Social Startups Create Crowd Karma

If you ask them, they will help--that’s been the guiding principle for social startups hoping to reap the benefits of connectivity to provide opportunities for people to give back and get involved in ways like never before. They’re using technology to harness the power of “crowdkarma”--the collective desire of groups of people to come together to help enrich their communities. 

As a society, we’ve been taught “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”--a mindset CommuniTeach, an organization that connects people who want to learn new skills for free, is hoping to flip on its proverbial ear. Through their online platform, they’re able to match up people with others in their area to meet in person and learn from each other. Unlike other offerings such as Dabble and Skillshare where learners pay teachers and the company takes a cut, with CommuniTeach classes are free for members of the community. 

And because their subject offerings are fueled by the crowd, the possibilities are only limited by supply and demand of those in their community. According to Ben Paul, CommuniTeach co-founder, that means there’s reason for optimism. “We’ve already seen the success of projects such as CouchSurfing, OhSoWe, and Free Skool and, for our part, our platform has already generated more than 250 classes in three cities including three large-scale skill-sharing festivals.”

HelpersUnite hopes to use crowdfunding as a way to bring artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs who can affect change into the charity world. Like Kickstarter, users are able to use their platform to fund creative projects. Unlike Kickstarter, they require a portion of the funds that are raised go to charity. 

Filmmaker Todd Kipp is looking to HelpersUnite to fund his second film Computer Potato, the story of a lonely young man who longs to connect--both figuratively and literally--in the outside world.  “We've already submitted for six grants and we've been turned down by all six. We've found support in people donating time, locations, props, equipment, and food for the cast and crew, but some tangible items still need to be paid for in hard cash."

If he’s able to hit his funding target of $7,500, 5% will go to White Buffalo Calf Woman’s Society in South Dakota, and another 5% (out of his own pocket) will go to Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society, a women's shelter in Calgary, Canada.

“For every project, with our platform there are two parties that benefit and that creates two evangelists. When charities know money is being raised on their behalf, that increases the likelihood that they’ll get more involved” said Luan Cox, HelpersUnite founder and CEO.

Social startups such as CommuniTeach and HelpersUnite are hoping that karma is the new currency--that people inherently want to help others and give back to the communities in which they live and work. What do you think? Is crowdkarma going to change the way we think about community education and philanthropic giving? 

Pay Shawn's digital tree house a visit at shawngraham.me or continue the conversation on Twitter.

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