Good2Gether: A Web Widget That Connects Donors to Causes

2/25/08Follow @wroush

They say one good deed begets another. Apparently one good charity story also begets another.

The day after Rebecca published her piece last week on Givvy, the Framingham, MA, startup planning to offer online tools to help people track their charitable donations—and the very same day I wrote about Newton, MA, startup Jackpot Rewards, which plans to give away half of its profits to children’s charities—a public relations exec in New York wrote to tips@xconomy.com to let us know about yet another Boston-area company planning to use the power of the Web to orchestrate more effective fundraising for charities. This one is called Good2Gether. And it could prove to be the most powerful of the three, in terms of sheer ability to transform people’s charitable instincts into action.

The Cambridge, MA-based startup is constructing what you might call a “hyperlocal giving aggregator”—an advertising-supported, keyword-based widget designed to appear alongside news stories on the websites of major regional media organizations, where it displays information about local non-profit fundraising campaigns or volunteer opportunities related to each article.

Say you’re living in San Francisco and you’re reading a story in SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle’s regional Web portal, about a string of tornados striking somewhere in the Midwest. Good2Gether’s widget might give links to a local Red Cross chapter organizing a blood drive to help the victims, or to a local Humane Society chapter collecting money to help displaced pets, while at the same time showing an ad for State Farm insurance.

It’s one of those virtuous circles that the Internet is so good at completing: the non-profits get to make their pitch to a lot of readers, the newspaper website gets some ad revenue, and the advertisers get the glow of being associated with a humanitarian cause. The SFGate example is hypothetical—but the real system is scheduled to go live in eight major media markets this year, starting in Boston in April. (Good2Gether says it can’t yet reveal which Boston media outlet will run the widget, but the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle have already announced that they’ll participate.)

Gregory McHale, founder of Good2GetherGood2Gether is the brainchild of Gregory McHale, the former CEO of electronic-whiteboard maker Virtual Ink and also the founder of cMarket, a 50-employee Cambridge company that’s the main provider of infrastructure services for the online auctions that thousands of non-profit organizations around the country use these days to raise money. McHale told me that the idea for Good2Gether came from his conversations with cMarket’s users about their frustrations getting the word out about their fundraising and volunteer needs, especially to younger crowds.

“I was meeting with non-profits all the time and listening to them about all the money they have to spend on marketing to their current constituencies, and about their terror about the crew of millennials coming at them just over the horizon,” McHale says. “Millennials,” also known as Generation Y, are young people born between 1980 and 1995; raised on the Internet, these folks are proving unresponsive to the communications channels that non-profits have traditionally used to raise awareness, such as print newspapers, local television, direct mail, and telemarketing.

“So on the one hand, you have lots of non-profits that are trying to reach people, including young people,” says McHale. “On the other hand you have these websites run by newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, college papers, and magazines that have millions of viewers but are desperate for … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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  • InquiringGiver

    Interesting model, however, I’ve got to believe that some nonprofit organizations, such as Guidestar, will soon be able to offer a completely non-profit alternative. Right now, the model allows the media outlet and Good2Gether to earn a profit by associating with the nonprofit’s good name.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    @InquiringGiver,
    I see your point, but on the other hand, good2gether is helping the nonprofits associate their causes with the media outlets—which is exposure that they’re definitely not getting on their own, and which I doubt Guidestar could bring them. Also, Good2Gether allows the nonprofits to earn a profit by selling ads that appear along with their “Connect2Cause” profiles.

  • Lune Keltkar

    I agree with you, Wade. I coordinate the activities of a regional network of nonprofit agencies, and I think that the good2gether service will be quite valuable. At any rate, for at least a century print newspapers have been doing something quite similar to the good2gether model. When newspapers run articles about disasters or other situations of compelling human need, they often include information telling people how they can help (such as contact information for nonprofit organizations supplying aid). good2gether has just updated this practice for the Web 2.0 era. I don’t mind if they and the media outlets make a profit while connecting people to causes that matter.

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