I attended a conference on “Online Giving Marketplaces” at Stanford University this past week, which was a great gathering of online donation, volunteer, and social matchmaking sites like Kiva.org and GlobalGiving. The kind of organizations that are doing in the social service sector what sites like Prosper.com are doing in the commercial peer to peer space. One site among many worth checking out is ModestNeeds, which gives grants of up to $5,000 to average folks – for things like paying off overdue bills and rent, etc. In these challenging economic times it’s a welcome and important service.

One of the sessions was titled “Online Giving Markets: Niche or Revolution”. Even though the session didn’t frame the online giving trend as revolutionary (at this point less than 1% of giving is done online), personally I think they are on to something BIG. And organizations like Social Actions get that and are pushing the envelope. Here’s an attempt to explain where things could and perhaps should be headed, from a ComputerWorld piece…

note: This post was also published on SmartMobs.com