If you're concerned about preserving the planet but don't have the time or cash to donate to charities dedicated to the cause, there's still a way you can help—and you can do it right from your computer. You can raise money for these and other worthwhile charities just by searching the Web, using IM, or sending an email.

 

As you might be aware, some Web sites donate to charities some or all of the money they receive from the search engine they host. Recently, more sites have started including charities devoted to preserving the environment. For example, the newly released, free Flock Eco-Edition browser will be giving 10 percent of its proceeds from searches to environmental causes, which will be chosen by users each year. Flock Eco-Edition is a greened-up version of Flock. In case you're not familiar with Flock, it's a free Web browser designed to deliver a more personal Web experience by aggregating content from social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Blogger. Similarly, Flock Eco-Edition aggregates content from environmental sites as Treehugger, Planetgreen, and Environmental News Network (ENN). Its built-in search engine is powered by Yahoo.

 

If you're in the United Kingdom, you might want to use the Mirago search engine in The Environment Site.org. This Web site donates 100 percent of search proceeds to the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

 

The GoodSearch Web site, which uses a Yahoo search engine, donates 50 percent of revenue generated from searches, which is about a penny a search, to the charity of your choice. The charity needs to be a registered nonprofit organization, which includes many green charities such as the Sierra Club or Greenpeace. Currently, GoodSearch has more than 61,000 verified charities in its database, and you can easily request that a charity be added. Although a penny a search might not sound like much, the pennies add up. For example, GoodSearch helped raise more than $15,000 for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

 

The GoodSearch site also has a new program called GoodShop in which more than 560 retailers are participating. If you make an online purchase at any of the participating stores, a donation is made to the charity of your choice. Typically, it's a percentage of the purchase price. The participating stores include Adobe Systems, Amazon.com, Apple, Dell, HP, McAfee, Microsoft, OfficeMax, PC Connection, Symantec, and TigerDirect.

 

If you often send IM or email messages, you can raise money for charities by participating in Microsoft's i’m Initiative. Every time you use Windows Live Messenger (a free IM service) or Windows Live Hotmail (a free Web mail service), Microsoft shares a portion of its advertising revenue. You can choose from 10 organizations, including the Sierra Club, StopGlobalWarming.org, and the Humane Society of the United States. Microsoft doesn't say the percentage it donates, but it has donated more than $1.5 million since the initiative was first launched in March 2007.