I've got a story in today's New York Times, about blogs and charities. It starts like this:
People already knew Alan Nelson; they had been reading his Web log for more than a year. So when Mr. Nelson, a 35-year-old management consultant and a co-founder of the widely read Command Post site, started asking for donations to support a California mother of 13, the money came fast and quick from all over the Internet. After two and a half days, Mr. Nelson raised more than $15,000.It became a model for Mr. Nelson, and for many in the mushrooming community of online diarists known as bloggers.For years, bloggers have been building bonds with their readers by sharing everything from their opinions on Iraq to pictures of their cats. Mr. Nelson is part of a diffuse effort to turn that trust toward a higher purpose. He has put together a new blog coalition, Strengthen the Good, to focus attention on microcharities, like that California mother. Other bloggers have adopted their own causes, from breast cancer research to ambulances in Israel to television stations in Iraq.Mr. Nelson's efforts began in a rage. In a Minneapolis hotel room last May, he watched the grisly online video of Islamic militants beheading Nicholas E. Berg, the American contractor who had hoped to build communications towers in Iraq. Fuming in front of his laptop, Mr. Nelson readied himself to write a red-faced screed in response.But then he stopped. He remembered the documentary he had finished watching a few moments before, about Susan Tom, a California woman who had adopted 11 mentally and physically disabled children, in addition to two of her own. Instead of railing against the awful act in Iraq, Mr. Nelson announced that all donations to the Command Post's online "tip jar" would go to a trust to pay for the Tom children's education.Soon, Ms. Tom began to hear from Mr. Nelson and his fellow bloggers. She was skeptical at first. "Lots of people promise things that don't come true," she explained. But then the pledges started coming. "I was overwhelmed," she added. "Most of these people, they didn't know me. They hadn't seen the movie. Most people, they just took Alan's word."