3.6 - just a number? You may suspect an interest rate or price, yet it's much more important. Every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger, and a huge amount of the 24,000 daily deaths are children under five years old. Yet there's a way to feed them which won't cost you a penny; it's called The Hunger Site.
Click through to www.thehungersite.com and amid a pile of banners you'll see an orange button in the middle of the site's front page. The emblazoned message is 'Click here to give - it's free!' Do so and a cup of a staple foodstuff is bought for someone, somewhere, who is hungry.
The logic behind this site is brilliant. It's a win-win-win situation for the starving, the internet user, and the sponsors: in practical terms they receive cost-effective, feelgood public relations, especially powerful in helping promote ethical brands.
Where does the food go?
The Hunger Site is a US-driven site, so while two-thirds of the donations go to alleviating hunger in the developing world, one third helps those within the US. Yet clicks from anywhere in the world count (the UK is the second-biggest clicker).
The food is distributed by Mercy Corps, a large US charity which provides aid in 45 countries including Ethiopia, Guatemala, Somalia and Kosovo; Feeding America, which helps support the homeless, the elderly, disaster victims and many more groups in the US; and Millennium Promise, which works on sustainable farming projects in Africa.
How much food is given?
In the year 2000 The Hunger Site paid for over 9,500 tons of food to be distributed, enough to feed nearly 400,000 people daily.
Sadly management issues and a drop in advertising rates meant donations plummeted. It had picked up by the end of 2008, as 3,800 tons of food were delivered - enough for over 160,000 people and over 10 million more cups than in 2007. However, in 2011, this fell slightly to 2,999 tons, but that was still enough for 52.8 million cups of food through visitor clicks alone.
How it really works
The Hunger Site is a very clever idea. In effect it's an advertising site where much of the profit is distributed to charity. Though, in actual fact, the organisation behind the site these days, GreaterGood, isn't a charity - it's a profit-making company.
It makes its money by selling merchandise on the back of the site itself. However, crucially all the charity click money goes to feed the starving. And as you don't need to buy anything and the charities themselves confirm they get the cash, who cares?
When we asked The Hunger Site how it works, it told us:
"When a visitor clicks the yellow button at The Hunger Site, the equivalent cash value of 1.1 cups of food is donated to The Hunger Site's charity partners by GreaterGood. Every unique daily click is counted and visitors do not have to click through on other ads, nor do any other action on the website, to make this donation.
"The 'Click Here To Give' donation is free for the visitor to The Hunger Site and is underwritten by sponsoring advertisements. 100% of the "click donation" for the yellow "Click Here To Give" button goes to charities listed as partners of The Hunger Site."
Each click generates about 1p. If you want to donate more to charity, you can of course give money yourself. Yet rather than just handing over the cash, check out the Charity Giving guide to find out how to maximise your donations by using Gift Aid and Payroll Giving.
Is it worth it?
Taking time to click really helps, especially if you do it daily. The Hunger Site offers an email daily prompt reminder service (signing up to it also gives an additional two cups of food).
You can see how many clicks have been made in total each day and month by seeing its results page.
Do any other sites do it?
The Hunger Site launched in 1999 and its parent company has set up a number of sister sites to help support a range of worthy causes, including breast cancer treatment, child health, literacy, the rainforests and animal rescue. These all help in a similar way.
Better still, when you link through to one of these sites, they are all connected to each other. So you can run through clicking them all together if you chose.
Instead of clicking, play a game
There's also a great website that raises funds for charity by getting its sponsors to make a rice donation for every user it gets - but you've got to play a game to earn it.
Simply click on FreeRice.com and a word will be displayed with four possible definitions.
All you need to do is guess the correct definition and for every word you get right, 10 grains of rice will be donated to the World Food Programme. Plus it's also now possible to change the quiz category, including famous paintings, chemistry symbols and more. So if your vocab isn't up to scratch but you're a maths whizz, just change the subject to help you donate faster.
This site is really quite wonderful as you can easily clock up a few thousand grains of rice in 20 minutes - enough to feed a person for several days - depending on how good you are (and how addictive you find it). Plus there's no limit to how much rice you can tot up per day.
It happens in the UK too, make sure you keep up to date
The 'click and give' model has also worked in the UK too, though there has never been a permanent deal available. Previously the charities Whizz-Kids, the National Society for Epilepsy and Water Aid have all benefitted.
Donate £1 to save rainforest the size of Wales
Click 'Like' on the Size of Wales website's Facebook button and it'll donate £1 towards helping rainforest protection projects, up to its limit of 10,000 'likes'.