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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

Monthly Archives: September 2013

Learn, Earn And Return: The New Face Of Corporate Social Responsibility

Guest post by Esbert Cardenas, CEO and founder of Image Outfitters and iShare.

My wife Kirsten and I co-founded our company in 1998 with the belief that there are three stages in life – Learn, Earn and Return. We’ve done a lot of learning, a bit of earning, and now at this stage in the game, we feel prepared to give back.

Enter iShare: a unique philanthropic strategy that puts the power of giving in the hands of our customers and provides financial support to many organizations working on many important causes.

When we decided to integrate philanthropy into our business, it didn’t make sense to give back to just one cause on behalf of all our customers because fundraising struggles resulting from the economic downturn affected nonprofits everywhere.

We knew we wanted the scope of our giving to be broad, and we developed iShare to be a program that would allow us to support the most causes with the greatest efficiency. Our customers select their favorite 501© (3) nonprofit organization, and with each order we donate 10% of that sale to the selected cause.

At Image Outfitters we specialize in providing promotional products—think apparel with company logos, customized corporate gifts, trade show giveaway items, etc. Virtually every type of business or organization needs promotional items at some point, so we get to meet and work with a great variety of people across the country, but the common characteristic among them is a passion for worthy causes in their communities.

In some instances, an iShare beneficiary is actually our client’s own foundation or organization. In the case of Norwich University in Vermont, for example, each time the school places an order, 10% goes back to its own alumni program. In addition to being a compelling sales pitch (we match any price, plus donate 10% back to your charity!), iShare provides a real sense of ownership among our clients. Without their input and nonprofit selections we would never have donated to, or maybe even heard of, many of our beneficiaries—all of which do truly inspiring work and with whom we are grateful to be connected.

Over iShare’s first year, Image Outfitters donated a cumulative $10,000 to our customers’ chosen beneficiaries, which can all be seen in our Hall of Share. Since then (only four months later), we’ve donated another $10,000. As our friends at the High Fives Foundation recently said, “iShare works – it really works.” We love to hear about how iShare makes a positive impact through the good work of organizations like High Fives, the Hydrocephalus Association or Burton’s The Chill Foundation.

We want to help organizations make corporate social responsibility an easier, more streamlined and more effective process for their business. We work together with each of our partners to achieve business objectives while garnering more supporters for causes that matter to them and making a real impact through iShare donations.

Find out how to get your favorite organization in the Hall of Share here.

Giving It Away–How Philanthropy Can Beat Paid Advertising

Guest post by Zack Liscio, CEO Changecause, @changecause.

For Arlington Free Clinic, a Virginia-based non-profit that provides free medical treatment, donor support is critical and depends upon connecting with the local community of individuals and businesses. Like most small non-profits, almost 100% of the clinic’s funding originates within a few mile radius of their base of operations.

One of those donors is Commonwealth Joe, a Virginia coffee-roaster and distributor, new to the area and focused on defining a brand name in a crowded space. They source their coffee responsibly, care about their local impact, and are active members of the community. However, until recently, Commonwealth Joe did all of their giving in a traditional, offline fashion that didn’t generate buzz for them or their preferred causes.

Our team designed Changecause with this problem of visibility in mind. Because of the social nature of giving through Changecause, we are able to connect Commonwealth Joe and Arlington Free Clinic to the local community they’re both interested in reaching, while creating genuine exposure for both the sponsor and the cause. The process basically converts money that would have otherwise been spent on advertising into a non-profit donation.

Successfully pairing a business and non-profit for their mutual benefit is rooted in finding meaning in the overlap of both demographics and beliefs. This makes sense from a cause-marketing perspective; in order for the sponsorship to resonate with authenticity in the minds of donors, the pairing has to feel like the two organizations belong together. We often describe the “Thermonuclear Meltdown Situation” as Monsanto sponsoring an independent organic farmer’s market. When executed correctly, however, the results of donation matching are inspiring. The donors to Arlington Free Clinic are socially conscious Arlingtonians who are supporting a local cause, which means they’re also ideal customers for a socially conscious company selling a premium coffee locally and giving a portion of sales to worthy causes.

Changecause CTO teaches Commonwealth Joe co-founder Robert Peck how to create a campaign for Arlington Free Clinic.

When a donor gives to a non-profit through Changecause, we pair their donation with a matching gift from a sponsor who supports that organization. We then tell the story of that interaction through a Facebook or other social media post that says “I gave to Arlington Free Clinic and Commonwealth Joe matched my donation”. By accompanying this with unique, engaging content about the non-profit, Changecause promotes the cause to that individual’s social network, while also differentiating the sponsor as a brand who cares about and is actually involved in the community. The best part is that the community engagement these posts generate are on par with paid display advertising, but most of the money is going to a non-profit instead of internet advertising companies.

An example post published to Facebook as a result of my donation to Arlington Free Clinic, matched by Commonwealth Joe.

By eliminating the need to broker one-off cause-marketing relationships, brands and causes alike are able to free up resources and focus on their core missions. The real power of the Changecause platform is the ability to make personalized connections at scale and using technology to empower local communities. While finding a donor/sponsor match in real-time is a technically complex process, accomplishing it creates lasting value for all parties involved. When you imagine the possibilities of community-driven matching happening in every city across America, the impact is truly awe-inspiring.

Changecause “Featured Donation Drives” which have guaranteed matches.

Changecause is currently in public beta. Become part of the movement now with the access code “2centsrain” on the signup page.

We’re Eager To Help! Here’s How

If you are trying to raise money for a cause, you need exposure for your campaign. You need attention and eyeballs, but that will only be effective after you get your family and friends to support your campaign with at least 10 percent of your goal–no one ever puts money in an empty tip jar! has created several free services to help you get exposure for your campaign.

First, you can download Devin’s book, Crowdfunding for Social Good. when you join the Your Mark on the World Cavalry (subscribe to this blog–also free). The book will guide you through preparing and executing a successful campaign.

Here’s how we can help you get attention for your campaign for free:

  • Sharing with like-minded people on LinkedIn
  • Tweets to over 20,000 followers
  • Sharing your press release here at
  • Hosting your interview here
  • Google Hangouts 
  • Covering your story for Your Mark on the World or Forbes

If you are raising money for something without a direct social impact, we regret that we don’t have an audience for you. If you are raising money for yourself, no matter how desperate your need may be, we don’t have an audience for you.

Because we don’t have time and bandwidth for vetting every crowdfunding campaign that comes along–no matter how noble one might seem–we will rely on the wisdom of the crowd. In other words, we won’t do anything until you start making progress on your fundraising to prove that you are willing to do the work required to be successful. 

Get your close friends and family to back your campaign early and be sure to set a goal that is reasonable given your personal network. We’ll use our resources to help only after you’ve raised 10 percent of your goal or $1,000, whichever is smaller.

LinkedIn: Join the group Crowdfunding for Social Good we’ve created on LinkedIn and post a link to your campaign there. Please check out the other campaigns posted there and support them, too.

Tweets: If you have raised at least 10 percent of your goal or $1,000 and you tweet your campaign link with a mention of @devindthorpe, we will retweet it to our growing list of followers. We’ll retweet once per day as long as you tweet with a mention of @devindthorpe! 

Press Releases: If you have a press release, please send it to and we’ll share it here on


Guest Posts: You can write a guest post or do an online interview for us here. A guest post for this blog should include a focus on your social impact objectives. Our readers are primarily interested in the good you hope to do in the world. A good blog post will be shorter than 500 words and will include a good photo or video. You can find more tips for a good post here.

If you would prefer to complete an online interview that we can share, click here.

Google Hangouts: In rare cases, if your story is very compelling, after your guest post goes live and your social impact is meaningful, we may be able to schedule a live interview using Google Hangouts to help you share your story with a wider audience. A live Google Hangout would not only be posted on this blog, but also on Google+ and YouTube so you could embed the video anywhere else you like.

CrowdFundBeat or Forbes: If you have exceeded your funding goal before your campaign ends and have raised more than $25,000 for a social cause that really excites us, we may be able to post a live Google Hangout to Devin’s Forbes blog.

Runa, Fair Trade Authenticated

Guest post from Alex Probodziak, founder of Runa.

Runa is a fair trade fashion brand targeted at young professionals in their 20s and 30s with a new take on how fair trade should be presented to the customer. I’m Alex Probodziak, a student at the University of Oxford, who flew out to Colombia this summer to develop a way to advance the brand which our team is creating. I’ll tell you a little bit about our story so far here.

Runa was born out a frustration with the lack of brands which took fair trade a step further for the customer than the ‘fair trade’ label. The positive aspects of fair trade are greater than the somewhat unexciting label ‘fair trade’ suggests; receiving a wage with which one can not only just about survive, but with which one can also save and invest in one’s future, affords one the freedom to actually plan ahead and to progress. My parents arrived as immigrants in the UK, and I was lucky enough to born into the more fortunate circumstances that allow me to be chase my own goals and desires in a way that they couldn’t. Each of us have a story, and certainly, there is a very interesting story behind those who make our clothes, too.

So the thought behind Runa is this: if there is an interesting tale to tell behind the clothes which we buy, especially when the tale is a positive and uplifting one in the case of fair trade, why can’t we create value for the customer by allowing them to see in a more accessible way the impact of their purchases? This can be done beyond just the ‘fair trade’ label, which doesn’t go far enough to paint the worker as much more than an abstract concept in customer’s mind.

With this in mind, we have developed Runa to have three key characteristics:

  • Transparency: You can see exactly how much the main worker in the production process was paid for making the good you have purchased.
  • A personal dimension: You can see a video profile of the worker upon purchase, which updates monthly, in which they tell their story.
  • Impact: With a purchase in a subsequent month of another of the goods which the workers you ‘met’ made, you can see their latest video update, and track how they are getting on.

Jumping from a banking internship in New York early in the summer onto a plane to Bogota with not much more than six designs by a Belgian designer named Sofie Claes and a couple of contacts I’d made remotely while in NYC, was certainly an adventure. Especially since before this, fashion wasn’t something I knew much about at all, other than being aware of the problem with the treatment of the labourers in its supply chains.

The result is that we are now preparing for the launch of our crowdfunding campaign in late October, with a micro-collection of five items, to allow us to develop the rest of our spring/summer 2014 collection. If you’re interested, take a look at our site, and stay tuned there for a blog with what we learnt out in Colombia. You can find out more about us on our concept site, which we’re using to explain the development of the brand at The Runa online shop itself will be live in March 2014, with the rest of our collection.

Advocating for a Small Population Cancer at BCAN – the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network

Guest post from Monica Smith, Executive Director of BCAN.

I’ve spent 20 years working in the non-profit world including 13 in the cancer community.  I’ve always been amazed by the strength of cancer survivors and passion of their loved ones.  Much of my tenure was spent working at a major breast cancer organization, where pink is much more than a color – it’s a movement.  Because of the openness of survivors – who share their stories, provide support for one another, and advocate for change – there have been many advances in a disease that can have a devastating outcome.  Through sharing their struggles, tragedies, and triumphs, many individuals have become one large powerful voice to provide hope for a cure.

When my father was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2011, I was surprised.  Despite my cancer knowledge and experience, I knew very little about the disease.  In stark contrast to breast cancer, public awareness remains at a shockingly low level.  With invasive diagnostic tests, high recurrence rates and few treatment options, bladder cancer survivors are faced with a difficult journey.   For many survivors, treatment can have a devastating impact on their quality of life.

In 2005, Diane and John Quale started their own movement.  They created the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) to build awareness of the dangers of bladder cancer and the need for more funding and research to discover treatments and a cure.  Most importantly, BCAN provides a voice for bladder cancer patients and their loved ones.  

I recently joined the BCAN team and I am energized and inspired by the incredible individuals – survivors, activists, doctors, and researchers – who are working together to increase awareness.  The bladder cancer community is a tight knit group, with members generously reaching out to one another and providing hope.  There are over 500,000 bladder cancer survivors in the U.S.  Their voices may be softer, but the message is strong.  We need to listen

The dialogue starts now.  Here are four things you need to know about bladder cancer:

  1. 73,000 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year.  15,000 will die.
  2. Though it is more prevalent in men, studies have shown that women are more likely to present advanced tumors and have a worse prognosis than men at almost every stage of the disease.
  3. While the symptoms are easily recognized, many are unaware of the threat of bladder cancer, and diagnosis is often delayed.
  4. Smoking is the number one risk factor for bladder cancer and people who smoke have a risk four times greater than someone who does not smoke. Smoking is estimated to cause approximately half of all bladder cancer cases in both men and women.

Learn more and get involved at or follow us on Facebook at

I am happy to tell you that my father was diagnosed early and is doing well.  However, as with all bladder cancer survivors, his journey is not complete.  Frequent doctor visits and invasive tests are needed to remain vigilant against a recurrence and stay healthy.

I’m So Excited…

Update: It was awesome!

Tomorrow, for my Forbes blog, I get to interview Archie Panjabi, the co-star of The Good Wife, one of my favorite shows. Archie plays Kalinda, the tough, sexy, smart private investigator. She was also in Bend it Like Beckham, which I loved.


Let me confess that I am nervous about being a bit overwhelmed by her celebrity. (I interviewed Robert Redford last week and didn’t have any problems, but he’s not nearly as good looking–IMHO.) I really am a fan so it will be hard to set that aside to be a journalist.

The reason I get to talk to her is important. She’s a Rotary celebrity spokesman for the fight against polio, End Polio Now. Rotary, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has battled Polio to the point that there are only a few countries in the world where polio is endemic. As Rotary says, “we are this close” to ending polio. The key point is–we’re not there yet.


Archie was born in India, one of the countries still battling polio. For her, the battle is personal and she is passionate about it.

Rotary will be livestreaming an event on World Polio Day, October 24, 2013. Put the event on your calendars and plan to watch.According to Rotary, the event “will be a global update on the status of polio eradication; our panelists will include Dr. Bruce Aylward, the world’s top expert on polio eradication and assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration at the World Health Organization; Dennis Ogbe, a Nigerian-born polio survivor, Paralympian and Shot@Life ambassador for polio eradication; and  Dr. Robert Murphy, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Global Health.”

Wish me luck tomorrow! I’d hate to embarrass you!

Report Authors Share Impact Investing Highlights Live

Report Authors Share Impact Investing Highlights Live

Luke Peterson From UVU Visits With Me Live To Discuss Social Entrepreneurship

Luke PetersonDirector of Corporate & Community Partnerships at Utah Valley University, will be joining me at 11:00 AM Mountain on September 23, 2013 to discuss social impact through community engagement.

Luke will also be speaking at SECFC13, the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference Friday, September 27, 2013 at Snowbird.

Luke’s bio:

Luke Peterson is an expert in innovation, specializing in cross-sector partnerships and innovation. 
After receiving a B.A. in history from Utah Valley University, Luke completed a master’s in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He then worked in local government management and economic development for the City of Davenport, Iowa, the Town of West Warwick, Rhode Island, and Wasatch County, Utah.

Luke returned to UVU in 2011 to direct the formation of cooperative partnerships between UVU and its external partners. Luke works with individual companies, nonprofits, communities, government agencies, and entire sectors to provide engaged learning opportunities for students and faculty while creating deep value for the university’s external partners. His current project is the development of the Innovation Academy at UVU — a center designed to teach the principles of design thinking, and opportunity identification to cross-sector teams of public, social, and private sector entrepreneurs.

The Red Fred Project To Bring Relief To Sick Kids

Guest post from Dallas Graham.
The idea seemed to come out of nowhere: one second I was peering across the street to a park, buzzing with Saturday morning farmer’s market goers and the next second I was asking myself the question: “I wonder if I can make a bird out of a comma…”
I made my way to my make-shift “studio” area of my 600 square foot condo and opened my laptop. Comma. Exclamation marks. Period. Oh… and something for the beak: a less-than symbol, but tweaked a bit. Within 5 minutes, a red bird made entirely from typographical marks, sat in from of me. I sat back in my chair and gazed at him, robustly red against the white screen. “You’re going to change my life,” I whispered.
That avian-expression of character design and merging symbols took place five years ago. I named him Red Fred Bodoni because, well, he looked like his name should be Red Fred. And “red” is in “fred”. The last name? Every gentleman needs one so I pulled it from the typeface he was created from. 
So I made more—more birds made from commas from different typefaces. I call them The Jolly Troop and for the last five years, I have been telling stories with them, in the form of a blog ( And they love children and adults alike. For five years, I have been working at the craft of short-stories and learning how to convey something worthwhile and important in fewer-than-normal words. It’s worked. People enjoy it. People learn. People laugh. People cry. And I get to talk about things that really matter… through birds.
One winter night, in December of 2012, my younger sister phoned me from Seattle and relayed a recently-discovered situation: a friend of ours from childhood had a son with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Our friend’s son was dying. We cried and asked each other the same question we all seem to ask when we hear about something like this: “What can we do? What can we possibly do for them? For him?” As we ended our conversation and before I hung up the phone, she whispered to me with fervent belief lined in hope, “I’m not sure what it is, but I think you might be able to do something for him.”
As I sat in silence that night thinking about this situation, about the certain uncertainties and about the slippery understanding this life seems to produce time and time again, a star-thought landed in me and it felt distinctly like Red Fred lighting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear: “We want to to make a book with him.”
I quickly emailed the family, begging forgiveness if my invitation was encroaching on anything that would seem strange or unethical and at the same time, I stated the truth: children love my birds and my birds love children. When they replied to my email, their kindness poured through their words and they graciously accepted the invitation. 
Three months later, after multiple exchanges and herculean attempts of them trying to meet with me, I received a message that sweet Mitchell was in the final few days and that the family was pulling together to be with him. Days later, thousands witnessed his star’s departure into the sky, as the family had been keeping the loving support updated through social media. Thousands grieved and mourned. And so did my birds. 
The desire to create stories, however, burned brighter than ever. That day I determined what exactly I wanted to do: create original, one-of-a-kind stories with children with critical illnesses, self-publish their books and then put it into their hands and say, “Way to go! You did it. You made a book!” Additionally, the proceeds of each printed book would go to the child’s/family’s medical expenses. 
So that’s what I’m doing. I have a goal to create 50 books with 50 children across the 50 states. All these children will have critical illnesses; some of them won’t live too much longer; others, hopefully live as full and rich a life as possible, given their physical conditions.
We have our first book completed. My co-creator in this was Nathan Glad, a bright, beaming six year old boy whose body has broken over 250 times due to being born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bones disease). He wrote about facing fear and we entitled his book, Climbing with Tigers. And guess what? Nathan shares two life lessons at the end of his book about what he’s learned about life.
If you are a believer in that star-dust material that so easily becomes a child’s imagination; if you are sympathetic to the silvery space a family tries to navigate as they move through the challenge of their little one’s health complication; if you believe a book really can tell a story for years, then please join me in helping get this project where it needs to be: in the hands of child.

Crowdsourcing For Social Good

Some of my friends in Silicon Valley have taken some insights from a recent conference on crowdsourcing for social impact and have converted it into action.

They have launched an effort at are trying to find companies, large or small, who are interested in low cost crowdsourcing of work–work that they will give to people who are seriously disadvantaged. Imagine putting people in refugee camps to work!

The sorts of projects that seem to be a good fit would include but are not limited to:

  • Data entry
  • Tag locations
  • Translation
  • Validation
  • Transcription
  • Digitization

If you have a project that may work, contact

If you don’t have a project, please help by sharing this post with anyone and everyone who may have a project.

If you have a suggestion, please comment below.

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