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Huffington Post wants to help

October 12, 2009 |  5:00 am
anna Huffington. Credit: Huffington Post.

UPDATE: The section will go live at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Tuesday (not 12:01 a.m. as originally reported below.)

You've got to love the left. Even when they're running capitalist enterprises, they want to find some way to help the downtrodden.

Arianna Huffington is adding a new section to her eponymous A-list blog site the Huffington Post, and calling it Impact. She's partnered with Causecast, a Santa Monica venture that has both nonprofit and for-profit arms, and which will provide both articles and, more important, technology to make the section work.

The section will go live at 12:01  8 a.m. Tuesday, and will feature stories on a variety of subjects, including gay issues, helping the homeless,  stopping bullying in schools and flooding in the Philippines. Each story will come with a Causecast "widget" that will help a reader plot a course of action.

"We want to document the hardships and to provide the means and the tools for direct action, money and service," Huffington said.

Ultimately, every article -- not just those in the Impact section -- could feature a Causecast widget. A Impact screen grab from Huffington Postsample of the widget, seen at right, shows how it could be used with a story on this past weekend's National Equality March in Washington, D.C., for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. The widget is just a small box that runs with the stories containing buttons a reader could click to take them to a Causecast page that promotes other websites, such as the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that helps prevent LGBT youth suicide. 

"Every article has a cause behind it," said Ryan Scott, the founder and CEO of Causecast. "We’re going to show the actions that people can take to effect change on whatever that is. Say it’s a flood or a tsunami. Can they donate? Volunteer? Make calls? Make personal fundraising pages?"

Huffington said ads will run on the site, and the Huffington Post and Causecast will split the ad revenue. Any money donated to any cause goes directly to the cause, with nothing coming out of it. 

Her site continues to expand, reinvesting its proceeds in the product. "We’ve had a very, very good advertising year," she said. "We would be in the black if we were not expanding. Whether you are profitable or not depends whether you're standing still or expanding. This is a window we need to take advantage of."

In addition to Impact, the HuffPost started a Technology section and regional coverage in Denver in September, a Books section earlier this month, and new sections on Sports and Giving planned for November and December. Local news in Los Angeles is also planned for November, and a San Francisco Bay Area section could start before the end of the year, although it's more likely to hold off until early 2010.

Huffington said her audience is highly engaged, with 27 million people visiting the site each month and leaving 2 million comments. "We want to tap into that longing out there to give back," she said. "That was a big part of the success of the Obama campaign, when Obama promised to make service central. That has been slightly derailed with all the problems in the economy but we want to make it central. This is not the icing on the cake. It has to be baked into the cake."

-- Dan Fost