Good2Gether: A Web Widget That Connects Donors to Causes
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content and ad dollars. That’s really what this model is about—we are a big, giant distribution platform connecting Internet users to causes.”
Good2Gether’s widget, in fact, is called Connect2Cause. McHale expects that non-profits will flock to the platform, for several reasons. First of all, it’s free. Actually, it’s better than free: Good2Gether lets non-profits create their own pages or “channels,” reachable from the Connect2Cause widget, where they can publish ads for local businesses and keep 65 percent of the revenues. (Good2Gether splits its 35-percent cut 80/20 with the media websites hosting its widgets. So if Petco pays $100 to have its logo appear on the San Francisco SPCA’s channel, the SFSPCA gets $65, Good2Gether gets $28, and SFGate gets $7.)
Another big benefit is that once a non-profit has created a Good2Gether channel and populated it with contact information, event calendars, volunteer opportunities, instructions on how to donate, and the like, it can also link to that information from its own website via a Good2Gether badge. If this doesn’t sound exciting to you, then you haven’t checked out the average non-profit website lately: very few volunteer organizations have the technical or financial resources to run a comprehensive, frequently-updated site. Good2Gether’s system therefore has the potential to become a kind of substitute Web publishing platform for the non-profit sector.
“It was really astonishing to me how few national organizations have content management systems for their local chapters, and how few of those chapters do a good job of keeping their own stuff up to date,” says McHale. “And why should they? It costs them money, and they don’t get a lot of traffic, so what’s the point? Well, that’s why Good2Gether is so perfect. We make it insanely easy for the non-profits. If they can type into a box, they can have a channel, monitor traffic, manage sponsorships, all of that, and then they can embed the information into their own sites.”
It all sounds like a great plan—with the possible exception of the part about newspaper websites as the main venues for the Connect2Cause widget. As everyone knows, the newspaper industry is struggling with drastically declining readership on the print side and uncertain revenue potential on the Web side. I asked McHale if he had thought about the possibility that Good2Gether is boarding a sinking ship.
He had a pretty good answer. “There’s no doubt it’s a challenging business,” he said. “People a lot smarter than me are trying to figure out how to reinvent the newspaper industry. But the bright spot is that as their paper distribution declines, their online numbers continue to grow. The big regional portals have millions of unique visitors a month, which dwarfs everybody else. And what better place is there for links to non-profits than alongside all these articles about disease and disaster, triumph and tragedy? There isn’t anything else like them. So starting out, newspaper websites are easily the most attractive place for us.”
Social entrepreneurship is undeniably in vogue these days, and the power of the Internet to mediate new connections ought, in theory, to make fundraising a snap. But if recession fears become a reality, we’ll see how much money and time Americans feel they can really spare for charity, and we’ll get to gauge the depth of many companies’ commitment to philanthropic causes. Still, if Good2Gether can help newspapers and non-profits do good together, then they might just do well together, too.