The online business Charity Gong is a new fundraising site that offers participants options to donate to charities, without trying to sell cookies, popcorn, magazines or knick-knacks.

A town official has launched a side business which she hopes will change the way local schools and charities raise money.


The online business Charity Gong is a new fundraising site that offers participants options to donate to charities, without trying to sell cookies, popcorn, magazines, or knick-knacks.


Mary Graf, the town’s director of elder services, said she started the for-profit business because she thought parents and kids don’t have the time to go about fundraising the usual way, by selling products.


“Parents cannot afford the time to be going out spending hours doing this when they have jobs, and they also can’t afford to always buy all this stuff,” she said.


Graf said she worked with Brockton-based Michael Faherty of Higher Site Web Development Co. to develop the site.


The company takes 20 percent of the donations, and the remaining 80 percent goes to the charity, said Graf. She compared the site to other fundraising approaches — from candy bars to magazines — which typically deliver a 50 percent return to the school or charity.


Jonathan White, associate professor of sociology and director of service-learning at Bridgewater State College, said there are many similar Web sites. They include www.kiva.org, which does global fundraising through lending to entrepreneurs; Fundable.com, which charges a 10 percent fee from donations; and Justgive.org which deducts 3 percent of all donations for transaction costs.


While those sites focus on well-established charities, Graf’s concept is different in that it addresses community fundraising for small causes, he said.


“Charity Gong is a fascinating, and seemingly thoughtful and good, social enterprise,” said White. “Although they do make money from the enterprise, they are incorporating a holistic business model that appears to have working to create social change at the heart of its principles.”


West Bridgewater Superintendent Patricia Oakley said Graf approached her about using the site to raise money for the schools. While Oakley said she didn’t know much about it, she thought it sounded like a good idea.


“I am planning on passing the brochure and fliers on to the building principals and activity advisers as another option for school fundraising,” she said.


Graf said that in researching the idea for the company, she didn’t find another site promising confidentiality and enabling fundraising chairpeople to track the progress of their campaigns.


“We do not post how much people give, and no last names are posted,” said Graf. “We feel people should be able to give what they can afford and feel good about it.”


Another component, called Charity Gong Gives Back, randomly rewards up to 10 percent of participants with gift cards as an incentive to participate.


Also, a pre-posting feature enables churches, schools, and other organizations to advertise their events on the Charity Gong site free of charge. The chairperson of each fundraiser is provided with administrative access to check the status of funds donated.


Graf said Charity Gong also offers marketing services for organizations, but then charges 40 percent of the donations.


White said that while he believes such Web sites can be valuable, they should not replace the human interaction component to charities.


“My main word of caution to those interested in giving to worthy organizations is that they use Web sites like Charity Gong to supplement the current approaches to fundraising that already exist, not to replace them,” said White.


“There still remains something important about people-to-people connections in creating community and weaving the very fabrics of civil society that a great deal of charity work is trying to mend,” he added. “It is also important that people give equally generously of their time as they do of their money.”


The Enterprise