Can the Internet have a heart?
October 11th, 2008

I attended a conference on “Online Giving Marketplaces” at Stanford University this past week, which was a great gathering of online donation, volunteer, and social matchmaking sites like and GlobalGiving. The kind of organizations that are doing in the social service sector what sites like are doing in the commercial peer to peer loan space. One site among many worth checking out is ModestNeeds, which gives grants of up to $5,000 to average folks – for things like paying off overdue bills and rent, etc. In these challenging economic times it’s the kind of thing that is truly needed.

One of the sessions was titled “Online Giving Markets: Niche or Revolution”. Even though the session didn’t frame the online giving trend as revolutionary (at this point less than 1% of giving is done online), personally I think they are on to something BIG. And organizations like Social Actions get that and are pushing the envelope. Here’s an attempt to explain where things could and perhaps should be headed, from a ComputerWorld piece…

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1 - Janie

Good article. I always recommend tapping into your social network, especially family and friends, to get money and resources to start a business. is a site that helps entrepreneurs raise money for their small businesses through friends and family, rather than through traditional financial institutions. It is the first friends-and-family funding network for entrepreneurs. Using the Internet-based service, entrepreneurs connect with their social networks – friends, family, friends of family, colleagues, and others – to raise capital by requesting loans and contributions, and entrepreneurs can share their fundraising pages on MySpace and Facebook too.’s scalable platform facilitates the funding requests and generates customized loan documents to make it easier for an entrepreneur to manage many investors (lenders and donors), who can provide $50 to $10,000 each.

For more information, visit

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