The value of charity donations given through online auction website eBay has tripled in the past year, new figures show.
Donations from eBay sellers in the UK have soared from £40,000 a month to £120,000 a month in the year to April, according to analysis from MissionFish, eBay's charity partner, which works to increase fundraising through the site.
Charities have raised more than £2.25m on eBay through all fundraising methods since the beginning of 2009, compared with £1.34m in the same period in 2008.
This includes donations from buyers, which have totalled about £100,000 a month, and proceeds from charities' own sales, which have stood at between £250,000 and £300,000 a month in 2009 so far.
A new feature on eBay that allows buyers to make a donation to charity when they pay for an item has raised an additional £700,000, including £100,000 for Comic Relief, since it was launched in November.
Nick Aldridge, chief executive of MissionFish, said allowing users to give small amounts as part of their everyday activity was working well during the recession, and that the average gift was around £4.50. "One of the reasons why this is proving popular is because it's just a small donation and it's a bit less scary than signing a direct debit form in the street," he said.
MissionFish and eBay have also made efforts to simplify ways of giving. Since last summer, sellers have been able to donate a proportion of their proceeds directly from their eBay accounts instead of having to visit the MissionFish website.
"We've made the interface a lot simpler for users and redesigned the web presence," said Aldridge. "Before, it looked a little complicated and users had to go through various screens that were quite unnecessary."
Nick Butt, head of cause-related marketplaces at eBay EU, said: "The changes we've made to the marketplace and interface are reaping rewards for charities that use the programme."
The number of items on sale where the seller has pledged to make a donation has risen by 180 per cent since April 2008, and stands at around 80,000 a month.
Special auctions run by charities are also increasing in popularity. Children in Need has raised £500,000 using this method.
£2.25m - The amount raised on eBay since the start of 2009