Logging Into Be-The-Change
-- by Hiral Dholakia-Dave
Times of India, Dec 3 2007

During the dotcom boom in 1999, coming up with an idea of charityfocus.org (CF) did sound radical. After all, there was no paid staff, no office and no central facilities other than the servers that linked this fully volunteer-run organization to the worldwide web.

But, in just a few years, this non-profit set up by California-based 31-year-old NRG Nipun Mehta has grown by leaps and bounds. With the focus on .be the change,. the organization runs on the foundation of volunteerism, technology and gift-economy. The reason, thousands of professionals offer their services free for various initiatives taken up by CF. Starting off building free websites for non-profits, by 2003 they were also providing web-services ranging from a portal to create your own fund-raising website to sending inspirational messages to netizens, to spreading the love with random acts of kindness.

Today, their work regularly touches thousands of lives in myriad ways. For instance, CF supports everyday heroes by giving them tools to share their stories and photos on PledgePage.org. Through smile cards, they encourage people to do acts of anonymous kindness.

Their efforts have won plaudits from all over. CF has received the prestigious Jefferson Award for community service in Washington D.C., the President.s Volunteer Service award at the UN and the Art of Living .Hero of Humanity. award. .CharityFocus started as an experiment. We asked, can we build an instrument of service for people who.re not just interested in .doing good. but also want to .be the change they wish to see in the world., that is organic and efficient; without paper or mental bureaucracy, open to new ideas, adheres to a grassroots mindset. The idea was that if you make the change in one heart, the ripple effect of that change will continue in this world forever. We picked our instrument: worldwide web. CharityFocus soon became a bridge between the Internet and the inner-net. More than an organization, it was a mindset that stood for service,. explains Mehta.

Originally published by Times of India (Dec 3, 2007)
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