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New site and mobile app wants to link positive daily activities to charitable donations

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 23, 2011 08:45 AM

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What if every time you hopped on the Stairmaster, practiced your cello, or dropped five pounds, you were raising money for your favorite charity?

That's the premise of a new Rockland-based start-up called 1Purpose.com; the company is trying to turn every day into a walkathon.

Users can set a challenge, like racking up 500 miles on a bike, and pick the non-profit they'd like to support. 1Purpose relies on Guidestar's database of over one million organizations, or you can direct the money into a college savings account. When you hit milestones along the way, you and others supporting you make automatic donations using a credit card on file. For instance, you or your friends might commit to donating $10 for every 50 miles you ride. (An employer might also choose to match your donations.) In addition to the Web site, 1Purpose also has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices that let you log your progress. Network for Good handles all of 1Purpose's payment processing, taking 4.75 percent of the money being donated.

"For non-profits, we think it can help them increase the amount of donations they receive, and turn donating into a daily thing, as opposed something you do once or twice a year because of some fundraising event," says Jason Skolnick, founder of 1Purpose. (I should disclose that Skolnick is a friend, and is married to another friend. But I'm writing about 1Purpose because it seems like a good idea.) So far, Skolnick has funded the start-up himself; he says the official launch will happen in early 2012. He's out now having partnership discussions with various Boston-area non-profits who might help promote the site — and use it as part of their fundraising strategies.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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