Amicus Uses The Social Graph To Improve Non-Profit Fundraising

Amicus is a new startup that recently came out of Y Combinator, a well known and highly regarded startup incubator based in Silicon Valley. They’ve recently raised $3.2 million in venture capital to launch their product which uses the social graph to improve non-profit fundraising. Description from TechCrunch: > Fundraising phone calls from strangers make people hang up. But if the caller’s a friend, friend of a friend, or is similar to you, you’re more likely to donate. Amicus has just raised $3.2 million to offer this social graph intelligence to non-profits. Y Combinator, FF Angel, 500 Startups and more have put money down because they think fundraisers will put money down on Amicus to get donors to…put more money down. Non-profits spend $0.20 of every dollar they raise on overhead, and a lot of that goes to inefficient fundraising. That equals $60 billion last year for U.S. non-profits alone. Until recently, though, there was no way to know who on your giant potential donor list was connected to your teammates. But now there’s Facebook. And there’s Amicus CEO and co-founder Seth Bannon. “I’ve been involved with causes since I was 14 and I’ve always been super frustrated,” he tells me. “I thought crappy tech was holding the causes back and wasting my time and my volunteers’ time. So a few colleagues challenged me to fix it and here we are.” Other plays in the social fundraising space like Causes and Fundly are focused on using Facebook and Twitter as channels for sending indirect invitations to donate. But Bannon thinks “those mediums are still very spammy. They’re not really great at compelling donations.” Anyways, only 11 percent of donations are raised online. The rest come from the tried and true methods of fundraising — phone calls and snail mail. Just think of it this way, Bannon explains: If a friend sent me a Facebook invite to donate, I have no problem ignoring it, because they probably wouldn’t even know. If a friend sent me an email, I might ignore it but I’d feel guilty. If a friend called me, I’d call them back. If a friend sent me a postcard I’d be giddy. So Amicus concentrates on getting non-profits more donations per phone call or snail mail. How? It combines the non-profit’s mailing and phone call lists with the Facebook data of all their supporters. It looks for matches and assigns staff members to call or mail people who are their friends, friends of friends, or who they have interests or other biographical data in common with. “Hi, I’m Josh calling on behalf of the Red Cross. We went to the same high school / are both friends with Eric Eldon / both love the San Francisco Giants. Can I tell you about our fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy?” The answer is more likely to be yes. And that’s why non-profits are willing to pay for Amicus. The startup is already profitable, in fact.

Two Degrees Food: A Nutrition Bar That Gives Back

NBC’s Today Show tomorrow (Nov 15) will feature a segment on Two Degrees Food. Here’s a quote from AARP’s blog post on it: > Walters along with his co-founder, Will Hauser, a 25-year-old former Wall Streeter joined together in 2010 to form a company with the purpose of doing business for good. By that, I mean developing “Two Degrees Food,” a nutrition bar company where a portion of the proceeds go to feeding hungry children both here and abroad. Two generations, both yearning for a new “life calling”! They had no real food manufacturing company experience, only believing they had enough connections and experience between the two of them to create a profitable start-up company that works for good.

Where To Volunteer in New York- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

VOLUNTEERS IN HIGH DEMAND! Below are a list of volunteering resources if you are interested in pitching in. EDIT: I will be adding additional listings on an on-going basis.  Many of the links I’ll be adding going forward will be important and valuable albeit more locally focused efforts. – NYC Service ( Offers a variety of ways to get involved cleanup and recovery after Hurricane Sandy. More volunteer opportunities will be added as communities assess their needs and begin to rebuild.  Check back often for the most up-to-date volunteer opportunities throughout the five boroughs.
WNYC (Radio station) Radio station WNYC (93.9 FM and 820 AM) is keeping a running list of volunteer activities.
O’Reilly Radar Blog A tech media and publishing company, their blog lists several resources to help volunteer for post-hurricane relief.  Notable is their list of online volunteer opportunities (I will directly link to these opportunities below).
NY Tech Responds Mobilizing New York’s Tech Community to support hurricane sandy recovery.  Includes providing tech help, volunteering office and co-working space, and projects for hackers.
WSJ Metropolis Blog Wall Street Journal’s New York City blog lists some resources and volunteer opportunities.  Also listed is contact information for New Jersey, if you prefer to donate your services to devastated communities in that state.
Occupy Sandy Relief Occupy Sandy is a coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources and volunteers to help neighborhoods and people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Members of this coalition are from Occupy Wall Street,, and

Additional requests for volunteers:Rockaways Relief Effort – Rockabus site focuses on aid for the Rockaways.  Includes supply drop off sites around the city.  If you want to sign up to volunteer, please do it here.  See images here for some of the devastation in that community.– Brooklyn volunteer locations to help Rockaways Jay Parkinson MD writes on his Tumblr about his day helping out in Rockaway on Saturday Nov 3.  He calls for volunteers (read towards the end of his post) Staten Island Resources-Tunnel to Towers is acception donations
Rebuild Staten Island is on Facebook
Staten Island Marathon for Sandy Relief is on Facebook
Images of marathoners boarding Staten Island Ferry to volunteer Crisis Resources– This map lists many resources.  The view I have set here is for volunteer resources. TimeOut New York has a long list of how to volunteer and help out with hurricane relief Strong Island– *Long Islanders, this is a tool to help you find and give help as we recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. TwitLonger has a long list of local volunteer opportunities New York City Shelters may need supplies *FEMA websiteFor Those Who Want to Help– Cash is best: the best way to support survivors of Hurricane Sandy is to make a financial contribution to trusted organization. Please read these tips on donating and volunteering responsibly.
– Give blood: numerous blood drives have been canceled as a result of the storm and the Red Cross has a need for blood donations. To schedule a blood donation or for more information about giving blood or platelets, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


E-book: Social Entrepreneurs Speak: Essays, Articles, and Interviews on Social Entrepreneurship

Check out this interesting new e-book called Social Entrepreneurs Speak: Essays, Articles, and Interviews on Social Entrepreneurship. It is a compilation of selected pieces written for There is also an introductory essay that analyzes social entrepreneurship’s potential for sustainable social change.

Link to the book:

(via email submission)

Will Crowdfunding Ignite Investing For Profits And Purpose?

Crowdfunding has the potential to ignite impact investing.

How? Well, for starters crowdfunding is inherently social. Founders of companies and potential investors can talk openly on the web and exchange feedback, concerns, and ideas.

More importantly, when it comes to attracting investors, crowdfunding enables founders to bring to bear what’s called “social capital.” Social capital is essentially all the real and potential value stored in the relationships of the founders and the company.

Continue reading…

OLPC is plowing forward with the successor to the XO-1

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
OLPC CEO Rodrigo Arboleda said in a released statement today, “There is constant debate over laptops versus tablets in educational programs. But the truth is both have their merits. While maintaining our XO’s award-winning design from Yves Behar’s FuseProject, we have combined features of both devices to deliver dual benefits. The new XO-4 Touch is more than just a device, it’s a new way of facilitating learning.”

The XO-4 Touch is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2013. No word on pricing.

Continue reading…

Columbia Business School- Social Enterprise Conference 2012

Columbia Business School’s upcoming Social Enterprise Conference this year will be on Friday, October 5, 2012

Time: 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: Lerner Hall, Columbia University

Description: Aligning Strategy to Maximize Impact Ranging from startups to programs embedded in multinational organizations, social enterprise continues to thrive despite complex political and economic environments. Companies and organizations increasingly need to develop strategies internally and across their sectors to mobilize action and tackle major social and environmental issues. While traditional corporate strategy focuses on long-term profit maximization, more forward-thinking organizations are incorporating a broader spectrum of social gains into their organizational strategies. Leadership teams must consider the following questions to build successful strategies:

• What are best practices for developing an internal and external strategy that aligns your vision, mission, operations, and results while also engaging stakeholders and minimizing risk?

• What opportunities exist to build an ecosystem strategy across multiple organizations and sectors?

• What are the opportunities and limitations of pursuing strategies to scale organizations and initiatives to achieve sustained impact

By uniting industry experts, thought leaders and practitioners, the 2012 Social Enterprise Conference will delve deeper into the ways leaders and managers can use strategy as a tool to maximize social change. We will share success stories and challenges across a wide range of sectors and causes.

Conference website:

Register here:;id=42


TEDx talk: Solution to indoor air pollution in the third world

Reader Jordana writes:

I’m writing to share this recently broadcasted TEDx talk on how we can save two million lives a year by changing people’s cooking appliances. The BioLite HomeStove is a new technology that generates electricity from the heat of the flame. This enables the stove to power an internal fan, which cuts smoke by 95% and generates surplus electricity to charge mobile phones and home lighting. Drawing on cultural anthropology and user-centered design, the team has developed and will distribute the stove in a manner that is consistent with local cultural, religious, and culinary practices.


Takeaways from the 2012 Skoll World Forum: A new brand of social entrepreneurship is emerging.

Jason Saul is the founder and CEO of Mission Measurement, a strategy consulting firm that helps its clients create value through social change. Here he writes about five takeaways from the 2012 Skoll World Forum:

The Skoll World Forum—an amazing alchemy of the world’s greatest social entrepreneurs, big thinkers, financiers, philanthropists, and academics—is often a zeitgeist of the latest thinking in the social sector, and this year didn’t disappoint. While the officially programmed theme of the conference was “flux,” the real themes played out in informal hallway chatter, over drinks with colleagues at the Oxford Retreat pub, and in the Twittersphere.
Having participated in a number of these informal “sessions”—in addition to moderating a formal one—I sat down to consider what I heard. Here are my five main takeaways:

1. It’s OK to make an economic return from solving social problems.

2. Measurement is no longer optional.

3. We’re in an age of social entrepreneurship 2.0.

4. It’s cool to be corporate.

5. People want to move the needle.

Continue reading here.