Y Combinator's first nonprofit aims to crowdfund health care

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Though it is the undisputed king of incubators, many Y Combinator alumns have failed to make a profit over the years. But now, Watsi, which is hoping to bring a Kickstarter crowdfunding model to health care, is aiming to be its first (intentional) not-for-profit venture.

At Y Combinator's 16th Demo Day here today, Watsi showed off its platform, which is trying to be the first global crowdfunding platform for health care.

Rather than graduating from the Y Combinator program and seeking investment from tech-savvy venture capitalists, Watsi is soliciting donations from the tech community.

The … Read more $40 million in grants includes antislavery groups is spreading some end-of-the-year cheer to about four dozen nonprofits with $40 million in grants, including recipients that are fighting to eradicate slavery.

Many of the grant recipients are typical tech world targets, such as groups that encourage students to study math, science, technology and engineering; that help girls in developing countries get education; and that use innovative technology to help people in different ways.

But this time around Google is adding another target group -- modern-day slaves, such as forced laborers in African mines and sex trafficking in the U.S. -- a situation many people don'… Read more

24-hour design marathon to benefit children's nonprofit

Companies everywhere get stuck. A lack of resources or passion--as well as any number of dysfunctions that can plague an organization--can all get in the way of building great things online. Today, a close-knit Bay Area design firm called Zurb is trying to help one lucky nonprofit get unstuck.

Today marked the kickoff of this year's ZurbWired design marathon, an annual event during which the Zurb team and a group of volunteers work together to pull off a marketing miracle for a nonprofit in 24 hours. This year, the fourth annual event of its kind, the challenge will benefit … Read more

Google offers help for U.S. nonprofits

U.S.-based nonprofit organizations can get discounts on advertising and Google Apps subscriptions as part of a new Google for Nonprofits program launched today.

Nonprofits will be able to take advantage of the exclusive offers through a one-stop application process. If approved, they can get up to $10,000 a month in Google AdWords advertising, free or discounted use of Google Apps, and access to premium features on YouTube and Google's mapping technologies, Google said in a blog post.

Google also is launching Google for Nonprofits Marketplace to connect organizations with professional service providers who are offering free … Read more

Gates Foundation makes first equity investment

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the nonprofit fund created by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, has made its first equity investment in a for-profit company: Inigral, a start-up that makes Facebook applications for educational institutions that want to "get your students engaged, from the point of admission through graduation." It's pitched toward schools that have problems with high dropout rates.

The Gates Foundation led the $4 million funding round, contributing $2 million. Retro Venture Partners contributed $1 million, as did the Founders Fund, a venture firm that counts early Facebook investor Peter Thiel and former … Read more

Survey: Big charities have biggest Twitter power

One of the most talked-about uses for Twitter has been as a free marketing and outreach mouthpiece for nonprofits, particularly those with otherwise limited resources. But a new survey about the most "engaged" charity organizations and nonprofit foundations on Twitter--meaning how big a following a charity has as well as how much it interacts directly with followers and is talked about by other Twitter users--indicates that it's still big, powerful nonprofits that have the most muscle in social media.

The survey was conducted by Empire Avenue, a start-up that translates social-network activity and following into a "… Read more

Facebook CEO unveils education foundation

As expected, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled today the creation of "Startup: Education" a charitable foundation to "improve educational opportunities for young people in America." Its first project, to be announced later today on The Oprah Winfrey Show, is a $100 million donation to support the public school system in the troubled city of Newark, N.J.

Zuckerberg will appear on the syndicated talk show with Newark mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, where they will announce the joint Partnership for Education in Newark.

"Mayor Booker and Governor Christie refuse … Read more

Squaring off with Square, for a good cause

On Tuesday, I was enlisted to help out with an event in conjunction with the New York arm of the "Social Media Week" conference-fest--called "Digital Divas," the cocktail affair was organized by a handful of women involved in various niches of technology and digital media. Yes, dudes were allowed too.

As the event grew closer, we decided that we wanted some kind of innovative way for guests to donate to support Doctors Without Borders' relief efforts in Haiti. So after some brainstorming we thought about using Square, the new mobile-payment company co-founded by Twitter Chairman Jack Dorsey. … Read more

'Bra color' charity campaign blossoms on Facebook

Have you seen a bunch of Facebook statuses consisting only of colors--white, black, pink, beige--recently? That's not a coincidence.

Somehow, a viral campaign bubbled up through the nooks and crannies of the massive social network this week--female members of the site changing their status messages to the colors of the bras they're currently wearing in order to spread awareness about breast cancer.

According to The Washington Post, no one is really sure where or on behalf of whom it precisely started, but it appears e-mail chain letters went around earlier in the week to encourage it.

As far … Read more

Bebo founder drops $1 million at charity auction

NEW YORK--What's it like to watch a dot-com mogul spend $1 million? Well, it's sort of nice when it's going to a good cause.

On Monday night, at the annual benefit gala for the nonprofit Charity Water, Bebo founder Michael Birch, one of the event's co-hosts along with the likes of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and entrepreneur Sean Parker, made a surprise announcement. Shortly before the event's live auction to solicit donations for new wells, Birch declared that he would personally match all donations up to $1 million.

Charity Water, a favorite cause of the dot-com set, … Read more