“Live like a rock star, donate like a saint.” That is the header that appears on the Charity Dreams website. The project, launched last November, is the brainchild of hip-hop artist Allan Pineda, member of The Black Eyed Peas. After learning how difficult and expensive it was (for small and medium-sized charities) to compete with large philanthropic organizations for the same group of limited regular donors, the challenge was to reach the greatest number of people in the easiest and fastest way. The answer, of course, was online, where Charity Dreams offers luxury auctions to raise funds for charity.
Allan Pineda was born into a poor family in the Philippines. At age eleven he came to the U.S. to be treated for an illness, and eventually ended up being adopted by the American couple that had paid for his treatment. Aware of the social reality of children in developing countries, and with the intention of providing help to underserved communities around the world, Pineda has created, over the years, several foundations. His latest initiative, in collaboration with musical partner, William James Adams, aims to expand his philanthropic objectives.
It is very easy to join, just visit Charity Dream’s website (www.charitydreams.com), and choose one of the many ‘experiences’ that are offered. The concept of auctioning ‘experiences’ instead of luxury items is a truly novel approach. According to the ‘experience’ you choose, you can participate in something as exciting as an encounter with George Clooney, as interesting as a chat with Bill Clinton about the topic of your choice, or as sophisticated as a dinner with a group of friends at an exclusive New York City hotel, hosted by Helena Houdova and twelve other supermodels.
You can also become an actor or actress for a day working as an extra in the most watched TV series in the world, CSI Las Vegas. With a single click, you can realize the dream of walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, or attend, among VIPS and celebrities, the catwalks at Milan Fashion Week.
When you purchase an ‘experience’, your donation goes to one of several charitable organizations associated with the project, but you can also indicate directly which organization should receive your donation. In turn, this entitles you to bid for several ‘experiences’, whose starting prices oscillate between $199 for a cruise to the Bahamas and $99,999 for a meeting with Bill Clinton.
The donations help fund three non-governmental organizations: Sunflower Children, Apl.de.Ap Foundation, and I Am Angel, which in turn collaborate with others, such as Oprah Winfrey`s Angel Network, American Scholastic, and The Clinton Foundation.
The ingenuity of Charity Dreams should be credited with reaching millions of people willing to exchange donations for ‘experiences’. As they say on their website: “we believe that good deeds should be rewarded. We can help anyone to live unique experiences and, at the same time, support charitable causes”. ■