By Todd Cohen
Philanthropy portal networkforgood.org posted steady traffic and generated steady online giving and volunteer-matching in its first year of operation, and its organizers plan to revamp its site and strengthen its content.
The site also has helped spawn touchdc.org, a local portal in Washington, D.C., that could serve as a model for other communities.
“The emphasis for us is going to be on usability and clear paths and useful content for both sides of the equation, donors and volunteers as well as nonprofit practitioners,” says Ken Weber, acting president and chief operating officer of Network for Good, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco that operates the portal.
From its launch Nov. 19, 2001, the site attracted 3.2 million unique visitors through Sept. 30, 2002, and generated $12.3 million in donations, Weber says.
That included just over 3 million unique visitors and $10 million in donations in the first nine months of 2002.
That compares to an estimated $3.5 million raised online in 2001 through helping.org, a now defunct site created by the AOL Time Warner Foundation, which later teamed up with Yahoo! and Cisco Systems to create Network for Good.
helping.org officials estimated that the site helped raise another $16.5 million in response to the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.
Networkforgood.org also matched nearly 60,000 volunteers with nonprofits in the first nine months of 2002.
Weber says a growing share of the site’s traffic and activity is being generated from other sites that use its donation and volunteer-matching tools.
New content for the site will focus on information and resources to help nonprofits improve their ability to generate support online.
And he says Network for Good is talking with AOL Time Warner divisions about integrating into their content its channels for giving and volunteering.
“I think the expectation in the sector among practitioners and stakeholders is that one of the ways we will drive new and more resources to nonprofits is through out foundation partners’ media reach,” he says.
To boost activity during the end-of-year holiday season in 2002, the site added several features, including “gift baskets,” each consisting of a handful of nonprofits that donors could support, “wish lists” that visitors could create and encourage friends to support, and “calculators” to help visitors decide how much they could afford to donate.