Marketplaces for Nonprofits: A Conversation With Good2gether
Good2gether is a little known company that has begun to work with online newspapers to create new “channels” that bring together nonprofit organizations and the individuals looking to donate their time or money.
This is essentially a section within an online newspaper that allows users to search and browse listings for nonprofit donation or volunteer needs. Think of it like a classified marketplace for nonprofits.
The idea started when founder and CEO Greg McHale was looking for nonprofit organizations to get involved with in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. What he found was little structure to a vast array of options.
“There are a million-and-a-half nonprofits in the U.S.,” he said. “A lot of these are undiscoverable unless you’re already involved with them in some way.”
Making It Work
Right around that time, McHale started to recognize newspapers as a natural venue to bring together nonprofits with the support they’re looking for. Newspapers not only have lots of original reporting on topics that are contextually relevant for relief organizations (especially these days), but they’re also trusted local voices with engaged local readers.
“Newspapers are filled with articles every day that really ought to be calls to action for nonprofits,” he says. “Just like Tip O’Neill said that all politics are local, so are nonprofits.”
So good2gether was born and has been able to sign deals with a number of online newspapers including Boston.com and SFGate.com (full list here). Newspapers love it, McHale claims, because it creates more online content and thus ad inventory.
These marketplaces are set up in the newspaper domains as “do good channels” (example here). They’re free for nonprofits but supported by sponsored ads from corporations that are looking for “green” ad inventory.
“If Wal-Mart or Home Depot or any other corporation wants to improve their image and advertise in green places, this becomes an ad network for them to do that,” he says.
Nonprofits themselves meanwhile like it because it brings technology into the fold. Nonprofit Web sites often lack functionality and search engine optimization, so this gives them more technological muscle to support their recruiting and fund-raising.
“One of the things we do is have listings disappear from the public facing site after an event expires,” said McHale. “Nonprofits see this and they think we invented fire.”
There is lots more functionality in the pipeline and more local distribution sources being developed beyond newspapers, such as radio and television Web sites. The company will also develop widgets, RSS feeds and e-mail alerts for users to plant on their own sites or blogs to keep themselves or their readers abreast of new opportunities in real time.
Lastly, the site will start to branch out from just listings to have more content that serves as an educational resource for finding the right nonprofit. This could resonate well, given the sheer mass of nonprofit organizations and the lack of transparency that drove McHale to get started in the first place.
“This could be a giant marketing platform for nonprofits,” he says. “We’ll start with newspapers and keep rolling to see where else it takes us.”
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