eBay GroupGifts helps friends and family chip in on gifts

Coming together with a group of people to buy a group gift should be an easy and straightforward task, but ask anyone who has been in charge of a group gift and you'll learn that it is anything but. eBay GroupGifts is a new tool that the auction website hopes will make it easier for friends, family and co-workers to come together in communal giving.

The new GroupGift tool allows the gift giver to select a recipient, occasion and a Buy It Now item from eBay, and with a few clicks invite a group of people to chip in on the gift. eBay GroupGifts is free to use, and while the organizer needs a PayPal address, contributors don't need an account. When it comes to inviting others you can use Facebook, connect to your address book in many popular e-mail services, or manually enter e-mail addresses.

When other people chip in the money will be collected and if the goal is reached the money will be deposited in your PayPal account so that you can purchase the gift, and if needed, have it shipped to the recipient. Everyone who contributes can add a short message for the gift recipient, which will be delivered to you in an e-mail when the gift is funded. If collections come up short the organizer can fund the rest, extend the date and ask for more gifts, select a cheaper item or cancel the gift and refund all contributions.

Since you are dealing with eBay the items you choose may end before the money is collected, or someone else may choose to Buy It Now. If this happens you can choose a similar item for the recipient, search for a different gift or cancel the gift and refund contributions. eBay GroupGifts is OK for most most consumer electronics and many other items, but if you are purchasing a unique item you'll be better off buying right away and collecting the money after.

While the eBay GroupGifts service is a neat way to band together with a group for gift giving it isn't the first tool that enables you to do so. And depending on what you're looking for it might not be the best.

Best Buy Pitch In card allows a group to easily contribute to a single gift card which the gift recipient can use to pick out his or her own gift at Best Buy. The Pitch In program at Best Buy is free. Another method is to use a service like WePay, which is dedicated to collecting money from a group, the only downside being that WePay charges a small fee on each transaction to process the payment.
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