Elbi App Turns Fashion Into Fundraising
When Russian model, Natalia Vodianova, looked onto her Instagram feed years ago, she was frustrated. Though thousands of people liked her photos within minutes, Vodianova felt that had the wrong priorities on social media. She wanted to harness social media for social good, through an app that would make it easier for people to support charitable causes and turn the users’ love of fashion into fundraising. Now, Vodianova and Elbi’s co-creator, Timon Alfinsky, have created an app that connects users to charities and motivates them to donate.

How the App Works

Launched in 2015, the Elbi app thrives on the philosophy that little actions make a big difference. The app shows users different charitable organizations, through an easy-to-read, “newsfeed.” Users have several options to engage with charitable projects; they can donate, create content and share stories on other social media platforms. With focuses ranging from supporting Special Olympic athletes to funding education worldwide, the Elbi app helps donors find causes to support.

Each charitable campaign features a short video or photograph, along with information about the cause. Highlighting individual stories, this presentation helps make each cause more relatable to the user. Donating is made easy through the donation button, the “LoveButton.” Thus, the app mobilizes micro-donations, since users can contribute as little as $1 with each donation. In fact, 100 percent of these donations go directly to each charity, excluding any bank transaction fees.

While the Elbi app focuses primarily on fundraising, it also encourages users to raise awareness for charitable causes by creating and posting photos or other content in support of the cause. The pages also have leaderboards to rank the top donors to each cause; however, the main motivation to donate comes from Vodianova’s own specialty: fashion. The Elbi app turns fashion into fundraising, by allowing donors to trade their micro-donations for fashionable items.

Turning Fashion into Fundraising

When a user donates $1 with the “Love Button,” the Elbi app rewards the user with one LoveCoin. As users amass LoveCoins, they can use them in the “LoveShop.” The LoveShop carries exclusive goods from popular brands, such as Beats by Dre, Givenchy, Fendi, and H&M Conscious. By creating videos reacting to and supporting charitable causes, Elbi app users can earn additional LoveCoins to use in the LoveShop.

Beyond this, through the ElbiDrop tab, users have the chance to win products that are unavailable anywhere else. These products appeal to a wide range of people, with everything from soccer balls signed by professional players to limited-edition handbags. ElbiDrop introduces these exclusive items to users and then gives them 24 hours to collect LoveCoins. The user who collects the most LoveCoins in that period of time gets to trade their LoveCoins for the special item. Thus, ElbiDrop motivates users to return to the Elbi app constantly and drives donations in pursuit of specific items. This allows people to donate and turn their pursuit of fashion into fundraising.

Changing the Way We Donate

By giving potential donors an easy, user-friendly platform, the Elbi app makes donating fast and personal. The app allows users to see videos that make each issue personal and relatable. Accordingly, the Elbi app gives smartphone users a different way to donate, which maximizes small donations towards a charitable cause. In just a few minutes, users can donate and raise awareness for charitable causes they believe in, all with the convenience of the Elbi app.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

Effective Charity
Giving What We Can (GWWC) is an international society that works to eliminate extreme poverty. It recommends effective charity organizations and its members pledge to give at least 10% of their income to such charities.

Dr. Toby Ord Established Giving What We Can in 2009

Dr. Ord, an Oxford ethics researcher, claims the inspiration for the organization came from Peter Singer’s essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” which argues that the affluent have a moral obligation to donate to the people less well-off.

The organization draws heavily on modern ethical philosophy, especially the effective altruism movement. This philosophical movement attempts to use evidence and analysis to determine the most effective humanitarian causes and charities to donate to.

Taking a Top-down Approach to Evaluating Charities

The organization begins with the big-picture, evaluating which areas — health, education, emergency aid, etc. — require the most attention. The group compares sub-areas within those categories, such as specific diseases. Finally, it analyzes the particular charities that work in this sub-area, such as the Against Malaria Foundation.

In this evaluation process, the organization focuses on three main criteria: neglect, tractability and impact. A neglected cause means the issue is not receiving proper attention from humanitarian efforts. Tractability defines a cause that has a workable solution that the sponsor can effectively implement. Impact focuses on the number of lives that can be improved by investing in a given cause.

GWWC’s website uses schistosomiasis, a disease involving parasitic flatworms, as an example of a cause that clearly meets all three criteria: “[Schistosomiasis] affects millions of people (impact) but it’s cheap and easy to treat (tractability) […] However, it is relatively underfunded (it is part of the so-called ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases’).”

For this reason, GWWC lists the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative as one of its top charities. Its other established, most effective charity is the Against Malaria Foundation. They list Deworming the World Initiative and Project Healthy Children as promising top charities.

Though it accepts donations, Giving What We Can does not ask for them. Instead, the humanitarian organization prefers to play “a complementary role,” asking members to commit to giving to effective charities instead.

So far, GWWC’s 1,696 members have donated more than $36.3 million to effective charities and pledged to donate a further $649 million over their lifetimes.

Steffen Seitz

Photo: Flickr

The Four C's Behind Cool GivingIn the United States’ current sociopolitical climate, charitable donations and the appeal of philanthropic investments continue to increase, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Although down from the 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated to giving in the pre-recession 2000s, sources find that philanthropy is on an upswing, inching back to 2.1 percent in 2015 from 1.8-1.9 percent between 2008 and 2012. This trend may be due in part to a social movement of “cool giving.”

Although donations from corporations have had a sharper increase, individual giving, too, has gained traction, both in dollar amount and in frequency, according to Forbes’ list of “50 Top Givers in 2014.”

This uptick demonstrates more than a numerical increase in donations; it delineates a social movement of philanthropy, and a widespread attitude of cool giving.

The four Cs below articulate why now, perhaps more than ever, helping the world’s poor is considered cool.

1. It is often in the form of a challenge.

Be it the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 (linked to ALS by Chris Kennedy, because of a relative suffering from the disease) or The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge program, a competition for grantees in specific fields to solve key global health and development problems, competition sparks change. And, in an age of social media, competitive opportunities are expanding and becoming more easily accessible.

There is nothing like throwing a bucket of icy water on your head to help those in need.

2. It demonstrates strong character.

A desire for generous rebranding, fueled by the 2016 presidential election, is taking place in the U.S. Republicans and Democrats alike — Michael R. Bloomberg, Paul Singer, Charles Koch, to name a few — have made momentous contributions to charitable organizations. Partisanship aside, when philanthropic organizations reap the benefits of the one-upmanship of doing good, the world’s poor benefit too.

3. Collaboration is key.

In 2015, The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit resource for mission-driven organization and philanthropies, published research about the U.S.’s top donors and the “big bets” hedged in such contributions. The results illustrated that 80 percent of multi-million dollar donations are given with a specific goal in mind. (Bridgespan gives the example of Don and Foris Fisher’s participation with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) for the improvement of public education).

Increased Internet access and online materials make donation allocation easy. And, with these specifications posted online for a larger readership, corporations and individual donors feel team-like camaraderie in taking steps toward remedying a problem. As with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, key steps are clearly outlined and updated in the website’s mission statement and strategic planning pages. Collaborating on a goal and seeing first-hand results, Bridgespan concluded, further incentivizes charitable acts.

4. The sky’s the limit on creativity.

Founded in 2012, Global Citizen focuses on making policy changes toward global poverty eradication as an organization that couples artistry with charity. The Global Citizen Festival, promoted by Coldplay’s Chris Martin at the Super Bowl, epitomizes the longstanding relationship between the arts and philanthropy. At the September 2015 festival, artists like Beyoncé and Pearl Jam blended the beats of Bob Marley to the inspiring words of Nelson Mandela. The result? Wide coverage of the program’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end global poverty by 2030.

Celebrity influence certainly brings attention to an issue but the multimedia tools of exposure — concerts, festivals, videos — also make the issues relatable and memorable.

Whether they come from competition, creative incentive, collaboration or character building, good deeds in 2016 are all the rage. Isn’t it cool to give?

Nora Harless

Sources: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Bridgespan Group, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Forbes Magazine, Global Citizen, TIME Magazine
Photo: Flickr

Blackboard inc
Earlier last month, educational technology company Blackboard Inc. announced plans to award five grants to global learning programs as a part of the organization’s Charitable Giving Program.

Based out of Washington D.C., the company aims to reimagine global education through charitable donations. The donations are provided to different organizations and programs that are helping individuals across the globe gain access to educational opportunities.

Here are the organization’s 2015 Charitable Giving Program recipients:

  1. Lark’s Song. As a non-profit organization focused on giving individuals and organizations the tools to succeed through education, Lark’s Song will use the funds to support its Global Education Initiative in Zambia, Africa, with the goal of providing educational training and establish internet access within the area.
  2. The Black Star Project. The Black Star Project addresses the achievement gap in education for students in different racial groups. The organization will use the proceeds to fund academic enrichment programs including its Youth Tech 2.0 program which helps students learn to develop websites for businesses within their communities.
  3. New Community For Children (NCFC). NCFC aims to provide children with educational experiences that build their academic, social and creative skills through the advocacy of improved educational opportunities. The proceeds will help fund the organization’s STEM curriculum and other educational programs.
  4. Turning the Page. Turning the Page works with public schools and families to provide students with educational resources and access to a high-quality education. The Blackboard proceeds will be used to increase technology education and accessibility to children living in D.C. and Chicago.
  5. Digital Harbor Foundation. As an organization dedicated to fostering learning, creativity, and productivity through learning, The Digital Harbor Foundation will use the funds to increase tech education opportunities for children, organizations and educators across the U.S.

According to Blackboard, the Charitable Giving Program was established in 2014 as a way for the organization to improve the availability and effectiveness of global education by promoting and providing educational availability worldwide.

“The work that these organizations do every day is directly tied to creating better outcomes for learners around the world, and I couldn’t be more proud to support them,” Jay Bhatt, current CEO of Blackboard Inc. said to PR Newswire. “I look forward to working with them throughout the coming year to help accomplish their unique goals and missions.”

Lauren Lewis

Sources: PR Newswire, Blackboard Inc. 1, Blackboard Inc. 2, Blackboard Inc. 3, Blackboard Inc. 4, Lark’s Song, The Black Star Program, New Community For Children, Turning the Page, Digital Harbor Foundation
Photo: Blackboard Blog

According to the World Bank, as of 2012, 896 million people are living in extreme poverty or less than $1.90 a day. A staggering 77.8 percent of people in extreme poverty currently reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Holiday Christmas shoppers can find ways to help those living in poverty. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, the average American donation was $2,974 last year. For an average family of four, that number breaks down to about $743 per person.

Here are 12 charitable ideas for Christmas:

  1. Sign up for a site that gives part of the proceeds to charity. AmazonSmile is a great example. The e-commerce giant will donate 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to the customer’s chosen charity. The best part? There’s no extra charge to the customer.
  2. Enroll in a rewards credit card that “gives back.” Capital One offers a rewards donation option when a customer enrolls in their “No Hassle Giving” site. Customers can choose from up to 1.2 million charities and use their reward points to donate to their chosen charity.
  3. Do a one-time donation. Give a one-time donation without being obligated to contribute on a monthly basis. Many charities provide this option for contributors, like The Borgen Project.
  4. Donate shoes sitting in your closet. Have old shoes that are sitting in the closet? Donate them to Soles4Souls. Since 2006, the organization has “collected and distributed 26 million pairs of shoes to those in need in 127 countries around the world and all 50 states in the U.S.” Coats, shirts and pants are also important donations that can help those in need.
  5. Shop consciously. There are many charities that donate some, if not all of the proceeds to a certain charity or cause. A prime example is (RED) a campaign that is sponsored by ONE, an international advocacy organization started by Bono. ONE (RED) pairs with iconic brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Starbucks to create one-of-a-kind items that support HIV/AIDS grants in countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda. The companies involved contribute 50 percent of the profits earned to the ONE (RED) campaign.Charitable_Ideas_for_Christmas
  6. Look for donation “widgets” or “buttons.” On some sites, donating is as simple as clicking a button. For example, The Hunger Site advertises a free “Click to Give” button. Notably, last year the organization’s “click button” funded 52.8 million cups of food.
  7. Volunteer. Options range from participating in a soup kitchen, donating professional resources such as writing or marketing skills or assisting in a project such as building a community school.
  8. Email congressional leaders. Writing to Congressional leadership is another way to get involved in helping out those in need. Since each and every email is tallied, a simple email addressed will help get key global poverty legislation on leaders’ radars.
  9. Give up coffee or snacks for a week and donate the money. A $5 drink every day during a normal workweek can set you back $25. Giving up that Grande Peppermint Mocha with soy milk, no whip may be hard at first, but that money can be put towards something like a mosquito net, life-saving medication or clean drinking water.
  10. Share on social media. Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly popular ways for people to share raise awareness about global poverty issues.
  11. Select “Charity Gift Cards”. TisBet capitalizes on the gift card model, but gives it a charity twist. The recipients of these gift cards get to choose which one of the 250 listed charities to spend the designated amount.
  12. Make use of matching donations. Some employers match employee donations, up to a certain dollar amount. Others even match volunteer hours or gifts from retirees, board members and even spouses.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: World Bank, National Philanthropic Trust, Amazon, Capital One, Soles 4 Souls, One, Greater Good, Chicago Tribune, TisBest, World Vision
Picture: Pixabay, Flickr