Start-up Spurs Online Fundraising for Disaster Relief in Japan

March 12, 2011

Japan tsunami, Natori (NY Times)

The Image credit: Flickr/lao_ren100

Like so many of you, I woke up on Friday to the terrible news from Japan that an earthquake had hit north of Tokyo and that a tsunami warning was out for most of the Pacific Rim.

When disasters strike, if you’re like me, you tend to feel a little helpless, wishing you could do more than write a check.

Enter Cause Vox, a start-up in New York City which is focused on helping small non-profits conduct effective online fundraising campaigns.  Essentially, for a small monthly fee, Cause Vox provides a fundraising back office to non-profits. They do everything from designing the fundraising site, to phone support, to accounting, to tech support. It’s a soup-to-nuts operations which is meant to make fundraising easier.

Tonight via my friend Omar Gallaga’s Twitter feed, I learned that Rob Wu from Cause Vox is in Austin, Texas for the next few days as part of South-by-Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), the annual tech conference.

This morning, Rob joined with website consultant Leigh Durst to set up using the Cause Vox platform. During the conference, they hope to raise $10,000 to help the American Red Cross with disaster relief in Japan. They are inviting attendees to set up fundraising pages to participate in the campaign. After one day, they’ve raised more than $3800.

For the last several years, social media buzz at SXSW has helped small tech start-ups get a shot in the arm. It happened for Twitter in 2008 and for Foursquare in 2009. I don’t know if Cause Vox will get that kind of boost at this year’s SXSWi, but I hope they do.

Too many small non profits are run by people with great ideas and a willingness to help others, but with absolutely no idea of how to raise money. By automating these essential fundraising back office processes, non-profit leaders can focus on their core mission and not waste time struggling with the administrative tasks that go along with raising money.

If Cause Vox can help non-profits do that, I’m thinking the world might become just a little bit of a better place.

Though I’m not in Austin this year, I set up my page in a matter of minutes. It really was easy for a non-techie like me. Would you please visit that page and make a small donation to help the Red Cross provide relief to the people of Japan?

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