Yoo Ji-nyeon, an insurance planner for Prudential Life Insurance, posted an online petition on Daum, Koreas top Internet community portal site, asking for help to take care of a 33-month-old baby suffering from a congenital biliary atresia.
She said the baby needs a liver transplant but the parents are short of the needed seven million won (5,542 U.S. dollars).
The babys parents have been Yoos client since 2005. Upon hearing of their plight, Yoo started looking for donations. As of yesterday, Internet users donated 6.66 million won and Daum agreed to cover the remaining amount.
Kim Dae-hwan, who works at the state-run Korea Rural Community Corp.s branch in the Gimhae-Yangsan area in South Gyeongsang Province, was recently selected the biggest donor on Happy Bean, a charity community on the Internet portal Naver. He made 663 donations between 2005 and last year.
I try to donate 1,000 won (79 cents) a day, he said. I believe life is about sharing and service.
○ Internet donations rise steadily
Online donations have grown more active. The term donetizen, a combination of donation and netizen, has been coined. Naver, Daum and other major portal sites now operate donation sites.
The number of donors in Navers Happy Bean rose from around 300,000 in 2006 to 830,000 last year. The figure broke one million this month.
The amount of money donated also surged from 1.6 billion won in 2006 to five billion won last year. This month, the amount has reached 2.2 billion won and keeps rising.
Donations through Daum also rose from 118.85 million won in the first half of last year to 393.51 million won in the latter half. Over the first four months this year, the volume of donations made on Daum reached 123.74 million won.
Web users taking the initiative have led to the rise in online donations.
A fundraising campaign can be held after a users petition receives 500 recommendations from other users, a Daum source said. As the campaigns are voluntarily held by Internet users rather than welfare organizations, they raise more money.
○ Welfare groups join bandwagon
An increasing number of welfare organizations have joined the bandwagon, opening their own Web sites for donations or joining hands with Web portal operators.
Make-A-Wish Korea raised more than 20 million won over one month through a joint online donation campaign with Daum for a 13-year-old boy with muscular dystrophy. His story was reported by The Dong-A Ilbo.
Good Neighbors, a relief group for children in need, opened a donation portal (www.givestart.org) May 1.
Online donations have grown very rapidly in Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, a Good Neighbors source said. Members who pledged monthly donations through our Internet site increased 2.5 percent year-on-year in 2006, 14.7 percent in 2007, and 88 percent last year.