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Community fund turns to Web

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By Todd Cohen

Wanting to move beyond grantmaking tied to paper and manual labor, the Phoenix-based Arizona Community Foundation invested $1 million over three years to create a one-stop online shop to link donors and nonprofits.

The software tool, for which the $325 million-asset foundation hopes to recoup costs by enrolling other community foundations as subscribers, lets a nonprofit create a “storefront” showcasing its history, mission and funding needs. Nonprofits also can submit online funding requests.

Using a password-protected part of its tool at azfoundation.org, known as “dot.che,” donors with funds at the foundation can review their fund statements and make online grant recommendations.

And any visitor can search for nonprofits to support, and make online donations using a credit card number.

“It’s bringing people together who had a hard time finding each other in the past,” said Sandy Doubleday, vice president for marketing and communications.

The foundation uses the site to review grant requests and make grant decisions, makes it available to other funding organizations for their grantmaking.

Developed by ephibian, a tech firm in Tucson, Ariz., the site also features breaking news.

Last summer, for example, the foundation posted news about fires ravaging the state, along with information about contributing to relief efforts. Among responses the news elicited was a $700 contribution from students at a Massachusetts high school.

The foundation plans to create separate Web pages for each of its 11 affiliates, and is marketing the tool to other community foundations.

The first subscriber, the Triangle Community Foundation in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, has launched its own version of the tool at its Web site.

ephibian’s software, based on the Linux operating system, was one of six finalists in the “best open source project” category at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo’s Awards for Excellence Jan. 22 in New York.

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