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Social fundraising site uPlej aims to help charities through the credit crunch

Rachel Hawkes (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 22 July 2008

With private debt and commodity prices soaring, donations to charitable causes may be expected to slump as consumer spending patterns adjust to lower levels of disposable income.  Announced today, a new website called uPlej aims to adapt fundraising strategy to less affluent times by turning the viral nature of social networks into a force for good.

The endeavour is based on research showing that if people are less generous with their money than they used to be, it is not because their philanthropic instinct has withered, but because they feel less able to indulge it.  With over 75% of donations coming from individuals rather than Corporations, it is vital to nonprofits that this source of revenue should not dry up.

uPlej addresses the problem of tighter domestic budgets by spreading the burden.  It functions as a social networking platform on which users can create a network dedicated to their favourite charity for a total charge of $4.99 a month.  Friends can then be invited to join the network, with the charity named receiving $1 a month for every new friend who joins, $1 from their friends, $1 from their friends' friends plus $1 dollar from the creator’s own monthly fee.  This means that $4 out of the $4.99 membership fee goes directly to charity, while the rest is destined to pay for the site’s running costs.

Founder and president of uPlej Jeff Crane sums up the new network as a straightforward practical solution to a social problem, saying simply that “People are not able to give what they once did. bridges the gap with a social network that's sole focus is on giving."

The system is designed to generate large numbers of small but regular donations, the accumulation of which can amount to significant financial resources for affiliated nonprofits, which at the time of writing include such well known organisations as the Humane Society, the Smithsonian, the Rainforest Alliance, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, UNICEF, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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