Entrepreneurship is not only about making money. It can also be used to create social change. Three time social entrepreneur Nancy Lublin has made a career out of starting non-profits to do exactly that. Last week she sat down with the Gotham Gal and talked about lessons she has learned along the way, most of which apply as much to for profit startups as non-profits.
Posts from hacking philanthropy
Yesterday was Giving Tuesday. I hope everyone participated. I backed my friends Bijan and Lauren’s Crowdrise campaign for Charity Water. They made it easy for me. Technology makes it easier to give back.
I spent most of yesterday raising money for CSNYC and CS4All. It started with my blog post and ended with a pitch for a big gift. There were a number of other meetings in between. I have never chaired a big philanthropic campaign before. It’s an interesting experience. It reminds me a bit of raising our first fund at USV. But we get more yeses. And these people aren’t getting a return. It’s very gratifying to have another person or organization support your philanthropic work.
As I was on the subway yesterday evening headed to an event in Harlem where a non-profit called Hot Bread Kitchen thanked the Gotham Gal for five years of service as Board Chair, I got a text from my daughter Emily. She said “did you see the news about Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan?” I had not seen the news, so she sent me the link. I texted Emily back “giving back is a wonderful thing and I’m so pleased to see news like that. It makes me so hopeful for the world we live in.”
I like the dual focus of the work Mark and Priscilla will support, advancing human potential and promoting equality. Most of what ails our world is a result of not doing those things.
Giving Tuesday has come and gone. But hopefully our charitable giving has not. Whether it is giving money or giving time or just caring about something or someone, giving back feels great and is great.
Kickstarter and the UN Refugee Agency are launching something important this morning. It is called Aid Refugees and its an attempt to leverage the power of the leading crowdfunding community to raise funds to deal with the global refugee crisis.
As many of you know Kickstarter is a USV portfolio company and it has traditionally avoided getting involved in charitable efforts, choosing to stay focused on helping creative projects come to life. But like other big Internet companies, it gets asked from time to time to leverage the scope of its reach and community to tackle big problems. Until now, Kickstarter has chosen to decline those invitations but the scope of the global refugee crisis is so large and the mission is also consistent with Kickstarter’s recently filed public benefit corporation charter in which they committed to fight inequality. So this time they said yes. This doesn’t mean Kickstarter will start allowing charitable projects on its platform. It does mean it will do this sort of thing when the company feels like it can help make a difference.
Here’s how Kickstarter explains this effort on their blog post this morning:
Two weeks ago, the White House reached out to us with an idea: what if you could use Kickstarter to help the millions of refugees seeking safety in the Middle East and Europe?
We immediately told them yes — and at the White House’s invitation, Kickstarter is working with the UN Refugee Agency to raise money and deliver aid to those in need of it. We’ve all seen the images of people fleeing for safety, on foot and in boats, with nowhere to go and precious few resources. It’s not a crisis that can be solved overnight, but the White House, the United Nations, and Kickstarter all believe that a strong outpouring of support can provide crucial assistance for people fleeing their homes and risking their lives to find a safer future.
To learn more about how we can provide that support, just visit this campaign. It’s not a typical Kickstarter project. There’s no all-or-nothing funding goal. The rewards are all about giving, not getting. And we’ll be donating 100% of our usual fee to support these aid efforts. Most days, this site is a home for people working together to create new things, but this campaign is about something else: working together to bring the most basic of necessities to people who need them dearly. Even a little support can give a family dry clothes, fresh water, or a place to sleep — those “small” things that become everything as soon as you’ve lost them. We’d love your help.
If you have been looking for a way to engage in the global refugee crisis, check out Aid Refugees. I plan to “back this project” and I hope you will too.
I just wrote a longish post on the plane to SF this morning, hit publish, and lost everything.
Normally WordPress autosaves the post when an error happens but it did not this time.
So I’m not going to have time to rewrite that post today.
So maybe we can talk about the topic instead.
I wrote about the best legal/tax structure for social entrepreneurs. I am seeing more and more social entrepreneurs adopt the for profit corporation for their social enterprise. With innovations like the B Corporation for aligning interests, and with more investors understanding that financial returns and social impact are not mutually exclusive, it seems like this may be the better structure for social enterprises that can create a sustainable business model.
Tomorrow, Ron Conway and I are going to kick off Disrupt NY 2015, with a fireside chat with Kim-Mai Cutler. We plan to discuss philanthropy and civic involvement. I’m looking forward to this talk. I think folks in the tech sector need to embrace philanthropy and civic involvement and I look forward to making the case for that.
I’ve been working in the VC business since the mid 80s. And for most of that time, I’ve felt that the tech sector was surprisingly uninterested and uninvolved in things outside of the tech sector. That’s a great strength of the tech sector, it’s is focused on innovation, making things, and building companies. And it does not get distracted by things outside of that realm.
But we know that the things we make and the companies we build have great impact on those outside of the tech sector. It can be for the good, like building cars that don’t use carbon fuels and showing the auto industry that it can be a good business to do that. It can be for the bad, like automating away jobs that once paid the way for a middle class lifestyle.
It feels to me that our economy and our society is now deeply entwined with technology and being significantly impacted by it. If that is true, I believe it is shortsighted to avoid getting engaged in the discussions and debates about what kind of world we need to work toward. I think one way or another the tech sector is going to get pulled into these debates. It will be one thing if that happens thoughtfully and positively and another if the tech sector is pulled into them kicking and screaming.
Regular readers of this blog know that my partners and I have been involved in these discussions since we started USV over a decade ago. We spend our time, energy, and capital in areas like policy debates, philanthropy, and civic engagement. There are others in the tech sector who do the same. Ron Conway comes to mind as someone who has spent a similar amount of time, energy, and capital on this stuff. And I am thrilled to share the stage with him tomorrow as we discuss these issues.
We go on stage at 9:05am eastern tomorrow. I’m hoping the talk will be livestreamed and you can watch it live. If it is, it will be somewhere like here.
When a disaster strikes, caring people all over the world seek ways they can help. Usually that means giving funds to a global relief organization like the Red Cross. But in the age of crowdfunding, giving to relief efforts takes on an entirely new flavor. You can see that in action on our portfolio company CrowdRise’s service this morning.
Crowdfunding means you can target your giving with more granularity.
You can give to this family in the US raising money to help their relatives in Nepal, who are now living in a temporary tent and are in desperate need for help.
You can give to this campaign that benefits a local relief effort.
The Gotham Gal and I have given to all of these campaigns and I hope you will consider giving to something as well.
All of the Nepal relief efforts on CrowdRise can be seen here.
Technology often involves a lot of intense brain work behind a desk or computer. I’ve learned over the years how important it is to move your body to relieve it from all that stress and strain. And so it was interesting to me when my friend Rob said he wanted to do a fundraiser for CSNYC at a CrossFit gym.
The event Rob envisioned is now happening. It’s called “Get Fit or Be Hacking” and is taking place on May 2nd from 2pm – 8pm at CrossFit South Brooklyn in Gowanus. Participants will compete in teams of four to complete various coding and fitness challenges. Each four person team will also raise money for CSNYC via CrowdRise in the weeks leading up to the event. Awards will be given out for the most creative fundraising approach and most money raised as well as in the fitness, coding, and overall categories based on team performance May 2nd.
If you’re a software developer who also likes to work out, this event is for you. More info can be found on the CrowdRise page here; if you’d like to donate to CSNYC by supporting one of the competing teams, that’s also where to go. More information on the event overall is available from CrossFit South Brooklyn.
This should be a great event.
Every year at this time of the year, my office piles up with gifts that people send me. I don’t drive back and forth to work so it’s not easy for me to bring them home. So a big pile builds up and sometime in January or February, I get a big bag, come in on the weekend, and pick everything up and bring it home. As you can imagine reading this, I get annoyed by this. I know the gifts are sent with the best intentions. But sadly they are not received that way.
What I would massively prefer is a donation be made instead.
– Or participate in the Crowdrise Holiday Challenge (which The Gotham Gal and I helped make happen).
If you want to see a map of what CSNCY is funding, you can see that here.
Our wishlist was built with our existing donor pool in mind and AVC readers might find the specific asks a bit steep. So if you don’t find any of our wishes to your liking you can make a donation of any size here:
In the midst of terrible news all over the place comes a wonderful hopeful heartwarming mania sweeping the nation.
Everyone is pouring ice buckets over their heads in a social viral fun outpouring of generosity to find a cure for a disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS for short.
The most famous victim of ALS was Lou Gehrig and for that his name will be forever associated with this disease.
ALS is a horrible disease. If we could find a cure for it, that would be an incredible thing.
It looks like the Ice Bucket Challenge will raise over $50mm for ALS research and possibly a lot more. That is real money that can fund real science.
I’ve been “challenged” a few times on Facebook and Twitter over the past few weeks and instead of pouring ice water over my head and then calling out additional people, I decided to donate $500 to ALS research via Ben Huh’s Ice Bucket Challenge on CrowdRise.
I am sure some of you will be disappointed that I “chickened out” and did not choose to get doused, but to me the important thing is the generosity that the Ice Bucket Challenge has unlocked.
That’s what I want to participate in, that’s what will ultimately make the difference, and I would encourage everyone to donate even if you have not been challenged.
I gave this talk at NYU last week. It’s about three things I am spending a lot of time on and thinking a lot about these days.
The talk is about 30mins long and the Q&A goes on for about as long after the talk.