Category Archives: My charities charity search engine just went live

The charities site I wrote earlier about just went live:


The short term goal is to let it be a global search engine for charities. Then in later steps I want to add more context, reviews and create an open API. You can read more about it here in ‘about’.

No charity reviews for now

In the screen-cast here I showed a version where you could sign up with your Twitter account and I actually have a version working locally where you can write reviews. But I decided that I was not ready for this yet. Live accounts requires moderation, being extra secure with your data and some form of customer service. At the moment I just don’t have the (continuous) time for that.

By first starting off as a pure search engine, I can slowly grow the content and quality of what will be the main feature for many users.

How you can help

My question to you: do you know great sources of data for Charitius? I’m using public data from UK, Australia and the Netherlands. I’d love to add more countries.

Also, I’d like to thank Giles from for helping out by providing a free hosting.


Getting closer to a charities website prototype ready for testing

Some of the progress on the charities website I wrote earlier about:

  • Wrote web scraper to gather charities content
    Since we don’t want to start the platform with no content on it, I wrote a web scraper in python that goes over publicly available information on charities. On our site we will make it very clear what content is coming from other websites and a link to them will provided right next to it.
  • Created illustrations
    Some of them you can see in the screenshot below.
  • Used Bootstrap to create front-end. Most of it is ready.
    Creating front-end that looks decent has been much easier than I thought.  Also the icons of font-awesome and bootstrap are awesome and also very easy to use.
  • We seem to have gotten the Twitter login working
    Starting with only allowing users to create accounts via Twitter has a couple of advantages; It’s quick to build, robust and makes it a little bit easier to spot spammers.
  • Wrote texts
    That was a bit more work than I expected. There is still some work in that area.

What home will look like


Up next:

  • Get more pages working
    The static front-end of most pages is there, like the write review and edit account. But as the prototype is improving we’ll probably see more pages and states we need to build.
  • Get search working
    In the beginning search will be very simple, and probably will only find charity pages.
  • Figure out a good name
    As a working title we have “Charities we trust”, but I think that will cause problems. If someone visits the site and enters on a specific charity page, this person might think we endorse the charity since we say ‘we trust’ them.
  • Tweak all the details
    There is a whole lot of texts, code and other work that needs to be one..

Here’s visualization on the work what has been done so far.

Made with gource.

Soon I’ll hope to be able to share a link to an early prototype :)

What Test Driven Design is (no development skills required)

I’m going to create these short videos as a way to share what I’m learning while creating the charities website. More about the charities website concept.

In this video I’m giving a short example of how Test Driven Design (TDD) works in practice.

For a beginner; what you see me using

I’m using Flask, a web-framework written in Python. If you want to learn how to create websites, this is probably one of the easier frameworks to create a website in. At least I hope so, because that’s the reason I picked it.

The development software (IDE) I’m using to edit the code and run the tests in, is Pycharm. More information about how and why to do these type of tests you can find over here.

For developers; a great video on why these tests are important

New project: charities platform in the spirit of Helpalot

I’d like to show you this thing I’m working on.

A pet project with a long history

10 years ago I set up, a charity social network site. The goal was to make it easy to find charity projects you could trust.

Here I am, introducing the concept on Netsquared in 2006:

I am going to build a website that can facilitate people to help the world in a better way. Taking the openness of Wikipedia and adding the social network aspect, I’m going to create a website that has the potential to be a charity guide that not only contains every charity in the world, but also is the home of an energetic community that will change the world for the better.

So it wasn’t lacking ambition. At the time, I had a day job, was setting up a games company ( and was probably spread to thin to really make it work. Either way,  with a very small team we worked on it in our spare time for over 3 years. It had about 300 profiles and we learned a lot.

The time is right to have another go at this.

Last time I was trying to create a full social network site, like Hyves or Facebook. This time I’m taking a more agile approach to the same problem, where the first prototype is much simpler and I’ll be one of the core developers.

Sharing the progress

I have a background in interaction design and recently I decided to focus fully on becoming a software developer. One of the main reasons is that I want to be able to move my ideas forward in a more substantial way.

I’m learning as I’m doing and I’m going to share the progress on both the website and the lessons learned as a developer.

Test Driven Development

This video above introduced me to Test Driven Development (TDD)

It inspired me to try to work in this manner on this new charities website. In the next post I’ll show you a quick example of how I’m going about this for the prototype. Also I’ll share who is working on this with me :)