Disaster relief organizations disappointed by the unfulfilled potential of the Internet may get some help in bringing donors to their sites when the Relief Interactive crises-related Web page goes live at the end of March.
REACT will be a “bridge between the Internet media, the relief organizations and Internet news readers,” said Brady P. Brown, who founded REACT in June 1999.
Readers who click on the REACT button on the bottom of news articles will go to a centralized site where they will find a comprehensive list of charities involved in relief efforts. The site will offer visitors additional information regarding the charities' efforts as well as the opportunity to make online donations. They also will be able to go directly to the charities' Web pages through a hyperlink on the REACT site.
Disaster relief organizations have a good reason to look for new ways to bring donors to their sites: Online donations have been flat over the past two years.
Mercy-USA established online donation capability in May 1999 and collected $40,000 during that year in online donations as well as an additional $55,000 in checks sent by site visitors.
During the following year the Internet generated $85,000 in donations, including $64,000 in online transactions and an additional $21,000 in checks sent by Web site visitors. Since the beginning of this year, the Web has generated only $45,000, said Mercy-USA president Umar al-Qadi, despite major earthquakes in El Salvador and India.
Several organizations, including Mercy-USA and American Jewish World Services, have come on board, but Brown needs more partners. He also needs news agencies whose articles will bring visitors to his site and a corporate sponsor to host the site, which is currently hosted by his Web designer, Ventera Inc.