Grassroots.org Hits Membership Milestone

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Nonprofit helps fledgling charities establish strong Internet presence

In about a year we have added 1,000 members.

Grassroots.org has surpassed a major milestone. The New York City-based non-profit group now has more than 4,000 members.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Alice Luu, executive director of Grassroots.org. “In about a year we have added 1,000 members.”

Grassroots.org formed in 2003 to provide nonprofits free access to technology and marketing help. Luu said her ultimate goal is for the organization to have more than 10,000 members.

The group assists nonprofits like Getting Tools to City Schools, which provides free school supplies to hundreds of thousands of needy students in New York City.

“There are over a million kids in the public school system here in New York City,” said Dennis Kitchen, executive director of Getting Tools to City Schools. “We not only benefit kids, but we benefit teachers.”

Help from Grassroots.org was critical when he wanted the organization’s reach to extend beyond Brooklyn, Kitchen said.

The group now serves students throughout New York City.

“They have a lot of inexpensive and free programs that enable startups to start up … Grassroots.org helped me establish my web presence,” Kitchen said. “I was most interested in gaining a presence online. But when you’re first starting out and your funds are limited, it’s about ‘Where do you allocate the resources?’”

Truckloads of binders, pens, paper and rulers were delivered recently to a school in East Harlem.

“It’s very satisfying,” Kitchen said.

He called Grassroots.org “a great organization.”

“Especially for somebody who was just starting out,” Kitchen said. ”I apply for several different programs that they offer.”

Stories like Kitchen’s inspire Grassroots.org founder Mike Mann to work toward signing up more than 10,000 charities.

“I’m very sensitive to the end users, which is the reason that I have been working most of my life for these charitable causes,” Mann, an entrepreneur, said in a telephone interview.

The goal is to provide each nonprofit $10,000 worth of free services each year, he added.

Among the businesses started by Mann are companies like Phone.com, SEO.com, DomainMarket.com and Yield Software.

But charity work is his real passion, Mann said.

Some of Grassroots.org’s work involves designing, building and hosting websites for cash-strapped nonprofits.

“That’s really attractive to a lot of nonprofits,” Luu said. “A lot of nonprofits really are turning to ways they can build a website in a very cost-effective manner.”

With the Grassroots.org Toolbox, nonprofits also receive help with social media, graphic design, search engine optimization and phone services. Grassroots.org currently assists groups in Africa, Canada and the United States.

“These organizations do not have the means to hire technical staff,” Luu said. “They can always call in and ask us any questions they might have … We keep in touch with them all the time and just make sure that they are doing well.”

Some nonprofits that approach Grassroots.org only need help creating a logo or letterhead, she explained.

“There are others who require assistance with an entire website,” Luu added. “Most of our members are smaller non-profit organizations who, without help, cannot reach beyond their community.”

Grassroots.org offers a web-building tool that “is very simple to use,” she said.

“It produces a professional looking site,” Luu said. “What motivates me is just the fact that they can manage their own website and get their word out. We sort of demystify the website experience.”

Qualified charities may join Grassroots.org to receive free nonprofit tools. Charity must be the group’s primary mission.

If you know a nonprofit that needs help establishing a presence on the web, visit http://www.Grassroots.org to see if the group is qualified to receive assistance.

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