Friday, August 23, 2013

Crowdfunding for Social Good by Devin D. Thorpe - Excerpt

Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World

by Devin D. Thorpe Over the last year of writing my Forbes blog, I have had the opportunity to really dig deeply into the world of crowdfunding. I’ve just completed my first draft of my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World. The book is a guide to successful crowdfunding for people who want to change the world. The book is not a sequel to my book, Your Mark On The World, but it is written in the same spirit. I’ve studied a dozens of successful crowdfunding campaigns, interviewing the people behind them to learn their secrets for success. Devin's Book, Your Mark on the World, was downloaded over 75,000 times and reached the #19 spot on Amazon's free book list--among all free books. It remains on the top 50 free nonfiction books at Amazon.

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Excerpt: Crowdfunding To The Rescue Following Superstorm Sandy
This article appeared on on November 2, 2012. It is included in Crowdfunding for Social Good by Devin Thorpe and is reprinted here as an excerpt from the book.

Rina, a mother of five living right on the water in Sheepshead Bay in the Brooklyn borough of New York City had her home flooded in Superstorm Sandy and was forced to evacuate without knowing when she
could return.  By Friday, November 02, 2012, a friend living in the relative safety of the Bronx has raised over $3,000 of emergency cash for Rina and her kids by setting up a crowdfunding page at

Retired Brooklyn Tech High School football coach, "DiBo" DiBenedetto lost his home in Belle Harbor, New York to a fire that reportedly damaged or destroyed more than twenty homes in the storm and Malcolm Davis, a football coach at Xaverian High School set up a page at that raised over $15,000 in 48 hours to help the coach start over.

Kate O’Sullivan launched a GoFundMe page to help those in her neighborhood of Rockaway Beach in the borough of Queens New York on Wednesday; by Friday afternoon, she’d raised over $6,000 to buy generators and other emergency supplies—well ahead of the arrival of help from the Red Cross or FEMA.  She was in Boston during the storm and was able to buy supplies there, rent a U-haul and get them to New York.

Rebecca Zinger, who set up the page for Rina and her children, explained, “I’m only doing this because I’m like a sister [to Rina] and I love her.”  She set up the page on GoFundMe initially hoping only to raise $500, but when that goal was quickly surpassed, she raised the goal to $5,000.  In just one day she’s raised over $3,000 for Rina, whose oldest recently turned 13 and just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah.

Malcolm Davis, the football coach who started the campaign for Coach Dibenedetto explained that he’d worked for the now retired coach years ago and played for him early in the elder coach’s career.  Malcolm says, “I’ve been a football player all of my life.  I’m a good football player.  Good football players make plays, they make an impact.”  When he heard what had happened to his dear friend Coach Dibo, he thought “something has to be done.”  He decided, “I’m going to rally the troops.”  He launched a campaign on Facebook.  There, Ahmed Shama, a former player and U.S. Marine told him about GoFundMe and Coach Davis quickly launched the page.  Coach Davis has been proactive about raising the money, noting, “I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

On the page set up for football coach DiBenedetto, the coach writes, “It's overwhelming to see and read this outpouring of love that I am receiving from the people who are great friends and are very dear to me. The things we have shared and the challenges we have faced together as football players, choral students, colleagues and friends give me the strength to move forward and meet this latest challenge in my life with a firm resolve.”

Kate O’Sullivan, who launched the page to help the folks in her neighborhood of Rockaway Beach promises to give all of the money to help her and her neighbors rebuild.  She says everyone in the neighborhood comprised mostly of civil servants--teachers, cops and firemen--is working together and helping each other.  Kate wanted to shout out her appreciation, saying, "Thank you to the sanitation department,"  which she says has been especially great in the early days.

GoFundMe CEO Brad Damphousse tells me, "We built GoFundMe to be the place where family, friends and communities come together and support one another when they need it most.  Americans know that real charity starts at home, not in the offices of government agencies. GoFundMe empowers individuals to take immediate action and do the right thing when others are in need. We're honored and humbled to play a small role as thousands of regular people are coming together to accomplish amazing things for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives are forever changed as a result of this storm."

GoFundMe isn’t the only site offering people the chance to raise money to organize their own disaster relief. is another site where disaster victims can create a profile and request help.   HelpersUnite is owned by EarlyShares.
Stephen Temes, Chairman and Co-Founder of EarlyShares, said by email, “Having lived the majority of my life in New York City, the devastation that the North East is now facing after Hurricane Sandy really hits home. This hurricane is something that will take more than a while to recover from and we want to make sure that families have a way to reach out to their friends and loved ones for targeted support to help get their lives back on track. These people will need help dealing with the destruction that Hurricane Sandy has caused. As the initial shock subsides, the damage will remain and these families will still need long-term help. The ability as time goes on for these families to draw from their network of friends, family, community, and anyone else for financial support via our social giving platform will make a real difference for those that need it the most."

Please share your experiences raising money or donating money for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts in the comments below.

If you are interested in helping me with my research for a forthcoming book on crowdfunding for social entrepreneurs, please click here.  Those who participate in the survey will receive a free download of my book, Your Mark On The World.

Please help me continue this conversation on Twitter at @devindthorpe and on Facebook, Google+ and at my personal website

About Devin:

Devin D. Thorpe thinks he is the luckiest person alive. After being “let go” from the best job he’d ever had—as the Chief Financial Officer of the multinational food and beverage company MonaVie—he and his wife ended up living in China for a year where he wrote Your Mark On The World and embarked on the career he’d always wanted yet hadn’t dared dream. Now, as an author, a popular guest speaker and Forbes contributor, Devin is devoted full time to championing social good. His current life isn’t much like his past. As an entrepreneur, Devin ran—at separate times—a boutique investment banking firm and a small mortgage company. He served as the Treasurer for the multinational vitamin manufacturer USANA Health Sciences years before becoming CFO for MonaVie. Over his career he led or advised on the successful completion of $500 million in transactions. Devin squeezed in two brief stints in government, including two years working for Jake Garn on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Staff and another year working for an independent state agency called USTAR, where he helped foster technology entrepreneurship during Governor Jon Huntsman’s administration. Devin is proud to have graduated from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, which recognized him as a Distinguished Alum in 2006. He also earned an MBA at Cornell University where he ran the student newspaper, Cornell Business. Today, Devin channels the idealism of his youth with the loving support of his wife, Gail. Their son Dayton is a PhD candidate in Physics at UC Berkeley (and Devin rarely misses an opportunity to mention that).
Twitter: @devindthorpe
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