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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nonprofit wishlist?

I have an Amazon wishlist, but it doesn't allow me to add donations to nonprofits. In fact, I haven't found a site where I can make a list to send to my family that shows things I want and nonprofits I want to support. Froogle has a wishlist feature, and it has nonprofity schwag that shows up in online retailers, but that means the whole donation doesn't go to the cause, and they don't crawl the online stores of lots of things I support like Creative Commons and EFF.

I ran across Changing the Present today, and it's much closer to what I wanted, but the only things on their site are neatly packaged specific things. For instance, you can buy an OLPC laptop for a child in a third world country. The problem with this model is that you are restricting the ways in which the nonprofit you are donating to can use the money. In nonprofit circles, it's called a restricted grant. It's by far the most popular type of grant, and one of the least helpful to nonprofits. Nonprofits need unrestricted grants. They need to support their own operating costs and upgrade their equipment and do research and court funders. Buying a goat for a farmer in Bangladesh is great, but it doesn't allow the nonprofit providing the goat to stay open.

So, if someone sees (or if one of you hotshot developers reading my blog could make) a site where I can collect links to material stuff I want people to buy me and links to nonprofits I want people to make unrestricted grants to instead of buying me stuff, I would be very happy about it. (ow, the grammar of that sentence was painful)


Sarah, this doesn't totally solve your problem, but have you considered using Chip-In for your nonprofit wish list? You can easily and quickly create flash-based widgets that indicate the nonprofit you're collecting for and then people can use credit cards or PayPal to Chip In. You could create individual Chip Ins for each cause you want to support and then link to them.

I agree that a program that could pull it all together would be better, but this is at least a start . . .

By Michele, at 6:26 AM  

Hi, Sarah. I work for the company that is managing the website programming for ChangingThePresent.org, and I just ran across your post (a little late, I admit). As the website is in beta, we are constantly adding and updating features. I don't know if you were able to make an unrestricted donation when you visited ChangingThePresent, but you can now. We will also soon be able to add an unrestricted gift to your wishlist, but for now, I would recommend adding the nonprofit to your Favorites list, and directing your friends and family to that list to make an unrestricted donation. I hope this helps, and I am sure that the nonprofits appreciate your attention to their unrestricted gift needs.

By Anonymous, at 12:05 PM  

Wow that's great! Thanks, website manager for ChangingThePresent!

By Sarah Davies, at 12:40 PM  

Sarah, as someone who is trying to start her own nonprofit to go out and educate the families of our MIA;s and tell them the things they can to to help bring their loved ones home sooner. I am someone who learned first hand there were things my family could have done to late, we didn't know the things we could do until we were in the system. Our government found my uncle's plane crash 23 years ago and we are still waiting for burial. If we knew back then there were things we could have done to move up our time frame, that is what I intend to educate the other families on. We at least have an answer and they deserve the same but in a timely fashion, not what happened to my family. I understand your plight, I am looking from the other end for donors and can't resigester to get funding until all paperwork is done but need between $1000 and $2000 to get paperwork done, It is a catch 22. There has to be ways for nonprofits to get the help they need to do the work that has to be done

By Judy, at 7:51 AM  

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