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Meet the for-profit business model that’s raised over $130 million for charities

The online sweepstakes company is generating game-changing windfalls for certain organizations.

Meet the for-profit business model that’s raised over $130 million for charities
[Source Photo: shipee/iStock]
THE WORLD’S 50 MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES
47 Omaze
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Omaze is an online global sweepstakes platform that puts together coveted experiences (lunch with Amal and George Clooney in Lake Como) and prizes (a Lamborghini signed by the Pope) to raise money for everything from Unicef to local homeless organizations. Since its 2012 launch, the for-profit Omaze, which takes a percentage of the overall sweepstakes donations, has raised over $130 million for more than 350 charities.

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The company had been exclusively focused on celebrity-driven prizes until its giveaway of a $233,000 McLaren brought in a surprising $1.9 million for the Movember Foundation in 2018. Omaze is now intent on creating packages that marry a high-demand item (a Sprinter Van) with a cause that resonates among entrants (conservation organization Access Fund). Omaze’s 34-person marketing team produces videos to showcase the charity and connects with influencers who will help promote them. Seventy percent of a non-celeb-driven sweepstake’s total goes to product and marketing costs; Omaze and the charity split the rest, which can often be transformative. (Access Fund’s 2019 windfall funded 2,000 hours of conservation work.)

“The whole point is making it as easy as possible for the charities so they are literally just receiving funds,” says cofounder and CEO Matt Pohlson. Last year, $7 million of Omaze’s total charity giving of $25 million stemmed from these non-celeb-driven sweepstakes, which accounted for more than 60% of the company’s $45 million in revenue.

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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.