Educational Fundraising Examples : Web Site Helps Pay For School

Web Site Helps Pay for School

Candy sales, car washes, and simply begging for funds weren't enough, so the Abundant Life Church of Hillsborough, N.C., branched out to the World Wide Web.

The result if VisionNet, a year-old Internet service provider that has attracted about 300 customers.

The company is operated by a nonprofit foundation in the church and benefits Abundant Life's private school.

The company's niche is local Internet access in small towns and helping users block adult sites. But it also has 14 commercial customers who maintain Web page domains in the VisionNet computer.

Last year, VisionNet gave $40,000 to the school for scholarships. Its goal is to underwrite 40% of the school's $900,000 operating budget.

VisionNet got its foothold by providing Internet users a local telephone number for modem access. The service costs consumers a $30 activation fee and $20 a month for Internet access.

Subscribers get Netscape and SurfWatch, a program that blocks adult-oriented sites. Only about 3% of the Internet is devoted to sexually oriented programming, but it's that small section that gets all the publicity and complaints.

We provide services to parents who want to protect their children and to business clients who want to limit employee access to inappropriate sites. We are also willing to go to people's homes or businesses to help them solve problems if necessary.

Two emplyees donated their time for six months to start the company, which now has an operating budget of about $135,000, including their salaries. The company was started for less than $100,000, using an interest-free loan from a benefactor.

Source: Estes Thompson, Associated Press, Lansing State Journal, April 12, 1997, p.3D.

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