Name: Ben Erwin
Job: Chief Revenue Officer
Company: Charity Network (Charitybuzz, Prizeo, Global Philanthropy Group)
LinkedIn: Ben Erwin
In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.
I realized early on that mission/purpose had to be central to my career. I hustle every day because I am passionate about what I’m doing.
What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?
People spend more money when they smile than they do when they cry. Appeals have been backwards in the past, leading with sad stories rather than showing positive impact and opportunity. We’re seeing momentum in using positivity – more inspiration, less desperation.
How do you define creativity?
To me, creativity is an idea, a concept or an approach that I’ve never thought of. It’s when someone comes at something differently.
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What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?
What’s central to my personal mission and my career with Charity Network is figuring out how nonprofits can raise new money and in new ways. That can be best exemplified through our Charitybuzz Entrepreneur Auction, which launched three years ago and has since raised millions of dollars for new and existing partners. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are celebrities in their own right, and that notoriety can be monetized. The Entrepreneur Auction has allowed a much larger percentage of charities to use our platform to leverage existing supporters – i.e., Board members – in new and exciting ways.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?
For so long, the digital fundraising and awareness space has been fragmented, which does not benefit the organizations we’re all seeking to support. Being part of the creation of Charity Network is the most exciting thing I’m working on – we’re building a fully integrated business dedicated to unlocking new revenue for cause. We’ve already assembled a team of experts to assist nonprofits, celebrities and brands to maximize their impact. This can mean fundraising, PR, fan engagement, sponsorship activation – and we’re just getting started. Now we’re moving into the phase of seeing how the Charity Network companies can collaborate to help charities achieve their goals and ultimately improve our world.
As a connected fan, what’s the best piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?
As the biggest Ohio State football fan in the world, I’m addicted to Eleven Warriors. My dad sends me articles from the site every day – we’re constantly sharing news, stats, everything.
What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?
For me, the high and the low is the same – sports are exciting because one day, someone is the king of the world and the next day their stock is low. The sports world is full of unpredictable injuries, trades, events in athletes’ personal lives. We’ve experienced lows before where we weren’t able to capitalize on big moments and translate “buzz” into donations (whether bids on auctions or donations to enter sweepstakes). Our campaigns typically run 2-4 weeks, in which time, pretty much anything can happen, and we need to be nimble. When we’re able to react and direct momentum toward giving, that’s definitely a high for us. Carson Wentz has become one of our most successful athletes on the Prizeo platform and when we knew the Eagles were going to Super Bowl LII (whether Wentz was playing or not), we activated a last-minute, buzzworthy campaign that raised $650,000 for Wentz’s foundation in just six days.
What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?
The cumulative power of sport has the potential to truly make change, to bring people together – by harnessing that power, the impact would be immeasurable. The sports industry currently isn’t realizing anywhere near that potential. It’s going to take the leagues, the governing bodies, the player associations, the unions – everyone – to come together on this one particular topic and from there, real change could happen. But it would require people who typically sit on opposite sides of the table to collaborate.
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