A Business Innovation Story: Using Technology to Bring Untapped Financial Leverage to You
In 2010, Edward Norton and three partners founded the company CrowdRise, an innovative new web platform on which individuals, organizations and companies can crowdfund and tap into previously under-leveraged networks of people to raise support for causes they care about. What started out as a personal fundraising project turned into a leading next-generation approach to activism and social impact that both Barron's and Forbes have called 'a game changer for philanthropy.'
The CrowdRise technology platform is now applied to international non-profit organizations and for-profit companies to unlock the power of crowd participation to create huge untapped financial leverage. CrowdRise is a for-profit company that helps other companies and organizations by disrupting traditional marketing, fundraising, and purchasing pathways, and by encouraging consumer loyalty, brand networking and customer participation. Working with partners as diverse as the NY Marathon, the Clinton Foundation, Skoll Foundation, United Airlines, Groupon, Mozilla, John Hancock and the Huffington Post, CrowdRise is rewriting the playbook on how organizations involve donors and consumers to participate in their brand and mission.
The Power of Philanthropy and Responsible Business
Edward Norton was a founding partner of CrowdRise, a web-based technology platform that changes the way organizations share their mission and involve those who share it. So far, CrowdRise, recognized by Barrons and Forbes as a philanthropy game-changer, has helped non-profits raise more than $50 million by utilizing an easy-to-use, democratic platform which allows anyone to participate in and donate to the mission. CrowdRise is only one of the many philanthropy efforts which Norton oversees; he is also the UN Ambassador for Biodiversity, President of the Board of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Founding member of the Yale University Middle East Peacemakers Fund, an early member of New York’s High Line urban redevelopment project, and other projects including the Signature Theater Company devoted to American playwrights. Mr. Norton can speak personally and intimately about his fundraising efforts and our responsibilities, particularly with regard to sustainability and natural resource management in our industrial economy.
Edward Norton is an award-winning actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is also a visionary entrepreneur, as well as committed social and environmental activist.
In 2010, Norton and three partners founded the company CrowdRise, an innovative new web platform on which individuals, organizations and companies can crowdfund for charities and non-profits. CrowdRise has rapidly become one of the best-known and largest crowdfunding sites in America and its users have raised over $200 million for charitable causes. Starting in 2014, its celebrated easy-to-use platform for mounting peer-to-peer fundraising projects additionally allows people to raise assistance for other individuals in need directly to support medical or education costs or recovery from a crisis. CrowdRise was named by Barron’s as one of the “25 Most Important New Ideas in Philanthropy.”
UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity
In 2010, Norton was appointed the first United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Norton supports the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in an effort to raise worldwide awareness of the importance of biodiversity, to communicate the human costs of biodiversity loss and to engage people, particularly youth, throughout the world in the fight to protect all life on Earth.
President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities
In 2008, Norton was appointed by President Obama to his committee for the Arts and Humanities. The committee advises the President on strategies to promote the arts and humanities in America, not only for their intrinsic cultural value but as key components in the administration’s education and economic development agendas.
Enterprise Community Partners
Norton serves on the Board of Trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, which works to move families up and out of poverty and transform low-income communities through the development of decent affordable housing and social service networks. Enterprise works in over 250 American cities and is one of the largest non-profit developers of affordable housing in America with well over 250,000 new affordable homes created in the last two decades. Edward Co-Chaired Enterprise’s successful $125 million capital campaign which he led with a personal contribution of $1.1 million. Enterprise was created by Norton’s grandfather, James Rouse, the celebrated developer and philanthropist.
In recent years, Enterprise has made special efforts to confront the challenge of greening affordable housing. Enterprise’s Green Communities Initiative, a $500 million commitment to promoting sustainable and efficient development practice, puts the foundation in a leadership role nationwide on this issue. Norton founded the Solar Neighbors program as a pilot project within Green Communities and he recently testified on behalf of Enterprise before the Congressional Select Committee on Climate Change in their hearing to explore the central role of development and construction on greenhouse gas emissions.
Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
Norton is the President of the Board of MWCT, a Kenya-based community conservation organization that partners with traditional communities in East Africa to conserve key ecosystems by developing sustainable, natural resource-based economic revenues. Norton and founder Luca Belpietro built MWCT literally from a conversation into an internationally recognized organization within 10 years. In 2012, MWCT was the first community-based organization to ever be awarded the UNDP Equator Prize and the UNEP Champions of the Earth Prize in the same year. www.MaasaiWilderness.org
Middle East Peacemakers Fund
Another of Norton’s projects is the Peacemakers Fund at Yale University. As a response to the events of September 11th and the increasing conflict in the Middle East, Norton contributed $100,000 to establish a fund that provides travel-study grants for Yale undergraduates to study the people, languages and cultures of the Middle East and Central Asia. The Fund is now administered by the MacMillan Center for Middle East Studies at Yale and has sent nearly 100 students to the Middle East to pursue research and study. Fundraising for the fund’s endowment is ongoing.
Edward Norton has acted in the films Primal Fear, Everyone Says I Love You, The People vs Larry Flynt, American History X, Rounders, Fight Club, Keeping the Faith, The Score, Death to Smoochy, Frida, Red Dragon, The 25th Hour, The Italian Job, Down in the Valley, The Kingdom of Heaven, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil, Pride & Glory, The Incredible Hulk, Leaves of Grass, Stone, Moonrise Kingdom, The Bourne Legacy. His most recent two films, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman, were each nominated for 9 Academy Awards and each won 4, including Best Picture for Birdman.
He has been nominated for three Academy Awards, for Primal Fear, American History X and Birdman and won a Golden Globe along with numerous other awards for his performances. In 2002 Norton won the Obie Award for his NY stage performance in the Signature Theater production of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This. He directed the film Keeping the Faith and also produced Down in the Valley (Cannes Film Festival selection), The Painted Veil, Leaves of Grass, Thanks for Sharing, the documentary By The People: The Election of Barack Obama and the just released Netflix original documentary My Own Man.
In summer of 2015, HBO commences production of Lewis & Clark, a six-part dramatic miniseries that Norton co-wrote and is producing through his Class 5 Films label.