Social Networking For Change(.org)

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changelogo.pngNonprofit social networking site Change.org is launching this morning and hopes to change the way the average person or activist interacts with nonprofits. The site focuses on getting users to issues they care about – ending hunger, stopping global warming, etc. Users can sound off on issues, but the site also recommends that these users donate their time and money to the causes they support. Unlike other recent sites we’ve seen, Change.org doesn’t reek of smugness.

The site consists of social networking’s usual suspects, profiles, friends, messaging, groups, and a personal blog. Groups, in this context, are called “changes” and are meant to join together like-minded people around social changes they feel passionate about. In private beta, groups have been formed around topics such as “Stop Global Warming” and “Save Net Neutrality“. Each group gets a comment thread and blog to chat on along with a photo gallery to post pictures or videos.

The other half of the site is the nonprofits the users can organize around. They have already populated a database (powered by Guidestar) of over one million nonprofits, but I could only find 100 profiles through their search engine. Each of the profiled nonprofits has a bio, user reviews, photos, videos, and community blog. Users can befriend a nonprofit and let everyone else know by becoming a supporter of the organization.

Each nonprofit also gets a project page, where they can ask members to donate money to fund special projects or just the general fund. Donations are either taken by credit card ($10 min) on the organization’s page, or can be solicited by individual Change.org users who write up a pitch highlighting why it’s important to give. All donations are redistributed to the respective nonprofits through JustGive.org. Change.org takes 1% of every dollar donated. Change also hopes to support its operations through promotional campaigns nonprofits would launch on the site.

Members can also donate time instead of money by participating in the “Actions” page, which is a Google maps enabled classified listing of volunteer activities, resolutions, events in your zip code. Anyone, including the nonprofits can post to the list.

The site has been a project for Ben Rattray over the past two years, joined by Stanford friend Mark Dimas and a supporting team of Darren Haas, Rajiv Gupta, and Adam Cheyer. Change.org is currently funded by friends and family.

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