Donation Dashboard: collaborative filter-enhanced charity

Banner New.Donatttt

Donation Dashboard is a new project from UC Berkeley's Center for New Media to match non-profits with individual donors. Developed by Ken Goldberg and his colleagues, it's based on collaborative filtering, the same technique used by Amazon, for example, to recommend books based on the "wisdom" of the crowds. The notion is that people who agreed in the past will likely agree in the future about certain things. From the project page:

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.

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.