Coupon site helps consumers, charities

There are plenty of coupon sites on the Internet, but one of the latest to go up lets users pick charities that the Web site will give money for printing its coupons.

CommonKindness has a stimulus plan of its own by donating 60% of its profits to charities and causes selected by people who visit the site and clip coupons. The site went live this month.

A recession is a perfect time to launch a coupon Web site, as more people look for ways to save money, said Calandra Cruickshank, president of CommonKindness and one of two moms who started the site.

"Everybody's watching their pennies and trying to figure out how to make a dollar last longer," Cruickshank said in a telephone interview from Big Indian, N.Y.

"Consumers really want to give back. They want to support their local nonprofit," she said.

The site works relatively easy after a customer creates a login, although a login isn't needed to print the hundreds of grocery store coupons. Being a member does, however, make it possible to choose which nonprofit organizations you want your money being donated to through an advertising fee that companies pay to CommonKindness.

"I can't give back to all of the groups that I care about" with direct donations, so CommonKindness is an easy way to donate to as many charities as you want, said Dana Valdez, vice president of nonprofit outreach for the site.

Charities can create microsites at CommonKindness, giving them an easy way to communicate with members. The microsites can be created by small, local nonprofits, which I found interesting for fund-raisers that a nonprofit preschool may have, for example, to raise money for new playground equipment.

Charities can submit their information to the site to be approved for donations, providing another way for people to donate without having to open a checkbook.

"It's a great way to have an additional stream of money without having to give your time or money," Valdez said.

Once a coupon is printed, the for-profit CommonKindness then makes the donation. The coupon doesn't have to be used, just printed, which might give some charity leaders with a lot of ink for their printers some unethical ideas for making money.

The site can save shoppers an average $1,300 a year on more than 3,500 brand discounts while helping more than 1 million charities, Cruickshank said.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at
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