Founder: Jay Backstrand and Craig Jacoby
When: 1998 in Palo Alto, Calif.
Bright Idea: Use the Internet to connect those who are interested in community service with organizations in need of volunteers.
Impact: This search engine for volunteerism has made more than 3 million referrals to socially responsible Web surfers. Some 52,000 nonprofit organizations recruit help through the site.
The Next Wave: Other nonprofits are finding new ways to harness the Web to leverage the talents and enthusiasm of volunteers.
Donors Choose: Teachers submit online requests for materials and activities for their students. Donors search the site to decide which ones to fund.
SmartVolunteer: This site takes VolunteerMatch a step further by letting people search for projects that require specific skills, such as accounting or medical training. Programmers and students created it pro bono; almost 200 organizations are using it.
Idealist.org: This online supermarket for social action, matching people with ideas, jobs, news and resources, was founded by Ashoka fellow Ami Dar.
Change.org: Mini social networks gather people around an issue to build virtual foundations. Users can bundle donations and coordinate e-mail lobbying or fund-raising efforts with data from VolunteerMatch and Idealist.org.
Kiva.org: A market for micro-lending on the Web, Kiva helps small lenders (as little as $25) make loans to borrowers trying to start or expand businesses in developing countries.
by Jeremy Caplan and Kristina Dell