Crowdsourcing for Good – Some examples to watch

With the recent launch of the Pepsi Refresh Project (an initiative where the company took its $20 million dollar Superbowl budget and earmarked for charities  as decided by crowdsourcing) the charitable potential of crowdsourcing has been brought to the forefront. Pepsi  may be one of the biggest to date, but others have melded the idea of charity with crowdsourcing. Here are five examples to watch (with a few honourable mentions):

1. YOXI Pilot Competition

There may have only been $5,000 at stake, and only 4 teams competing, but when you get the likes of GOOD Magazine and jumping onto your bandwagon, you know you’ve hit something special. YOXI’s pilot competition took four teams comprised of writers, designers, strategists and storytellers and asked them to pitch a way to motivate people to ride bikes in urban areas. A very focused, small-scale crowdsourcing undertaking with well-directed crowds and extremely good execution.  We can’t wait for them to come out of beta.

2. Samasource

Samasource is working to alleviate poverty by reinventing the notion of outsourcing. TechCrunch described Samasource as, “a non-profit service that allows you to outsource microwork tasks like data, testing, transcription and research to poor, but educated, workers abroad — it’s a Kiva for small work tasks.” With such an clearly defined social mission and sustainable and innovative business model, Samasource is a great inspiration.

3. Orange Mobile Volunteering

It’s one we’ve partnered to build, and is near and dear to our heart. Just launched, mobile volunteering by Orange is a crowdsourcing community of developers, social entrepreneurs, a few Orange employees, NGOs and other partners to discover how people with a mobile phone anywhere could volunteer time for good. The community is asked to submit both raw ideas for mobile volunteering and descriptions of apps in progress or complete. There is no financial reward to participate (but there is the reward and rivalry of points, badges and leaderboard rank) and even if you contribute one of 20 winning submissions you get no cash. Instead, the 10 new mobile volunteering ideas have opportunity to be developed by Orange and the 10 existing or in progress apps get promoted by Orange when it launches the mobile volunteering app later this year.

4. givezooks!

There’s a few things we love about givezooks and their model. The first is that its model wholly embraces social media, allowing messaging to shared and sent, linking individuals to local nonprofits.  The second is how they’ve partnered with Plastic Jungle and accepts unused/unwanted gift cards as a way to donate. Leveraging both platforms and a unique source of funding, givezooks! is paving the way for charitable giving in the digital age.

5. Inventurefund

Where Kiva links entrepreneurs with people through lending, InventureFund creates that connection through investment.  Taking entrepreneurs previously financed through microfinancing with a good track record, they move them off of the cycle of borrowing and instead profit share. This allows dollars to go further and eventually helps get entrepreneurs into the market on their own.

Honorable Mentions

Chase Community Giving

Chase Bank ran a Facebook contest, inviting the crowd to vote for their favorites charities. After 5 million dollars, over 2 million votes, and a few last-minute misteps, 200 charities ended up winning in the end.  It wasn’t a perfect run – a little advice from crowdsourcing experts might have helped – but it was a remarkable undertaking and commendable effort.


Selling coupon books and chocolates is so very passé.  GiveForward is a platoform empowering individuals and groups to raise funds for school, sports clubs or other purposes.

Whether it’s running in a race for MS, shaving your head for cancer or any one of the other multitudes of ways individuals can raise funds for charity, Crowdrise gives individuals the tools to maximize their exposue and raise as much money as they can. Fun fact: Edward Norton was involved at the beginning of this venture.


Where the average K-12 teachers spends $40 a month on classroom supplies, DonorsChoose allows donors to give classrooms projects and ease the burden while investing in education.

The Extraordinaries – Micro Voluntering Network

Linking skilled professionals with a few minutes to spare with non-profits looking for help, the network truly leverages the power of the crowd for the purposes of good. Quite extraordinary.

Photo credit: D’arcy Norman


  1. Eric Buchegger

    Some good examples. I came across one this morning that might be of interest. The National Peace Corps Association is running an initiative called Africa Rural Connect, through which they’re crowdsourcing ideas for new outreach projects that help African farmers. They are endeavoring to engage humanitarians worldwide, encouraging them to propose relevant projects, recommend improvements to proposed projects and endorse potential programs. Last year, thousands of people joined the community, posting and collaborating on hundreds of ideas. They’re currently in the midst of a new contest, enticing participants with a series of $1,000 prizes towards idea implementation and a $12,000 grand prize. I like the set-up of the contest, because there are a number of ways in which people can participate and collaborate. Project ideas are voted on, with the final winning selections made by a panel of judges.

Leave a comment