Updated March 3 at 10:03am

Easing the fundraising pressure

'Not having to ask directly takes the pressure off'

Rhode Island’s charitable community is now feeling the full influence of the Internet and actor Edward Norton’s successful 2009 New York City Marathon fundraising campaign for a Kenyan nature reserve. More

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FOCUS

Easing the fundraising pressure

'Not having to ask directly takes the pressure off'

Posted:

Rhode Island’s charitable community is now feeling the full influence of the Internet and actor Edward Norton’s successful 2009 New York City Marathon fundraising campaign for a Kenyan nature reserve.

The star of Primal Fear and The Incredible Hulk wanted to raise money for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust and with three colleagues created a social networking site to do it.

A year later, the site helped the ING New York City Marathon raise a record $33 million for charity, up from $24 million the previous year and $18.5 million in 2008. That caught the attention of race promoters around the country, including Eident Sports Marketing in Providence, which signed up with the website that Norton and colleagues created, called Crowdrise.com, for the inaugural Citizens Bank Pell Newport Bridge Run last year.

Encouraged by the results, this year Eident is creating Crowdrise pages for the Cox Providence Rhode Races, which kick off May 6 in the Capital City.

“We were impressed with what they did at the New York City Marathon and reached out to them,” said Eident Sports Marketing Vice President Matt Gray. “For us it’s a win-win. The charities get more money and exposure and our event is associated with raising more money.”

Crowdrise and other social media platforms for charitable giving, like Firstgiving.com, are dramatically changing how people raise and donate to charity, both here and across the country.

For years, companies and individuals have promoted their charitable causes on social networks like Twitter and Facebook and many large charities connected to events have sophisticated websites for collecting donations.

But dedicated charity sites like Crowdrise aim to make raising money for charity entertaining and addictive.

The sites not only provide Web pages for charities to collect contributions and show real-time tallies of donations from top givers, they also provide pages for individuals to promote and raise money for a slew of their favorite causes just as they might promote their favorite bands on Facebook.

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