Edward Norton: Empower Others…In Just 15 Minutes
The actor talks about his new social networking website Crowdrise and being inspired by those who give back and make a difference.
BY: Dena Ross
Absolutely not. You can't set up anything that activates the donation mechanism unless it's a registered 501c3 through the IRS database.
So, if you want to do a project, it has to be affiliated with a charity?
Yeah. You can't raise money for a hip replacement for your grandma. As noble as it may be, we want [Crowdrise] to be squeaky clean and sort of unimpeachable in that sense. It has to be a registered non-profit through the IRS database. When you sign up, you can click and search and if it's one of the registered 501c3s and non-profits— they're all in our database—you can raise money for it.
When people make donations through the site, it goes through to the organization. We save the organization the trouble of having to send back to the donor that this is their receipt for a deductible donation. To be able to do that for the organizations, it's got to be a bona fide non-profit.
It seems younger people are more willing to volunteer their time rather than donate money since they may not have money, especially during in today's economy. What would you tell someone who doesn't have the funds to donate to their friends' causes? How can they help?
The way it's constructed is that you can join someone's team by donating, but you can also join by saying, "I'm going to join your team and send this out to my circles of people. " And with one click, you can join someone's team. It creates an immediate project page on your page and then you can basically send that out and say, "My friend Jen is walking for ALS because she lost her sister and I'm backing her and will you--my friends and family--come in behind me?" In this very speedy way people can do much more than just use their own financial ability to donate.
We really wanted to push this idea of sponsor volunteering. There's so many young people specifically who don't have money to donate but who are through national honor societies, through church groups, through this new Year of Service thing that started, they're giving their time, they're giving their skills, they're teaching, they're volunteering. All of us had done things like walkathons and I ran the marathon.
We started sort of saying to each other, we should build this in a way that encourages people who don't give money but give time through volunteering to, if they build a page, say "I'm not running a marathon, I volunteer with my church mission and I do it 10 hours a week and I'd like to raise $1,000 and will you sponsor my volunteerism?"
We're working with some big groups, some education based groups and student based groups and then some faith based that have real armies of volunteers to help turn their volunteer army into an even more productive network.
That's a great idea. Faith-based fundraising groups are usually very dedicated.
Oh, I know. Think about all the like good works that get done through faith based groups. They're already doing a lot of fundraising, but what they're really doing is often just bringing these armies of people together to do great stuff.
There's a faith based organization, Church of God San Jose, their 501C3 non-profit is called 4others.org. They've put together a Crowdrise team and they're doing a 15 mile walkathon through Death Valley to raise money for this African clean water project. They just found the site and 24 people from this church have signed up to do this walk in late June under one team Crowdrise banner.
They said we love [the site] because we are such a strong community and we love the idea of being able to link up under a community team and we love that [the site] is really fun. So we're psyched. We see a lot of people coming to it on their own and doing stuff that's very creative.
Think about like the degree to which the evangelical movement is tuning in to like Africa work and the Billy Graham, Franklin Graham push.
The thing I like about this is the way it's designed. We really tried to make it all roll up into this sense of community so that as people join each others' teams and those people are signed up under an organization, at each level, you can really track what they have all achieved together. Psychologically that is inspiring for people because they say the $300 I was able to raise is not irrelevant. It's a part of this movement and it actually was part of raising $15,000.
Being able to look at it and see yourself as part of this power in numbers phenomenon is a lot of what Obama achieved with his own political movement. He created this sense of ownership—that your small individual engagement meant a lot. I just think wouldn't it be awesome if one day we looked at the whole thing and see that like $100 million has been donated through Crowdrise. That would be incredible.
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