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Mercy Corps empowers donors to tackle urgent global problems by spreading the word

October 19, 2010

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New "MPower" Program Relies On Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Model To Help Families in Need

PORTLAND, Ore. – Global relief and development agency Mercy Corps (www.mercycorps.org) today unveiled a new way for donors to address the urgent needs of families in the world's toughest places. This program, known as MPower, offers donors the opportunity to leverage their social networks to fund one of eight critical projects for women and children facing conflict, illiteracy, hunger or other injustices.

MPower builds on Mercy Corps' success with personal fundraising pages, which allow individual donors, corporations or groups to set up and customize a fundraising page on mercycorps.org to rally financial support for specific causes. Donors can set a fundraising goal, post photos, track donations and use sharing tools to spread the word.

Money raised through these pages has helped Mercy Corps bolster recent disaster-relief efforts. Donations made to Mercy Corps' Haiti earthquake relief fund via personal fundraising pages topped $1.5 million. More recently, half of the donations to Mercy Corps’s emergency flood response in Pakistan came through such pages. One group of fundraisers alone, known as Relief4Pakistan, has raised more than $150,000.

"The recent flooding in Pakistan helped us discover how truly powerful personal fundraising pages can be," said Jacob Colie, director of Internet Marketing at Mercy Corps. “People want to donate to causes that their friends recommend and feel passionate about.” The average page, he noted, attracts seven donations.

MPower offers donors two ways to help make a project a reality. One is by donating directly toward the fundraising goal of the project. The second and more impactful way is to customize a personal fundraising page, and use the page to attract donations from friends, family and others in their social networks.

Mercy Corps is confident that MPower represents the next wave in web-based fundraising, which has proved a powerful tool for nonprofits to quickly raise money. While personal fundraising pages have become an established tool of charities associated with marathons and other sporting events, other nonprofits have been slow to harness their potential. Mercy Corps is one of the first global NGOs to successfully use these pages to mobilize supporters and raise money for a range of interventions.

“This could be a whole new online fundraising frontier,” explained Colie.

Mercy Corps will solicit funds for eight MPower projects for six months. The following projects will be among the first highlighted:

Empowering Women in India through Literacy
The 70-percent illiteracy rate for women who live and work on northeastern India's tea plantations results in lost economic opportunities, low self-esteem, early marriage, uneducated children, limited understanding of household finances and poor health standards. This MPower project will teach hundreds of women how to read and write.

Make an Urban Slum in Colombia Safer for Families
Colombia’s violent conflict has pushed millions of rural residents into urban slums such as Soacha, a dangerous and treeless settlement outside of Columbia’s capital. This MPower project will plant trees to create greenspaces that will help prevent landslides, provide activities for at-risk youth and strengthen the bonds of this diverse, marginalized community.

Fight Child Malnutrition in Indonesia
Jakarta's urban slums are troubled by deep poverty, malnourished children and a lack of healthy food. This MPower project will finance a fleet of food carts that sell healthy food and are designed to appeal to children.

For information about the additional programs please visit: www.mercycorps.org/mpower