A potentially useful tool for nonprofit organizations

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It isn't easy being a nonprofit. I'm generalizing, of course, but in that business, you're often relying on the kindness of donations or at least grants, you're begging people to volunteer their time, and for all your work, the compensation can be sub-par. This was apparently behind the thinking of Robert Armbrister and Jake Lonc, two IT gurus who wanted to make life a little easier for nonprofits, when they created Homeingle, a social networking site.

Of course, when I first heard about this, my mind summoned up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and so on, and I thought the world needs a social networking site like it needs another investment banker (sorry, they're an easy target these days). But the more I learn about it, it does sound like it could be a very useful tool for anyone navigating their way through the world of nonprofits.

So here's what it is, and if you know anyone who works at a charity, or any community-minded person, you may want to spread some good karma and forward this post right along:
What it is: As Armbrister told me, Homeingle takes Facebook, Twitter, etc., "a step further." They're kind of a meeting place or a dating service, if you will, for nonprofits looking for volunteers or corporate sponsors.

How it Works
: In a nutshell, if you're a nonprofit, you can search for people in your area who want to volunteer for a nonprofit but haven't decided who they want to align themselves up with. Or if you want a sponsor for a community fund-raiser that you're planning, you'll be able to find companies that are listed on the site, that are looking for a nonprofit to team up with.

How Homeingle makes its money: The nonprofits sign up and join for free, but the companies that want to sponsor a nonprofit or donate goods and services, they have to pay a monthly fee.

Why I wouldn't put all my eggs in this basket yet: They just launched in late January. Armbrister says that they're focusing on trying to spread the word to organizations and people who want to volunteer. As that population builds on their web site, "commercial vendors will have an increased interest in joining," says a hopeful Armbrister.

But why it seems smart to join Homeingle: The awkward name aside (home + mingle?), Armbrister makes a pretty good argument for joining. "Since we're a free service that only requires five minutes of time to get started, these nonprofits have nothing to lose and everything to gain."
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