Searching for Funds
Looking for an easy way to raise funds? What organization isn't, right?
The recently launched Fund-It/BenefitBar program offers nonprofit organizations the ability to create branded Web toolbars that not only generate awareness of their causes, but also offer them a chance to raise funds free of charge and elbow grease.
Through the program, an organization is paired with a Fund-It consultant who helps it create a customized, branded toolbar that includes the organization’s logo, links to its Web site and a search engine powered by Yahoo. Ten cents is generated for the nonprofit each time a person clicks on a sponsored link that appears from a search initiated from one of its branded toolbars. The consultants get 10 percent of earnings for each organization they set up in the program.
Keith Grosz, president of Fund-It/BenefitBar, says the idea for the program came from his desire to create a tool that would really give back.
"I tell my kids, ‘Be passionate about what you do. Do the best you can, and don't just skate through this world.’ Yet, every business I started wasn't part of giving back," Grosz says. "I thought, 'Wow, how can I be a part of something that helps?’
"A lot of people want to give, but not everybody can write checks," Grosz adds. "This allows people to feel like they can give by doing what they're already doing. You're not writing a check, you're not buying and selling product, and you're not spending any additional time. You're only doing what you normally do, and you're only clicking on sponsor links when those sponsors help you. So everybody wins. The organization generates revenue they never had before at no cost to them. The consultant feels good about what they're doing, and they also can supplement their income. Yahoo wins by getting searches they might not have ever had. Sponsors win because we're now bringing them quality traffic. And if everyone else wins, then we win."
After the toolbar is created, organizations have the ability to send a standard e-mail to their database of supporters asking them to download the toolbar. According to Fund-It/BenefitBar, the download process takes 30 to 40 seconds and does not replace the existing toolbar on the user’s browser. Fund-It/BenefitBar sends organizations a check every month for the amount that their toolbars raised. If an organization raises $50 or more in a month, Grosz says, Fund-It/BenefitBar takes $10 to help defray its costs, which include full back-end support of the toolbar and consultants’ payments. If an organization doesn't earn $50 in a month, no money is deducted from its earnings.
Organizations currently using the toolbar include USO, American Red Cross, Bethel Foundation, University of Michigan and United Way of Greater St. Louis.
The United Way of Greater St. Louis has been using the toolbar for about two years. It promotes it on the left-hand side of every page of its Web site, in a row of boxed links that drive visitors to "Follow United Way on Twitter," "Join the Cause on Facebook" and "Watch videos on YouTube." The button for the toolbar reads, "Search the Internet. Support United Way." When clicked, it leads visitors to a drill-down page that urges them to "raise money for the United Way while you search the Internet" and instructs them on how to download the toolbar. "You'll always be a click away from United Way news, volunteer information, upcoming events and more," copy on the page continues.
According to Kate Kromann, e-communications director for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, hundreds of people have installed the UWGSL-branded toolbar.
"It's an easy tool for organizations to include on their site at no cost," she says. "We are using it more as an awareness tool than a fundraising tool, and our users have tens of thousands of display hours where United Way is top-of-mind."