February 11, 2011

Fund Raisers Vie for a Lucrative Valentine's Day

In the mood for love or revenge—and helping your favorite cause? You're in luck.

A variety of online companies and charitable organizations are making it easier for anyone to buy gifts for their loved ones to celebrate Valentine's Day, with each purchase in some way benefiting a charity. Among the Valentine's Day fund-raising campaigns:

Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo: For $10, donors can name a four-inch cockroach in honor of their Valentine—or better still, an ex. Yes, that's right. The Bronx Zoo has 58,000 Madagascar hissing roaches in need of names. The zoo sends electronic cards to each person honored, and proceeds will go to protect wildlife around the world.
John Calvelli, spokesman for the Bronx Zoo, says about 400 naming rights have already been purchased since the zoo made donation option available Wednesday night. “They have been around for millions and millions of years,” he says. “Nothing says forever than a cockroach.” This site, which helps charities use Facebook to raise money, offers people a chance to steer $10 to charity when they buy a bouquet of flowers from participating florists, such as ProFlowers and ProPlants. They get to choose among five charities:  Campaign for Cancer Prevention, Invisible Children, Americans for the Arts, National Parks Conservation Association, and  the Prem Rawat Foundation. The deal lasts until February 15.

Mercy Corps: Running out of Valentine's Day gift ideas? Well, Mercy Corps offers 40  unusual ways to buy gifts that help others. Perhaps  your sweetheart will think you are the "bee's knees" if you buy a hive of bees for $65 for farming families in Guatemala, the charity says. Or if you think Valentine's Day stinks, the charity says, perhaps you can buy a pile of compost for $18 for Indonesian families who want to start organic gardens to feed themselves. Mercy Corps will send your loved ones a card by mail or by e-mail that explains the donation you've made on their behalf.

The Nature Conservancy: Buy organic flowers and 10 percent will go to the Nature Conservancy when you make a purchase with Organic Bouquet.

The Trust for Public Land: Choose from eight Valentine's-themed electronic cards with a gift to the Trust for Public Land, and your "green heart gift" recipient will also receive the charity's Land&People magazine as well as your personalized electronic card. Calling it "Love Your Cause," the shopping Web site's campaign gives consumers a chance to select from seven online stores, with 10 percent of each purchase of flowers, chocolates, books, and jewelry going to a nonprofit they select. About 100 nonprofit organizations are participating.

Know of any more Valentine's Day fund-raising efforts ? Let us know by adding them in the comments section below.