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Web of Hope

Nobody has the numbers but the internet has become of the biggest fund raisers for charity in times of disaster and otherwise too, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2007 19:07 IST

"I would rather light a candle than curse the darkness."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Darkness pervades the universe. Talking about darkness is a futile exercise and even billions of words wouldn't really be enough for it. Better to talk about little sparks of light that are turning darkness into dawn for thousands of people across the world and the worldwide web is playing one of the greatest facilitator in human history. According to the Association of Fund Raising Professionals "The evolution of the Internet has impacted the charitable sector in many significant and positive ways. The Internet represents a potentially powerful new tool for advancing philanthropy."

A case study - Ray of light in Bangkok

Consider the following example. Bangkok, for long considered the city of sleaze, sexual nirvana and much more.

Recently Kate McGeown from BBC News did a story on prostitution in Thailand. She said Bangkok is a notorious destination for sex tourism. The lives of many of the city's sex workers are full of danger, disease and the urgent need to send money home. The story is especially relevant as tourists see Thailand as a land of sexual nirvana without bothering about the condition of women over there. Something as simple as "nobody sells their body for fun" doesn't seem to be clear to many. This story should serve as an eye-opener to many on the life of an average prostitute. You can view it here. www.nightlightbangkok.com decided it was better to light the candle and bring hope to thousands of women and children in desperate need of help. Their modus operandi is simple- they offer training and employment for former sex workers, provide them employment, job training and educational alternatives. You can support them by donating the smallest donation online through Paypal, Credit cards, wires etc. Your smallest donation helps makes some woman's or child's life in Bangkok at least human. They also started an online jewellery store www.tradeasone.com where you can buy absolutely great jewellery made by rehabilitated women at reasonable prices and also support this noble cause.

The www as fund raiser

The above was just one small case. Nobody has the numbers but the internet has become of the biggest fund raisers for charity in times of disaster and otherwise too. Consider the example of NightLightBankok.com A venture such as this one would have been a tough task two decades ago. Even if it was set up fund raising would have been largely corporate driven. Micro payment in the form of donations as small as $2 would have been something unheard of. Yet that is a reality today. The site has a tie-up with Paypal which facilities the smallest payments and thus enabling more people to support a good cause.

The internet probably offers the best way to cultivate funds. It offers the cheapest way of informing of the work that has been going on charity and also informing the donors where their money is being put.

The question of trust

The biggest question is how to trust a charity. The answer is simple. Let the work, the organization is doing, speak for itself. Ask the organization before donating where the money is going. Ask for testimonials maybe even real people's emails/phone nos (as the case maybe) to get an idea.

The last word

Hope, love and compassion. They may seem old fashioned but the world still survives on them. Can you trust an online charity? Use your wisdom and make a decision. Tens and hundreds of organizations have lit the candle to work towards a better future for fellow humans. Perhaps you can do your bit by small donations, maybe even counseling, advice, gathering support or whatever services you can offer. The www gives you the freedom to make your choice of donation or service as flexible as you want it to be. In an unequal world the world wide web does give you the opportunity for doing your bit for a fellow human in urgent need of your support.

It's now your turn to bring a smile to somebody's face on this planet.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and edits www.thebusinessedition.com you can email him on puneet@cyberzest.com