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Student’s shopping website to rake in huge cash sums for charity

* 6 February 2004 *

Studentís shopping website to rake in huge cash sums for charity

A University of Sussex student has come up with an enterprising scheme in which browsing shoppers can help to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

Jonny Platt, 20, a development studies and politics student, has set up a shopping website - - for bargain hunters, directing them to big-name stores through online links and earning advertising commission from those stores, which he donates to worthy causes.

Commission can range from five to as much as 20 per cent on a sale, compared to the half a per cent that shoppers with charity credit cards donate with each transaction. Jonny donates 92 per cent of what he makes to charity, with the remaining eight per cent going towards running costs.

Jonny, a first-year student, set up the site last August and recorded up to 300 visitors per day in the first few weeks. Now the site gets up to 4,500 visitors per day and Jonny is about to present his first donation, of £1,200, to Marie Stopes International, to provide Aids treatment and education in developing countries.

Jonny is passionate about the poverty and inequality affecting developing countries, an interest inspired by a gap-year trip to India. It resulted in him applying to Sussex to do a degree in development studies - which looks at issues affecting developing countries - after hearing about the course from a Sussex student he met on his travels, but he felt the need to do something more.

"When I was travelling and seeing how little people have, I decided I needed to do something," says Jonny. "When I got back I was really aware of how much people spent on consumer stuff, and that got me thinking that there must be a way of shopping that could help balance the inequality. I started looking at how people shop in the Internet. In November 2002, £1.2 billion was spent by online shoppers. If I could get just one per cent of that, I would make on average about half a million in a month for charity."

Famous brands already featured on the GiveAsYouGet site include Amazon, Allders, Argos, Boots, Currys, Debenhams, Dell, Heal's, John Lewis, Littlewoods, MVC, Past Times, PC World, WHSmiths and Woolworth's, alongside many lesser-known, high-quality merchants. There is a range of more than four million products available, from the conventional (electrical items, books and CDs, clothes, food, wine and jewellery) to the more bizarre, such as toothpaste and trips in hot-air balloons.

Jonny now wants to develop the website further so that visitors can compare prices for various goods and keep up to date with news and features.

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