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This one-click charity is approved and has a grade of C.
Date of Review: May 2, 2001
Pertinent data for this site:
- Owned by: Heather Guillen
- Owner profit type: generous individual
- URL: http://www.endhomelessnessnow.org/
- Donations go to:
- Percentage of revenue that goes to the beneficiary(ies): not stated
- Geographic limitations: all donations appear to have gone to US so far
- Language(s): English
- Calendar day for this site starts at: not stated
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 1.01):
- I have confirmed that the beneficiaries are getting the money owed them as follows:
- Because End Homelessness Now has donated to many different charities and will no doubt add more to the list in the future, I decided to contact the most recent ones listed on the Donation Totals page, and found the following:
- Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) confirmed by phone (because their email is currently bouncing) that they have received donations from Heather Guillen. Contact name not given.
- Family Tree confirmed by email that they have received donations from Heather Guillen (email from Scott Shields, Managing Director).
- People Serving People has End Homelessness Now's graphic posted on their main page, with the statement "Visit www.endhomelessnessnow.org, each day to make a free donation to People Serving People." I believe that this is sufficient evidence that People Serving People is aware of End Homelessness Now's claims of donation, and I leave it up to the beneficiary to ensure they are getting all of the money owed to them.
- Emails were also sent to Spectrum Family Services and Detroit Rescue mission to confirm older donations, but these emails went unanswered. Given that all three recent beneficiaries checked out and that all of the beneficiaries tend to be small operations that may not answer email regularly, I decided this was sufficient proof of beneficiaries getting the money owed to them.
- Contact data for the one-click company/individual is displayed on the site as follows:
- Email or Form Mail (required) - shown on the About page
- Phone number (strongly recommended) - shown on the About page
- Postal address (strongly recommended) - shown on the About page
- There is a clear description of who gets the money, as follows:
- The Donation Totals page lists what amount went to which charity. This information could be improved with specific dates and with links to the beneficiaries' sites, if they exist. Putting links on another page isn't as helpful because that requires the user having to search through the site to find a matching link.
- There is clear indication that the site is still operating (as of the date of this review) as follows:
Although the Donation Totals page still listed where April's money was going at the time of this review, the fact that the review was on May 2, coupled with the fact that the home page has been updated to say where the May donations are going, indicates that the site is still operating. This site is being run by a single person, so expecting massive updates to occur at the start of each new month is unrealistic. The Donation Totals page does list the current day in terms of total clicks, but this is run by a script, and thus not proof that the site is still operating.
A quick way for the site owner to indicate that the site is still operating would be to put "last updated" information at the bottom of each page. That way, users can see that the site is continually being worked on, even when some pages aren't updated quickly because the administrator is swamped.
- 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.
- The site counts donations regardless of user input or registration.
- There is no apparent conflict of interest.
- There is a possible question of tax deductions going to Guillen rather than to End Homelessness Now, since Guillen sends money in her name instead of the site's name, but I will give Guillen a chance to either change this practise or more fully disclaimer it before the next review. If nothing has changed by the next review, this will be considered a potential 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:
- Affiliated projects listed on the Our Projects page
- I noticed that a previous beneficiary, Detroit Rescue Mission, has a strong religious motive. That site includes the following statement regarding the disadvantaged: "...we help them become faithful Christians, discipled into a local church..." During the period that donations were going to such a limited beneficiary (since no mention of assisting people of other faiths is mentioned), it would have been prudent for End Homelessness Now to include this information, instead of just saying, "Their philosophy is to minister to the whole person - body, mind and spirit to enable people to lead productive lives." I didn't downgrade this point because the limitation is not that of End Homelessness Now, but I do recommend that the site let users know more clearly of any possible limitations or ulterior motives on the part of beneficiaries.
- The site has up-to-date, accurate information throughout, as follows:
- There are links to more information about homelessness throughout the site, and most of these are recent. Although there are a few pages that aren't strictly up-to-date, there is a reasonable level of currency given that the site is run by an individual. Pages don't appear to be so out of date as to be meaningless.
- The site has a good frequently asked questions (FAQ) area.
Although much of the information that I would expect in a FAQ can be found around the site, it would help users to have all of this information collated in one place for quick reference. Also, Internet users have come to expect to see a FAQ or Questions page, and will sometimes not bother to wade through other pages to find the information they're looking for. A FAQ could also improve this site by providing details I could not find, such as the percentage of donations that go to the beneficiaries, how many clicks per day are allowed, when the calendar day starts, etc.
Another benefit of a FAQ would be that the busy administrator would only have to update that one page of information when changes are made, as opposed to updating multiple pages, or having to decide where to put new 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 Home Page says each click is worth .5 cents. This is an excellent location for this information, as users can see how much their click is worth before clicking. The only possible improvement: specifying that the donation is in US dollars.
- The site is accessible to the disabled or to slow computers as follows:
- Bobby test results (for the main page only):
While those user checks are probably fine for the main page, a quick random test of some other pages on the site showed that ALT tags are not always present. This means a Bobby failure for those pages, and thus for the site overall. Adding ALT tags would probably quickly turn this criterion into a pass.
This web page does not contain any Priority 1 accessibility errors that Bobby can detect. However, certain items require human judgment; these are listed below. Please review these items; if none of these apply to your page, it qualifies for Bobby Approved status.
- If this is a data table (not used for layout only), identify headers for the table rows and columns. (2 instances)
Line 65, Line 17
- If an image conveys important information beyond what is in its alternative text, provide an extended description. (8 instances)
Line 19, Line 22, Line 38, Line 74, Line 78, Line 84, Line 101, Line 117
- If a table has two or more rows or columns that serve as headers, use structural markup to identify their hierarchy and relationship. (2 instances)
Line 65, Line 17
- If you use color to convey information, make sure the information is also represented another way.
- Standard elements such as ALT tags are not always present
- Site looks reasonable in Lynx, but layout could be improved slightly, and ALT tags would help
- 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, although the Resources page spawns a new window for every link, including the in-site navigation. This should be fixed, but doesn't really stop navigation, so I won't downgrade the point for it.
- navigational graphics and image maps have ALTs or other workarounds
- URLs are short and logical
- The site is aesthetically pleasing and uncomplicated, as follows:
- few animated gifs other than the ads
- good colour scheme
- pictures used are selected with taste and tact
- A few pages, such as the Shop page and the About page have slight problems with their table sizes that make the text go beyond the browser window border, which means the user has to use a bottom scroll bar to read these pages. This doesn't prevent reading, so I won't downgrade it, but it's an error that should be fixed.
- The site does not promote, inadvertently or otherwise, poor behaviour such as spam.
- The Thank You page includes a link to a recommendation service, but End Homelessness Now does not request that people refrain from using this service to send out massive, unsolicited email to people they don't know. The only information provided is that End Homelessness Now will receive a further donation if people use the recommendation service, which may actually be an inadvertent instigation to spam.
The daily reminder sign-up does say email addresses entered will not be used for any other purpose, but doesn't mention anything about not entering someone else's email address in a misguided effort to help. I entered firstname.lastname@example.org, and was taken to a page that simply said, "Thank you for caring." No indication of how to unsubscribe was immediately available.
When the email came the next day, it included an unsubscribe instruction at the bottom, which was to reply to the message. I won't know for sure if the unsubscribe worked until the day after I post this review, but I suspect it might not, since I replied from my main email account, to which email@example.com forwards. If users are required to send the unsubscribe message from the forwarding account, this means not only the hassle of doing that, but that if someone uses a spam forwarding account to subscribe many people, none of those people would be able to unsubscribe, since they would not be able to log into the spam forwarding account. This would be bad list management. I won't hold the review to find the outcome of this (since the point is getting an X anyway), but instead will address it in the next review.
- Cookies are not required for donations to count.
- I tried denying the cookie within a Lynx window, and was still sent to the Thank You page. I assume this means that cookies are not required, but I cannot tell for sure. If this is not made clear by the next review, I may downgrade this point.
- If the money collected is only going to one country or smaller geographical division, this is noted as follows:
- Although all of the beneficiaries listed on the Donation Totals page were in the US, there are references to global projects elsewhere on the site. It is not clear whether or not donations have been sent to those organizations from End Homelessness Now. It is also not clear whether shelters in other countries could be beneficiaries. Thus, I can only assume at this point that the site is raising money for US shelters only. If this is not the case, the site administrator should clarify this, and in the next review this point may be upgraded.
- There is detailed, accurate information about why the money is needed, and statistics are used in a responsible, contextual manner.
- There is some amount of information provided by End Homelessness Now, and links to further information. It would be nice to see all of this information collated into a single page, rather than spread out somewhat chaotically around the site.
Considerations outside of criteria
Heather Guillen is a generous individual, working hard to maintain a site to raise money for the homeless. Unlike a large organization, corporation, or committee, she has only her own resources and time to rely on for site updates and operation. As a result, some criteria were not graded in the strictest sense, because to expect an individual to run a flawless, 100% up-to-date site would be unreasonable.
I had some difficulties confirming the donations at first because Guillen gave the money to the beneficiaries in her own name instead of the site's name. Only when the beneficiaries checked under the name "Heather Guillen" could they confirm the donations; the two that were contacted had no record of "End Homelessness Now." This concerns me, because it could mean that tax receipts will be issued in Guillen's name, allowing her to use the donations as a personal tax deduction. I am not saying that Guillen is doing this, but it is a concern. Guillen should be sending the money in the site's name, or at the very least make some sort of pledge on the site to not misuse the tax receipts. If this issue has not been cleared up by the next review, I may have to note it more strictly under the conflict of interest criterion, and possibly downgrade that point.
Guillen has expressed to me in email a frustration that it is difficult to maintain a site as well as make improvements such as satisfying Bobby criteria. Although I have recommended several additions and brush-up points in this review, I am confident that Guillen could implement those improvements by the next review, if she so desired. I run a site alone as well, and while I agree it is often a challenge to keep things up-to-date, issues such as providing easily findable answers to users and making sure the disabled or people with slow computers can view the site are not insurmountable efforts. Although I accept being busy as an excuse against many improvements, I do not accept it as an excuse to not be inclusive.
As part of better consolidating information, links to the beneficiaries' sites, when they exist, should be provided on the Donation Totals page. Also, the site needs to be more clear about whether donations could ever go to non-US shelters, or organizations that do work in other countries. Right now, although there are links to information for other countries, there is no indication that the site is raising money for anywhere other than the US. If it is focusing on the US, that is perfectly acceptable, but this should be noted in case users from other countries would decide to click elsewhere as a result.
When the beneficiary has a strong ulterior motive, such as pushing the homeless into a specific faith, this should be noted so users who disagree with such motives can choose to not participate for the period that the site intends to support that beneficiary.
The site should employ some means of indicating that it is current and still running, other than the script on the Donation Totals page. Putting dates on the pages to indicate when they were last updated would be a good way to accomplish this.
With the addition of some ALT tags, this site could be disabled accessible, and would be more readable in Lynx and other text-only browsers.
The issue of whether or not the site owner could use tax deductions for personal taxes, since the donations are made in her name as opposed to the site's name, must be addressed.
The possibility of the recommendation feature and daily reminder feature being used by well-meaning spammers should be addressed. The site should indicate that spamming in its name does not help, and could in fact hurt the site. The unsubscribe for the daily reminder should take into account that someone could be subscribed via a forwarding address.
Some minor errors, such as tables being too wide or navigation links spawning new windows on some pages, should be fixed.
- Original Review
- Date: May 2, 2001
- Grade: C
- Needs a central point for information, such as a FAQ
- Missing information: whether cookies are required, how many clicks per day, start of calendar day, geographical limitations, percentage of money that goes to beneficiaries, dates or other indications of currency, ulterior motives on the part of beneficiaries, some ALT tags, links to beneficiary sites (when they exist) on Donation Totals page
- Issue of Guillen sending money in her own name and thus potentially getting tax benefit must be addressed
- Potential of site features being used to spam must be addressed and discouraged
- Minor errors such as table widths and new windows being spawned should be fixed