Travels from New York, USA
Charles Best's speaking fee falls within range: $10,000 to $15,000
Living proof that one man can, if he is passionate enough, make a difference, Charles Best combines education, philanthropy and technology in all that he does; how many speakers do you know who allow the audience to choose how his fee is spent? From high school students to top-level businessmen, nobody can fail to be inspired by Charles’ endeavors.
Working as a teacher at a Bronx public high school, Charles decided to address educational inequity by launching DonorsChoose.all, a non-profit organization which allows teachers to request funding for classroom projects. To date, more than 50% of America’s public schools have created at least one classroom project request, leading to over a million people donating $200 million. This money has helped 10 million students, mainly in low-income communities, to access books, art supplies, information technology and other resources.
Fast Company nominated DonorsChoose.org as one of its “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” making it the first charitable organization to do so. Oprah Winfrey described the organization as one of her “Ultimate Favorite Things.” On a personal level, Charles has been included in Fortune magazine’s “40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business.”
Charles stands at the intersection of education, philanthropy and technology. His personal story demonstrates that one person can launch a movement, and his insights inspire businesspeople and students alike. Charles even puts his speaker’s fee in the hands of his audience, giving everyone a philanthropic gift card to spend on a classroom request of their choice.
In 2000, while teaching history at a Bronx public high school, Charles launched DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that provides a simple way to address educational inequity. Today, half of all the public schools in America have at least one teacher who has created a classroom project request on DonorsChoose.org, and more than a million people have donated $200 million, providing books, art supplies, technology and other resources to 10 million students, overwhelmingly in low-income communities.
DonorsChoose.org is one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Ultimate Favorite Things” and was named by Fast Company as one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” the first time a charity has received this recognition. For three years, Fortune magazine has named Charles to its “40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business.”
Charles Best brings his experience of creating the incredible DonorsChoose.org charitable institution, which has raised over $200 million for America's schoolchildren's resources, to a speech to small business owners. Asking how many people in his audience have either backed a Kickstarter project or bought something on Etsy, he tells them, “Right, so more than half of you have already participated in a person-to-person marketplace, in this movement that people now call crowd funding."
Referring to the origins of his own organization, he says, “DonorsChoose.org began years before crowd funding was even a word… I want to tell you the story because more and more small businesses and entrepreneurs are using crowd funding to raise financing and connect with their customers, and as I'm telling you the story I'm going to share the most humiliating thing I ever did, so the next time you make a mistake you can say well at least it wasn't as bad as what that guy Charles did…"
Remembering one of the most inspiring moments in his journey, Charles talks of events surrounding 9/11:
“Teachers at the schools beside ground zero started creating projects on our site to recover from the attacks on the World Trade Center. There was a math teacher whose students' calculators were sealed at the disaster site, and their classroom was relocated to a basement, so she requested a new set of calculators.
There was a high school teacher who wanted to bring in an Afghan artist, so that students could learn about Afghanistan. There was a first grade teacher whose students had been saved by a particular group of firemen, and her students wanted to thank the firemen who had saved them by doing a musical performance in front of the fire ladder company and for that they needed musical instruments. There were hundreds of these projects."
Charles tells the inspiring story of how, as a 24 year old public school teacher in the Bronx, he came up with the model of giving which The New York Times has described as “the future of philanthropy.” He tells of his mistakes, his inspirations and the many poignant stories he has encountered along the way.
Charles outlines how organizations such as his, DonorsChoose.org, along with others such as Kickstarter and Etsy, have changed the paradigms for those who have good ideas they wish to bring to life. He demonstrates how the “gatekeepers” can no longer stand in your way if you wish to innovate. An innovator himself, Charles gives every member of his audience a DonorsChoose gift card (paid for by his speaker’s fee) that allows them to become involved in helping students in need themselves.
Although DonorsChoose.org is a charitable organization, the lessons Charles has to teach concerning crowd funding, crowd sourcing, integrity insurance and data management are applicable to any company who is interested in tapping the immense resources of the Internet community.
No More Gatekeepers
Best shares how, as a 24-year-old teacher at a Bronx high school, he created a model of giving hailed as "the future of philanthropy" by The New York Times. His story starts with the high school wrestling coach who inspired him to become a teacher, the most humiliating mistake he ever made getting DonorsChoose.org off the ground, and the most poignant moments of its journey, such as the projects teachers created to recover from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Today, teachers at 70% of public schools in America have created projects on DonorsChoose.org, and more than $430 million has been raised to fulfill more than 735,000 projects.
Best connects his story to other sites that—like DonorsChoose.org—enable anyone to go public with their idea and request financial support. Best says these sites signal a profound change in how long someone has to wait to have their need met, and who you have to know, and how lucky you have to be, to bring a good idea to life. He says they represent a new kind of marketplace where gatekeepers no longer stand in your way.
Pushing Intelligence Out to the Edge
In launching DonorsChoose.org out of his Bronx classroom, Best pioneered the crowd-funding movement. Today, teachers at half of all the public schools in America have created project requests on DonorsChoose.org, and more than a million people have donated $200 million.
That scale of growth has spurred Best and his team to tap the power of both crowd-funding and crowd-funding, making DonorsChoose.org the first charity ever named to Fast Company's list of the "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World." Best explains how the DonorsChoose.org team has:
Charles concludes by giving everyone a DonorsChoose.org gift card (underwritten by his speaker's fee) to spend on a classroom project of their choice.
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