Web challenges nonprofits – To survive, some groups team up

With the exception mainly of some larger groups, nonprofits have been slow to embrace the Internet in the face of limited money, time, workers and know-how, The New York Times reports.

“Nonprofits have just started to understand the total cost,” Michael Gilbert, director of the Internet Nonprofit Center, told the Times.

Organizations like the American Red Cross, America’s Second Harvest and the World Wildlife Fund have made productive use of the Web to do their work and raise money, but others have a long way to go, the Times says.

Only a third of the 144 major agencies that work with Catholic Charities USA, for example, have Web sites. Catholic Charities is the largest private network of social service agencies in the U.S.

“It’s not where they spend a lot of their money,” Jo-Ann Leitch, a spokesman for the group, told the Times.

And despite successes by a few of the largest charities, most nonprofits are barely scratching the surface in online fundraising.

A survey by Independent Sector found last year that only 1 percent of the people who gave to charity said they used the Internet, the Times says.

Bigger groups have embraced the Web. The Red Cross, for example, plans to build an online system for its blood banks, and America’s Second Harvest is using the Internet to distribute food more efficiently to its national network of food banks.

And the World Wildlife Fund uses the Internet for its Conservation Action Network. Roughly 15,000 of its 1.2 million members receive alerts about news in their areas.

The Times reports that many donors, including foundations and corporations, favor giving directly to a charity’s mission, not to strengthening its use of technology.

As a result, the Times says, the desire to use technology raise money, create change or provide services may prompt nonprofits – traditionally reluctant to work together – to create alliances to pool their resources.

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