Back in 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge demonstrated how social video could be harnessed to raise awareness and money for a cause (it brought in $115 million in the U.S. and a total of $220 million worldwide).
The Charity Champions League online “giving competition,” launching today, is taking a different tack. Instead of trolling for donations, it’s calling on viewers to earn money for charity by earning “points” for watching, reading and sharing content from one of eleven teams headed by celebrity captains, each supporting a different nonprofit.
When competition concludes on June 15, each nonprofit will be awarded a minimum of $5,000, and the one with the highest total score will receive $250,000. The money will be come from advertisers sponsoring the content, Toyota, Winthrop and Chevy.
“There are all sorts of clever ways ask people for money, but we didn’t want to ask the audience for money,” said Paul Polizzotto, founder and president of CBS EcoMedia, which created the campaign. “We wanted to ask the audience if it cared. This way, we create a new a funding source without cannibalizing the fundraising that’s going on.”
The celebrity team captains include Christina Grimmie (The Humane Society of the United States), Usain Bolt (After–School All–Stars), Cal Ripken Jr. (Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation), Weylie Hoang (ASPCA), Nancy O’Dell (ALS.net), Phil Keoghan (National Multiple Sclerosis Society), Kevin Frazier (School on Wheels), Mark Teixeira (Harlem RBI), Stephanie May & Matilda Donovan (Ronald McDonald House), Jerod Mayo (Boston Medical Center) and Nika Erculj (The Trevor Project).
“They will getting points for tweets, and Instagram and Facebook posts, but most of what people will be exposed to is video content with inspiring stories that will make people want to get involved,” explained Polizzotto. “Most of content has already been curated and created from sources we work with, but the team captains will also be producing content on their own for their campaigns.”
Christina Grimmie, who has built a singing career on YouTube, where her channel has more than 3.15M subscribers and 377M views, and appeared as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” said that her campaign will be more about sharing videos than producing them.
“It’s mostly collecting inspiring stories from others, then I support it any that I can through videos or whatever to keep my fans in the loop,” Grimmie said. “And, hopefully, my fans get involved and make videos and tell their stories, then we share them around.”
Polizzotto founded EcoMedia in 2002 to harness advertising dollars for charities. In 2010, it was acquired by CBS, which exponentially scaled its reach across media platforms. Today, CBS EcoMedia focuses on raising funds for nonprofits in three sectors — veterans, education, health and wellness, and the environment.
“What I think is very powerful about it is that it’s the democratization of philanthropy,” said Polizzotto of his brand-underwritten charity model. “The only barrier to one’s ability to be philanthropic is their ability to experience empathy.”