Edward Norton’s website crowdrise.com is a community-based, fundraising platform that encourages interaction between friends and supporters for causes from worldwide mega-charities to the most personal and esoteric of newbie orgs. It’s a hip, youth-centric gateway to giving. Plus its cool design and graphics make it an entertaining experience, all the while encouraging the viewer to donate much-needed cash.
The humor on Norton’s site comes from producer-partner Shauna Robertson (“Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year Old Virgin”), which provides such barbed headlines as “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.”
“We wanted to help bridge the gap between this generation, which is very comfortable identifying itself on platforms like this, and organizations that can benefit,” says Norton. “And we wanted it (to be) fun.”
When Norton and Robertson’s posse — Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Kristen Bell and Glen Hansard — heard about the fundraising website, they all jumped onboard.
“I’m all for anything that makes the idea of charity not lame and boring and very serious,” says Rogen, who has an Alzheimer’s fundraising page on the site. “Because I feel that that’s what keeps a lot of young people away. I’ve found that people are a lot more receptive if you make it fun and enjoyable no matter how serious what you’re trying to support is.”
Rogen, through his site, is trying to raise $50,000, and his page opens with the eye-catching headline “Kick Alzheimer’s in the ass.”
“Crowdrise is for people like me who are just beginning and not that smart,” adds the actor. “I can go on and easily navigate a way of seeing what other causes I might like to get into. That’s the best thing about it — it’s not directed at one specific cause. It’s every cause.”
“It’s a no-shit direct connection,” says Hansard. “I get to post the pictures. I get to post the words. It’s a direct connection between you and the supporters. All of the stuff that’s on my web page, I did myself. It feels a lot more genuine than appearing in an advert. I like that it wasn’t being taken care of by some anonymous person in an office.”
The Oscar-winning songwriter (“Once”) has a very specific aim: He wants to raise $70,000 to buy Kenya’s Maasai a much-needed truck. “It’s not a big deal,” he says. “I’m not trying to solve the fucking world’s problems.”
Bell became involved with the Invisible Children charity seven years ago, when she learned that more than 30,000 children had become victims of unspeakable atrocities in Uganda.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be using our filmmaking skills to engage people,” she says of the website. “It’s choosing to be creative with a business model. You can just put a bunch of pretty colors, or you choose to engage people. It’s all about creativity and storytelling.”
Rudd came to Crowdrise to help support the Our Time Theater Company, a program that helps kids with stuttering problems.
“I am kind of dumb because I don’t have Facebook or Twitter or any of that stuff,” says the actor. “And yet, I thought, ‘God, Crowdrise makes total sense!’ People can get linked into other people’s causes and donate and raise awareness. You can scroll around on Crowdrise and say, ‘Oh, this person is involved in this.’ It’s like playing around on YouTube. I was kind of messing around and saw Glen Hansard is buying this truck for the Maasai. I’m learning about things that I would never know about.”
As for Crowdrise’s creator, his big cause is the environment.
“My father has been a leading conservationist. He founded the Grand Canyon Trust,” says Norton. “My entire life, I’ve watched my father and grandfather raise money for good causes. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t watching the two of them trying to raise money. I guess this is me following in the family business to some degree.”
For more information, visit crowdrise.com.