopping trips by going to iGive.com. Either way, a percentage of what you spend is donated to your cause (the average is about 3 percent, but some stores give up to 20 percent). The stores pay for it all -- you never pay more, and sometimes you even pay less with coupons and special deals available through the site. The stores even pay iGive, so when you see the amount or percentage being donated before you make a purchase, 100 percent of that actually goes to your cause. To date, about $7,000,000 has been donated to more than 35,000 charities via the program.