Life is Beautiful celebrates people and organizations around the world that are catalyzing change and making the world a better place.
Entrepreneurs Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins were just grad students when an impetus for the two young men to fill a gap in an existing market struck. It was 2012, and the friends were at a Boys & Girls Clubs of America fundraiser when they bid for a chance to win courtside seats with Magic Johnson at an L.A. Lakers game. They were soon disappointed to realize that financial limitations would prevent them from bidding when the auction reached upwards of $15,000.
On the way home, Pohlson and Cummins wondered just how much more money could have been raised if any Magic fan could have the chance to enter for just $10, as opposed to just the few in attendance that evening. An idea sparked, and the two launched Omaze that same year. With donations as small as $10, the accessible model for giving could deliver greater impact for the causes it would support.
If a participant becomes the randomly selected winner at the close of a campaign, Omaze offers the opportunity to experience rare encounters and activities with celebrities. Imagine playing an epic game of dodgeball with Ben Stiller, or getting advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger as your new life coach, all while benefiting great causes in the name of charity.
The organization has come a long way from its modest beginnings. Omaze’s first campaign garnered less than $1,000. Today, the organization runs multiple campaigns that individually raise millions of dollars for its nonprofit partners, with donations originating from 175 different countries. Campaigns have raised funds for charities doing work in places including the U.K. and Latin America and have hosted winner experiences in London, Seoul, Fiji and the Maldives, in addition to cities across the U.S.
From enthusiastic partners to a hardworking team, the organization’s success and growth can be attributed to many factors, but two are especially important to note: its distinctive model for charitable donations and the organization’s remarkable storytelling, evidenced by the popularity of its video content and the high engagement it yields. Take, for example, Omaze’s video of Ben Stiller and the cast of Dodgeball reviving the film’s characters to raise funds for The Stiller Foundation, which supports the well-being of children worldwide through educational initiatives. In just less than two months, the video has attracted more than 12 million views on Facebook for this ongoing campaign.
Pooling small, multiplicitous contributions as low as $10 and up to several thousand dollars, Omaze is able to create maximum impact for the projects and causes it funds—for organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, UNICEF and After-School All-Stars, to name a few. As an online platform, Omaze is accessible worldwide to anyone with internet access.
Some of Omaze’s proudest achievements, according to CEO and cofounder Pohlson, include raising enough funds for its charity partner Julia’s House to break ground on a new children’s hospice center in the U.K., and working with Chris Pratt to build a new teen center at the Boys & Girls Club in Pratt’s hometown of Lake Stevens, Washington. The winner of that campaign enjoyed a day on set with Chris for the latest installment of Guardians of the Galaxy.
“As a company, we offer our influencer partners and their fans an effective way to support the causes that are meaningful to them,” Pohlson says. “This campaign was a perfect example of that in action, as it offered an opportunity for people to quickly generate impact around an urgent issue.”
To learn more about Omaze’s causes and campaigns, visit omaze.com.v