Through eBay’s Giving Works platform shoppers contributed nearly $1.5 million dollars to Haiti. Eight US nonprofits have received more than $1 million. eBay is at the forefront of the e-philanthropy movement and I’m excited to bring you an interview with Robert Chatwani.- Jason
What is your role at eBay and how does that impact the philanthropic sector?
As eBay’s head of Global Citizenship, my focus is on harnessing the reach and scale of our core businesses – eBay and PayPal – to create a positive impact. This goes beyond philanthropy. We think about citizenship and sustainability in terms of People, Planet, and Communities, the latter being the part that directly affects the philanthropic sector. We do this by fostering entrepreneurship for global sellers, keeping goods out of landfills through the sale of pre-owned products, and raising funds for nonprofits through sales on eBay.
What does it mean to be the largest online engine for fundraising?
The eBay charity program was built to capitalize on the philanthropic instincts of eBay’s 89 million member community. We’re tapping into this amazing resource by providing a flexible platform for giving – an out-of-the box, commerce-focused solution for online fundraising. The program has provided nonprofit organizations around the world creative and highly flexible ways to raise funds at a time when charitable giving is declining. Based on their individual needs, nonprofits can adapt the eBay Giving Works platform to work for their unique business models.
Where do you see the future of online philanthropy? How do you see and hope to see eBay shaping that future?
In terms of giving – we see two large macro trends taking place. The first is that online giving is growing fast, at a rate that’s 7 times faster than offline giving. Given that contributions through eBay Giving Works have risen while the economy has declined, we see this as a sign that online giving is where philanthropy is headed more and more. The other trend we see is that many more consumers are thinking about social and environmental values when making decisions about what to buy. These consumers have new mindset, and they’re more practical and socially conscious than ever before. eBay empowers them to vote their conscience with their clicks.
Do you think the internet and social media has made philanthropy more accessible to the everyday person?
We have seen time and again that the everyday person appreciates flexibility and adaptability in their giving habits, especially in a recession. The eBay community has shown that even small actions, when brought to scale, can have a big impact. It’s what enables many in our community, both shoppers and sellers, to do good in whatever way is most comfortable for them. We’ve been very impressed with peoples’ generosity, particularly in a recession.
How can online giving be mobilized to respond quickly to disasters like the Haiti earthquake?
We have seen an incredible outpouring of support for Haiti relief efforts coming from the eBay community. More than 425,000 donors and sellers have raised nearly $1.5 million in support. This includes sellers who have decided to designate a portion of their final sale price to charities supporting the relief efforts, and everyday shoppers, who have given at checkout or through PayPal. Celebrities have also participated by selling items on eBay to support charity.