CSRwire chats with Tomer Binyamin, one of the cofounders of new crowdfunding platform Greenvolved. With an ambitious objective to tie causes with individuals' passion and company funds, will the platform take off in this era of digital access, and a demand for measurable impact?
What is Greenvolved?
Greenvolved is a platform that matches environmental causes people care about with companies who are looking for the right social-investments. I started Greenvolved along with three Israeli entrepreneurs, Omri Portal, Yoav Avneon and Ido Markovitz, in 2012.
Omri, Greenvolved's CEO, was a soldier with the Israeli intelligence forces. He mulled over the idea of Greenvolved for good two years before it was born – and finally quit after realizing that he wanted to do something bigger, more meaningful.
Yoav is our environmental lead. He is finalizing his Ph.D. in ecology and wildlife conservation. He works with NGOs and validates what projects are presented on Greenvolved.
Ido is our CTO and I take care of business development. I joined forces with Omri, Yoav and Ido after some intensive soul searching, which included quitting a high paying job, dropping out of university and traveling through India for four months. It’s a long story but the bottom line was clear: I needed to figure out how to take advantage of my abilities in a more positive way.
It's been almost two years since you started Greenvolved. Sounds like a simple concept – what challenges are you facing in attracting companies and voters?
We're definitely gaining momentum. We're already collaborating with over 30 NGOs from around the world including Wildlife Marine (Australia), Widecast (Costa Rica), Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership and Neotropical Primates conservation (U.K.).
Greenvolved was a finalist in MassChallenge, the biggest startup incubator worldwide, and on December 18, 2013, we successfully launched a Thunderclap campaign with over 750 people and organizations supporting us, helping us deliver our message to over 740,000 individuals.
We’re building innovative partnerships to complete the value-proposition for our clients. One example is ViralGains – a brilliant startup that drives targeted social traction like views, shares and votes for sponsored project videos.
Our Facebook page, launched 10 months ago, already has over 16,000 fans. And, we have been, and still are, in conversations with major U.S. brands like EMC, IBM, Deutsche Telekom and others about taking off the gloves and sponsoring the first project.
That in a nutshell is our biggest challenge: getting the first sponsor company on board. Companies continue to find it hard to monitor their CSR activities and are unable to effectively measure the impact on their audience and, hence, the bottom line. We can help them with that.
What types of projects can we expect to see on Greenvolved?
Projects will vary in theme and reach. Companies can pick a project based on their philanthropy criteria and vision. Greenvolved will help cut down on the traditionally long validation phase by verifying all projects beforehand. After a company chooses project, a voting goal is set proportional to the project's value.
For example, a $100,000 project to save sea turtles in Costa Rica will need 100,000 votes to get funding from the sponsoring company. Here's where the fun begins! The project is presented on the platform as an “active project,” with voters, the NGO, Greenvolved and the sponsor company all sharing the same goal of meeting the project’s votes-goal and turn the project into a reality. Everybody wins!
The end effect: more environmentally responsible companies, more funding for NGOs and an increased impact from people looking to make a difference.
It’s a simple strategy. And it probably won't solve all the world's environmental issues but by harnessing the power of a crowd, Greenvolved will, at the very least, encourage more companies to give back to the environment.