Imagine having no school to attend, or books being no big deal because you can't read anyhow. It's mortifying and it's also an assurance that the specter of living in poverty looms large. Illiteracy and poverty go hand in hand. Of course there are the bare essentials that need to come first; food, water, and shelter. Sadly even these are a challenge to deliver in our own backyard.
A Vancouver startup team are fast becoming real change makers. Change Heroes focuses on getting schools and libraries built in communities around the world that need, and want, their children to have a future. The team's founder, Taylor Conroy, has a mission with Change Heroes to embrace a leading social entrepreneurship role, and to extend the reach and positive impact of their friend-funding platform.
By focusing on two exclusive partnerships they are building deep and long-term relationships with Free The Children and Room To Read. Change Heroes' business is not about running one-off (transactional) campaigns for a multitude of partners.
By focusing on long-term strategic partnerships, they are setting the course, and working to accomplish their stated mission of "one day seeing a world where every child has access to education (Kindergarten to Grade 12)."
Recognizing the power of personal connections, Change Heroes has designed their platform around the concept of "friend-funding." The goal of each change hero is to bring together 33 of their friends, family, and co-workers together to donate $3.33 a day for three months which equates to $10,000 which will fund the building of a school or two libraries.
Rather than creating a generic message for everyone, a change hero creates a fun personalized video for each person. This personalization creates a closer connection between the fundraiser and their vision of seeing that school or library built.
People running campaigns and their donors even have the option of organizing a group trip to visit the school or library they have funded. You can't create much closer connections than that, while at the same time really sharing their experience with more friends back home.
The Change Heroes team is focused on making sure their technology platform delivers a meaningful human experience, and truly thoughtful connection for everyone involved.
They guarantee that every campaign will lead to a school or library being built. Should a campaign raise less than the $10,000 goal, Change Heroes will pair them up with another campaign to reach the goal to full fund a school or library.
Change Heroes also provides regular updates about the progress of the construction of their school or library through micro-sites, photos and video (taken by their charity partners). The relationship with each change hero and donor continues on after the donation is made, unlike other platforms which end communication after the tax receipt is sent.
While business is so often driven by the mantra of "compete or be crushed," the Change Heroes team believes that their only real competition is the social problems they're trying to solve.
The social venture space is a huge challenge, but is much like the open source development community where sharing is prevalent. The community can piggy-back off the previous work of others in the community versus constantly reinventing the wheel. In many ways it's a much smarter and faster way to go about the business of building a better and more open world.
For the rest of December 2012, every dollar raised through Change Heroes for Room To Read will be matched. Instead of two libraries, $10,000 will fund and establish four libraries. Gather your family, friends, and co-workers and get behind giving the gift of literacy this holiday season.
Follow John F. Gray on Twitter: www.twitter.com/grayspective