It’s been quite a spring for Stanford senior ALEXANDER BERGER. Recently, the philosophy major from Littleton, Colo., was one of 10 undergraduates to receive the Deans’ Awards for Academic Accomplishment. Then on May 11, at a Haas Center event featuring actor KEVIN BACON, Berger was named the winner of the Stanford edition of the “1 Degree Challenge,” which asked students to come up with the “Next Big Idea” for using social networking for social good.
Berger’s team, which included fellow seniors AARON KALB and ALEX ROMANCZUK, came up with “Give Like A Billionaire,” an idea that would leverage Facebook, Twitter and email to help those with relatively modest resources engage friends and friends of friends in raising money for charity.
The proposal offered the example of Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor, who raised money for his favorite charities by offering to match their contributions.
“Our proposal is to help non-billionaires use friends to raise money for the charity they care about. They begin by selecting a charity and setting a goal,” Berger says in a video explaining the proposal. “Then they ask their friends for contributions, which they will only pay if the goal is met. If the person raising funds falls short of the goal, then the money will be returned to the people who donated. So, instead of having a rich person like Peter Thiel match each friends’ donations, they match each other’s donations.”
Berger’s team will work with Bacon to implement his idea through SixDegrees.org and receive up to $50,000 for promotion and technical development.
“Kevin Bacon’s challenge gave us — and all the other participants — a great chance to think about how social networks could be used more effectively to advance the causes we care about. We were really grateful for the opportunity to participate, and happy that ‘Give Like A Billionaire’ might be able to help great charities raise more money somewhere down the line,” Berger said.
- Elaine Ray