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This one-click charity is Not Recommended.
NOTE: EcologyFund.com has many projects, not all of which are one-click, free donation models. I have only reviewed the portions of the site that fit the model as outlined in the FAQ. There is an online store but it is managed offsite, under a separate domain name, and thus does not count towards this review.
Date of Review: December 11, 2001
Note: this review was modified slightly on May 22, 2002 to remove an erroneous reference to the Kyoto protocol. This change does not affect the overall review.
Pertinent data for this site:
- Owned by: CharityMall.com
- Owner profit type: for-profit
- URL: http://www.ecologyfund.com/
- Donations go to:
- Percentage of revenue that goes to the beneficiaries: 100% (click-to-donate revenue only, as outlined above)
- Method of payment: sponsors pay beneficiaries directly
- Geographic limitations: none - some beneficiaries operate in specific countries, but the site as a whole offers a widespread list
- Language(s): English
- Calendar day for this site starts at midnight, US Eastern Standard Time.
Jump to the summary of what this site should do to improve
Criteria that have been met will have a checkmark graphic, and criteria that have not been met will have an X-mark graphic, as shown below. Further details will be listed below each criteria specifying what elements resulted in the checkmark or X-mark.
How this site scored on the criteria (version 1.21):
- I have confirmed that the beneficiaries are getting the money owed them as follows:
- This site has many beneficiaries. Each time I assembled a list of confirmations, new beneficiaries would appear. Thus, there may be new beneficiaries after this review that have not been confirmed. However, every responding beneficiary has confirmed receipt of funds, some with glowing praise, so it is my belief that EcologyFund is operating completely above board and ensuring all owed monies are going where they are supposed to go. Below is a list of confirmed beneficiaries, how they were confirmed, and paraphrased comments from those who replied:
- World Land Trust - EcologyFund.com is listed on their sponsor's page.
- Environmental Law & Policy Center - according to a news article on the site, "The Environmental Law & Policy Center is working with EcologyFund.com to create an innovative way for you to help reduce air pollution. Online advertisers and sponsors make payments to EcologyFund.com based on the number of visits and clicks made at the EcologyFund site. This funding turns your clicks into funds that enable ELPC to receive and retire air pollution credits."
- The Nature Conservancy - confirmed by email on December 10, 2001. Andrea Harrison provided the confirmation, saying her organization recently received their third quarter payment.
- Fondo per la Terra - confirmed by email on May 11, 2001. Dr. Guido Gerletti, Chairman and founder of Fondo per la Terra, said he got the impression that EcologyFund was under financial pressure, but that that did not stop them from sending periodical donations to his organization.
- Nature Conservancy Canada - confirmed by email on May 9, 2001. Lynn Gran said they have received money as promised, and expected to renew their yearly contract which was almost up at the time. Since they are still listed as a beneficiary, chances are they did just that.
- Cascades Conservation Partnership - listed in the $1000+ category of the honour roll.
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - confirmed by email on May 30, 2001. Paul Johnson said the person who dealt with the contract was out of the office, but was fairly sure his organization received payment.
- Rainforest Conservation Fund - confirmed by email on December 7, 2001. Joy Schochet said they have received payment a commitment for future funding. She said her organization is very pleased with EcologyFund.com.
- Project Amazonas - confirmed by email on September 25, 2001. Devon Graham, President/Scientific Director for Project Amazonas said his organization has had extensive contact, including a face-to-face meeting, with EcologyFund.com and has indeed received funds. Graham added that future funding is expected and has already been earmarked for specific projects. He said he has every confidence in the legitimacy of EcologyFund.com, and that he is pleased with the contribution they are making in the world.
- Kentucky Natural Lands Trust - Blanton Forest - listed as a friend of the forest.
- Contact data for the one-click company/individual is displayed on the site as follows:
- Email or Form Mail (required) - several email choices given on the contact page
- Phone number (strongly recommended) - shown on the contact page
- Postal address (strongly recommended) - shown on the contact page
- There is a clear description of who gets the money, as follows:
- Each project lists the beneficiaries below the button on the main page, plus a link to more information gives detailed explanations of how each beneficiary is using the money towards specified projects.
- There is clear indication that the site is still operating (as of the date of this review) as follows:
Although the beneficiaries are happily receiving funds regularly, I could find no indication that this site has been updated since June, 2001. Statistics on SO2 have not been updated since April, 2001, despite a note on the thank you page for that project that says, "SO2 Totals are updated ASAP." Likewise, other totals have not been updated since April or June. A group donation project has not been updated since June, although monthly winners should be expected based on the text.
The only current information available is the news headlines provided by ENN, those on the Get Involved page, and on the daily news pages, all of which appear to be provided by scripts and thus cannot count as proof that the site is still being maintained. There is also a script-run date on each page, but that can't be counted as proof of update.
It is very disappointing to take this point away from EcologyFund, but it simply doesn't look like the site has been updated in almost six months. I cannot let EcologyFund get away with that if I mark other sites down for the same thing, regardless of how much the beneficiaries say they are happy with the donations. EcologyFund should at the very least remove old references as noted above, since they stick out as being untimely. The administrators also need to do a better job of keeping up with stated commitments of posting totals and updates. Otherwise, there's no way for the average user to tell if the site has been abandoned or not.
- The site does not require users to visit another site, nor perform any activity other than clicking on a donate button/graphic for a donation to count.
- Extra donations can be raised by clicking on banners, sending email, or performing other tasks. However, the main projects do not require this additional activity.
- The site counts donations regardless of user input or registration.
- Users can access extra features by registering, but registration is not necessary. This review was done completely without logging in.
- There is no apparent conflict of interest.
- The owners of the site are involved in other online charity pursuits, but everything appears to be fully disclosed and I do not believe any of these external sites result in a conflict of interest.
- All possible ulterior motives (such as religious affiliation, being part of another organization, being part of a marketing campaign from some corporate entity, etc.) are listed as follows:
- The About page provides detail on the ownership and structure of the parent company, as well as the founders of the site. Further details are given in the FAQ.
- The site has up-to-date, accurate information throughout, as follows:
- Although the detailed project information is excellent, the lack of updates shown throughout the site, as noted above, suggests that the project information also has not been updated in almost six months. I could find no indication that the project information has been updated recently.
- The site has a good frequently asked questions (FAQ) area.
- The FAQ is detailed and provides good information.
- The money is not just being collected for the future; it is in use now.
- The site specifies how much each sponsor pays per click as follows:
- The Sponsors page says, "A sponsor picks a project and agrees to pay .5 cents for each person who comes to the site, selects that project, and sees their ad." The Thank You pages tell the user how much has been raised in project-specific terms, such as the amount of land saved.
- Type of currency is not stated. Presumably, the site is raising .5 cents in US dollars for each ad seen. However, on a global medium, EcologyFund would be better off making this clear. People in other countries may assume they are donating funds in their own currency.
- The site is accessible to the disabled or to slow computers as follows:
- Bobby test results (for the main page only):
EcologyFund has included more ALTs than many sites, but a few are still missing. It wouldn't take much to fix that up and ensure that the page is at optimal configuration for disabled or other non-graphical users. Most of those will not require an extended description, although it might be useful on some of them to give a better sense of the page to people using screen readers that can read such descriptions.
This page does not meet the requirements for Bobby Approved status. Below is a list of 1 Priority 1 accessibility errors found:
- Provide alternative text for all images. (5 instances)
Line 161, Line 208, Line 212, Line 653, Line 654
User checks are triggered by something specific on the page; however, you need to determine whether they apply. Bobby Approval requires that none of them apply to your page. Please review these 7 item(s):
- If you use color to convey information, make sure the information is also represented another way.
- If this is a data table (not used for layout only), identify headers for the table rows and columns. (17 instances)
Line 52, Line 167, Line 235, Line 264, Line 295, Line 324, Line 355, Line 384, Line 416, Line 467, Line 492, Line 517, Line 231, Line 547, Line 606, Line 643, Line 688
- If an image conveys important information beyond what is in its alternative text, provide an extended description. (187 instances)
Line 42, Line 45, Line 55, Line 57, Line 58, Line 59, Line 61, Line 62, Line 63, Line 65, Line 66, Line 67, Line 69, Line 70, Line 71, Line 73, Line 74, Line 75, Line 77, Line 78, Line 79, Line 81, Line 82, Line 83, Line 85, Line 86, Line 87, Line 89, Line 92, Line 93, Line 102, Line 107, Line 108, Line 109, Line 147, Line 169, Line 173, Line 175, Line 181, Line 183, Line 185, Line 189, Line 191, Line 198, Line 207, Line 208, Line 209, Line 212, Line 217, Line 218, Line 226, Line 227, Line 229, Line 236, Line 238, Line 239, Line 241, Line 244, Line 248, Line 260, Line 265, Line 267, Line 268, Line 270, Line 273, Line 277, Line 290, Line 296, Line 298, Line 299, Line 301, Line 304, Line 308, Line 320, Line 325, Line 327, Line 328, Line 330, Line 333, Line 337, Line 350, Line 356, Line 358, Line 359, Line 361, Line 364, Line 368, Line 380, Line 385, Line 387, Line 388, Line 390, Line 393, Line 397, Line 411, Line 417, Line 419, Line 420, Line 425, Line 437, Line 449, Line 455, Line 456, Line 463, Line 468, Line 470, Line 471, Line 473, Line 476, Line 480, Line 488, Line 493, Line 495, Line 496, Line 498, Line 499, Line 501, Line 505, Line 513, Line 518, Line 520, Line 521, Line 523, Line 524, Line 526, Line 530, Line 592, Line 601, Line 603, Line 630, Line 631, Line 639, Line 646, Line 648, Line 653, Line 654, Line 655, Line 656, Line 657, Line 658, Line 659, Line 660, Line 661, Line 662, Line 663, Line 664, Line 665, Line 666, Line 667, Line 668, Line 669, Line 670, Line 671, Line 672, Line 673, Line 674, Line 690, Line 692, Line 693, Line 696, Line 697, Line 698, Line 699
- If the submit button is used as an image map, use separate buttons for each active region. (1 instance)
- If style sheets are ignored or unsupported, are pages still readable and usable?
- If a table has two or more rows or columns that serve as headers, use structural markup to identify their hierarchy and relationship. (43 instances)
Line 40, Line 52, Line 96, Line 105, Line 123, Line 128, Line 140, Line 145, Line 153, Line 167, Line 158, Line 204, Line 225, Line 245, Line 235, Line 274, Line 264, Line 305, Line 295, Line 334, Line 324, Line 365, Line 355, Line 394, Line 384, Line 416, Line 477, Line 467, Line 502, Line 492, Line 527, Line 517, Line 231, Line 550, Line 547, Line 590, Line 599, Line 609, Line 606, Line 643, Line 596, Line 118, Line 688
- Provide alternative content for each SCRIPT that conveys important information or functionality.
- Standard elements such as ALT tags are not always present
- Site looks reasonable in Lynx, although some slight brushing up on portions text formatting would help. The few missing ALTs didn't make a serious difference in navigating and using the site.
- This site has good navigability as follows:
- navigation information on every page (strongly recommended)
- all links work and go where the user will assume they're going
- sites with multiple charities make it easy for a user to click through each one without accidentally missing one - EcologyFund does an excellent job of showing you which sites remain and telling you when you have donated to all of the one-click projects
- navigational graphics and image maps have ALTs or other workarounds
- URLs are short and logical
- The site is aesthetically pleasing and uncomplicated, as follows:
- no animated gifs other than the ads
- good colour scheme
- pictures used are selected with taste and tact
- The site does not promote, inadvertently or otherwise, poor behaviour such as spam.
- The Tell a Friend feature does have a small notation reading, "*Please do not spam and email people you do not know." It would be nicer to see this more prominently displayed, but at least it is there. A link to the spam policy would also be nice.
- Cookies are not required for donations to count.
- If the money collected is only going to one country or smaller geographical division, this is noted as follows:
- Wherever donations for a specific project are geographically limited, this is spelled out in detail in the project description.
- There is detailed, accurate information about why the money is needed, and statistics are used in a responsible, contextual manner.
- The project descriptions give ample detail about how the money is used and why it is needed.
- Donation totals are posted. Non-daily totals or batch-posted totals include a statement as to how often the totals are updated.
- It is impossible to tell how often these totals are updated, since no date/time is given. I'm giving the site credit for this review, but if there isn't indication of how often the totals are updated by the next review, this point may be downgraded.
Considerations outside of criteria
This is one of the biggest click-to-donate sites on the Internet, if not the biggest. The variety of projects is impressive, and the beneficiaries certainly seem to be very happy to be a part of it.
As a result, it is disappointing to see such an obvious cut-off point in updates on various pages. Recent beneficiary confirmations indicate that the site is still producing funds, but it's impossible to tell if anyone is actually maintaining the site any more. Automated scripts don't fool experienced users who want assurance that their clicks are continuing to be meaningful.
If the administrators want to set up the site as a well-oiled machine that chugs along with minimal maintenance, that's one thing (although I will never recommend a page that appears non-maintained, regardless of how smoothly it runs). But there is a definite need for update on the action page, contest pages, conservation data, etc. It is irresponsible to encourage users to take action such as faxing the leader of a country over an issue that has since been resolved. If there has been a delay for a good reason, the administrators owe it to loyal users to post some kind of notice saying why there is a delay and when updates are expected to resume.
The other problems with the site are fairly minor. If EcologyFund provides more timely updates, they will be ranked among the best one-click sites on the Internet.
The site needs updating, in statistics, action items, and other areas.
The type of currency being collected should be specified in order to avoid confusion.
Some ALTs need to be added, and possibly some LONGDESCs as well. Text-only layout could use some brushing up, but is otherwise useable.
Better emphasis against spam would improve the Tell-A-Friend feature, although what is there is acceptable.
Requiring cookies to donate excludes many would-be users.
Donation totals do not indicate how often they are updated.
- Original Review
- Date: December 11, 2001
- Grade: Not Recommended
- The site needs updating, in statistics, action items, and other areas.
- The type of currency being collected should be specified in order to avoid confusion.
- Some ALTs need to be added, and possibly some LONGDESCs as well.
- Better emphasis against spam would improve the Tell-A-Friend feature.
- Requiring cookies to donate excludes many would-be users.
- Donation totals do not indicate how often they are updated.