Especially in light of the stock market’s ongoing collapse and the disappearance of more and more jobs, money is at the top of everyone’s list of things to keep a tight watch over. And as the population in general suffers, so do charities, which need more help than ever. It is a sober truth that would-be donors are starting to rein in where their increasingly hard-to-spare money is actually going.

But if you still want to help, even if you’re one of the increasing number in need yourself, here’s the good news: Money doesn’t have to change hands in order to get things done. Yes, every charity, non-profit, or foundation could still use the cash, and yes, plenty of people are not letting fear get in the way of their donations, but if donating money to worthy causes has become a serious issue for you, the Internet offers plenty of places to help, that won’t cost you a dime.

Hunger Site. The Hunger Site (www.hungersite.com), is the lead site in a string of interconnected websites created by the GreaterGood Network. The archetype click-to-donate company, Hunger Site features a prominently displayed “Donate Free Food” button that you can click daily. Clicks are counted on behalf of sponsor businesses — links to which are featured on the ensuing thank-you page — which then donate food to people in need around the world.

Hunger Site also displays tabs to its sister sites, each of which collect similar clicks for their own causes. There is the Breast Cancer Site, which helps fund free mammograms; the Child Health Site, which funds preventatives and treatments for impoverished children; the Literacy Site, which helps provide books to underprivileged children in traditionally illiterate regions of the globe; the Rain Forest Site, which helps preserve acres of land in some of the planet’s most endangered woodlands areas; and the Animal Rescue Site, which helps provide shelter and aid for pets and other animals. All sites track unique users and refresh every day, and all can be accessed through www.hungersite.com.

Each of these sites also features links labeled “Free Ways To Help,” including E-mail reminders, newsletter sign-up, and links to set up on your own home page or blog. There also is a link on each site to send a free, personalized E-card. When the recipient opens the card through his or her E-mail, it counts the same as a click on the site’s main page, even if they already have clicked for the day.

Care2 Network. Similar in mission to the Hunger Site et al, the Care2 Network offers click-to-donate links that fund a broad range of causes, including global warming, ocean health, baby seals, primates, big cats, pets, and violence against women. Though a little more involved to navigate, the site offers information, lists volunteer opportunities, and a job finder.

The main page of the network can be reached at www.care2.com, and there you can find news, updates, and suggestions on how to help. To use the click-to-donate option, visit www.care2.com/clicktodonate.

The index. For those with more time and a higher tolerance for separating the wheat from the chaff, www.thenonprofits.com provides a utilitarian-looking, but ambitious index of organizations that can be helped by each click of the mouse. The index provides links to 59 charities and causes, from helping to shelter abused children and prevent suicide by listening to music clips, to providing medical care to children in Mexico’s Tarahumara Children’s Hospital.

The links are broken down into three major categories: hunger and poverty; health, education, and miscellaneous; and environment and animals.

Free Rice. For those looking to make their free clicks go further and have more fun doing it, www.freerice.com offers a vocabulary game that donates more rice the better you do in the game. Every right answer donates 20 grains of rice, which adds up quickly if your vocabulary is even fair. Just beware, it’s a mighty addicting game, and you can play as much as you like.

Search engines with a conscience. If the Internet has become our latest appendage, Google can claim to be its arteries. Tapping into the world’s largest search engine, Search Kindly, www. searchkindly.com, has found a way to allow you to search the web via Google while generating money for causes you define.

Search Kindly “hosts” Google search on its home page. Go there and search the web with Google, and as you do, money made from advertisements featured on searchkindly.com goes to charities you identify.

As a non-profit itself, Search Kindly donates all of the money it makes through advertising to its customers’ causes. The more you use it, the more money you generate for your charity.

Similarly, there is Good Search, www.goodsearch.com. Like Search Kindly, Good Search allows you to identify a charity or school you would like to support with your web surfing. It is powered by Yahoo. On Search Kindly you can add multiple organizations, and you can make either your home page. Good Search features more than 72,000 recognized and approved non-profits, but can only name one organization at a time.

E-mail with a purpose. Even though instant messaging and texting are threatening to kill E-mail, a good many people still prefer to keep in contact this way. So why not save the planet while you exchange bon mots with friends?

Planet Save, www.planetsave. com, is a blog featuring green news and commentary. It also features a free web mail account that works as well as Hotmail or Yahoo — only with not nearly as much spam. The benefit of using Planet Save is that the site’s sponsors donate to preserve rain forest and animal habitats every time you send mail.

If you would rather use your E-mail for a different cause, you can also sign up for Breast Cancer Mail at www.breastcancermail.com, or at the Care2 Network.

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