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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

TF5

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Anyone Can Volunteer; Everyone Makes A Difference

Today, as I was working alongside my Rotary friends volunteering here in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, I realized that volunteers come in all shapes and sizes.

Rotary volunteers come in all shapes and sizes.

Rotary volunteers come in all shapes and sizes.

On the one hand, I was not surprised that the woman with the Harley Davidson t-shirt knew her way around power tools. She puts in a full eight hour volunteer shift every day and never slacks off.

Volunteer who engages day after day with skill and energy

Volunteer who engages day after day with skill and energy

On the other hand, I was was somewhat more surprised that the lawyer in the group, Russ Ferricks, was equally comfortable with tools and works just as hard. Today, he took charge of roofing the small piñata factory where our Rotary Club has been leading the project. Despite thinking that I knew his character and desire to serve, I was surprised at the energy and determination he showed for the technical and physically challenging aspects of the work.

Russ Ferricks, attorney who led roofing effort

Russ Ferricks, attorney who led roofing effort

As I migrated from project to project, functioning typically as a unskilled labor, I had the opportunity to spend several hours working side-by-side with one of the wealthier members of our club, Floyd Hatch. His $16.8 million ranch is currently up for sale–I suspect he’s looking to upgrade. Now in his sixties, he, too, gets down and dirty in the work. As the President Elect for the Club and the formal head of the project, he hasn’t organized himself as the leader, instead he delegated that responsibility to an experienced contractor and jumps in to help wherever needed.

Luke Hatch, one of the youngest volunteers

Luke Hatch, one of the youngest volunteers

The volunteer pool today ranged in age from about 5 to about 65. In fairness, our youngest volunteers were easily distracted and weren’t always on task, but they were fun to have around. The volunteers from the local community, participated as equals. I loved watching two volunteers on the roof carrying on a complete conversation, one speaking English exclusively and the other speaking Spanish exclusively, with some gesticulation thrown in for added clarity.

Today’s lesson: anyone can volunteer and everyone makes a difference!

When These 700 People Roll Into Town, You’ll Love What They Do

This week, Gail and I are in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico with Rotarians from around Utah doing service. There are several projects underway, including the construction of three homes, in partnership with a small nonprofit called Families Helping Families. Others are working on improvements to a school that is supported by Rotary. A group, led by my club, is working on the expansion of a small piñata factory that only employees special needs people.

A home rises out of the sand in Mexico, as if by magic, at the hands of dozens of Rotarians and their young counterparts, Rotoractors.

A home rises out of the sand in Mexico, as if by magic, at the hands of dozens of Rotarians and their young counterparts, Rotoractors.

It is exciting for me to see the tremendous impact that 700 people can have in just a few days. Homes are rising out of the sand almost by magic. Working on the construction of the piñata factory today, we laughed as the painting crew began painting the exterior within seconds of us putting up the exterior walls to be painted–no exaggeration.

Rotary Club 24 leads effort to expand piñata factor for special needs employees.

Rotary Club 24 leads effort to expand piñata factor for special needs employees.

It was also great to learn a bit about the little social enterprise that makes the piñatas and employs the developmentally challenged and otherwise disabled people. By giving their employees an opportunity to be productive and constructive adults they are redefining the lives they might have. By creating a social venture that is funded largely by the sale of their piñatas, they have created a financially sustainable organization that not only serve their employees indefinitely into the future, the organization can continue to grow.

Volunteers pose with one of the teachers from the piñata factory after a day of hard work.

Volunteers pose with one of the teachers from the piñata factory after a day of hard work.

Gail was among the volunteers who worked with the expert piñata crafters to create piles of piñatas that can be sold to the Rotarians–including the ones who made them–as souvenirs as they head back to Utah. The profit from the sales of piñatas this week could fund the organization for two years!

The first big take away from this week, for me, is the recognition that it takes serious organization to pull off something this big. Not just any organization can pull together 700 people to travel 1,000 miles at their own expense to volunteer to help people they’ve never met, may never meet and will likely never see again. Think about the value of belonging to such an organization. Think about the value of the opportunity to lead a club or a district full of clubs like that. You don’t have to start from scratch when the world is already rife with service organizations and faith-based organizations that you can leverage to accomplish your good goals!

Social Entrepreneur: ‘I Learned To Manage Stress Instead Of Stress Managing Me’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Social Entrepreneur Doron Libshtein, a former Microsoft MSFT -1.2% executive, speaks a language that sounds downright foreign in a business context, but his current crowdfunding campaign has raised over $100,000, suggesting he’s tapping into something real.

Libshtein recently wrote, “My mission is to bring a new consciousness to the world, transforming the world into vitality; to inspire each of you to walk your true path. I’m excited to write about a dream that has come true. Stress and pressure are part of life for all of us, and were part of my life until I discovered the world of meditation. The daily practice helped me relax, breathe properly, take breaks during the day and connect inner parts of me that I was not aware of. In short, I learned to manage stress instead of stress managing me.”

Libshtein created the Mentor’s Channel, a community of 2.6 million people he says, who seek the best mentors for meditation. He notes, “I’m full of gratitude for that opportunity. But there are billions of people who do not meditate. They continue to experience high stress in their life, which creates toxins being released to their internal and external environments.”

In order to address the needs of the billions of stressed out people like me who don’t meditate, Libshtein has created a solution. He explains, “I want to help the world be transformed, reduce stress, increase life’s energy, vitality and inspiration. I believe we have found a solution. It combines a digital bracelet that measures stress levels and helps us recognise when it begins and what affects it, plus an app that provides a customised solution to reduce the stress. The app gives us a playlist of music, breathing and guided imagery that work in sync with the feedback from our body. Together they produce a winning solution.”

Screenshots from the WellBe app.

This isn’t all superstition, Libshtein notes, “Mindfulness and meditation have been proven as highly effective ways to release stress and have many positive effects on sleep, productivity as well as lasting good feeling. A recent study from Harvard University suggests that meditation is influencing the grey matter in the brain and thus allowing better aging of the brain and the body.”

On Friday, May 29, 2015 at noon Eastern, Libshtein will join me for  a live discussion about his new device and the attention it is getting on Indiegogo. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Wellbe:

The WellBe is a digital bracelet designed to support and promote balanced well being for people in hectic and busy environments. The WellBe is using a heart rate monitor and a mobile app to detect and determine your stress level based on time, location and people you meet and then it offers variety of meditation and other wellbeing exercises to release stress and help you calm down immediately.

Mentors Channel is a resource for online meditation. We have created a movement with a vision to bring personal growth to the masses through technology. Our web app allows delivery of content to improve your well-being anywhere, anytime and on any device. We provide daily meditations, including tips on how to meditate, mindfulness techniques, healing mantras, meditation music and every other type of meditation you may wish to learn or practice.

Libshtein’s bio:

Doron Libshtein is a world-leading self-development mentor, author, chairman and strategic entrepreneur in the area of personal growth and Internet.

He is the Chairman and Founder of WellBe ( Insalveo.Inc ) and Mentors Channel, an interactive Website that empowers people to live fuller, richer lives doing what they love—by working interactively with the world’s best mentors worldwide.

As the founder and chairman of WellBe and Mentorschannel, and works with Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie and Robin Sharma via the Interactive Best Sellers Program to help people practice the wisdom from these visionaries’ books in their lives. He also recently became the Chairman of Restart™ – a new venture facilitating solutions to the over-40′s job crisis in Israel. and TheHallcenter in Santa Monica.

Doron’s world leadership extends to entrepreneurial and advanced mobile wireless telecommunications and online technologies. He was a board member of many companies such as Maayan Ventures, a publicly traded (TASE: MAYN) chain of technology incubators, with offices in Tel-Aviv, Shanghai, Omer, Sde Boker and Dimona.

Doron was for six years Chairman of the Board at the IPO Company in Tel Aviv, which owns FLIX and BLOGTV. Before that, he was for 14 years a senior manager at Microsoft, serving as Senior Director EMEA EPG Solution & Marketing and Director EMEA BPSG. Additionally, he served for two years as CEO of MSN Israel.

“Back in 2004 my vision was to bring personal growth to the masses. I felt that 14 years in senior positions at Microsoft prepared me to bring the technology and infrastructure that allows people to improve their wellbeing anywhere, anytime and on any device. I have the privilege to work with the best mentors in the world and I am full of gratitude for that. I also have the privilege of working with an amazing team that works days and nights improving the lives of millions.”I am an Author, Mentor, Chairman and Strategic entrepreneur in the area of personal growth and internet.

I see my vision as bringing as many people as possible closer to growth. my efforts and vision embrace people, wherever they are, offering each one of them various solutions and tools using high-end technology to provide simple and easy to use solutions at affordable prices.

I believe that the way to realize this vision is by establishing cooperation between people all over the world with mentors, coaches and coaching schools around the globe using common unifying objectives. This is an outstanding opportunity for synergic cooperation that will help increase and fulfil the hidden potential of coaching.

My recent mission via WellBe is to reduce the stress in the world with helping people know when and why they are stressed and how they can reduce thier stress.

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Some Stocks Go Down, Some Fruit Goes Bad, Some Charities Are Better Than Others

This week’s announcement from the FTC that it, along with
all 50 states and the District of Columbia, was filing a complaint against four
nonprofits that had reportedly used virtually none of the $187 million raised
for charitable purposes, has sent shudders through the nonprofit community.
Organizations are afraid what this news will do to fundraising.

Here’s why you should continue to give to charity enthusiastically.

When you buy fruit at the grocery store, you know there is a
chance, in fact a near certainty, that some of the fruit you buy will get
thrown out. Some will be bad when you get it home, either because it was
already overripe or under ripe when it left the store or because it was damaged
in transit. Most fruit is sold by the pound, but there is hardly a fruit on the
market that you can eat entirely. Have you ever eaten a banana peel or an apple
core? Then there is the risk that the fruit is prepared for someone who doesn’t
eat it and finally the risk that no one happens to eat it before it goes bad.
How much of the fruit you buy actually ends up in someone’s tummy? You still
buy fruit because it is healthy and delicious.

When smart investors buy stocks, they buy lots of them. Most
mutual funds have many dozens of different stock positions in their portfolios
because they understand that some will go up and others will go down. Some may
even go to zero. In the middle some will be parked money, after decades still
worth only what was paid for them. Some stocks, however, will grow dramatically
and may after just a few years be worth 10 times or more than what was paid for
them. Smart investors buy stocks even though they know with certainty that some
of the money invested in stocks will be lost.

Venture capitalists and angel investors who invest in
startup companies know that it is so hard to predict which companies will
thrive and which will tank that they make sure to diversify their portfolios,
too. They know that when investing in early stage companies, easily a third of
the companies will flame out completely, a few will struggle on endlessly and
only a few will thrive, providing all of the return in their portfolios. Think
about that; early-stage investors give entrepreneurs knowing that there is a
very good chance they will never see a dime in return.

So, here’s the question for you? Is it reasonable for you to
expect that every dollar you give to charity will go directly to a noble
purpose and that none will ever be wasted? The frank answer is simple.
Absolutely not. Some nonprofits will use your money to create fantastic social
impacts. Some will not. How many millions of dollars for cancer research have
yielded only another compound that doesn’t work? Does that mean we shouldn’t
fund cancer research? Of course not! A cure will only come from more funding.

Sometimes I hear people say, “I will only give to this one
nonprofit because…” I have news for you. There isn’t a perfect nonprofit out
there. While some may use volunteers to allow 100% of donations to go directly
to programs, those organizations may not have the same impact as other
organizations using professional staff to do more with the same donation, even
after paying the staff.

Does this mean that you should give
indiscriminately? No, of course not. See my tips for smart giving here. But it
does mean that you should keep giving!

These Women Wow Shark Tank, Get Cash, Light Up The World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork, founders of LuminAID, were offered deals from all five of the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank earlier this year; they successfully closed a deal with Mark Cuban.

Perhaps what made them both different and successful on the show, was a focus on social entrepreneurship, a double bottom-line that balances making a profit with having an impact for good. Their solar lights are not only terrific for camping, but perfect for long-term use in areas without power and great for use when power can’t be relied upon for evening studies. One of their largest customers is ShelterBox, featured here a few weeks ago.

Visit their site to buy and/or give a LuminAID.

Sreshta explains, “LuminAID’s core technology–solar lights that pack flat for ease of distribution– was created to address both the need in an emergency and to make it easier for aid workers to distribute supplies on the ground.”

She adds, “We have learned a lot from working with our NGO customers and partners like Shelterbox. They put out our lights into some of the toughest areas and situations in the world, so we like hearing from them about what worked, what worked less well, and how we can continue to support their efforts.”

On Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern, Sreshta and Stork will join me for a live discussion about their experience on Shark Tank, as well as their success and their impact since. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Luminaid:

LuminAID develops innovative, solar-powered products for humanitarian relief aid and outdoor recreation. The company’s first product, the LuminAID light, is a solar-powered, inflatable lamp that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof lantern suitable for outdoor recreation and emergency situations. The LuminAID light has been sold to individuals in more than 30 different countries, and outreach projects with NGO partners have put more than 10,000 donated lights on-the-ground in more than 50 countries countries including Haiti, Nepal and the Philippines. LuminAID has supplied its lights to Shelterbox, Doctors Without Borders, and several organizations in the United Nations for distribution on the ground after disasters and in refugee camps. Earlier this year, LuminAID was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, received offers from all 5 of the Sharks, and made a deal with the billionaire investor Mark Cuban.

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Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork

Sreshta’s bio:

Andrea Sreshta is a second-year student in Chicago Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program and co-founder of LuminAID. The company was awarded the 100k Early Stage Prize in 2013 through the Clean Energy Trust in Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy and was named the winner of Booth’s John Edwardson Social New Venture Challenge in 2012, and awarded a Toyota Mother’s of Invention Grant at the 2014 Women in the World Summit. Andrea previously worked in and studied design and architecture. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master’s in Architecture from Columbia University prior to attending Booth.

Stark’s bio:

Anna Stork is co-founder of LuminAID Lab. She was a 2012 Kauffman Global Scholar at the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship. As a Kauffman Fellow, she was an Operations Intern for the retail start-up Warby Parker. Anna has also worked in product development at the Department of Defense with a focus on developing new technologies for military in remote locations. She completed her Masters in Architecture at Columbia University and earned her B.A. in Engineering and Studio Art from Dartmouth College.

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Billionaire Offers Tips; Some Will Surprise You

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Ranked #369 on the Forbes list of billionaires, Shari Arison is passionate about doing good business–and she means good.

Her bestselling book Activate Your Goodness shared her take on the impact of doing good on people. Her new book, The Doing Good Model, provides a thoughtful look at 13 values that are intended to help business leaders rethink their impact on individuals, their communities and the globe.

One of the most intriguing values that Arison puts forward in her book is “purity.” She explains it in the book, “Think of the many types of behavior that can affect you as a human being as well. For example, you might ask yourself, what am I putting in my body–is this good for me or not? What am I listening to? Is it something that is uplifting like music, or is it gossip that is unkind?”

Her thoughts on volunteering sound conventional to nonprofit leaders, I suspect, but may strike business leaders as a flash of insight. She says in the book, “The most motivated volunteers are the ones with passion for the cause.”

She goes on to share an anecdote to make an important point.

A funny thing happened to me right after I was talking to my editor on the phone going through this chapter on volunteering. I was called away and needed to rush out to a meeting outside my office. I went to another office building, and when I came out of my meeting, in the elevator on the way down, there was a husband and wife talking. The woman said to her husband, “Isn’t it amazing tha the doctor goes to Africa every six months and volunteers his time to perform surgery?” She went on to say, “Do you know he’s an eye doctor?” I smiled to myself as I was walking out of the elvator, thinking abou what a coincidence it was that I was just writing about volunteering. So you see, as I said, one can volunteer basically anywhere in the world, according to one’s talents, passions and time.

On Thursday, May 21, 2015 at noon Eastern, Arison will join me for a live discussion about The Doing Good Model. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Arison Group:

Arison Investments, the Arison Group’s business arm, houses companies that provide responses for the basic human needs of large populations, while yielding high financial returns. Shari Arison directs her businesses to maintain a diversified portfolio of ventures that have moral responsibility at their core. Arison Investments business companies include Bank Hapoalim, Shikun & Bunui, Miya and Salt of the Earth.

Shari Arison

Arison’s bio:

Shari Arison is an American-Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, owner of the Arison Group that operates in more than 40 countries across five continents to realize the vision of Doing Good. Its business arm, Arison Investments, operates in the fields of finance (Bank Hapoalim), infrastructure, real estate, and renewable energy (Shikun & Binui), salt (Salt of the Earth), and water (Miya). Its philanthropic arm, The Ted Arison Family Foundation, houses the organizations Essence of Life, Goodnet, All One, and Ruach Tova that operates Shari’s global initiative Good Deeds Day. She is repeatedly ranked by Forbes as one of the most powerful women in the world, and as one of the world’s greenest billionaires. In 2013, Shari was named Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by George Mason University.

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Charity Fraud Take Away #1: Don’t Stop Giving! Plus 3 Tips For Smart Giving

Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced a joint complaint with all 50 states and the District of Columbia against four nonprofits that were reportedly operating as anything but legitimate charities.

The four organizations named in the federal court complaint are Cancer Fund of America, Inc. (CFA), Cancer Support Services Inc. (CSS), their president, James Reynolds, Sr., and their chief financial officer and CSS’s former president, Kyle Effler; Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc. (CCFOA) and its president and executive director, Rose Perkins; and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. (BCS) and its executive director and former president, James Reynolds II.

image

It is tempting today interpret this news as suggesting that
you shouldn’t give to nonprofits because there is no way to tell the good ones
from the bad. That is simply false! Not only can you tell, it isn’t that hard
to tell.

Here are a few quick tips:

1)     
Give to organizations you know.
There are
countless well known charitable organizations that have been vetted every which
way to Sunday, that have great reputations, including Doctors Without Borders,
American Red Cross, The Nature Conservancy and many others. Giving to
organizations you recognize and can trust is a safe way to continue giving.

2)     
Go to work.
Most organizations that are
legitimate need volunteers; be one. When you give your time to an organization
you get to know more about them than you could ever learn online. If you don’t
want to volunteer for an organization, you probably shouldn’t be giving them
your money anyway. If you think you’re ready to give, you should be willing to
donate a few hours first. This is a great way to not only do your due diligence,
but also to double the impact of your money.

3)     
Check Charity Navigator.
There are a number of
online resources for vetting nonprofits. None of them is perfect, but if you
are asked to give to an organization that you haven’t heard of before, visit
charitynavigator.org and search for their name. For many organizations, you can
quickly see the Charity Navigator star rating (on a scale up to five) and key
metrics like the percent of funding spent on programs versus administration and
fundraising.

Whatever you do, don’t stop giving. Resolve to give more and
give smarter instead.

Jesuit Colleges Jump Into Social Entrepreneurship

Dr. Thane Kreiner of Santa Clara University, Center for Science, Technology, and Society leads the program to establish social entrepreneurship programs at Jesuit colleges across the country.

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According to a publicist, Santa Clara U’s Global Social Benefit Incubator, which taps into Silicon Valley expertise to help social entrepreneurs in third world countries, has spawned 202 enterprises, impacted nearly 100 million people. Forty percent of the social enterprises they have worked with are scaling and financially stable and 90 percent are still in business. They have helped Social Enterprises raised $89 million. Now, the GSBI® Network, a growing group of Jesuit universities and other mission-aligned institutions with a common focus on leveraging social enterprise for social benefit, is multiplying the incubator’s impact by sharing curriculum, methods, best practices and other resources for launching and operating social enterprise incubators and accelerators.

On March 31, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Dr. Kreiner will join me for a live discussion about the growing social entrepreneurship program.

Tune in here then to listen while you work.

Dr. Kreiner’s bio:

Howard and Alida Charney University Professor of Science and Technology for Social Benefit
Thane Kreiner, PhD, is Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. Thane was previously Founder, President, and CEO of PhyloTech, Inc. (now Second Genome), which conducts comprehensive microbial community analysis for human health applications. He was Founder, President, and CEO of Presage Biosciences, Inc., a Seattle-based company dedicated to bringing better cancer drugs to market. Thane was the start-up President and CEO for iZumi Bio, Inc. (now iPierian), a regenerative medicine venture based on the break-through iPSc (induced pluripotent stem cell) technology. Prior to his efforts as a “parallel entrepreneur”, Thane spent 14 years in various senior leadership roles at Affymetrix, Inc., which pioneered the DNA chip industry. Thane currently serves on the Board of Directors for the BioBricks Foundation and as a Board member for Didimi, Inc.. Thane earned his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business; his Ph.D. in Neurosciences from Stanford University School of Medicine; and his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas, Austin.

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