Donating money or one’s time to not-for-profit organisations could turn out to be a particularly valuable initiative for companies, either for their growth on the one hand or for their reputation on the other.

Charity Facetime Auctions Seek to Change the Game Rules for Networking


What if, apart from benefiting the community, corporate philanthropy could also enable young companies to find funding and support to grow their activities? Jason Nicosia, an entrepreneur from New Orleans, has come up with this win-win idea, using as a vehicle a startup company Connect for a Cause. His new platform enables companies to meet potential investors, associates, consultants and even celebrities through a social networking site, while at the same time supporting major charities such as Médecins Sans Frontières (‘Doctors without Borders’) or smaller organisations, via a ‘meeting auction’ mechanism.

Raising funds, selling ‘facetime’

The mechanism works as follows: Each new arrival creates a user profile. If it’s an entrepreneur, a CEO, or any other person from the business world, s/he can introduce him/herself and say which not-for-profit organisation s/he supports. There are then two possible courses of action: either s/he can auction off a face-to-face meeting – a business lunch, for example – with other users; or else bid against other users on the site to obtain a meeting with someone else. Given that the objective is to raise funds, all money from the bids is then transferred to the charity supported by the user who is selling his/her own ‘facetime’ to the highest bidder.

Somewhat limited scope

In 2010, NGOs and charity organisations already recognised the need to use new technology as a means of fund-raising, but without really having the wherewithal to do so. Connect for a Cause appears to be a solution which enables ‘influencers’ to change the balance of the bidding if, for example, a well-known person chooses to sell some of his/her own facetime for the benefit of a charity. However, the realistic opportunities currently remain limited. Most of the users of the platform live in the United States, and a high proportion of them in the state of Louisiana.