May 12, 2010; Source: ABC News | Online fundraising is getting more and more popular and also more and more crowded. But one site that has a chance to run away from the pack was launched this week by the actor Edward Norton, star of the Incredible Hulk, who came up with the idea last year after taking part in New York City’s marathon to raise money for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

Norton’s site, Crowdrise, lets people create their own pages to raise money for any cause or organization of their choice. Drawing on the same popularity of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook that let “people share their personal narrative,” Norton says Crowdrise gives users a “platform to say, these are the causes I care about, I am volunteering and sponsor me.” In addition to being free, Crowdrise offers users prizes and reward points based on the outcomes of their fundraising efforts.

Another reason the site may be attractive is the number of celebrities who are already on it promoting their favorite charities. Although Norton says he didn’t do any arm twisting, A-list names on Crowdrise and their campaigns include the actor Seth Rogen for Alzheimer’s, Will Ferrell for Cancer for College, and Russell Brand for the David Lynch Foundation. Neither Norton’s run last year nor this site, represent his first effort to support charitable causes.

In fact, a committed social and environmental activist, Norton is continuing a tradition of giving he learned from his grandfather and father. A real estate developer, his grandfather created the Enterprise Foundation that develops affordable housing in low-income areas and his father, a former federal prosecutor, is a conservation advocate. In addition to serving as an Enterprise Foundation trustee, Norton sits on other charities’ boards, including the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, which he ran for last year, and Friends of the High Line, which supports a public park in New York City. Here’s hoping Crowdrise is a runaway success.—Bruce Trachtenberg