‘We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.’ Oscar Wilde
Four years ago Francesco Nazari Fusetti set up CharityStars, a fund raising platform for charities. It linked celebrities with charitable causes, delivering funds to charities in a transparent, online manner.
Initially Fusetti approached celebrities, looking to get them to donate their time, possessions or support for charity. Over time, this has changed and charities began instead to approach the CharityStars platform to post their projects with their own celebrity ambassadors; CharityStars having proven an ability to deliver – matching causes, celebrities and donors – the latter now numbering 40,000 active people.
Fusetti is very proud of his organisation pointing to the $10 million raised since the formation of the company with mainstream charities benefitting such as WWF, UNICEF and Save the Children.
With the original office located in his native Italy and still accounting for more than 30% of all income generated, new offices have been opened in the UK and US. This is important as while the donors and bidders are worldwide, many of the celebrity experiences on offer are geographically based – such as lunch with a star or a poker game with an entrepreneur.
Monies are raised in three ways; the main income is by auctioning off a celebrity experience or luxury product, secondly income is derived from direct bids on products and finally people can enter a sweepstake for $5 which enters them for a random draw for a special prize.
CharityStars takes 15% commission on the net monies raised; sometimes there are third party costs but these fees are capped so that the minimum sum delivered to the charity is 72% of the total.
‘Porting our platform onto the blockchain was a natural move for us,’ explains Fusetti. ‘Our core business has been about transparency in the charity sector. There is an inherent distrust on how charities are managed – in direct opposition to people’s inherent desire to support their cause. We were able to bridge that gap initially through a transparent online platform – moving onto the blockchain when it became available was the obvious next step.’
This year, CharityStars created and backed AidCoin, an ERC20 utility token that allows people to donate to charities while easily tracking their donations on a public ledger.
By using blockchain technology to track transactions, cryptocurrencies to transfer funds and smart contracts to ensure donations are spent correctly, CharityStars aims to introduce a new layer of transparency, traceability, enabling a better connection and increased trust between donor and recipient, and in turn helping charities to raise more money.
‘The beauty of the blockchain is that we can show total transparently how money is donated and spent. There are no hidden fees,’ says Fusetti. ‘Every donor can see their donation.’
CharityStars recently ran a number auctions to have lunch and even play poker with some of the industry’s most prominent leaders, such as Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash, Brock Pierce, Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, serial entrepreneur Jeremy Gardner, Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift and Galia Benartzi, Co-founder of Bancor.
‘This raised $60,000 for the associated charities,’ says Fusetti.
Asked about his wish list celebrity experience Fusetti was firm in his answer: ‘I would love to meet Vitalik Buterin – he has changed the world, although I am not sure if I could bid enough to win that experience,’ he says. ‘But I would also have enjoyed meeting our top tier blockchain industry leaders. I am very engaged by this space.’
AidCoin also allows charities to integrate a donation button, called AIDPay, on their website that enables the acceptance of cryptocurrencies for their fundraising campaigns. Donors can donate in any cryptocurrency or altcoin that will then be converted into AidCoin at the current exchange rate. CharityStars will be the first platform to utilize the token internally among its community of 40,000 bidders.
“With the rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies holding the potential to impact the way in which we donate, I am certain that AidCoin is set to play a leading role in this new era of fundraising,” concluded Fusetti.
In its November pre-Sale, more than $4million was raised and now the company is looking at its full ICO in January 16, looking to raise 30,000 Ether or whatever that will equate to in dollars.