Donation Dashboard

The Generosity of Crowds: New Website Matches Non-Profits to Donors

“It’s more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place.”

Andrew Carnegie

The US has over a million registered non-profit institutions, ranging from the Red Cross to the National Rifle Association, including tens of thousands you’ve never heard of. You’d like to contribute, but effectively allocating your available funds among all these good causes seems like a hopeless task.

Giving is getting easier with an experimental website called “Donation Dashboard,” which uses machine learning techniques to recommend a customized portfolio of good causes based on your personal ratings of sample non-profit organizations.

Here’s how it works: you are presented with brief descriptions of non- profit institutions and asked to rate each in terms of how interested you are in donating to it. The system analyzes your ratings in light of others’ ratings and does its best to allocate your available funds in proportion to your interests. Your customized “donation portfolio” is presented in an easy-to-understand pie chart that you can save at the site for future reference.

Try Donation Dashboard at:

Donation Dashboard, which is being developed by the Berkeley Center for New Media, extends machine learning techniques used by commercial websites to recommend movies, music, and books. Donation Dashboard goes beyond existing charity ranking sites by statistically combining your ratings with the ratings entered by your fellow good samaritans to compute a porfolio customized to your interests.

The Donation Dashboard website is a pilot system that includes information on 70 non-profit institutions. If the system is successful, the developers hope to expand it with other features and partner with a third party that can streamline collecting and distributing funds.

“There’s strength in numbers; the system should improve over time as the number of ratings increases, in this sense each person who visits the site contributes to the collective wisdom about good causes,” notes UC Berkeley Professor Ken Goldberg, who is developing the system with graduate students Tavi Nathanson and Ephrat Bitton at UC Berkeley, with conceptual input from Jim Buckmaster at craigslist.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Ken Goldberg, 510-643-9565,, or
Tavi Nathanson, 510-697-9619,