In Pictures: Give Like An Entrepreneur (click to see)
For decades, only the largest givers made extensive use of networking, highly targeted giving and specialized volunteer efforts. Now, those three tools are in the hands of almost everyone with altruistic leanings, thanks to proliferating Web sites like Donorschoose.org and Network for Good. Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, and his wife are tapping into this momentum. Their private foundation, the Case Foundation, is hosting a competition in which users of the Causes application on Facebook and readers of Parade magazine can compete to win between $250,000 and $500,000 for their favorite charities. "This is the year of the 'wired fund-raiser,' " says Bill Strathman, executive director of Network for Good, the independent nonprofit Web site founded by America Online, Cisco Systems and Yahoo! that connects charities, donors and volunteers. According a survey the group sponsored, 75% of individuals say they give to charity because friends and family ask them.
"People can now use the Internet to fund-raise, something that's much harder to do in person," Strathman says. "By hiding beyond the Internet, people can also donate on their own terms." Actor Kevin Bacon, known for his six degrees of separation from nearly everyone in entertainment, has tapped into the zeitgeist and worked with Network for Good to set up Six Degrees, a Web site where individuals can set up accounts to ask friends and family to contribute to designated, licensed U.S. charities. Another Web site, Chipin.com, allows users to solicit money for a specific cause and use PayPal to collect the funds. Online donations are growing. Network for Good.org says its donations are up 50% from last year. It expects to raise $20 million during December, a month responsible for 40% of the year's donations. According to ePhilanthropy Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit research and education organization, online giving has increased to more than $4.5 billion in 2005 from $250 million in 2000. While online networking has become a key component to fund raising, many people are also using a variety of Web sites to find specific causes and even recipients for their charitable giving. More than 58% of high net worth individuals say they would give more to charity if they could determine their gift's impact, according to a 2006 survey of more than 1,000 people earning more than $200,000 a year that was conducted by Banc of America and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. "The most significant trend we've seen is the increasing desire of donors to know where their money is going and how it's used," says Donna Callejon, chief operating officer of Globalgiving.org, a Washington-based international marketplace for charitable giving. Through Global Giving, individuals can target contributions to specific projects--for example, water systems or schools in different areas of the world. Callejon says all donors receive regular progress reports for their donations.