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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

Nonprofits

This category includes articles that apply to social good in general and may include policy, practice and other stories relevant to everyone.

Be Thankful for Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Seriously Changing the World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The phrase, “change the world,” is becoming cliché. We give ourselves too much credit for too little impact when we think we can smile at a stranger or give $20 to the United Way and believe we’ve changed the world.

In fact, fans of the HBO series Silicon Valley will recognize that “change the world” and its variants are used exclusively in the show as punch lines, highlighting the fact that every entrepreneur claims to do so.

Such talk is not entirely without merit. While a new app that can be used to make our lives a little bit easier, say by having our McDonald’s combo meal delivered rather than having to drive to get it, does, in fact, change the world it, does not do so in the way in which that phrase has significance.

Scot Chisholm CREDIT: CLASSY

With about 700 million people in the world living in extreme poverty, a similar number—with significant overlap—living without access to clean water—and comparable number—again with overlap—not knowing where their next meal will come from—and not having eaten more than one meal a day in recent memory—forgive me if I’m not buying that having my McDonald’s combo meal delivered is changing the world.

But there are people who are seriously changing the world.

Just last week, I profiled Scot Chisholm, who co-founded Classy and in less than eight years helped nonprofits raise $1 billion. The company is now raising money for nonprofits at a rate of about half a billion every year—and the rate is increasing.

Then there’s Alex Scott, who would never remember a day when she didn’t have cancer, started her lemonade stand at age four specifically to help other kids with cancer. Before she died at age 8, she had raised $1 million. Her nonprofit has gone on to raise over $150 million for childhood cancer research and treatment.

Consider the life of James Mayfield, who at age 83 is continuing his fight to end extreme poverty globally. The nonprofit he launched thirty years ago works around the world but Mayfield is focused on Nepal. I once found him hard at work in a village in the foothills of the Himalaya, where is slept on the floor in a school with other volunteers. There in Nepal, through a government partnership and a unique banking model for the poor, he hopes to eliminate extreme poverty nationwide before his 90th birthday—or die trying.

These are just three examples. The world is full of unsung philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and activists who are really are making a difference, changing the world and doing good.

So, please keep smiling at strangers. Keep making donations to your favorite cause. And please, join me in thanking the people who really are changing the world.


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Free Fundraising Opportunity for Nonprofits on #GivingTuesday

Press Release – SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – November 2, 2018 – In an effort to increase donations to nonprofit organizations on #GivingTuesday, YouTube show host Devin Thorpe will be streaming live for 24 hours on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. He calls the event the #GivingTuesday streamathon.

The event will include interviews with nonprofit leaders who are fundraising on #GivingTuesday. While dozens have already signed up and scheduled their interviews, times are still available and Thorpe is still accepting applications at apply.gtstreamathon.org.

Devin Thorpe

“Every year since the 92nd Street Y and the UN Foundation came together to organize the first #GivingTuesday, the event has grown, motivating people to make giving a part of their holiday tradition,” Thorpe says. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday help us think about our closest friends and how to make them happy. #GivingTuesday helps us turn our attention to those beyond our personal circles.”

“The #GTstreamathon is a fun way for us to expand our reach on #GivingTuesday,” says Heidi Totten, founder of 100 Humanitarians. “We’re looking to significantly increase donations this year and participating in Devin’s show gives us another way to reach new people and share urgency and excitement with our existing donor base so we can help more families lift themselves out of poverty in Kenya.”

The nonprofits participating in this year’s #GTstreamathon include: Penn State, the Rotary International, Smile Train, GlobalGiving and Water.org. There is no cost to participate. Nonprofit leaders can join the call from their laptops or cell phones from almost anywhere in the world. Large or small, all nonprofits are invited to apply.

The #GTstreamthon is made possible by sponsors, including: DonorPerfect, Johnson & Johnson’s CaringCrowd, FundRazr, Durham Jones &Pinegar and a generous donor who sponsored in honor of the Salt Lake Choral Artists. There are limited sponsorship opportunities still available. Interest parties can express interest at apply.gtstreamathon.org.

More about the #GTstreamathon:

The #GTstreamathon is a 24-hour video livestream on #GivingTuesday hosted by Devin Thorpe, a YouTube show host, whose guests include nonprofit leaders, celebrities and crowdfunding professionals. Watch the live stream on November 27, 2018 at gtstreamathon.org.


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2nd Annual 24-Hour Solo Live Stream Will Celebrate and Track Results on #GivingTuesday

Press Release – SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 – Devin Thorpe, a journalist and podcaster who covers the nonprofit arena, will again live stream #GivingTuesday. The global giving day was created by the United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y in 2012 and has been growing ever since.

Thorpe dubbed his video live stream hosted on YouTube the #GTstreamathon. It will include over 100 interviews with nonprofit leaders, celebrities and crowdfunding platform operators participating in the global fundraising event. Beginning at midnight Pacific Time on November 27, 2018 and ending 24 hours later, the show will be produced and hosted entirely alone by one person.

“I’ve never had so much fun at work,” Thorpe said of the first annual #GTstreamathon. “It was as exhausting as you can imagine, but also exhilarating. I was thrilled to connect that day with so many people doing so much good for the world while at the same time see the global fundraising tally top both all prior records and $100 million dollars.”

“Participating in the #GTstreamathon last year was fun and easy,” says Carrie Romano, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Intermountain Area. “This simple step added to our overall fundraising strategy that day, helping us to maximize the funds we raised. Devin is a great host who shares our passion for doing good.”

“Joining Devin for the #GTstreamathon in 2017 was so impactful, we jumped at the chance not only to participate again this year but to sponsor,” says Daryl Hatton, CEO of FundRazr. “At FundRazr, we want to help nonprofits raise more money by easily connecting donors with the impact of their contributions. #GivingTuesday aligns perfectly with our goals and the livestream is an exciting way to engage with it.”

Thorpe is accepting applications from nonprofit leaders who would like to participate at apply.gtstreamathon.org. There is no cost for nonprofits to participate. For-profit businesses interested in sponsoring the event are invited to apply at the same website. All media outlets are invited to broadcast or host the YouTube livestream on their websites without charge and are encouraged to express interest at media.gtstreamathon.org.

More about the #GTstreamathon:

The #GTstreamathon is a 24-hour video livestream hosted by Devin Thorpe, a journalist and podcaster, whose guests include nonprofit leaders, celebrities and crowdfunding professionals. Watch the live stream on November 27, 2018 at gtstreamathon.org.


Help us share the stories of those who are doing the most good in the world. Get an autographed book from Devin when you pledge just $2 per month. Visit helpdevin.org.

Television Producer Calls On Nonprofits To Engage Those They Serve


Shelby Hintze, a television producer for NBC-affiliate KSL’s “The Browser” and “Sunday Edition,” called on nonprofits to engage those they serve in leadership, including paid positions.

Hintze is a powerful, successful leader at KSL, but she acknowledges her vulnerabilities as a person with a form of muscular dystrophy. She notes that organizations sometimes miss the obvious because they fail to adequately engage those they serve.

If members of the community were serving on boards or in executive leadership, she says, the organizations would make better decisions for the people they hope to serve.

Shelby Hintze

Shelby Hintze’s bio:

Twitter: @shelbs25

Instagram: @shelbs25

Shelby Hintze is a TV news producer in Salt Lake City. She is an advocate with the goal of elevating the voices of marginalized communities through intersectionality.


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This Entrepreneur Partners With Elephants To Prevent Cancer

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Two years ago, Ryan Smith, founder and CEO of Qualtrics, launched a movement called “5 For The Fight” to end cancer. The effort has led to an unusual partnership with Dr. Joshua Schiffman at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and his research with elephants.

Elephants have about 100 times as many cells as humans. Every cell has some risk of becoming cancerous. Schiffman suggests that we should expect to see elephants die of cancer more often than humans, but we observe that elephants get cancer much less often. Schiffman’s research focuses on why that is.

Mike Maughan leads brand growth and global insights at Qualtrics and serves as the CFO of the 501(c)(3) charity 5 For The Fight that was created by Smith and his team. He says the movement has raised $2.5 million globally since the initiative was launched. Those funds are kept in the countries where they are raised.

For instance, the funds raised in Ireland were donated to the Cork Cancer Institute to establish the Dermot Costello Immunology Fellowship, named for the former head of European operations for Qualtrics, who passed away from cancer last year.

At the end of 2017, 5 For The Fight in the U.S. donated $250,000 to the Huntsman Cancer Institute specifically to fund Dr. Schiffman’s work with elephants. It turns out that they have 40 copies of the p53 gene; humans typically have only two.

Elephants Cindy and Janice back Ryan Smith and his young son, Dr. Joshua Schiffman, Jaron Allred, his son Clark (11), daughters Vienna (12) and Bethany (7), and his wife Joni Allred. CREDIT: DEVIN THORPE

“My view is that nature is always going to be smarter than people. Right. We can work as hard as we want in the laboratory. But the elephants have already figured it out,” Schiffman says.

His research focuses on trying to figure out how to either modify human genes to create more copies of this cancer-fighting DNA or to trigger the same body function another way. He was circumspect about putting a timeline on the research but hinted he’s making progress toward a drug.

The research is particularly salient to people with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, who have only one copy of the p53 gene and have a 90% or higher lifetime risk of developing cancer.

Jaron Allred is a preconstruction manager at Sure Steel, Inc. He and his three children—and several of his other relatives—all have Li Fraumeni. It was discovered when seven years after losing his sister to cancer, his mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor just a week before he was. Today, Allred’s cancer has responded well to treatment.

Allred’s colleagues at Sure Steel have rallied around him, joining the 5 For The Fight movement. Employees are now given the option to give $5 or more every pay period to the nonprofit. For some, it is about supporting a friend. For others, it is about family members who are fighting cancer themselves.

Qualtrics, for its part, has 1900 employees in 11 countries and have the option to participate, too.

Schiffman, who had cancer as a child and still sees patients, sees himself as a triple threat to cancer: cancer survivor, cancer researcher and cancer doctor. He’s grateful to his elephant partners.

The research on elephants requires occasional blood samples, but Schiffman can use blood drawn during routine exams and so imposes no pain or testing on the animals.

For the event, Qualtrics brought in two trained elephants—Cindy and Janice—to represent their kin who have participated in the research. The handler, Joey Frisco, expressed excitement about the role elephants play in the research and assured me that the elephants, soon to be retired from the circus, are healthy and well treated.

Update: Joey Frisco has, in the past, been reported to have mistreated elephants under his care.

Maughan says the 5 for the Fight board is considering a “substantial new grant” for Dr. Schiffman’s elephant research at the next board meeting. Schiffman, who says nearly 50% of people will get cancer in their lifetimes, hopes everyone will pitch in.

Smith echoes his thoughts, noting that the 5 for the Fight movement is about getting $5 each from 10 million people, not just big donations from Qualtrics.


Help us share the stories of those who are doing the most good in the world. Get an autographed book from Devin when you pledge just $2 per month. Visit helpdevin.org.

NPX Achieves First Close With New Impact Security; Raises $800k For The Last Mile

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Last December, I reported here that NPX, Inc., had developed a new concept for financing nonprofits called an “impact security.” In May, the nonprofit The Last Mile closed on $800,000 of financing using the new instrument.

How it works:

According to Princeton educated Catarina Schwab, 44, NPX’s co-founder, “The Impact Security allows a nonprofit to issue performance-based debt to investors and make required payments on the debt over time with donations from the established donor fund.”

The $800,000 came from a group of investors who hope to get their money back with interest. Having an impact priority in mind, they don’t have an interest in financial outcomes. Instead, they want their return to be entirely dependent on achieving a measurable outcome.

In this case, the measurable outcome is hours worked by inmates at tech jobs provided by The Last Mile. The inmates are paid about $17 per hour, a rate set by the prison. The investors paid $44.44 per hour for 18,000 hours. The margin goes to the nonprofit.

The investors only get their money back if all 18,000 hours are worked. A group of donors has contributed to donor-advised funds a total of $900,000 or $50 per hour worked. If all the hours are worked, the money goes to The Last Mile to repay the investors with interest. If fewer hours are worked, the nonprofit won’t receive funds to repay investors. The donors’ money that doesn’t go to The Last Mile, can then be redirected by the donors to other initiatives at their discretion.

The Last Mile:

With more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States and up to 70 million formerly incarcerated, helping those currently serving sentences to gain not only job skills but professional work experience could be a key to reducing recidivism—and by extension the crime and cost of jailing repeat offenders.

Catarina Schwab CREDIT: NPX, INC.

Beverly Parenti, executive director of The Last Mile, said in a statement, “NPX has transformed fundraising for nonprofits. The Impact Security enables us to focus on creating impact rather than hosting events and other fundraising tactics.”

Schwab, who shares the CEO with co-founder Lindsay Beck, describes The Last Mile as “the darling of the prison system” based on their work at San Quentin. “They’ve seen a huge transformation from these incarcerated individuals learning how to code,” she adds.

NPX Going Forward:

The NPX innovation can be replicated.

Joe Wolf is an investor in both NPX and in The Last Mile impact security. He says, “The impact security is a brilliant solution for all parties in the transaction. Donors are able to increase the impact on each dollar committed; investors are able to generate a profit while driving social good; and, nonprofits that can demonstrate measurable impact can raise capital in a vastly more effective manner vs current options.”

Scott Wu, partner and head of investments at Omidyar Network, led the firm’s investment in The Last Mile. He was impressed.

“NPX is a leader in pioneering and standardizing a new pay-for-performance impact security. Such a model could dramatically increase capital flows to the non-profit sector by enabling investors to earn returns based on defined impact results, and by bringing more rigor and diligence in non-profit performance to attract increased philanthropic donations.”

As you might expect, innovation comes from a startup. NPX is itself an early stage social enterprise. To continue to support more nonprofits with impact securities it will need to create its own success. Schwab reports that the firm has raised three rounds of seed capital and has secured four engagements with nonprofits.

For the transaction with The Last Mile, NPX received a fee at closing.

“We are now pivoting to a donor fund model where we will receive a management fee on the fund and transaction fees per Impact Security deal,” Schwab explains. “The fund model will allow us to scale the number of Impact Securities at a faster rate to unlock more capital and data for the nonprofit sector.”

Schwab is passionate about what the impact security could portend not just for the nonprofit sector but for the world.

“Linking donations with impact creates a tremendously valuable feedback loop that is missing in today’s nonprofit funding environment,” she said. “The ripple effect is profound. By simply changing the way we fund impact, over time the new model will catalyze more money, more data, and, ultimately, more impact in the sector.”

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.


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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Your Mark on the World Changemaker of the Month for April 2018: Stephanie Bowers of Jake’s Diapers

Congratulations to Stephanie Bowers of Jake’s Diapers for becoming the reader’s pick for Your Mark on the World Changemaker of the Month for April 2018!

Stephanie joined me for a discussion about her 25 successful crowdfunding campaign on CaringCrowd (a Your Mark on the World sponsor). We originally shared her story on GoodCrowd.info.

Stephanie shared some of the secrets for her crowdfunding success. First, she noted that one key is the need to ask for what you need. No one is likely to give you what you want if you don’t ask. Her second key: persistence.

Her organization, Jake’s Diapers, provides diapers to mothers of babies and to seniors who need them, in the developing world. She notes that buying disposable diapers can require an impossible portion of a family’s income, sometimes forcing mothers to reuse disposable diapers. This practice jeopardizes the health of the babies who wear them. Jake’s Diapers provides diapers to people who are currently forced to choose between diapers and food.

A woman with several babies

Stephanie Bowers, Jake’s Diapers

Stephanie shared her story:

Stephanie Bowers believes no caregiver, near or far, should ever have to choose between food and diapers. In January of 2011, her life was changed forever when she found herself on a mission trip to Pachacutec, Peru. While there, she visited a childcare facility where she saw caregivers who loved the children very much, and were re-using disposable diapers because they had to choose between food & diapers. Inspired to help just those 15 babies, Jake’s Diapers has now impacted more than 7,000 lives in 20 countries.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

The episode on which we shared her story was sponsored by CaringCrowd, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Giving State Report Guides Better Philanthropy

Interview with Jacob Allen, the Managing Director of Cicero Social Impact.

For nearly a year, Jacob Allen has been working on a comprehensive report about philanthropy in the State of Utah. While some of the lessons are unique to Utah–the most philanthropically generous state in the nation–most of the insights are generally applicable to charitable giving and the operation of nonprofits anywhere.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We help mission-driven individuals and organizations maximize their impact rather than simply providing funding or services. We leverage the best analytic, strategic, measurement, and performance practices from business and apply them to solving social needs.

Download the Giving State Report here: http://www.cicerosocialimpact.org/givingstate/

More about Cicero Social Impact:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CiceroImpact
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SocialImpactCicero/
Website: www.cicerosocialimpact.org

Cicero Social Impact is an advisor, resource, and thought partner for mission-driven funders and organizations who want to maximize their impact in the world. Like our clients, we are wholly committed to improving the society we share. We combine that passion with a conviction that simply providing services or increasing the number of beneficiaries is not enough. To maximize impact, we help our clients blend data-driven strategies, inspired leadership, and effective implementation to dramatically increase society’s ability to achieve greater, more sustainable performance.

www.cicerosocialimpact.org

For-profit

Revenue model: Our mission-driven clients pay consulting fees for our services.

Scale of the enterprise: Cicero Group will generate approximately $16 million in 2017.

Jacob Allen

Jacob Allen’s bio:

Twitter: @jacob_allen1
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacob-allen-28268b5

Jacob Allen is a Partner with Cicero Group and Managing Director of the Social Impact practice, partnering with leading foundations, nonprofits, and social enterprises to improve impact through strategy, performance monitoring and impact evaluation (M&E), performance management, and donor and beneficiary analytics.

Over the past 15 years, Jacob has worked with mission-driven organizations, including leading corporate philanthropies, international NGOs, and nonprofit providers. He has led the strategic design, measurement, and implementation of social impact programs run by Presidents Bush and Clinton, United Way, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, YouthBuild International, Junior Achievement, Church World Service, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Nature Conservancy, and many others.

His recent work includes measuring the effectiveness and supporting the design and implementation of a national leadership development program sponsored by former Presidents Bush and Clinton, conducting a program evaluation in Guatemala and Nicaragua (including interviewing 600 program beneficiaries), and designing and managing a robust performance monitoring system for a corporate philanthropy’s multi-year efforts to train thousands of entrepreneurs in 20+ countries.

He co-wrote “The Giving State,” a comprehensive report on philanthropy in Utah, and “Stop Starving Scale: Unlocking the Potential of Global NGOs,” which outlines how funders have fueled the growth of global NGOs in recent years but imposed restrictions that thwart organizations’ ability to truly achieve impact at scale. He serves on the global board of directors for Mary’s Meals, which feeds a daily meal in school to 1.2 million children living in desperate poverty.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Wonder Where To Donate In A Humanitarian Crisis? This Entrepreneur Can Tell You

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

How many times have you wanted to give some money to help solve a crisis somewhere in the world but didn’t simply because you didn’t know to whom to give the money? The problem wasn’t likely that you didn’t have some candidates; more likely, you found too many candidates and couldn’t determine which would do the most good with your money.

Enter Iguacu.

Iguacu screens nonprofits working to address crises around the world to identify those that are having the best impact. Iguacu is a social enterprise that is so new it hasn’t yet set up its own 501(c)(3) organization, but that is the plan, according to founder Katherine Davies.

To date, Davies has funded the operations of Iguacu, but she is looking to establish a nonprofit entity so that she can collect donations and corporate sponsorships. Today, the organization has ten employees, including several analysts that Davies describes as “world-class” researchers.

To leverage the small staff and smaller budget, Davies has created a global network of experts that help Iguacu determine which nonprofits to support. She says, “The network gives their time for no fee because they support the Iguacu mission.”

Katherine Davies, courtesy of Iguacu

Davies founded Iguacu when she decided she wanted to find a way to help people suffering from the Syrian civil war in 2014. “I wanted to help, to donate to a good charity helping the Syrian people. But looking online, it was really hard to work out which charity, and to even understand what was going on.”

At that moment, she recognized that should couldn’t be the only one struggling to find the right NGO to support. “Surely, we have the technology and smarts to do better. Surely, we can create a platform where the public can learn how to act effectively where there is great need.”

Deborah DiStefano, an ophthalmologist and owner of the DiStafano Eye Center in Chatanooga, Tennessee, became acquainted with Davies before she launched Iguacu and has watched its progress since. She says, “We are all humans – brothers and sisters globally. So many of us feel we want to help each other within our global family. We lack the correct vehicle to achieve this goal.”

Finding the right organization to support can be frustrating, Davies says. “There is a lot of noise on the internet. Sometimes we look up a crisis and find 300 charities, many making similar claims. Great suffering often occurs in the midst of war, and rapidly changing and complex conditions on the ground, and sometimes in fragile states.”

Davies created the solution. “At weareiguacu.com, the public can find effective charities to support addressing key challenges in the world’s major crises.”

The work isn’t without its challenges, Davies says. “The biggest challenge we face is people hearing about us. We are a small team operating on a lean model of operation. We do not have a marketing department!”

Iguacu can’t address every problem in the world, Davies says. “We focus on the key challenges in severe humanitarian crises in areas of the world where the local capacity or willingness to respond is limited. We currently cover Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Nepal, Haiti, Central African Republic and Myanmar.” That seems like a good start!

DiStefano is optimistic about the organization’s prospects. “It needs to continue growing its base of donors and friends in Europe and the United States to have a continued presence and global impact on human suffering. The organization’s message really resonates; I am confident that Iguacu will galvanize the people they want to reach.”

Davies has a great vision for the impact she hopes to create. “A rapidly growing community loving Iguacu will create a powerful force for good in the world.”

“Iguacu empowers the compassionate response and its success will help to bring large scale effective support to those who are in desperate need and who may think the world has forgotten them,” Davies adds.

Iguacu Fall, at the border of Argentina an Brazil

The name Iguacu hints at Davies’ dream. “The name is a metaphor for this vision. ‘Iguacu’ (pronounced: igwah-soo) means ‘big water’ and is also the name of the great South American river known for its awe-inspiring waterfall. Iguacu evokes the power and beauty of thoughtful mass action, likening one person’s intention to a drop of water, and mass action to the great and beautiful Iguaçu.”

On Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 2:00 Eastern, Davies will join me here for a live discussion about Iguacu and the work it is doing to address some the acutest humanitarian crises in the world. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

This Entrepreneur Is Killing It And Raising More Money For Nonprofits In the Bargain

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Tim Kachuriak, founder and CEO of NextAfter, one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S., is helping nonprofits raise more money using sophisticated data analysis.

Kachuriak expects to hit $4 million in revenue this year with 77 percent gross margins and 31 percent net margins, making the fast growing company highly profitable as well. Launched little more than five years ago, the company is listed as number 422 on the Inc. 500 list.

Kachuriak explains NextAfter’s approach to helping nonprofits increase online donations. “Our business exists to create a more generous world by using behavioral economics and applied research testing to discover what inspires people to give.” This allows nonprofits to increase donations by constantly A-B testing—comparing nearly identical ad copy to determine whether the difference between two ads will make a difference in giving.

The results of much of its client work is posted almost in real time on the research page of the company’s website, allowing any nonprofit—large or small—to benefit from the analysis they are constantly doing. In August, for instance, they compared the performance of two Facebook ads intended to capture email addresses for the firm. Both ads are shown on the page and the conversation data for each is provided. One of the nearly identical ads converted nearly twice as much. The statistical validity of each comparison is also shown.

The problem that nonprofits face is that charitable giving has not increased even as our society has become more prosperous, according to Kachuriak. “By almost every measure (income, wealth, GDP) we are living in the most prosperous time in modern history. However, the percent that people give to nonprofit organizations has been stuck at the same 2 percent of household income for the past 40 years. So the question is, if we are more wealthy than we have ever been, why are we not more generous?”

Kachuriak would like to change that.

So, NextAfter is constantly experimenting to learn what makes people give. “One way may be to better understand what motivates and inspires people to give. We believe that if we can decode what works in fundraising, we can then engineer a more generous society.”

“To accomplish this, we are using the greatest behavioral laboratory that has ever existed–the internet–to virtually peer inside the minds of donors and find out why they give,” he adds.

Tim Kachuriak, courtesy of NextAfter

Tim Kachuriak, courtesy of NextAfter

The biggest challenge he faces, Kachuriak says, is that nonprofits have limited overhead funding. “The greatest challenge is that nonprofit organizations by nature suffer from scarcity of resources– they do not have big budgets for Research and Development. So in order to fund our research into what makes people give, we help organizations optimize their fundraising efforts by applying the principles testing and conversion rate optimization that is being pioneered in the for-profit sector.”

In other words, the experimentation is done in real time in a live fire environment. By driving improving results it is easier for nonprofits to afford the effort.

The problem remains, however, that only large nonprofits are good candidates as clients. Small nonprofits simply don’t have the traffic to provide statistically reliable data from which to draw conclusions.

As Kachuriak notes, “One of the biggest limitations is the composition of the nonprofit market. 84 percent of nonprofits have annual budgets of less than $1 million. This means that they most likely do not have large donor bases, lists, or even web traffic which means that only the larger organizations have enough volume to actually statistically validate our results. This means that we are really only able to do our field testing with the upper 3.6 to 16 percent of the market.”

Kachuriak sees three potential benefits that can come from NextAfter’s success.

First, he hopes to see the creation of the most generous generation in history. “If we are successful in our mission of decoding giving–understanding what motivates and inspires people to give through real-world testing–then we can radiate our learnings out to the greater nonprofit community which may intern lead to a renaissance in modern fundraising and unleash the most generous generation in the history of the world.”

Second, he believes that by extension the work of nonprofits will expand and grow to the benefit of millions around the world who are aided by nonprofits. “You can imagine what [more giving] would do for the causes that the nonprofit community serves–more clean water for people that so desperately need it, more food, medicines, and support for those that can’t afford it, greater access to education, freedom, and information–and the list goes on and on.”

Finally, he believes that donors themselves receive an inherent benefit from giving. “Perhaps the greatest benefit to our world would be experienced by the donor herself–the more that we give to care for the needs of others, the less selfish we become and the more experience true happiness and contentment.”

On Thursday, October 20 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Kachuriak will join me here for a live discussion about how nonprofits can improve giving—in some cases dramatically—by using more data driven approaches. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

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