After its initial kick off on Monday, the third annual Holiday Charity Challenge by Royal Oak-based CrowdRise is already on track to surpass last year’s results of crowdsourcing $1.1 million in small donations to benefit charities across the country.
“I would be disappointed if the numbers aren’t better this year than last year,” says co-founder Robert Wolfe, CEO of CrowdRise. “We’re off to a really great start. The campaign goes through Jan. 9, and we raised over $100,000 in just the first two days.”
In 2010, actor Edward Norton, producer Shauna Robertson, Robert and Jeffro Wolfe, the founders of Madison Heights-based retailer Moosejaw, founded CrowdRise, the crowdfunding platform for people and organizations to support charitable causes.
Like Moosejaw, CrowdRise takes a different approach to the typical retail or fundraising website, Robert Wolfe says.
“(On Wednesday), we went out with a promotion saying, ‘Give anything to any cause and you’re signed up to go to the Anchorman 2 premiere in New York (two tickets),’” Wolfe says. “And then we did another promotion: ‘Any organization that emails their board to get involved in the campaign gets 16 boxes of Lucky Charms.’ To me, that’s CrowdRise.
“We’ve only been around for a little over three years, but I think we can safely say that the idea of making giving back fun works.”
This year’s Holiday Charity Challenge offers grand prize donations to three charities that raise the most money during the challenge; a record $100,000 for first place, $40,000 for second place, and $20,000 for third place. Charities will also have the opportunity to win thousands of dollars more in prizes during weekly bonus challenges.
The incentives seem to be working. “There’s already over 600 charities that have signed up for the campaign,” Wolfe says. “My guess is that we’ve probably tripled the number of organizations that were signed up at the launch (at this time last year).”
Charities can continue to sign up as the campaign goes on, with high-profile participants including Will Ferrell (Cancer for College), Sean Penn (J/P Haitian Relief Organization), and Seth Rogan (Hilarity for Charity).