Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
During winter break, Scott Fortmann-Roe ’08 created Giveteam.org (http://giveteam.org), a non-profit website designed to generate money for charity. While pursuing a different web development project over break, Fortmann-Roe discovered that it was “relatively simple… to become an affiliate of online merchants. I realized how potentially beneficial to so many people a site such as Give Team would be, and so I rushed to implement it before I left.”
When someone uses Giveteam.org to access an online merchant such as eBay or Amazon.com, the merchant will return from two to twenty percent of the purchase price to Giveteam.org, money which is then donated to charity. Over fifty different online merchants are already represented. At no extra cost to the customer, they can not only receive their merchandise, but also improve the lives of others.
While there are other sites that work like Giveteam.org, Fortmann-Roe informed the Gazette, “they take a cut from the money generated, which I find repugnant.” All of the money raised through Giveteam.org goes to Direct Relief International or Cantare Children’s Choirs, two “unpolitical, nonreligious, and unlikely to offend charities… [that] can be supported by everyone.”
Fortmann-Roe also has personal reasons for wanting to support both charities. In the case of Direct Relief, “This summer I was severely sick. I had never known before what it was like to lose control of your body… to become an invalid completely dependent on others. I have become very interested in health care issues, especially for people less fortunate than me. Direct Relief is a charity that is designed to bring health care and supplies to such people, and I feel that the work they are doing is very important.”
The Cantare Children’s Choirs are based in Fortmann-Roe’s hometown of Oakland, California where “the schools are destitute and cannot afford to give their students anything else than mass produced, basic instruction in over crowded classrooms. Kids need more than that, they need to be able to dream… they also need something safe to do after school… the Cantare singing program gives them both of these things.”
Participation is crucial to the website’s success. “The Give Team relies on a critical mass; me by myself using it will generate maybe $15 a year. But if you use, you email it to your friends, their friends email it to their friends… then we would be doing some good. If we can get people to type giveteam.org/amazon instead of amazon.com, the results will be amazing.”