Mar 132001
 

“To be the largest global community of people who care to help the environment and lead a healthier lifestyle. Our aim is to provide easy, innovative ways for individuals to make an impact in the world and in their lives through everyday use of the Internet.”

Thus reads the Care2 Mission Statement. The question is, are they actually on the way to accomplishing this. First, let’s look at the various activities/features on their homepage.

Features

Free Email

Care2 offers free web-based email at your choice of 6 different email addresses (@care2.com, @moose-mail.com, @snail-mail.net, @whale-mail.com, @wildmail.com, or @animail.com). This is your basic web-based email account with few frills.

If you’re primarily looking for an email account be sure to read the drawbacks section below for details.

Free Homepages

Care2 web pages are powered by Homestead. The address for your page will be something like http://world.care2.com/username/sitename.html

For more information on the Homestead see the relevant section here at Epinions.

Online Photo Albums

These allow you to upload your own photos to the Care2 website and group them into photo albums for others to view.

E-Cards

Email greeting cards were all the rage a couple years ago and Care2 offers a large selection of nature based E-cards that you can send to friends or family for free.

If you create online photo albums you can send E-cards with your own photos on them as well.

Screensavers

A half-dozen free screensavers are available for download (Windows versions only). All are cartoony images based on animal and nature themes.

Newsletters

There are hundreds of different newsletters offered at Care2. Most are created/sponsored by Care2, but many are provided by outside sources. It seems you can’t go anywhere on this site without being offered yet another newsletter that you can subscribe to.

Shopping

A full shopping portal is available similar to GreaterGood.com and 4charity.com.

Still More

There are also news stories, stock quotes, online polls, click-to-donate races, job searches, weather reports, educational info on environmental issues, a pretty pets contest, biorhythms, trivia, jokes, and tons of other features.

Charity

Care2’s motto is: “Care2 make the world greener!” They try to accomplish this by donating 10% of the revenue generated from the site to six different charities: Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Friends of the National Zoo.

Almost everything you do on the site (or sign-up for through the site) generates revenue for Care2 and 10% of this is supposed to be donated directly to these organizations.

Benefits

If you’re looking for a new portal site and want to project a ‘green’ image then Care2 may be just the place for you. They’ve got just about everything you could want on the internet available here. You can also customize your start page to include the information you find most important on a daily basis. Meanwhile, you’ll be generating funds to help support and defend the environment.

Drawbacks

Unfortunately, the drawbacks are many.

Email

The web-based email offered by Care2 is far from feature-rich. You can not set up your Care2 address to forward to your primary email address. There are no filtering options to weed out junk mail or have listserv messages directed to their own folder. You can’t check other POP3 accounts.

All of the links in their email module are proceeded by cute little paw marks. So the top of your compose screen has:

{paw}Send {paw}Attach {paw}Save {paw}Cancel

While cute, for some reason they made the paws the link and not the words! I frequently miss these targets when navigating through email here.

And worst of all, it’s slow! I sent myself a message from my Care2 acount to my care2 account and it took over 2 hours to arrive. A test message to my Yahoo account took over an hour to arrive. Messages sent from and to my yahoo account take less than a minute. This is horrendously slow.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Or rather too many good things. Care2 offers so many features that many of them are hard to find. I first visited the site to check out their shopping area, but it took more than 15 minutes to find the link!

Every page on the site is crammed with links to other areas, special offers, and not-so subtle advertising plugs. Many of the links are difficult to read on my 19″ monitor, so I can’t imagine what they’d be like on a 14″ or 17″.

Charity?

Care2 claims that 10% of all site revenue goes to the aforementioned charities. While this is preferrable to 10% of profit it is also unverifiable.

Besides, all of the features offered at Care2 are offered at other charity-based sites on the web that offer much larger donations to charities.

For example, when shopping via Care2 10% of the affiliate received by Care2 is donated. Since most online stores offer a 5%-10% affiliate fee, this means that 0.5%-1% of your purchase is going to the charity. 4charity.com donates the entire affiliate fee to the charity of your choice (including several of those supported here.

Conclusions

Care2 is a nice concept, but it doesn’t really work out in the end. Very little money is raised for the supported charities and navigating the site can be a huge hassle unto itself. Care2 would have been much better off creating seperate sites for their various offerings instead of going the portal route. It is as if they’ve started a hundred projects, but completed none.

If you want to help the environment your best bet is to write a check directly to your favorite organization and volunteer to help out at their next function. If you want to donate for “free” on the web, take a look at some of the other, better designed, charity sights (Epinions has a whole section on them).

It’s just not worth hacking through this electronic jungle on a daily basis to try to help save the real one.

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This review can also be found at epinions.com

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