For some gift-giving occasions, it's more fun to get together with a group and kick in for one big gift to someone. Trouble is, collecting all the money is a big pain. ChipIn can help.
ChipIn is a free, web-based service that tells people you're collecting cash for an event or occasion and gives them a way to contribute to your fund via Paypal and track how much the group is accumulating.
It's super easy to set up an account at ChipIn — all the service needs is the Paypal address (but no login information) of where you want the money sent. Contributors can tell at a glance how much money has already been given, and how close the group is to meeting its goal (if you specified one). ChipIn also keeps track of who's kicked in money already and who hasn't, so you'll know who to thank when the event is over. There are no fees to use ChipIn, but Paypal might charge withdrawal or deposit fees to the account holder, so be sure to check out the details before you start accepting money.
ChipIn is a more transparent way to collect money from groups instead of asking folks to just blindly send money to someone's Paypal account. On the other hand, there's really no way to prevent someone from running off with collected funds, and ChipIn won't help you out if it happens. That said, ChipIn makes a lot of sense for families or connected groups to collect money without a lot of hassle.
What are your thoughts on services like ChipIn? Do you think they're safe to use, or do you rely on other means to collect money from groups? Let us know in the comments.