How to avoid disaster-related Internet scams

In every disaster scammers see an opportunity, and the crisis in Japan is no exception. Already there have been fake Red Cross e-mails circulating and there will no doubt be more scams coming.

Those e-mails appear to come from the British Red Cross. They provide some news on the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and urge people to donate to a Yahoo e-mail address on a Moneybookers account, a money transfer service that enables recipients to remain anonymous, according to App River, an e-mail hosting and security services provider.

However, real charities have e-mail addresses with their own domain and … Read more

Gates Foundation makes first equity investment

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the nonprofit fund created by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, has made its first equity investment in a for-profit company: Inigral, a start-up that makes Facebook applications for educational institutions that want to "get your students engaged, from the point of admission through graduation." It's pitched toward schools that have problems with high dropout rates.

The Gates Foundation led the $4 million funding round, contributing $2 million. Retro Venture Partners contributed $1 million, as did the Founders Fund, a venture firm that counts early Facebook investor Peter Thiel and former … Read more

More iOS games on sale--and this time, it's charitable

'Tis the season to score iPhone, iPod, and iPad games on the cheap. First, Electronic Arts cut some 70 games to 99 cents each, a promotion that's likely to run through the holidays.

Next, Gameloft and Namco got in on the 99-cent act, as CNET's Joe Aimonetti reported earlier today.

Now, even indie developers are extending some 99-cent love, as evidenced by the Indie iPhone Holiday Sale. But in this case, there's more to it than just a price drop: the six participating developers plan to donate a third of the proceeds to charity.

The games on … Read more

Survey: Big charities have biggest Twitter power

One of the most talked-about uses for Twitter has been as a free marketing and outreach mouthpiece for nonprofits, particularly those with otherwise limited resources. But a new survey about the most "engaged" charity organizations and nonprofit foundations on Twitter--meaning how big a following a charity has as well as how much it interacts directly with followers and is talked about by other Twitter users--indicates that it's still big, powerful nonprofits that have the most muscle in social media.

The survey was conducted by Empire Avenue, a start-up that translates social-network activity and following into a "… Read more

Get a $220 software bundle for $19, help charity

I've got something special today. A few months back, I approached AppSumo (known for putting together great software and service bundles) about creating a package that would benefit charity.

They agreed, so I got to work rounding up some of my favorite programs, games, Web services, and so on. And I'm happy to share the result: The Windows Holiday Bundle for Charity. It has a combined value of $220, but a sale price of just $19.

For every bundle sold, AppSumo will give a full 40 percent of the proceeds to Charity:Water, which provides clean drinking water … Read more

Chrome for a Cause lets users donate by browsing

Google Chrome users can donate to charity through Sunday simply by downloading the Chrome for a Cause browser extension and surfing the Web.

The system counts the tabs while the user browses the Web. Google plans to donate money based on how many tabs are clicked on each day, up to a maximum of 250 tabs per day per user. It did not specify how much money it would donate per tabs clicked on, though it did say it will donate up to $1 million as part of this effort. The campaign ends on Sunday.

People can choose from five … Read more

Online charity becomes a personal appeal

They fall into your inbox like snowflakes: someone is turning 35 and asking for $35 donations to a conservation charity through a Facebook app. Another person has entered a triathlon and has pledged to raise money online for medical research. Or, this time of year, perhaps you see requests for holiday donations that will support inner-city classrooms in need.

Or perhaps you've "donated a birthday" yourself. Just about every nonprofit these days has a Facebook page, an arsenal of online donation tools, and probably a Twitter account too--and for digitally forward charities, that's no longer enough, … Read more

Chevy auctions off Volt for Detroit school programs

You have a chance to bid on the first production Volt available to the masses. General Motors has put the first Volt off the assembly line up for auction. The electric vehicle, with extended range, will have a MSRP of $41,000.

The car up for auction has a Viridian Joule exterior, light neutral interior with dark accents and loads of extras, including the premium trim package, rear camera and park assist package, and polished wheels. The auction also includes a 240-volt charging station and home installation (a $1,500 value).

How to bid for the car is as easy … Read more

Lady Gaga quits Facebook, Twitter for charity

Stars sometimes cause us vast moral dilemmas.

Should we support those stars who gyrate appallingly, but whose music we secretly love? Should we adore those stars whose songs we adore, but whose personal life seems a sewer of broken hearts and severed senses?

Now there is another parameter to this axis of complication.

Lady Gaga, she of the interesting designer fashions and music for gym clothes, is, along with other stars, quitting Facebook and Twitter.

There are those for whom this news might signify disaster on a worldwide scale. Lady Gaga, after all, has more than 7 million Twitter followers, … Read more

Third 'Mario Marathon' under way for charity

Gamers spending days straight in front of the couch is nothing new. Only in recent years, however, has it been put to good use in raising money for charity.

One such effort, called the "Mario Marathon" just kicked off its third-annual event on Friday, and will run through the weekend (or possibly longer). From a living room in Lafayette, Ind., Brian Brinegar, John Groth, and Chris Deckard plan to play through nine different games in Nintendo's Mario series, which span 809 levels; all with no stops in the action except to switch discs and cartridges.

As the … Read more