NetAid is an anti-poverty initiative. It started as a joint venture between the United Nations Development Programme and Cisco Systems. It became an independent nonprofit organization in 2001. In 2007, NetAid became a part of Mercy Corps. NetAid is focused on raising awareness of extreme poverty and raising money for anti-poverty projects.
The organization began with a concert event on October 9, 1999 with simultaneous activities meant to harness the Internet to raise money and awareness for the Jubilee 2000 campaign. Concerts took place at Wembley Stadium in London, Giants Stadium in New Jersey and the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Wembley show was at capacity; the U.S. show suffered from very poor ticket sales.
Performers at Giants Stadium included: Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Page, Busta Rhymes, Counting Crows, Bono, Puff Daddy, The Black Crowes, Wyclef Jean, Jewel, Mary J. Blige, Cheb Mami, Sting, Slash, Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, and Zucchero.
The concert was considered a flop by many observers, failing to raise nearly as much cash as LiveAid. The website received over 2.4 million hits. Cisco's prominent sponsorship of the concerts and dominance of NetAid efforts were recognized as making the event a reality.
Wyclef Jean released a charity single featuring Bono entitled "New Day" coinciding with NetAid. The song also has an accompanying music video that premiered on MTV's Total Request Live (USA) on September 21, 1999, although the video never charted.
Following the concerts, NetAid was spun out of Cisco as an independent entity and tried various approaches to raising awareness of extreme poverty and raising money for anti-poverty projects undertaken by other organizations, through a variety of different NetAid campaigns.
In 2000, NetAid launched an online volunteering matching service on its web site, in partnership with the United Nations Volunteers programme. The web site allowed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN-affiliated projects serving the developing world to recruit and involve online volunteers in various projects. UNV took over the service in 2004; it can now be found at onlinevolunteering.org.
In February 2001, Time magazine and NetAid announced a pioneering initiative aimed at collecting donations through Palm VII handheld computers, allowing volunteers collect credit card data from friends and input the information into the NetAid web site via these newly-wireless devices. The experiment "pushes the envelope for Web-based charities, according to analysts, who said the bid to turn handhelds into virtual wallets faces some significant hurdles--for example, guaranteeing the privacy and security of contributors."
In response criticisms regarding its finances, NetAid published a web page in November 2001 citing its record of donations to anti-poverty initiatives to date, such as granting "$1.4 million to 16 poverty alleviation projects in Kosovo and Africa — well over the $1m that had been raised from the public to that point... the remaining $10.6 million was dedicated to creating an innovative institution that will generate new support for reducing global poverty over the long term. Since January 2000, NetAid has used approximately $2 million to catalyze new support and partnerships for fighting global poverty."
As an incubator for civic technology, NetAid explored the use of videogames for social change, co-founding the Games for Change movement in 2004. NetAid's work with games was initially offline, beginning with the "NetAid World Class" board game, which piloted in California, Massachusetts and New York in 2003. In 2004, NetAid co-produced a game with Cisco Systems called "Peter Packet," which addresses how the Internet can help fight poverty, focusing on issues of basic education, clean drinking water, and HIV-AIDS.
By 2006, NetAid had narrowed its focus to raising awareness among high school students in the USA regarding poverty in developing countries.
- Graham Francis (January 2000). "Why did NetAid fail to raise more money from the visitors to its Web site?". CharityVillage.com.
- "Kofi Annan stresses universal broadband access". EETimes. October 1999.
- Gwendolyn Mariano (February 2001). "Taking donations from the Palm in your hand". CNET News.
- "NetAid's Commitment to Accountability". NetAid. November 2001. Retrieved September 23, 2009 from web.archive.org.
- "NetAid World Class game will reach more than 2,500 children in the first phase of a national rollout". Business Wire. April 15, 2003. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
- Flanagan, Mary (2006). "Making Games for Social Change". AI & Society 20 (4): 493–505.
- "NetAid Global Action Awards for high school teens". WorldLearning. October 2006.
- "Mercy Corps and NetAid Join Forces". Mercy Corps. January 2007.