GiveBar Lets Nonprofits Raise Money for Free

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OnGiving.com, Columbus, OH, last month launched a new Web-based fundraising tool called the GiveBar that allows consumers to raise funds for their favorite nonprofits without spending a penny and doing nothing more than using their PCs.


In less than a month, it has managed to bring on board more than 220 nonprofit organizations, a development that has translated into more than a couple thousand users. OnGiving.com hopes to have nearly 2,000 nonprofits sign up for the program by the end of the year.


Advertisers pay onGiving.com to display their ads on the GiveBar. For each minute the GiveBar is open, onGiving.com pays 85 percent of the advertising revenue directly to the nonprofit organization of the user's choice.


"What we have seen up to this point is mostly small- to mid-sized nonprofits sign up," said Dennis Bailey, president and founder of onGiving.com. "There have been a lot of universities like Texas Tech, Christian organizations and some larger ones like the American Lung Association Columbus Chapter sign up with us."


Another organization taking part is the Mississippi Nurses Foundation, Jackson, MS. It signed on early last month and is running the GiveBar program as a pilot test.


"I have to have approval from my board before we can go live with it and promote it to all of our members," said Charlotte Cockrell, the foundation's executive director. "The board meets in early June, and based on the numbers I have seen in less than a month with a minimal (number) of participants, I don't believe there will be a problem with them approving it."


The GiveBar is a free, downloadable tool that allows advertisers to run banner ads continuously with links back to their sites while users have their PC turned on. Similar to the Microsoft start bar, it sits at the bottom of the screen and starts up once users who have downloaded it start up their computers. Once users click on an ad, a Web browser opens and takes them directly to the site.


Twenty to 30 advertisers are taking part. Bailey describes them as small to mid-size Internet companies.


Users are allowed 40 hours each month. If they exceed the 40-hour limit, onGiving.com donates 85 percent of the advertising revenue to the nonprofit organizations that the advertisers designate. To ensure that users are actually using their PC, the GiveBar is designed to check that they have either clicked their mouse or used their keyboard every three minutes.


The bar also has windows for the nonprofit to put its logo, which serves as a link to its Web site; an e-mail indicator alerting users that the organization has sent a message; and a continually updated counter indicating how much has been raised. It has links to search engines and other popular sites as well.


Cockrell has about eight people using the GiveBar and has managed to raise more than $150 in less than three weeks. The funds raised through the program are unrestricted, which means they can be put directly into the operating fund, allowing groups to expand their services and programs, Cockrell said.


She also said the real benefit of the program is that it gives nurses who do not think they can afford to make any type of donation the ability to do so without cost.


The Mississippi Nurses Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the Mississippi Nurses Association, which has 2,000 members. It is Cockrell's goal to have at least 500 members using the GiveBar by the end of the year.


Cockrell said she also likes the program because all nonprofits can benefit from it and can take part without having to worry about going after one another's donors.


"I feel very comfortable and excited about telling other organizations about this program," Cockrell said. "This is also something that all nonprofit organizations can take part in and not feel like we are stepping on each others' toes or going after the same audiences."


The total amount of funds raised by the organization's users will be mailed to the nonprofit in the form of a check by the 15th of each month.


A user can choose to donate up to three nonprofits and can determine how to divide the funds among them. Instead of marketing it directly to consumers, onGiving.com has decided to market the GiveBar to nonprofits through direct mail, direct sales, radio and print ads in trade publications and at trade shows and conferences. OnGiving.com is asking the nonprofits to market it to their supporters by driving them to the onGiving.com Web site, where they can download the GiveBar. Users can choose the nonprofit they usually support or can choose from a list of more than 600,000 groups provided by onGiving.com.


One feature being developed, would allow users to make other donations directly to the nonprofit through the GiveBar, Bailey said.
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