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Using Group Coupons to Donate

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After the infamous Super Bowl XLV commercial highlighting the online coupon company, Groupon, the idea of group and social coupons is a familiar concept. Companies like Groupon, CauseOn, or LivingSocial, feature a daily coupon deal for a local business. As a customer, you buy the deal (usually 50-70% off a service) and if a certain amount of other people also buy the deal, then it activates and you are able to use the coupon.

In addition to getting a great discount, most of these group coupon sites are cause-related ventures. Meaning, a part of their profit is donated back to charities. Each company does it a little different and here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the main ones as a donor.

How to use group coupons to donate to charities:

Groupon:

  • A nonprofit can have a campaign advertised alongside a Daily Deal and sometimes the money donated is matched by Groupon up to a certain amount.
  • A nonprofit can also be a merchant of Groupon. You might find your local museum selling discounted memberships or discounted tickets to your favorite theater.

LivingSocial:

  • At the end of every year, LivingSocial hosts a “12 Days of Giving” campaign and the featured charities receive 1% of every Daily Deal purchased throughout the 12 days.

CauseOn:

  • For every coupon that a user purchases, 20 percent of the company’s revenue goes to a charity.


What to consider as a donor:

  • What charity is being featured? As always it’s important to vet any charity before donating. Use the Charities Review Council’s online charity listings to find out more information about charities.
  • Tax deduction? If you’re wanting your donation to be tax deductible, read the fine print on the coupon site and also check with the featured charity for details. For example, Groupon says the amount donated before matching funds are added is tax deductible, but that donors will need to register their donation with the featured organization after using Groupon to make the deduction.
  • What happens to your information? Read the fine print to see who gets access to your personal information. If you’re making a donation or buying a membership, it could be important for the charity to know your personal information. Will you need to send additional follow up information to the charity? You should be able to find this information either in the fine print or by contacting the charity directly.


While group coupon sites can be a fun and effective way to save money on everyday purchases, they can also be a way to contribute to your favorite charity. Know of a charity that would benefit from this unique fundraising model? Suggest that they apply to be a featured charity.