Hooman over at Widgify specifically named us in a post, so we obliged and took a look at CareBadges. CareBadges provides widgets for enabling a grassroots movement in fundraising. While it is not unique nor the first of it’s kind, it is still a great idea. None of the previous widgets or sites have been able to achieve critical mass to really make an impact(on non-profits) for a variety of reasons. Let’s hope this new venture is up to the challenge. If they are successful, everyone benefits especially the non-profit organizations.
First things first, we would love to give a glowing review. However, we must remain unbiased and provide legitimate feedback in order for this to really work. Feedback has already been provided directly to CareBadges and we have received a positive response from them. We encourage you to give CareBadges a try and let them know what you think.
At its core, CareBadges is a service that facilitates and attempts to simplify the donation process. Users can make a donation in one of two ways. You can go to their site and browse a number of causes. When you find one you like, click on it and begin the donation process. The alternate method is to stumble across a badge in the wild and clicking on the badge for more information. Both methods will take you to the preview page where you are presented with information on the cause and given choices in donation amount and badge customizations.
The donations are handled through PayPal. CareBadges will consolidate donations into larger pools before forwarding the amount on to its final destination. Unfortunately, CareBadges has not achieved 501(c)(3) status and as such, the donations are currently not tax deductible. They are in the process of obtaining that status and when approved, the tax deduction eligibility should be retroactive (only our understanding). Please consult your own tax adviser for specific details.
Causes are created by users who want to promote a cause. It is a relatively straight forward 3 step process to add a cause; 1) enter some basic information for the cause, 2) customize the colors, text, and banner and add Flash animations or include a RockYou slide show and 3) enter a detailed description for the cause to be displayed on the preview page.
Once the cause is added, you or anyone else can grab the badge for use. The default badge is the one configured when the cause was added. Users can grab a free badge simply by selecting the free version and providing an email address. If a user makes a donation to the cause, they will have the ability to make some basic color changes.
So far so good and overall, the concept is great. There are some minor design, flow and graphical issues, but those can be fixed and CareBadges is still in its initial phases. While these are minor, first impressions are important and ease of use and clean design will have an impact on users following through the entire process, sticking around and actually donating.
We also like how they are positioning themselves as a non-profit and focusing on good causes. However, this is still an open system and they must still fund the venture somehow. There are already some “personal” causes in the system. We hope that this does not end up like other services which are being dominated by for-profit or individual causes.
Some more transparency and information would help with gaining support and legitimacy as a non-profit. Details as how much of the donations actually make it to the intended causes or any fees attached (percentages is good enough). Achieving 501(c)(3) status would also go a long ways to convince users to use CareBadges.
CareBadges definitely has an uphill climb ahead of them. It’s a great idea and concept but that will only take you so far. If their goal really is to help, then they will have much more success in operating as much like a non-profit as possible and minimizing the for-profit or individual causes.
As it stands, there are few reasons for people to get a badge or to donate through CareBadges, over going directly to the non-profit organizations (at least for the larger organizations). We understand that part of the audience is also non-profits themselves. CareBadges makes it easy for an organization to add their cause and begin fundraising. This will be beneficial to smaller non-profits without the time and resources manage their own donation infrastructure. However, larger organizations are much better served having a more prominent web presence with their own site and donation mechanism.
Viral marketing for causes is difficult at best. People tend to take specific interest in organizations and causes for a reason. Because of this, we believe these badges would tend to be more of a reminder to people than to serve as a real mechanism for donations. However, smaller non-profits could quickly and easily setup fundraising campaigns through CareBadges and if they are able to leverage individual activism in recruiting members and obtaining donations, there is potential here for CareBadges to succeed and we wish them the best of luck. As long as they do not deviate too far from their initial “dreams of saving the world,” they may have a fighting chance. Getting people to support and donate to a cause is not an easy task.
Don’t forget to check out the sidebar for our cause, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.