Last year, in the wake of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti and killed 100,000 people, eBay encouraged visitors to buy and sell items through eBay Giving Works to help those organizing relief efforts.
This year, when Japan was struck by a massive tsunami, AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, PayPal and several other marketplaces provided venues for consumers to donate to relief efforts. This month, AliExpress and eBay are doing this once again, this time to help families in Africa facing starvation.
Africa’s horn is experiencing a severe drought and an estimated 12.4 million could starve as a result. Tens of thousands are said to have already died. To help, Alibaba Group has pledged to donate $1 for every transaction made on its sourcing site AliExpress, from now through Aug. 25. This is in addition to the RBM 1 million the company has already donated to the Red Cross.
eBay is highlighting the famine crisis on its Giving Works page to encourage buyers and sellers to help as well.
While it’s unknown how much money online marketplaces raise every year to help those in need, they have raised millions. Just through eBay Giving Works, online consumers raised $54.7 million for nonprofits in 2010. Since that program debuted in 2003, it’s raised more than $230 million for charities, eBay reports.
Some of that money helped disaster relief efforts, like those that followed the quake in Haiti; others helped organizations that assist people with more common hardships, like cancer. Still, there’s no denying that the online world has had an impact in helping worthy causes.
Back in January, as eBay’s President and CEO John Donahoe talked about eBay Giving Works’ accomplishments, he noted that the average eBay Giving Works donation was about $4. However, “a dollar here, and a dollar there adds up,” he said.
The online world had shown that when it’s a dollar here, a peso there, a euro over there, it can make a huge impact. Sabrina Peng, general manager of AliExpress and executive vice president of Alibaba.com, is hoping people will band together again to help AliExpress’ famine relief efforts.
“We are hoping to leverage our global platform to raise immediate awareness around the world of the urgent need for more individuals and organizations to join the relief efforts,” she says.
Olga Munoz is assistant editor of The Online Seller, an online publication that covers news and writes feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, eBay policy, online marketing and other topics of interest for online sellers. She also manages The Online Seller’s social media efforts.