Welcome to Project Give Back Connects Episode 14 on Inspiring Creative Change.
Every person can create change, regardless of age. All of us can make the world brighter for someone else. Our Project Give Back logo is a ‘Boomerang’ with a star in the middle. Why? Because, when we throw kindness out into the world, it comes back to us. Why the star? Each one of us has a shining star inside, just waiting to come out.
You can create change, by your actions and reactions. Just one smile can reboot someone else’s day.
Tonight’s expert guest speaker is a true change maker. Russell Citron is a recent MBA graduate from Harvard Business School focusing on social entrepreneurship. Russell was the Founder & CEO of CrowdChange, a fundraising technology company that helps clients raise more money for their charitable initiatives. Before founding CrowdChange, Russell began his career as a management consultant at Monitor Deloitte. He co-founded Feed the Deed, a social media initiative spreading kindness globally. Russell is now working on building new initiatives in the self-help and education spaces and spoke to us about his influences.
Russell’s story began 10 years ago, after hearing Eli Wiesel give a political speech. During the Q&A that followed, Eli was asked, “What is the biggest problem in the world today?” Eli responded, “there is too much creativity for evil, and not enough creativity for good.” Creativity for good……..
With that idea in mind, Russell was inspired to develop this notion further. At the time, one of the first social media phenomena’s to go viral was formed. It was called ‘Neknominate’. Popular among college students, it shared drinking challenge videos that were posted. Russell, along with his friend Josh Stern, took this novel idea and evolved it, to come up with a campaign to help others.
‘Feed the Deed’ was born. The idea was simple: participants would film themselves performing a random act of kindness, then nominate friends to do the same. Within no time, Feed the Deed went completely viral, reaching well over a million people throughout the world. The take away lesson was that, when something bad in the world occurs, you rid it by inspiring people to do something good.
Soon after being told by someone that, “You were born to do something special”, Russell was then inspired to create ‘CrowdChange’. CrowdChange is technology to help people raise more money for charity events. It entered the fraternity and sorority market in the US, replacing existing technology. Today, CrowdChange is featured on more than 500 college campuses.
Most recently at HBS, Russell initiated a school-wide charity event; an annual talent show called, HBS’ Got Talent. He even got Randy Jackson, from American Idol, involved! Due to run at the onset of COVID last year, they opted to switch to a virtual format and raised $20,000 for COVID relief. The event was so popular that it continued this year and raised over $22,000.
Russell summed up by passing along the important lessons he has learned:
- Channel inspiration to be creative for good!
- We are all born to do something special
- Use your imagination for good
Back in September, Halle Burnett performed on our very first episode of Project Give Back Connects. Since then, this singer songwriter has professionally released her first song on all music streams. It is called ‘Polaroid’. Check it out! Halle treated us to a beautiful and fitting performance of, ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson.
Three years ago, we met this Shining Star, Matty Abrahams in one of our PGB classes. Matty chose Camp Oochigeas for his PGB journey, because he wanted to help kids who are suffering with childhood cancer. Since then, Matty has continued to give back to this noble cause. Combining his love of camp and sports, Matty has organized an annual Camp Ooch ‘Super Bowl Pool’, raising money to help send kids to this camp. His original goal was to raise $2000, enough to pay for a week of camp. In the first year, Matty raised $3000. Over the last 3 years, Matty has raised over $20K, far and above what he originally had hoped. Friends and family have had fun participating in the pool, with fun prop bets like; what colour of Gatorade will be dumped on the coach? Participants have learned about an amazing charity, have won some fun prizes and most importantly, raised a lot of money for a wonderful cause. Marty’s pool is the perfect example of inspiring creative change!
As always, our night concluded with Lindsay@onetogiveto and Kindness Corner. Lindsay gave us an update on Olio, the food sharing app that she introduced on our last show. Since then, registration has increased significantly! This week Lindsay proposed a simple and fitting challenge; write a letter of gratitude to a teacher. With all these good deeds in mind, let’s remember to be kind to one another, to learn from one another and through these actions, create positive change!