Nonprofit organizations are testing ways to raise money and awareness through online social networks, betting that the internet’s viral nature will open fresh avenues for fundraising and marketing, the Chicago Tribune reports. It’s a big change for nonprofits as they shift from direct-mail campaigns and relying on the checkbooks of older givers to the unpredictable whims of web popularity. Though the transition is nascent, charities see potential in recruiting young activists who already use online networks to broadcast their identities and make connections. "We’re not claiming [online networks are] the panacea for philanthropies," said Ben Binswanger, chief operating officer for the Case Foundation. "[But] we think it’s way too early to dismiss it as an internet fad. … We’re going to keep pushing down this path, because we see enough spark here to make it interesting."