A new Web site lets people donate to charity the money they would have spent on, say, that $44.50 Henley sweater from The Gap — or, better yet, the $250,000 his-and-hers ICON aircraft that Neiman Marcus is selling this year.

BRAC USA, the American arm of a Bangladeshi development and aid organization, started the site, www.whatididnotbuy.org, on Thursday.

“What we’re trying to do,” said Susan Davis, the president and chief executive of BRAC USA, “is emphasise how much you could help accomplish with an amount of money that you might otherwise spend on something you or someone else might not really want or need.”

As of midday Friday, 89 people had contributed roughly $500 using the site, forgoing items like a blender, champagne, power tools and a flat-screen television.

Lucy Bernholz, a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant, said she saw the new Web site as a reaction to the growth of embedded giving, in which companies promise to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of specific items. “Walgreens will no longer stand between me and my gift, which I like,” Bernholz said.

Churches often exhort their members to curtail consumption during the holidays and instead spend more on the needy, and the Dalio Family Foundation used to run advertisements that advocated charitable giving in lieu of holiday excess.

No paper card

Jennifer Buffett, president of the NoVo Foundation, one of BRAC’s biggest supporters, said the foundation, based in New York, had decided to use e-cards and donate the $350 it spent on paper cards last year to support three teachers in southern Sudan. The foundation’s seven-member staff also decided that instead of buying one another Secret Santa gift, they would put the money toward projects described on the new Web site.

“I’m so excited about the site,” Ms Buffett said, noting that it had inspired her to swear off taxis and use the money she would have spent to support nonprofit causes. “I’m going to tell all my friends about it.”

She said she had no idea what her father-in-law, Warren E. Buffett, who is known for his off-the-rack suits, might choose not to buy. — © 2009 The New York Times News Service

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