Extra inspiration!

Photo via She's the First

For those runners (or potential runners!) looking to extend the benefits of their exercise, consider registering for Run the World (#RunSTF), a campaign launched by She’s the First. From March to June, She’s the First is asking participants to join a run or fitness fundraiser in their local community, and use their training and completion of the race as a platform to raise money in support of girls’ educational scholarships. Through this campaign, She’s the First seeks to raise $50,000 through participating runners nationwide. All proceeds raised from this event will be donated directly to She’s the First partner schools around the world.

Throughout the duration of this event, I’ve been constantly inspired by the amount of runs shared on social media with the #RunSTF hashtag on Twitter. I believe this online community provides extra support to participants and a sense of excitement that we are all in this together.

Photo via She's the First

As both a runner and She’s the First supporter, this campaign really excites me! I’ve volunteered with She’s the First as a researcher and leadership team member for nearly four years. As researcher, I write weekly blog posts for She’s the First’s partner schools in Nepal, Ethiopia and Kenya. To compel more people to participate in this campaign, I’ve tried to highlight the importance of fitness at the schools She’s the First sponsors. To do so, I worked with school administrators in Ethiopia and Kenya to interview classrooms full of young girls on how they make getting fit fun! Below is a sampling of blog posts I’ve written for the She’s the First Aspire blog to spread the word about #RunSTF:

An Extra Does of Motivation from Kenya

What Inspires Girls to Exercise at KSG?

Sun Salutations to Soccer: Getting Fit at the Kibera School

From Duck, Duck, Goose to Dancing: Getting Fit with Selamta

Run the World: A Record-Breaking First

My Running Inspiration

After weeks and weeks of training last summer and early fall, I was thrilled to complete my first ever half marathon in September. Largely thanks to the inspiration provided by two roommates, Carla in Brooklyn and Steph in Washington D.C., the miles I ran in training flew by. However, were it not for the technology provided by the Nike+ mobile app, I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have had the motivation to make it to the finish line. The app truly delivers on its promise, to make users “get more from your run.”

In August, I downloaded the Nike+ app after learning about it in Adam Peruta’s Advertising Copy class. After creating my profile, I easily began tracking each run I went on. Now, it’s habit that before I hit the trail or treadmill, I simply grab my iPhone, plug in my headphones, open up the app and provide the distance or time I hope to run. Currently, I’m using the Cool Runnings training plan to guide my daily mileage. Though friends and family provide all the support in the world to make me set new running goals, these online and mobile tools empower me to prove to myself that I can accomplish them.

Steph and I running...with Nike+ app in hand!

Steph and I running…with Nike+ app in hand!

I also select between running indoors or outdoors, and have the option to “Get Cheers” as I run. Though I’ve never opted for this, I think it’s a fantastic idea. Were I to allow “cheers,” Nike+ would post as my Facebook profile status that I just started a run, so that each time one of my friends “likes” my status, I would instantly hear cheers in my headphones. This is just one of the many ways that the Nike+ app provides unexpected motivation.

Get cheered on by friends though Nike+'s social media integration.

Get cheered on by friends though Nike+’s social media integration.

Throughout my run, I can glance down at the app and see my progress in realtime. Seeing each mile conquered provides inspiration that never gets old. The app also tracks accomplishments, like farthest, longest and fastest runs, and encourages users to set new records with each run! At the conclusion of a Nike+ run session, an Olympic athlete’s voice comes through the headphones, praising each user’s accomplishments that day.

After I complete a run, the Nike+ app allows me to review the course I ran (and my speed along the way), my total time and distance completed and the amount of calories burned. It’s GPS-optimized, so I can zoom into my tracked course for full detail of every street I ran. The tracked course is also optimized with a speed tracker, so I can see where my slow spots were and aim to improve those areas in future runs.

The many running perks provided by Nike+

The many running perks provided by Nike+

Yesterday evening, my 8 mile run marked a milestone! After syncing 126 runs with the app, I’ve completed 500 miles! I’m looking forward to the next 500 as I set my sights on the Navy Air Force Half Marathon this September, and potentially a marathon in the future! Next April, I’m planning on entering the lottery for the #werundc Nike Women’s Half Marathon, where finishers are awarded a Tiffany’s necklace after crossing the finish line! Though it’s satisfying to complete those 13.1 miles, I’m sure tossing in a Tiffany’s necklace would add some extra motivation!

Screenshot of progress since August!

Screenshot of progress since August!


Extra bonus

Thanks to this blog, I’ve now started using Charity Miles! Whenever I train outdoors for my next half marathon, I sync both my Nike+ and Charity Miles app. That way, not only can I track my running progress, but I can see how those miles pay off in donations to The Partnership for a Healthier America.

Going Pro with POLITICO

Every morning, I wake up to an e-mail from Mike Allen, one of the nation’s most “in-the-know” political reporters. Described as being “the most powerful” or “important journalist in the capital,” Mike Allen is the man behind Playbook, the free daily e-mail tip-sheet that reaches the inboxes of the nation’s movers, shakers and policymakers (Leibovich, 2010).

Playbook is packed with the morning’s headlines, spottings around the Hill, birthday shout outs, personal anecdotes and the day’s leading political headlines. During my past semester in Washington D.C., I looked as forward to reading Playbook as I did to enjoying my morning cup of coffee!

POLITICO's Reputation among Capitol Hill readers (via POLITICO)

Playbook was my first introduction to POLITICO, a “one-stop shop for the fastest, most in-depth coverage of the White House, Congress, politics and policy” (“Facts and Logos”). In an age when the 24-hour news cycle adds extra pressure to be the first source of breaking news, Playbook gives POLITICO a winning edge. In Washington, POLITICO is everywhere – in print, online, on mobile devices. POLITICO’s influence spans editorials, blogs, newsletters, videos, events, books, television and radio appearances, and debates.

For the past several months, I have benefitted greatly from POLITICO’s free online news coverage, and am certainly not alone in this. In fact, POLITICO’s online readers now total five to seven million (“Facts and Logos”). As you’ll see in the graphic below, its reader base is spread evenly among political parties, which indicates its nonpartisan coverage. For most of these readers, access to POLITICO is free. POLITICO’s free tip-sheets (like Playbook) are especially popular among readers, with each one having at least 8,500 subscribers (Warzel, 2012).

POLITICO also offers free coverage on the following banner topics:

  • Elections – offers polls and commentary on upcoming and current elections
  • POLITICO 44 – curates information on President Obama’s time in office
  • Congress – provides updates on Congressional members and legislation
  • Blogs – analysis on media, domestic politics, politico “celebs,” SCOTUS, etc.
  • Opinion – POLITICO’s daily weigh-in on the nation’s political conversations
  • Policy – highlights health care, finance, the environment, defense, technology, infrastructure & transportation
  • Media and Outreach – publishes videos and photos, as well as hosts events



Last year, POLITICO launched POLITICO Pro, a premium news platform that requires a subscriber log-in. POLITICO Pro focuses on the “defense, energy, finance, health care, tax, technology and transportation” sectors (“Other Brands”). As a regular POLITICO reader, I was thrilled to find out that my employer purchased a company-wide subscription to the news service.

Once I created a login and profile for POLITICO Pro account, I was asked to select the specific sectors I was interested in, as well as how often I wanted to receive e-mail notification. The image below highlights the customization features offered to Pro subscribers. To start, I selected health care and now receive e-mail updates throughout the day regarding breaking news and legislative developments in our nation’s health policy. Pro subscribers also have the option of receiving morning and afternoon briefings, a calendar of events that would interest politicos and invites to subscriber-only events.


Photo via LaFrance, Nieman Journalism Lab

Pricing Model

While POLITICO relies on advertising revenue to fuel its web and print presence, POLITICO Pro uses a freemium and advertiser model. POLITICO Pro integrates paid subscribers with paid advertisers.


Photo via Pompeo, Capital New York

POLITICO prides itself in its ability to specifically target America’s leading policymakers, making it an ideal ad space for lobbying causes. For online advertisers, POLITCO offers “homepage takeovers, interstitial units, footer bars and policy channels sponsorship” (“Platforms”). The print edition is also highly profitable for POLITICO. Thanks to “deep-pocketed lobbyists [who] pay dearly to have ads appear in the free newspaper,” POLITICO’s print edition has even been called “a cash cow for the digital brand” (Pompeo, 2012). Unique sponsorship opportunities are also open on print, e-mail, video and mobile platforms.

For example, regularly interspersed into Playbook’s body copy is a message from a paid advertiser. This morning’s e-mail, shown in the image below, offered this reminder:

** A message about BP’s commitment to America: Over the last five years, BP has been America’s largest energy investor. Each year, we invest an average of $11 billion here and produce nearly enough oil, gas and renewables to light the entire country. In the process, we support almost 250,000 American jobs. Learn more about our commitment to America at facebook.com/BPAmerica. **

Specifically for POLITICO Pro subscribers, access to this segmented, breaking information doesn’t come cheaply. Just five licenses will run a subscribing company or organization $8,500 (Warzel, 2012). Individual licenses cost $3,295 (LaFrance, 2012). This price difference indicates that POLITICO Pro also engages in bundling. More specifically, the more licenses an organization takes on, the cheaper the subscription price. This is an example of aggregation and trade-up bundling, incentivizing a customer to purchase more product, though it doesn’t cost POLITICO anything more to distribute its already created content.

To date, 1,000 organizations have invested in the value that POLITICO Pro provides, which equates to approximately 7,000 readers (Ellis, 2013). Recognizing that more organizations join than individuals, POLITICO Pro invests its energies in recruiting group memberships, primarily from Washington-based governmental organizations (LaFrance, 2012).


Based on POLITICO’s high readership, rave reviews, the amount of time each month the average reader devotes to POLITICO, renowned coverage and excellent customer service, I feel that its strategy is an extremely effective one. In an age where information is expected to be freely acquired, POLITICO delivers, while also compelling people to pay for specialized content. Even though POLITICO Pro’s readership is limited to approximately 7,000 individuals (compared to POLITICO’s online readership of 6MM each month), it has been deemed an extremely successful web venture with plans to grow.

POLITICO Pro’s success is also indicated by its 96% renewal rate among subscribers (Warzel, 2012). Commenting on this high number, Roy Schwartz, Politico’s chief revenue officer, said “A number like this is unheard of in this space” (as qtd. in Warzel, 2012). As its readership increases, POLITICO Pro says it will look to increase the sectors it will cover. Furthermore, the numbers below indicate that POLITICO’s free strategy is one that continues to hook readers and influence the conversation in Washington.

Screen shot 2013-04-01 at 12.51.47 AM

What I appreciate most about POLITICO Pro’s updates is that they are succinct. Though the emails are frequent, the content consists of no more than a few sentences. During the workday, these emails provide a perfect way to have the most pressing news at my fingertips, while not getting distracted in a sea of tweets or online articles. POLITICO Pro goes out of its way to deliver rapid updates in a user-friendly way, and is continuing to develop its communications in a way that’s most relevant to those dipping in and out of meetings on the Hill, on K Street, in the Eisenhower Executive Building and in the White House. As evidenced by the quotes below, POLITICO is celebrated among influential media outlets. I believe it will continue to serve as a valid and trusted resource for politicians and politicos alike.

On a more sentimental level, Playbook does an excellent job of fostering a sense of community among its readers. Though they may be spread across the nation and range from a college student in Ithaca to President Obama’s right-hand advisor, Mike Allen strings his daily tip sheet together with jokes, anecdotes about family parties and congratulations to a recently engaged Hill staffers amidst the nation’s hard-hitting headlines. It was my introduction to and continued happiness with Playbook that fuels my support of POLITICO and POLITICO PRO. The fact that so many other millions across the nation feel the same indicates the success of this online news source.

Works Cited

Ellis, Justin. “Politico Pro Grows to 1,000 Subscribing Orgs, Moves into Print »

Nieman Journalism Lab.” Nieman Journalism Lab. N.p., 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. <http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/03/politico-pro-grows-to-1000-subscribing-orgs-moves-into-print/&gt;.

“Facts and Logos.” Politico. POLITICO. Web. 31 Mar 2013.


LaFrance, Adrienne. “Politico Pro, One Year In: A Premium Pricetag, a Tight Focus,

and a Business Success » Nieman Journalism Lab.” Nieman Journalism Lab. N.p., 17 Apr. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. <http://www.niemanlab.org/2012/04/politico-pro-one-year-in-a-premium-pricetag-a-tight-focus-and-a-business-success/&gt;.

Leibovich, Mark. “The Man the White House Wakes Up To.” New York Times 21 Apr

2010, n. pag. Print. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/magazine/25allen-t.html?pagewanted=all&gt;.

“Other Brands.” Politico. POLITICO. Web. 31 Mar 2013.


“Platforms.” Politico. POLITICO. Web. 31 Mar 2013.


Pompeo, Joe. “What Politico’s Beltway Cash Cow, Its Print Edition, Wants from New York (and What It Doesn’t).” Capital New York. N.p., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. <http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2012/01/5053479/what-politicos-beltway-cash-cow-its-print-edition-wants-new-york-and-w&gt;.

Warzel, Charlie. “Politico Is Making Money With Subscriptions.” AdWeek. N.p., 21

June 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. <http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/politico-making-money-subscriptions-141293&gt;.

Photo from Charity Miles promotional video

A Few Good Miles

A few weeks ago, my good friend Tammy Tibbetts posted that she was using Charity Miles, a mobile app that allows her to not only track the miles she runs, but also to raise money for a charity she supports in the process! As both a runner and someone who is constantly looking for innovative ways to support a cause, I was instantly intrigued.

The app itself is fairly straightforward: Download, Choose a Charity, Choose an Exercise (run, walk or bike) and Get Moving. Gene Gurkoff, the app’s creator, got his start in creative philanthropy during his time at Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. As you’ll see below, the foundation is now one of the app’s many charity affiliates! Rather than seeking out large corporate donors or generous philanthropists, Gurkoff felt the app would be a powerful way to harness the power of the millions of people who wake up every morning and go for a run, who hit the gym after work or love a good weekend bike ride. Within the first four months of the app’s introduction to the mobile market, it had 100,000 users (Cellular Chloe, 2012)!

Marketing Strategy

Though the Charity Miles app is free, its purpose is to raise money for its many affiliated charities. Users can select their physical activity (walking, running or biking) and the charity they’d like to support. What’s great about Charity Miles is that new nonprofits are frequently added that span a wide range of interest areas. From maternal health to animal welfare, Charity Miles allows app users to select from multiple organizations. Some of its affiliated causes include:

Drawing from its $1 million sponsorship fund, Charity Miles donates ten cents for every mile biked and twenty-five cents for every mile walked or jogged. The user’s amount of activity determines the amount of the contribution made to the charity of their choice. As Charity Miles’ popularity grows, it seeks to increase the size of this fund so that more contributions can be made. Of course, the more users Charity Miles can attract, the more attractive its platform will be to advertisers – particularly advertisers trying to reach physically active, socially-engaged females.

Photo from Charity Miles promotional video

Users can track their progress in time, miles or impact. Photo from Charity Miles promotional video

As users run, they can track the distance they’ve covered, as well as the equivalent donation to their selected cause in real-time. After the activity is over, users are required to share their progress on their social media networks. This has a few purposes. First, while it’s great to know that you ran, biked or walked in support of a charity, it’s even better to let your friends know that they can do the same. After all, the only way I found out about the app is because my Facebook friend Tammy posted her mileage and charity! Second, Charity Miles believes that since you are now technically a “sponsored athlete,” it’s only appropriate that you’d publically show your appreciation. To this point, Gurkoff stated, “Nobody walks for charity in secret. It’s something you do to make a statement and to raise awareness. When you’re done, we hope you will share on Facebook and Twitter. That has a very valuable market value” (Pan, 2012).

Though it’s required that users sync their mileage with their Facebook pages, I have a feeling that this mandate shouldn’t be such an issue for most users. Because most people very intentionally craft their social media profiles to mirror their personality, values and desired public image, those who use Charity Miles most likely have no problem sharing their charitable involvement. Additionally, if they chose a cause they’re proud to support, it’s safe to assume that they’re interested in having their friends get involved too!

Photo from Charity Miles promotional video

Photo from Charity Miles promotional video

Recipient of the SXSW’s International Festivals’ Dewey Wilburne Award, Charity Miles is also up for a SXSW Activism Award (“Hey Charity Milers! 2013). To further its reach, it appears that Charity Miles either self-nominates or is nominated for several mobile app awards. For example, Charity Miles is also currently in the running for best walking app. Because Charity Miles’ app can be considered for multiple categories (physical fitness, running, walking, biking, advocacy, donating, etc.), I think this is an effective way to gain awareness of the app’s mission.

To supplement the mobile app, Charity Miles is active on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. This social media integration makes sharing streamlined and effective, thus increasing Charity Miles’ reach. I found all of its social media networks, as well as the mobile app itself, to share a similar clean, modern aesthetic.


Charity Miles’ Facebook page indicated that it is most popular among 35-54 year olds and with New York City residents. It’s interesting to me that the mobile app is most heavily used by an older demographic, as I assumed it would gain the most traction with Millennials. However, it could be that the app is popular with younger users, but older users are the ones more likely to actually interact with Charity Miles’ Facebook page.

Furthermore, after browsing through the photos of those who engage with Charity Miles’ page, it appears that a significant majority of the users are female. This fact was not too surprising to me. I was introduced to the app by a female friend, and of my three friends that also “like” Charity Miles’ page, all are female. Large nonprofits nationwide have long been focusing on women for charitable contributions. For example, World Vision’s target audience is “a 47-year-old, college-educated female” (CBS, 2010). It appears that Charity Miles is pursuing the same audience.

Furthermore, research indicates that women are typically more inclined to donate to charities than men. In fact, women not only tend to donate more money, but they often donate to more causes as well (CBS, 2010). This provides interesting insight as to why Charity Miles may be more attractive to female donors. Not only does it make supporting charity part of a female user’s daily routine, but there’s great variety in the app’s affiliated charities. In my opinion, there’s a wide enough selection to appeal to an array of users, but there’s not too many to be overwhelming. Personally, I was interested in Charity Miles because there were so many charities I was already familiar with and liked, so I really liked that I could vary the recipient of my miles.

Though it originally surprised me that older women were Charity Miles’ biggest Facebook fans, research shows that this shouldn’t be too shocking. A study conducted by the Woman Philanthropy Institute found that even when controlling for various factors, female Baby Boomers donate 89% more than their male peers (Mesch, 2012). The study attributes this to many factors, explaining,

“Women are socialized to be the caregivers of their families and communities. Previous research has also found that women tend to score higher on empathy and caring than men — factors that affect giving to charity. Similarly, women have been shown to be more altruistic than men, and their giving is frequently motivated by the desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives” (Mesch, 2012).


In my opinion, Charity Miles’ social media integration is appealing to both younger and older users. I also think that high school or college students would be interested in “making a difference” by donating of their time, rather than money. In many cases, students are interested in getting involved, but may not have the funds to do so. This empowers them to get moving, explore different causes and take action.

I’ve only run into two main issues with the app. First, before I discovered Charity Miles, I discovered the Nike+ running app. Because I logged all my training miles for my first ever half marathon with my Nike app, it came to unexpectedly hold great sentimental value to me. Since my training began in June, and my completion of the race in September, I’ve continued to log my miles completed and calories burned in this app. After downloading Charity Miles, I was disappointed to learn that the apps couldn’t simultaneously track my mileage. I would love to continue logging my miles with Nike, while also using these miles to support a Charity Miles affiliate. Second, the GPS signal in the Ithaca College gym (where I do the bulk of my running and elliptical-ing) is too weak to register my mileage using the app. However, I’m hoping that once the weather is nice again and I resume running outside, I’ll have much better luck using Charity Miles. When I do, I look forward to supporting Every Mother Counts, Girl Up and Feeding America with my miles!

Ultimately, I ultimately think this is a great way to add new meaning to physical activity. Since millions of people nationwide are working out daily, this is a minor addition they can make in their routine. I think it adds a new motivation to get active and is an innovative way to reach people who may not otherwise be willing or able to give a contribution from their own funds. I hope that this app also informs users of different charities, and compels them to get progressively more involved in the charities that pique their interest. I highly recommend Charity Miles as a great way to get your exercise while getting engaged.

Want to start your “active-ism” (Hey Charity Milers!)? Download the Charity Miles app here for iPhone or here for Android. #EveryMileMatters

Works Cited

Social Media for Social Good

In September 2009, four American friends gathered with two goals in mind. The first was to complete the New York City marathon; the second was to simultaneously raise funds for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. As they trained for one of the nation’s most competitive races, they put their creative muscles to the test. The group – comprised of actor Edward Norton, film producer Shauna Robertson and web entrepreneurs Robert and Jeffery Wolfe – designed a web platform that allowed donors to easily contribute to the Maasai Trust.

In less than two months, donors nationwide chipped in to support the runners and their cause, contributing to a grand total of over $1 million to support the Maasai home and heritage. Riding on the huge success of their fundraising initiative, the friends sought to extend their online platform to other organizations and individuals. By December 2009, Crowdrise was live, created with the goal of “raising money online for charity and having the most fun in the world while doing it.”

Equal parts wit and good will, Crowdrise’s site is full of personality and ways to become engaged in an extensive range of charities.

Fundraisers and Events

Website visitors can search for a specific cause, event or organization, or browse different projects to see what sparks their interest. Project categories include topics such as “Poverty, Hunger & Shelters,” “Animal Welfare” and “Education.”

Crowdrise FundraisersVisitors can also create their own fundraiser. If users have their own project in mind, they are asked to set a fundraising goal, fill their fundraiser site with media content and share it through their own social media networks. Personalization is encouraged on each fundraising page! Crowdrise makes it easy to share fundraisers online by setting up a page link to send to friends, family and online networks. Best of all, setting up a customized fundraiser is totally free using Crowdrise.

Success Story

Molly and Matt, two Crowdrise users and newlyweds, used their wedding gift registry not for kitchen accessories, wine or honeymoon money, but to support causes they both care deeply about. The couple selected four charities – Kageno Worldwide, Partners in Health, Just Food Inc. and Mission Schools International – that loved ones could donate to in honor of Molly and Matt’s wedding ceremony. To date, the couple has raised $13,048! Their fundraiser page is filled with beautiful pictures, a brief story, the causes they support and names of those who have donated.

Marketing Approach

Crowdrise integrates both mass customization and one-to-one marketing as the crux of its site. By allowing visitors to create their own online fundraising page, Crowdrise uses a standard template that can then be edited to reflect each individual fundraiser. This mass customization option ensures that while the website’s design and aesthetics are consistent, each fundraiser page blossoms with creativity. Visitors can also search causes or events that are relevant to their interests.

After logging into their Crowdrise account, those seeking to organize a fundraiser must select a fundraiser option type. Examples include pre-existing events (the Boston Marathon, for example), celebrations (like weddings or birthdays) or “Just Me Doing Something Good.” Users also name their fundraiser, give it a description and goal, and have the option to create a custom URL for their fundraising page. Following this step, the personalized page is ready to go live.

How to Create a FundraiserThe website adopts a stronger one-to-one marketing strategy when users login to their account to either fundraise or donate. Fundraiser organizers can edit their event’s page, manage the campaign and team and access donor reports. The site also adopts this one-to-one marketing strategy with its online chat tool, giving visitors the option of connecting with Live Help if they need help along the way.

Another way Crowdrise uses one-to-one-marketing is through its awards. Extraordinary fundraisers and all-star volunteers are awarded with votes from the online community. Votes are given based on the number of dollars raised, hours volunteered, pictures and stores shared and comments posted. Whoever tops the point leader board is awarded the highly coveted “Wooderson Crest.” Second place receives a feature on the site’s homepage and other earners have the chance to win a variety of Crowdrise apparel. Royalty titles – like tsars, mimes, barons, DJs and sirs and dames – are also awarded to those who earn 100,000-1,000,000 points.


Crowdrise embodies the Wikinomics principles of “openness, peering, sharing and acting globally” (Tapscott & Williams, 2007).

Being Open

The site is built on encouraging donations and ideas from visitors. It provides a platform for people to pour their passions into, and share those passions with others. In fact, the site would not exist were it not for these unique contributions. Users are encouraged to create their own page within the Crowdrise platform and collaborate with others to grow their cause.


Crowdrise flourishes because of its knowledge sharing. Those who are altruistically-inclined are given the freedom to browse hundreds of organizations or causes that may capture their heart. During the time that users spend browsing, they have access to other like-minded organizations. All that time browsing may also be the catalyst to start their own event!

Furthermore, Crowdrise is entirely free to use and connects peers around the world. Though transaction fees may apply to those donating, it is free to design, coordinate and share fundraisers. While the website doesn’t list any main sponsors, it makes clear that these transaction fees are what keep it in business.

Users may also gain new knowledge about initiatives that need support. For example, one Crowdrise user noticed on a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo that children suffering from malnutrition had nothing more to rest on than a piece of plywood. This was due to an Ebola outbreak that forced the hospital to destroy the mattresses years ago. This prompted the Crowdrise user to launch a campaign entitled “Mattresses for Congo,” an initiative to ensure that location isn’t the determining factor of one’s access a comfortable bed. To date, the organization has raised over $56,000. Prior to browsing Crowdrise, this need was one I had not known existed!

Mattresses for the Congo


Crowdrise isn’t built on hierarchy; it’s a community generated by those interested in creating, giving and organizing. Recognizing the notion of self-selection, Crowdrise gives people the opportunity to run with events and causes that they are motivated to support. Crowdrise co-founder Edward Norton acknowledged the unique capabilities online communities have in pursuing social justice, saying that they provide “a new way of getting people together to create power in numbers” (Wallace, 2010).

Though there is a staff, it goes out of its way to maintain a friendly tone that negates any feelings of exclusion among users. Visitors can be inspired by what other users are posting, or feel inclined to support others’ causes through a donation or social media share. The dialogue and ideas (and donations!) are always flowing.

Furthermore, charities on the site aren’t portrayed in a competitive manner; nonprofits of all sizes, motives and bank account sizes are welcome to the site! The hierarchy – among users, causes and events – is horizontal.

Acting Globally

A quick scroll through Crowdrise shows that this site is all about the mantra, “Think locally. Act globally.” From the Red Wolf Coalition in North Carolina to the Touch Foundation in Tanzania, Crowdrise users can generate support from nearby family members as easily as they can from cross-country friends.


I believe that Crowdrise is an excellent platform for those seeking to raise funds for a cause close to their heart. In my work with nonprofits, I’ve encountered so many people who want to make a difference, but are unsure where to start. Crowdrise provides these individuals with the tools they need to manage funds, direct people to a central donor location and inspire others to get involved in their cause. It allows people to make their ideas tangible and track their campaign’s success.

While I applaud Crowdrise’s efforts, I fear that its branding of giving as easy and fun could send a controversial message. I in no way want to deter people from supporting causes they feel motivated to support, but I am apprehensive that some of the site’s users may come to understand poverty, human rights abuses or environmental issues as problems that can be patched with money. While I fully believe the intentions are great and the fundraisers on the site have truly made a difference, it is my hope that this site is a stepping stone for people to not only donate, but invest time in working and wrestling with these issues.

To address this critique, I’d love to see Crowdrise post opportunities that allow people to get involved beyond reaching into their wallet. I envision it as a “Take the Next Step” tab on the site. While some of the posted events were for volunteering, the majority of events were dance marathons, races or various fundraisers. Crowdrise could encourage users to post events like park clean-ups, after-school mentoring or walking dogs at a local shelter. This way, people could engage in a cause and take it one step further than writing a check.

I’d also love to see Crowdrise post videos, discussions or articles presented by those working in the fields of poverty eradication, women’s rights, animal welfare or environmental sustainability (like the video posted below). For example, a collaboration with TEDxChange could allow Crowdrise users to explore the thorny issues they are aiming to address and learn more about the complexity of aid. I believe that in many cases, there is a misconception that poverty exists simply because there is a lack of funds. This is not the case, and I would hate to see so many people flow in and out of the site feeling that donating is all that’s needed to make a lasting difference. Uniting two like-minded organizations – like Crowdrise and TED – would mirror the comprehensive efforts needed to address these complex issues.


This being said, I do feel that Crowdrise is an incredible platform that allows people to connect with both causes and cause crusaders. Despite the critique mentioned above, I think that it is an excellent way to leverage online communities for social action and provide people with the resources and support they need to ignite their dedication in others.


–        Komaromi, K. (2013, Jan 25-30). Class lectures.

–        McGlaughlin, F. (2010, June 17). One-to-one marketing at four levels. Retrieved from http://www.marketingexperiments.com/marketing-optimization/one-to-one-marketing-at-four-levels.html

–        Tapscott, D. & Williams A. (2007). How mass collaboration changes everything. (4 ed., Vol. 29, pp. 2-3). Concordville, PA: Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

–        Wallace, A. (2010, Sept 04). Online giving meets social networking. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/business/05proto.html?ref=business&_r=0