Apr 2, 2009

Web 2.0: Fundraising on the Internet

There are a number of different web-based tools for raising money -- many of them specifically designed for organizations or groups with a particular cause. Here are a few that we know about.


People come up with great ideas every day all across the country. At IdeaBlob, eligible individuals can submit their ideas, and based on votes from the ideablob.com online community – which includes other innovators as well as friends, family, colleagues, associates, teachers and mentors –one idea every month will win $10,000. Examples of recent ideas: "Holistic Neighborhood Tea Cafe, " Youth Civics 2.0: Social Media for Civic Innovation," and "Community Health Radio Program." Basically, if you can mobilize a whole network of people to vote for your idea, the idea with the most votes wins the money.

GlobalGiving is an online marketplace that connects donors to the causes and countries they care about. Donors select the projects they want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution, and get regular progress updates - so they can see their impact. Individuals and organizations needing the support can list their projects on the site. These locally-run projects have immediate access to funds they might not otherwise have had. Donors can search by country or by topic area -- and organizations can direct their donors to their project listing.

Hope Equity is a program of Heifer Foundation that enables individuals, groups or organizations to invest in long-term sustainable giving. These individuals can create "micro-endowments" and then encourage their families, friends, and colleagues to donate. The principal (i.e., your donation) on the endowments is never touched. It is invested and each year a percentage, which is currently set at 5.5%, is made available to the organizations supported through Hope Equity. However, some years the country program or non-profit organization may choose not to pull from their endowments, allowing them to grow until a time when the funds are most needed. Any registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission that falls under the broad category of ending hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth can apply for a grant through Hope Equity.

If you have a profile on Facebook, you can start or join a "Cause" and broadcast your mission to your networks on Facebook. People can show support for your cause, join the group, and give money online.

At last year's Net Impact conference, some of the founders of these tools sat down for a discussion on how Web 2.0 can be utilized to advance social causes (profitable or otherwise). One theme of that conversation was that any electronic tool is helpful only to the extent that the human-to-human relationship is already in place. In other words, a web tool will not serve well as a replacement for human contact, but it's helpful once that contact has already been made.
We'd be curious to hear if anybody has used these tools before and whether you've successfully raised funds. It seems like any number of social service projects with reentrants or their families would be good idea candidates there. If you have been successful with online fundraising, what has contributed to your success?