June 19, 2010; Source: Mercurynews.com | Ever since the birth of the Internet, people have been trying to find ways to use it as a profitable tool to fund-raise for charities. And even though the slice of the giving pie attributed to online fund-raising is tiny—some estimates are as low as one percent of annual donations—hope springs eternal.
Among those leading current charges to turn the Internet into a philanthropic gusher by finding even more creative uses for the Web are Howard Bornstein and Paul Weinstein, founders of myphilanthropeida.org and allthis.com, respectively. Weinstein’s allthis.com is, according to the Mercury News, “a kind of eBay for charity.” At allthis.com, benefactors list unusual services for auction, with the proceeds going to the charity of their choice. Bidding opportunities include an offer from comedian Ben Stiller to record your phone’s voice mail greeting, to a dinner date with former Playboy model Christina DeRosa.
Weinstein believes the eclectic nature of the services offered at his site appeal to especially well-heeled people who can afford to be more generous givers. “It’s really new money, that’s never existed before, going to a good cause,” said Weinstein, who has a history of backing several successful business startups.
On the other hand, myphilanthropeida.org takes a kind of mutual fund approach to charitable giving. According to the Mercury News, givers “bundle” their donations, which are allocated to best-of-class charities based on expert rankings. “We believe people should choose a cause with their hearts,” said Deyan Vitanov, “but we want them to pick organizations with their minds.” In the end, all these and other new Web-based ventures all net out to finding people with money to give and making it easier—and perhaps—more rewarding for them, however they measure their personal satisfaction. It’s anyone’s guess what the attractiveness or shelf life of any of these ideas will be.—Bruce Trachtenberg