Montgomery County

Nonprofit to use web for flood relief aid

Surfing the web could give a boost to the flood relief recovery.

Helping flood victims doesn’t have to involve barn dances and scooping mud. It may be as effortless as surfing the Web.

A new nonprofit is hoping to tap this steady source of revenue — and others similar to it — to assist those facing an uphill battle working to rebuild their homes and communities shattered by tropical storms Irene and Lee.

Rachel Brownell, who on Aug. 23 founded Coming Alongside: A Community Relief Inc. as a state-registered nonprofit, said she’s hoping the group’s new initiative could lead to monthly deposits directed towards the Schoharie Valley flood relief efforts.

Since it launched in 2005, the website has raised more than $9 million for schools, charities and other causes with a simple method: People use the website to search for anything people typically search for through any other search engine and GoodSearch sends half of the revenue advertisers pay it to the charities the searcher chooses.

Registering with GoodSearch and other similar Web-based donation methods could make giving easy for those who want to help but don’t have money to give away.

“People don’t have the money to give, it’s hard work to just get food on the table. If we’re feeling the pinch, there’s hundreds or thousands of others who are feeling that pinch,” Brownell said last week.

She is also eyeing — a website that directs online shoppers to specific merchants, which then pay the website a commission. A portion of the commission then goes to charity.

Brownell is hoping to get the local tropical storm relief effort on the list of charities that will get a portion of those commissions, making it easy for anybody to help the cause.

The nonprofit is also looking at a program with an electrical energy supplier, which, for each new customer, would direct a monthly payment to the charity — between $2 and $9 per month per customer.

“We have an ambitious goal,” Brownell said.

She said she hopes to draw as many as 5,000 supporters to make use of these online methods, which could generate up to $10,000 each month for flood relief efforts.

“A lot of people don’t even realize that there’s still a need there,” Brownell said.

There may be other, similar methods that can be employed via the Internet or other means, and she said she wants to hear from people if they’ve identified others.

She said she expects Coming Alongside: A Community Relief Inc. to launch a full campaign in the near future.

Brownell asked people with ideas on other avenues the nonprofit could explore to contact her at 774-0263 or [email protected]

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