Using CrowdRise To Help People In Nepal

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 where CrowdRise employee Mallory is raising funds to go to Nepal and help.

You can give to this campaign that celebrates Google engineer Dan Fredinburg who was killed while climbing Mount Everest this weekend.

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.

#crowdfunding#hacking philanthropy

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    We have become so efficient and good at mobilizing and focusing grass roots donation efforts (much better than it was for 9/11, Thailand, Haiti & other recent disasters), but I wonder if we are doing as good a job reporting back on the results of these donations (like Donors Choose does for example).A friend just returned from Haiti & she observed the impacts of the tragedy there were still very visible & as if progress in rebuilding and fixing was slow. (despite billions in aids & a few years later)Is there an organization that reports on progress and rates some of these recipient organizations (aside from direct contributions) on the efficiency of their relief work?

    1. awaldstein

      There was no crowdsourcing, no social web–nada when we 9/11 happened.You imply there was something there besides searching around for scraps of paper pasted on the wall.Nothing at all.

      1. William Mougayar

        Not disagreeing there, but my point is on the 2nd part- efficiency & reporting of donations, & you commented already in your own comment.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I’ve been thinking a lot about 9/11 these past few days. Amazing the difference that social media makes in trying to get a fix on the situation — including figuring out whether people I know have been personally affected.

        1. William Mougayar

          Facebook rolled out a feature where people self-report their status & it tells you if your friends are OK. Check Mark Zuckerberg’s post on it.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, William. For me it’s more family of friends or clients, etc., but this is a great tool! I have wanted to reach out to people but my ignorance is a little embarrassing — India is a huge country and so far people I know have family in Delhi or places not affected. I don’t want it to be like when I get panic calls from my family in the Midwest after a California earthquake or a wildfire hundreds of miles away.

        2. awaldstein

          old but still a favorite post of mine on just that. linked to a bunch i wrote on the topic back when.Collective memory and the social web

    2. Joe Cardillo

      Totally agree w/this. Money & donations often aren’t the issue, it’s the skill / know how / framework through which they are put into action that matters. And reporting / accountability are a key part of that.

    3. Ruth BT

      I don’t know of any but Brandon Burns did mention Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator…) which is a really great place to start when digging deep on accountability and effectiveness of donations. I donate to Room to Read and it has a local staff of 106 in Nepal – all accounted for and safe as of this morning. Room to Read (founder by John Wood ex-Microsoft) test and measure every metric possible to ensure that they are being effective in their delivery of support, in their case, childrens literacy and the education of girls through libraries, schools and books in local languages.

      1. William Mougayar

        That looks like a great resource. thanks !

  2. Mario Cantin

    The only way I’ll send funds for relief efforts from now on, along with Bitcoin when it takes off in earnest.

    1. William Mougayar

      Actually, you can via ChangeTip…

      1. Mario Cantin

        Thanks William, I’ll check it out right after I’m done going through the CrowdRise site.

  3. awaldstein

    Granularity is a great way to think of it.I’m a big supporter of animal rights. Why give to the ASPCA when I can support a shared rescue shelter with a cam and be connected to the solution?Big change. Important one.

    1. William Mougayar

      Exactly. I prefer direct contributions than ones via big associations where you’re not exactly sure how much actually ends-up getting there.

      1. awaldstein

        very true.i give more, get more satisfaction and share with my nets to spread the word because of these granular platforms.but you are right, making certain that the after contribution communications is right is perfect.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Yes. And I believe this granularity will have greater impact over time.I think of a friend who wrote huge checks to a particular organization, but then his wife challenged him to drop off a check personally which started a relationship whereby not only his money but his powerhouse thinking ability also benefit the organization.

      1. ShanaC

        This is a hue deal. if you can’t talk to people on the ground, nothing really changes ever in nonprofit.

    3. pointsnfigures

      That’s key. Knowing that your money goes to the cause, not the bureaucracy that oversees the operation. Toys For Tots is a perfect example. All your money goes to the kids. The Red Cross, not so much.

      1. awaldstein


      2. Brandon Burns

        There are several organizations that tell you what % of donations go to the actual beneficiaries vs. other costs. Here’s one: http://www.charitynavigator…The worry that the money gets wasted is largely unfounded. Most charities have a minimum of 85% of all money going directly to their causes. Including the Red Cross, which is at 90.4%.

      3. Ciaran

        “Knowing that your money goes to the cause, not the bureaucracy that oversees the operation.”As opposed to a VC backed platform that, presumably, as some point needs to make good on its backers’ investments? I’m not doubting the benefit of what this product might provide, but why is one form of bureaucracy better than another, particularly when only one of them is (I assume) profit driven?

      4. ShanaC

        the red cross has other logistics costs. They maintain blood banks – and blood banks and blood testing is an infrastructure build

        1. pointsnfigures

          they have a big ass bureaucracy. in Chicago, I never gave blood to the Red Cross, always an independent org or directly to a hospital.

  4. Donna Brewington White

    Fred, I am really glad that you shared this. I appreciate the opportunity to contribute beyond my concern and prayers.The news of the damage caused by the Nepal earthquake has been disturbing and heartbreaking, but it seemed so distant until it occurred to me how many of my friends, associates and clients (or their employees) have family in that region, particularly, India, and it all became so much closer.”Distance” or the inability to connect relationally wouldn’t make it any less significant. However, the CrowdRise opportunities do make the giving feel more personal, for whatever that is worth.I did wonder if any in the AVC community were affected — directly or indirectly. Actually, have wondered about this a lot.

    1. William Mougayar

      Maybe Jerry Colonna also has acquaintances there.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Why is that?

        1. William Mougayar

          He is a Buddhist. His teachings and work are highly influenced by his studies in Buddhism, and he is on the board of Naropa University. He goes to Nepal and Tibet.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            oh yeah, that makes sense.

    2. Joe Cardillo

      Re: making it feel personal, reminds me of the Khalil Gibran quote about how it’s good to give when asked, but better to practice understanding and give because you can see it’s needed.

      1. William Mougayar

        “It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding” – Khalil GebranActually, I was just reading today about the new animated movie The Prophet that’s just coming out, with voices from Liam Neeson and Salma Hayek.

        1. Joe Cardillo

          Ah, yep that’s the one. Had no idea about the movie, I’ll check that out.The section on giving w/that quote, been thinking about that a lot lately. Started working up a post the other day about acquisition vs. invitation, we’ll see if I’m able to bridge startups and philosophy = )

    3. ShanaC

      a friend of a friend of a friend apparently was there. I’ve always wanted to go to nepal. That’s about it

  5. Tom Labus

    The economic costs are estimated at 20% of their GDP. They need a lot of help.Many climbers and sherpas feel that last year deaths and this event are a warning from Everest

  6. pointsnfigures… And through the magic of tech, we can see what caused the problems on Everest.

  7. Mario Cantin

    I love how 100% of my donation goes to the cause, and that the service fee is on top. That goes a long way to re-assure me, actually.It would have been less friction for me personally if they had accepted PayPal.

  8. John Pepper

    done. appreciated having firm recommendations so I could donate with confidence.

  9. Tom Shakely

    I love CrowdRise and used it last year to fundraise for a marathon. Likely will do so again this year. Any idea on (a) when the site will be mobile friendly (b) if there will ever be an iOS app? I imagine both would improve engagement and retention.

    1. fredwilson

      this year for both

  10. Brandon Burns

    “The Gotham Gal and I have given to all of these campaigns and I hope you will consider giving to something as well.”I didn’t look to see if the feature already exists but, if it doesn’t, it would be nice to have a one-screen experience where you can select multiple charities, put in one donation amount for everyone, and then it automatically divides the sum equally and sends each charity its respective portion. All in one page, one “pay now” button.It would also likely be a good way to increase Crowdrise’s per-user spend by a very high amount, with little effort.

    1. fredwilson

      great suggestion

      1. Brandon Burns

        Put it in the hands of someone who can put it into action!

        1. fredwilson

          already done

          1. Brandon Burns

            *fist pump*

          2. Brandon Burns

            Also, I know I’ve been quiet re: Calc. I’ve just been working. And, thus, Calc v2 is on its way. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s likely that a little present will be dropped in your email this week.

    2. laurie kalmanson

      with teams

    3. LE

      It’s a good idea in one way but the other side of that is that if you create to big or involved of a purchase experience you will have shopping cart abandonment.For example right now it’s a simple decision “do I want to support this or not”. Quick and easy with no chance to change your mind. Now all of the sudden you are asking people to consider multiple donations and to split up the amount that you want to spend. And in doing that there is the distinct chance that they actually will not do anything.My variation of this would be to allow them to do that one purchase and then after they are done do a “people who donated to this also donated to that”.In sales it is often good to try to have someone just focus on one decision and complete that decision before trying to sell them anything additional (and yes there are exceptions obviously..). [1][1] A simple example of this is a home contractor. A smart contractor, when asked for prices on multiple projects in the house, will just bid one item and try to land that. He knows that if he gives you multiple prices (as you think of other things you need) you will possibly decide “nah I will just wait… to many $$ to do what I want or “to much to think about” and get paralysis.

      1. Brandon Burns

        Idea ≠ Execution.A good, experienced UX designer should know how to take an idea, predict and/or test for the pitfalls, and execute it in such a way that the integrity and main objective of the idea is kept (i.e. one-page multi select) while not succumbing to the pitfalls (i.e. too big or involved of a purchase experience).Everyone thinks that because they experience products, that they’re experience designers. But it’s challenges like these that separate the masses from the experts. 🙂

        1. LE

          You are talking about UX design (and you are right) but I am talking about human behavior. I’ve got many many years of actual experience with human behavior on a one to one level actually selling (and/or negotiating and strategy) in various forms in a seat of the pants way. (That is the basis of my comment, iim and is my gut and opinion not the answer for everyone). (Separately I was also worried about the price of the donation increasing to a point where someone said “hmm that’s a big number let me thing about it a bit” and bailing just for that reason.)

          1. Brandon Burns

            Lol. What you just said is the same (sorry!) crap everyone else says.This is not a personal attack on you. This is me supporting my practice of experience design, which is devalued everyday by people claiming that they, somehow, know better than the folks who are trained and experienced in the *specific* practice of experience design.Fallacy #1: experience design *is* about human behavior, and just because you’re a human that observes the behavior of other humans (just like everyone else) doesn’t mean that you’re trained in the *specific* practice of architecting an experience in such a way that users do what you want them to do, and applying very specific types of human behavioral research to figure out how to do that.Everyone has a reason for why, they too, have valid UX thoughts! And you all do have good ideas! They’re just not as well developed or pinpointed as a real, good, experienced UX designer. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your ideas around designing a purchase path (which, really, is a nice idea) will be better than someone who has spent years designing many, many purchases paths, tracking metrics, tweaking by the pixel, watching how users react to each little tweak, and building a thorough knowledge of how users behave when presented with different options.There are not many experience designers out there who legitimately have this training. The chief reason why is al the other posers. I’m merely doing my duty to protect my kind from those who, knowingly or not, devalue our craft.In the process, I hope I haven’t devalued you or your idea. They’re both great. 🙂

          2. LE

            I am not devaluing your craft in any way. (But I am noting that on your linkedin I don’t see UX mentioned..)Brandon are you currently looking for UX design work or are you doing wanderandtrade full time? (If so you can either reply or write to me personally and we can continue the thread.)They’re just not as well developed or pinpointed as a real, good, experienced UX designer. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your ideas around designing a purchase path Definitely not and of course I see the difference.

          3. Brandon Burns

            I haven’t updated my LinkedIn in ages but, for reference, on my profile and pretty much everywhere else I tend to use “experience designer” versus “UX designer.” Maybe to my detriment, but meh.I come from an agency background. I was most recently a Creative Director (a rather senior position). Creative Directors can have backgrounds in copywriting, art direction or, if in a tech-specific agency, experience design. That should clear up some of the confusion around titles listed on my profile.I’m not “looking” for work, but I’m always open to projects! I do a fair amount of consulting, mostly for clients via their agencies, as a both a UX lead or a general product lead (i.e. Creative Director). You might recognize a recent project:'m not “looking” for work, but I’m always open to new projects!But, yes, I’m working as full time as possible on my own thing. I’ll share what that is at some point in the near future.Wander&Trade is a baby that I’ll have to raise at a later stage in my life. 🙂

          4. LE

            I haven’t updated my LinkedIn in ages butYou need to update that and you should also buy the domain “” (the price is about $800 which is quite affordable) so you can post your work there as well. Just one page is fine. If more involved see what Arnold did might recognize a recent project: have a known deficiency (which we’ve discussed before) on the PR and bragging front. You need to get ‘yer ass in gear on that. If your accomplishments aren’t known, they won’t get you higher up on the halo totem pole. And you will make less money. Don’t act like that doesn’t matter it does.The more work you have the more you can increase what you charge and the better work and clients you will have.

          5. Brandon Burns

            Still working on that deficiency. I will get there, eventually.I will get the domain, too. I didn’t realize it was $800. Where did you find that?

          6. Brandon Burns

            Also, re: that deficiency, some of it is that I just flat out don’t care about the things that most other’s do.There’s nothing groundbreaking, or even remotely interesting about anything I and the agency team created around Google Fi. Yes, the service itself is interesting, but I wasn’t responsible for that — some executive who negotiated the deal with Sprint and T-Mobile can take credit for that. I was merely asked to package the service into a site where folks can learn about it and sign up for it, and an app where users can manage their accounts. And while the result is solid, it’s also merely what it needs to be. I’ve designed many marketing sites and manage-your-account app experiences, and this one, like all the rest, is quite simple; there is no ground to break here. Thus, I’m pretty “meh” about it.But people care because its Google. Hell, even the other agency folks fight tooth and nail to do basic work for Google over meatier challenges on lesser known clients. But I guess I just don’t beat to that drum, or whatever the saying.Still, I’ll add Fi to my portfolio soon (along with a bunch of other missing things). I’ll even mention it to folks who’ll care, and feign excitement and a sense of gravitas when I do. But only because you (and others) have rightly reminded me that, while I don’t care, everyone else does.

          7. LE

            Hell, even the other agency folks fight tooth and nail to do basic work for Google over meatier challenges on lesser known clients. But I guess I just don’t beat to that drum, or whatever the saying.When something doesn’t make sense to you you have to reverse engineer why others are doing it otherwise you can and will be missing out. You’ve got that “artists” thing going (and you proudly know it..)In advertising why do you think someone will pay a celebrity to be affiliated with their product and appear in advertisements? You know why. I’ll even mention it to folks who’ll care, and feign excitement and a sense of gravitas when I do.I think it’s enough to have it quietly appear on a website as long as you know that people will take a look at that. Depending upon how you communicate it may be beneficial to repeat the message but I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute requirement.

  11. Guest

    I’d prefer more abstraction, not less: Fill in a survey that captures my philanthropic priorities and values and set up a standing order for £x per month. The service figures out where I would donate if I had the time and makes the decision for me. Then sends a report every 6 months on what my money has achieved, inviting me to up my donation or adjust my answers.

    1. William Mougayar

      that sounds llke a startup idea 🙂

  12. Ana Milicevic

    While I welcome granularity in most things I would urge you all to bear in mind that in the event of a catastrophe of this kind it is best to line up resources to organizations on the ground who know how to and are able to effectively manage a large-scale crisis. I’ve had the privilege to be part of large scale emergency responses managed by the UN; while we in the US tend to have a jaded and negative view of this institution there is no one better to manage and deliver emergency care and support to those who need it most. There are many logistical considerations that smaller organizations cannot manage well especially in locations with challenging infrastructure.

    1. Joe Cardillo

      Good, embedded point here. It’s likely that those of us in the U.S. don’t understand enough to even determine what / where help should go. It’s a balance of sharing stories that help people connect to what’s happening, but to empower people who are already engaged and/or understand what’s happening. The Haiti crisis for example was filled with tons of resources that weren’t allocated quickly enough or to the right places. Lots of design thinking / human centered design needed in these situations.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        Yes, exactly. In Haiti it turned out to be very much about logistical management and planning simply because of where the airfield was and how it was only connected via a single road so lots of stuff that was arriving got bogged down at distribution, and almost led to riots. Every crisis has a different flavor which is why experience in crisis management is so important.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      She knows of what she speaks, people.

    3. Ciaran

      As well as the danger of duplicating tasks, inefficiently allocating resource, etc…

      1. Ana Milicevic

        That danger is minimal compared to the wealth of experience necessary to manage all different aspects of a crisis. Moreover there’s a clear chain of command and responsibility in emergency responses. It’s like triage.

        1. Ciaran

          Sorry, I was agreeing with you!

          1. Ana Milicevic

            Ah! I, like Fred, am on Europe time this week and that was totally lost on me at 2am last night/this morning/whenever 🙂

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Interesting to hear your perspective, Ana. Good insight.

  13. LE

    On the campaign that you supported, Kristin Celano (who is not Facebook verified) how would someone know that this request from her is legitimate?I did a search for Kristin Celano and there are several people with that name and the one with a twitter account (once again quick search) didn’t mention this campaign (so I guess it’s not that Kristin Celano).Her profile on crowdrise:…How is a potential donator, who takes a quick and casual look at crowdrise, supposed to feel comfortable that the right thing is going to happen with their dollars? If it’s there (once again from a quick look, nobody “studies and read’s faq’s”, I don’t see it.Once of the reasons people give money to the Red Cross etc. is that Red Cross is a brand that they feel that they can trust.What has Crowdrise done to make sure that people have that same trust?

    1. fredwilson

      this issue is not specific to CrowdRiseKickstarter faces it as wellit is true of most of the crowdfunding services

      1. LE

        Yes I thought of kickstarter. But the way the question was answered seems to indicate that it’s not in the best interest of the platform to even solve the concern.However there is a difference between an iron clad guarantee (and serious vetting which is not practical I know that) and having some reasonable belief that the right thing will happen with the money. Which is my point.Also Kickstarter is not taking dollars for the types of things that crowdrise does. And I have no issue if a family uses crowdrise to raise funds for something personal (that doesn’t even exist) that’s a buyer beware type of situation. In the case of having people give money to a charity I would argue that if someone checks off “helped the cause” they will then not give dollars to a traditional charity. So it’s similar to opportunity cost. Different than kickstarter which is displacing entertainment dollars or dollars that would go to other businesses.

  14. laurie kalmanson

    this is awesome

  15. Ayush Neupane

    Thanks Fred for your support. We here in Nepal need all the help we can get!

  16. Steve Hallock

    Horrible scene there right now. I’m connected to a rescue organization and likely going for a month to help in the rescue efforts. Word on the ground there is that they’re still having fairly large earthquakes multiple times per day. The airport is still closed. They’re such people of good will — certainly our time and money will go a long way. Thanks for the post!

    1. Richard

      Just curious, where do you sleep, eat, while you are there?

      1. Steve Hallock

        TBD in this case, but obviously that is one of the logistical challenges to be worked out in any of these scenarios. Usually there are areas and establishments that are more in tact than others

  17. mikenolan99

    The president of our student Entrepreneurship club on campus, and my graduate assistant and dear friend is from Nepal. By chance, Saturday night was Nepalese night on campus – a celebration for all of our students from Nepal. Though her friends were not in a celebratory mood, they still got together and reminded us all of the beauty of their culture.She wishes me to say thank you to the AVC community – and is touched by the outpouring of love she has seen here in the US.Thanks Fred… and thanks to the community.

  18. Nathan Lustig

    Fred + community, If you’re thinking about donating, check out Team Rubicon (http://www.teamrubiconusa.o…. Team Rubicon allows US military veterans to use their unique skills to bridge the gap between when a natural disaster strikes and large scale UN style relief that takes days or weeks to get mobilized arrives on the scene.Many of the entrepreneurial minded people on this blog will really like Team Rubicon, their story (http://www.teamrubiconusa.o… and their mission. Since 2010, Team Rubicon has become my favorite charity and is already in the process of deploying to get boots on the ground in Nepal.In 2010, Jacob Wood was a veteran of the US Marines and had just returned from another tour of duty when the Haiti earthquake happened. Jake and a few of his ex marine buddies raised a bit of money and immediately sprung into action, flew to Haiti and provided emergency medical care for survivors. Since then, Jake created Team Rubicon, which routinely deploys both in the US and abroad.It has an added benefit of helping vets transition back to civilian life and has been recognized by President Obama multiple times.(….

  19. Ayush Neupane

    Would it be possible for CrowdRise to forgo their fees for this effort? It would be great if all the donated money could be used for relief.

  20. paramendra

    My Article On Nepal Earthquake For Foreign Policyhttp://demrepubnepal.blogsp…

  21. William Mougayar

    There’s also aid / missions from other countries who have their teams go there directly via planes & helicopters, etc..I think the p2p help would be in addition to the generic help that’s already happening.