October 30th, 2012 - Posted by Human

Justin Bieber, Pencils and Hope.

I just got back from the Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit in Austin Texas and one of the most impressive speakers we heard from was Adam Braun, the 28 year old founder of Pencil of Promise – a brilliant blend of social media, corporate strategy and doing good. While traveling in 2005, Adam met a boy in India. When he asked the boy what he wanted most in the world, the boy said: “A pencil.” Adam reached into his backpack, pulled out a pencil, and gave it to the boy.

Inspired  by the encounter, Braun went on to found Pencils of Promise (PoP), which raises money to build schools that provide basic education for preschool and primary age students in remote villages. School sizes range from 20 to 200 students. In three countries the schools have served more than 4,000 students. Last month Pencils of Promise reached a milestone, marking the completion of their 50th school. And Braun and his team are on track to add another 50 schools by the end of 2012.

What’s really interesting about Braun’s story is the way he has taken the best of the corporate world (courtesy of a stint working at Bain Consulting) and fused it with a deep understanding of how to drive engagement and participation through social media channels. Using crowd-funding as a tool for gathering donations, PoP has also created a platform that allows individuals or groups to create their own ‘campaigns’ to build schools, enabling an even deeper level of involvement. With an obsessive focus on transparency and results, PoP document the progress of all of their projects online, giving contributors the opportunity to see the tangible impact of their investment. They also publish highly detailed information about their operations and their financials, demonstrating the value they are creating from the money they have been entrusted with.  They understood that one of the greatest barriers to donation is the belief that a lot of money donated to NFPs gets gobbled up by overheads and inefficiencies – PoP guarantee that 100% of all funds donated or raised online will go directly towards educations programs, 0% towards overhead. Through private and offline donations they separately raise the funds to cover their operating expenses.

So what’s the link to Justin Bieber? Adam’s brother is Justin’s manager and was able to enlist the popstar as an early spokesperson for the organisation.  With 20.8 million Twitter followers, Justin is an active an invaluable ambassador for the PoP and has played a huge role in connecting his massive fan base to the cause.

Click here to visit their website.

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