April 2002

Unleashing the dot-org'ers
CharityFocus.org Acquires PledgePage.com

Dot-coms usually go dot-bomb. Acquisitions are generally for the HPs of the world. But as CharityFocus completed its acquisition of pledgepage.com this week, Silicon Valley makes history again -- a dot-org is soaking in a dot-com.

CharityFocus.org, fully volunteer-run nonprofit organization, continues to expand its mission, its volunteer base, and its institutional capacity. Its latest undertaking involves the unprecedented take-over of PledgePage.com, a web technology that creates a fun, interactive, and inspirational way for donors to raise money for their non-profit causes. Since 1999, PledgePage.com has helped its 1200+ users to raise well over one million dollars. Last month alone, they recorded more than 3 million hits.

The acquisition, completed this week, is the result of an innovative deal struck between CharityFocus and PledgePage Corporation. Having developed, launched, and supported the philanthropic web-tool through the early days of internet euphoria, PledgePage faced the usual dot-com challenges in

All smiles: Mindy, Mark, Yoo-mi, Nipun, and Girish
making the business self-sustaining. Its five founders gave up on it as a business concept and struggled to keep the site alive as a labor of love for its ever widening community of fundraisers and participating nonprofits. They tried to sell it but weren't keen on making concessions to the free service to its users. Then they found CharityFocus, whose primary mission is to empower nonprofits with web-based technological solutions.

CharityFocus, celebrating its third year anniversary, is, in the words of its founder, Nipun Mehta, "a virtual organization that aims to bridge the divide between the internet and the inner-net, through service." To minimize overhead, the group developed an extensive back-end infrastructure capable of scaling to the growing number of volunteers and projects. CharityFocus volunteers concurrently work on more than 100 projects for nonprofits around the world. To date, the organization’s 1400 volunteers have responded to more than 850 requests for help from nonprofits.

"PledgePage is a natural fit for us," says Girish Venkatachaliah, CharityFocus's CTO (Charity Technology Officer). Girish and PledgePage founder, John Petersen, were the chief architects of the agreement. "CharityFocus epitomizes the promise of technology -- the much-heralded paper-less office, remote workers, enhanced productivity, virtual offices, boundary-less organizations and seamless process integration ,” says Venkatachaliah. “Organizations spend millions to get there, and CharityFocus is already there. Our existence is web-based, our expertise is in providing web-solutions for non-profits, and this acquisition gives us another web-centered way to be of service to those who wish to give of themselves."

Peter Ruan, the technical lead of the new CharityFocus-PledgePage team, puts it succintly: "PledgePage highlights the work of everyday heroes and CharityFocus is about everyday heroes. Sounds like a perfect fit to me!"

"You must be the change you wish to see" -- Gandhi's famous maxim -- holds true even in Silicon Valley. It's still about the web, but this time, it's about giving. And CharityFocus is paving the way.

press coverage ]