Online charity market

Aidmatrix building web-based Global Relief Exchange.

By Todd Cohen

Aidmatrix in Dallas is rolling out an online Global Relief Exchange to manage in-kind donations for hunger relief, disaster relief, medical and health relief, and general humanitarian aid.

Building on the nonprofit’s existing online-donation tools, the exchange serves both donor organizations and nonprofits that need donations, and also includes a set of tools to serve donors.

Donor organizations can use the exchange to post items they are donating and to make donations to help meet needs posted by nonprofits, while nonprofits can accept items posted for donation, and list items they need.

“We open the lines of communication between donors and nonprofit organizations so that donors can see the actual needs of the nonprofits and make their donations accordingly,” said Margaret Gardner, vice president for marketing.

“It makes it more of a ‘pull’ environment, where the nonprofits can request what they need,” she said, “rather than a ‘push’ environment, where the donor makes a blind donation and the nonprofits is faced with consuming the donations that are giving, without necessarily being needed.”

In the wake of 9/11, she said, $75 million worth of donated goods went unused “because they were items that just weren’t needed.”

Launched in October 2000 with a donation of supply-chain-management software from Dallas-based i2 Technologies, Aidmatrix has delivered more than 246 million pounds of food that provided 196 million meals to people in the United States who are hungry, said Gardner.

And an online Virtual Aid Drive tool the nonprofit created in 2002 for the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas has raised nearly $400,000 for more than 100 organizations, she said, including more than $78,000 in August from employees at 32 sites throughout the United States of Chicago-based Accenture who made donations to more than 150 food banks that are affiliates of America’s Second Harvest.

Aidmatrix, which processes those online donations and charges a fee equal to 7 percent of what nonprofits raise, focuses on internet technology that “increases efficiency and reduces waste” in the delivery of humanitarian aid, Gardner said.

“We want to try to get the right aid to the right people at the right time,” she said.

Now, with a $1 million donation over two years from Accenture, which also is donating a broad range of training and other services, Aidmatrix is launching its Global Relief Exchange, which also is supported by grants from the Simmons Foundation and Meadows Foundation, both in Dallas, and from private donors.

The exchange, for example, includes a donation-management tool that already has been used to deliver more than 800 color printers donated by an anonymous corporation, and 50,000 units of cough medicine, also from an anonymous donor, Gardner said.

That tool also includes a “Value Calculator” that donors can use to determine the value of donating items rather than keeping them in storage or discarding them, and soon will include a “Surplus Inventory Analyzer” that will let corporations determine what in their inventory to donate, and when, and to calculate the value of those donations.

It also includes a disaster-relief tool Aidmatrix has developed in partnership with National Voluntary Organizations Assisting in Disasters in Alexandria, Va., and soon will include a tool for donating and allocating medical and health products.

“We just need more organizations, both donors and nonprofits, who want to be involved in the exchange and become partners with Aidmatrix,” Gardner said.

Any partner can set up its own exchange using Aidmatrix’ tools, and decide who will have access to that exchange.

“Our goal is not to change everything the nonprofit or donor does, but to help them to find ways to do it better.”

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