Industry Interview: How Charity Network and the Miranda Family Are Making the World a Better Place

As BroadwayWorld recently reported, "Lin-Manuel Miranda and Charity Network Rise Up for Good" has been nominated for best campaign in the Social - Public Service & Activism category in the 22nd Annual Webby Awards.

Capitalizing on a unique moment in Broadway history, Charity Network and the Miranda family teamed to implement a record-breaking series of digital sweepstakes through Prizeo and auction fundraising campaigns via Charitybuzz, offering fans around the world the chance to experience the groundbreaking cultural phenomenon Hamilton: An American Musical and monetize for good.

To date, the campaigns have raised more than $7 million dollars and cultivated over 400,000 donations for charitable organizations, including Planned Parenthood, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Hispanic Federation.

As a nominee, "Lin-Manuel | Rise Up" is also eligible to win a Webby People's Voice Award, which is voted online by fans. From now until April 20th, fans can cast their votes HERE.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, and honored at a star-studded ceremony on Monday, May 14, 2018, at Cipriani on Wall Street in New York City. In the meantime, find out more about the campaign from the chief creative officer at Charity Network, Jan Friedlander Svendsen.


So, the Rise Up campaign was comprised of three major initiatives all centered around HAMILTON?

It was really a series of six campaigns that we have done here on Prizeo, our on-line sweepstakes platform, and some auctions on Charitybuzz, our online auction platform. We focused on Hamilton opening nights around the world.


Where did the idea first come from for the initial campaign in 2016?

I have to back track to my previous job at the Broadway League, where I got to know Lin-Manuel and his family. We talked about how important philanthropy was for them, and they did a lot of philanthropic endeavors with and through the Broadway League for Viva Broadway.

When I moved to this new job, we were friends socially and would have lunch or dinner together - it's always nice to do business with your friends - and we brainstormed about how we could leverage the family's devotion and passion for philanthropy to help raise money for other causes through my new position at the Charity Network. We came up with the idea of doing sweepstakes and auctions around Hamilton at every opening night. It was an idea that came from one of those dinners. Luis Miranda, Lin-Manuel's dad, is the inspiration!

For people that don't know, give us a little primer about the Charity Network...

The Charity Network is a one-stop-shop for cause. We help celebrities, charities, and brands raise money for causes that are near and dear to their hearts. That could be a corporate entity that would like to have some social impact and social responsibility cause marketing, or it could be a celebrity like Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has a passion for different charities. We've worked with thousands of charities, big and small.

We have two platforms that we leverage to help them raise money. We help them create experiences that we can then auction off on Charitybuzz, which is an online auction platform targeting high net-worth individuals looking for interesting once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Then we have Prizeo, our sweepstakes platform, which democratizes the giving. You can enter to win a chance to have an amazing experience.

Lin-Manuel and his family particularly like Prizeo because it helps create a new generation of activism and people who can be involved in philanthropy for as little as $10. That site happens to also talk to a lot of millennials. In many cases, entering that sweepstakes is their first time as a philanthropist or donor.

We also have a strategic consulting arm as part of the Charity Network called Global Philanthropy Group. They work with celebrities and with brands helping them strategize and consult on an overall strategy for their charity and social responsibility goals.

Which charities were supported?

For Lin-Manuel and his family, it was actually kind of great, because Lin-Manuel did one campaign for the Hispanic Federation, and that was with his dad. Then he did one with Planned Parenthood, and that was for his mom. Then he did one with his wife, Vanessa, and that was for the NRDC, the National Resources Defense Council, and for climate change. Vanessa is a scientist and a lawyer, so this was a project that was near and dear to her heart.

Then we also did one where we put together a coalition of 12 different organizations that partnered together to form an immigration activation group and they still exist today. We raised money for all 12 of those groups and they provided services, legal representation, and advocacy to immigrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum, and generated awareness about immigration issues.

We were very excited about that one, because we also were able to enlist the help of hundreds of different celebrities. Lin-Manuel physically laid down the gauntlet and there was a challenge called "Ham4All," where people didn't just donate to the coalition of "Immigrants - We Get the Job Done" charity, but they also had to sing some lines from Hamilton, post it in their social media, and then challenge others to do the same. We had thousands of people that took the challenge and hundreds of celebrities that participated.

What was the collaborative process? Was it continual meetings with Lin-Manuel and his team?

This is really a collaboration between the Miranda family and the Charity Network. Lin-Manuel is very involved. He gets daily updates. He helps choose the charities. We have meetings over breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner and lots of conference calls. His director of Philanthropy is Sara Miller, and I speak to Sara on a regular basis, putting all this together. When a campaign is launched, we're monitoring it constantly to see how it's doing, and if we can make any adjustments in our marketing or our advertising strategy, making sure that we're reaching the right people and that they're making donations.

It looks like more than $7 million has been raised from over 400,000 people?

That's correct, and the other thing that's very important with all of this is that the charities get the names and contact information of those 400,000 people and can cultivate them as donors. When Planned Parenthood received their list of all the donors, they were ecstatic because they were people that were new to donating to Planned Parenthood. Then we helped Planned Parenthood work with those donors to become lifelong donors in that cause as well.

Are the majority of those 400,000 people doing the $10 donations?

I think the average donation is somewhere between $10 and $30, because we also have rewards. If you donate $10, you're automatically entered to win, and you have a hundred entries. But if you buy a t-shirt, or a water bottle, or some signed memorabilia from Lin-Manuel, you're paying a higher price, and you get more entries.

The other thing that's important about the merchandise that we are selling as a reward is that the merchandise company is run by Lin-Manuel's brother-in-law, so everything is really in the family. I always say that the Miranda's are the most philanthropic family, and it truly is the case. It's his father, his mother, his wife, his sister, and his brother-in-law, and they're all very involved in all of the campaigns that we do.

But, not yet the dog or the children. That's coming soon I assume?

I think the boys are a little too young for that now, but I bet they'll be involved soon.

What does the acknowledgement mean to you by the Webby Awards?

The Webby for us is very important, because it helps validate what we are doing. The Oscars are important for film, the Tonys are important for Broadway, the Emmys are important for television, and the Webby's are important for anything online. We're very happy that social good and activism is a category within the Webby organization, so we can spread more awareness about giving, philanthropy, and the great works that the Miranda family is doing.

It's a pretty amazing thing that they are doing...

Truly, they are not just a philanthropic family, they are one of the most authentic families that I know. They really do put their hearts and souls and their money behind everything they believe in.

As a nominee, "Lin-Manuel | Rise Up" is also eligible to win a Webby People's Voice Award, which is voted online by fans. From now until April 20th, fans can cast their votes HERE.


Charity Network, named one of Fast Company's 2017 Most Innovative Companies, harnesses the power of celebrity, technology and media to raise awareness and funds for causes around the world. With a mission to help nonprofits transition from analog to digital, Charity Network has raised more than $300 million dollars for cause to date. Launched in 2016 by entrepreneur Todd Wagner, Charity Network is the parent company to leading online charity auction site Charitybuzz, online sweepstakes-for-good platform Prizeo, cause-meets-entertainment content company Chideo, and strategic consulting firm Global Philanthropy Group. To learn more, visit charitynetwork.com.


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