A Giving Business Model

Asking for money ain't easy....

And anyone who has ever tried raising funds for charity will say the same. Whether it's $5 or $500 - it takes great time and energy to raise money for the most worthwhile of causes.

Giveness, a company that was first established in October 2006, overcomes this barrier by enabling users to make purchases online at Giveness.com for everyday items, while concurrently donating to the charity of their choice - without any added cost to them. Buyers can shop, buy, and give creating a win-win (and win!) situation for the merchant, the nonprofit and the supporter.

Waldvogel and Werling, the Founders of
Giveness, formed a sub-affiliate network partnership with both eBay and Amazon.com to enable this model to work. They have also developed relationships with over 30 major retailers (including Gap, Apple Store and Macy's), and when online shoppers make their purchase from any one of them through the Giveness site, a percentage - anywhere from 4 to 30 % - goes to one of the nonprofits registered with the site - as pre-selected by the purchaser before they made the purchase.

There's no membership fee or registration required for purchasers, and
Giveness also provides an online community where users can engage with message boards, and post photos and other information about themselves. Nonprofits and individuals can register for this community, which currently hosts over 500 members.

Nonprofits interested in registering are carefully screened, and so far 164 charities and nonprofits have signed up.

Spreading the Word with Widgets
Nonprofits and individual members of the online Giveness community can take advantage of Flash-based "widgets" on the site. The Fundraising Widget Application allows nonprofits to create their own widget to post on their own web page (or Facebook profile, blog, etc). The widget makes it easy for site visitors to shop and benefit their organization directly. The widget can even feature content (ie/ product recommendations) that suit the nonprofit organization's mission and interests.

Giveness.com won 2nd place in the Philanthropy category of the seomoz.org 2008 Web 2.0 awards, and I can see why. The website makes great use of web 2.0 concepts, and are the depiction of a well-designed, friendly, usable site. When I made a selection to shop at a store through the site, the first thing I was asked for was the charity I'd like to donate to. I selected one randomly and immediately received a 'Thank You' message on the screen, before it moved me through to the store.

The quasi-personalization the site is enabled to perform continues to build a relationship with the user. After my first 'purchase', every time I visit pages on
Giveness.com it recognizes me and it the top right, there it is again "Thank you for supporting...".

I'm always keen on learning of sites like this that are out there - of nonprofits who are using the power and efficiencies of the web to do things better. Because as we all know, fundraising ain't easy.

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