Charity e-commerce site Filanthropists.com launches

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Filomena Laforgia, a mother of a son with autism, is creating an online shopping mall selling products that raise money for charities and nonprofits.

Laforgia first had the idea for the site, Filanthropists.com, after her son, Dean, was diagnosed in 2006 at age 3. Wanting to put her background in marketing and product development to use, she initially hoped to develop a product that could help autism-related charities. She soon discovered thousands of “cause products” for various non-profit organizations scattered around the Internet.

“Even if I created a product, I'm going to suffer like all the other products I saw,” said Laforgia, a former marketing manager at audio-book retailer Audible.com. “I might have a blip and people might look at it for a moment, but it doesn't really stick into anybody's mind where to find those products.”

Filanthropists.com -- a play on Laforgia's first name -- went online with a soft launch in mid-August, to allow time for organizations to sign up and post merchandise. She said she hopes to officially launch the site in mid-September.

The website's current roster of 18 merchants includes Autism Speaks, Broadway Cares, PETA and SAVE.org. Users can shop by product, cause or organization. Each product page includes a description of the benefiting group and states how much of the purchase price will be donated to the organization.

Web development company Hudson Horizons designed the site and its e-commerce capabilities.

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