Huffpost Impact

Celebs, Silicon Valley Giants Reinvent New Media Fundraising

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ED NOTE: The contest is fundraising for the construction of the entire children's hospital, not just the wing that will be named after the contest winner. The article below has been updated to clarify this fact.
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Some of Silicon Valley's shrewdest investors are using new media to raise money in a competition that may change the future of fundraising models.

In an effort build a new children's hospital, the University of California, San Francisco and Causes.com have enlisted the likes of veteran angel investor Ron Conway, Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff, GigaOm founder Om Malik, Cindy Lima, Executive Director of Mission Bay Hospitals Project and actor Ashton Kutcher.

At stake, are bragging rights -- and naming rights. The winner of the eight-week competition will be able to name the UCSF Hospital's Children's Activity Space, to be completed in 2014. But instead of basing the competition on the total dollar amounts raised, which favors the deep-pocketed, the winner will be decided based on who drums up the most individual donors.

Anyone can be a team leader by going to Causes.com and starting a team. The point of the contest is to gather as many people, or individual donations, as possible, particularly through the use of social networks. For example, Shortly after the start of the competition on October 26, Ashton Kutcher tweeted about the contest to his more than 6 million followers about the contest and included a link where people can donate on behalf of his team.

To build participation, a series of incentives have been added to the mix. Entrepreneurs who reach 75 donors will receive a chance to pitch their idea or start-up to Conway. Reach 100 donors or more, and leaders will be honored with a luxury suite at a 49ers Game for 10 people. The team who reaches 150 donors first will receive perhaps the best prize: dance lessons from MC Hammer himself.

Joe Green, president and co-founder of Causes.com said, since implementing the competition, there have been several inquires about competition's unique structure and he hopes he's created a fundraising model that will be adopted by other causes.

"It's not just about who has the biggest checkbook, but about who has the most influence. And the way to do that is to use social networks," said team leader Marc Benioff, in a statement from Causes.com.

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At press time, the competition had raised a total of $70,191 from 773 individual donors.

To join the competition or track the participants' progress on an online leader board, visit causes.com/ucsfchallenge.