• Driving Innovative Solutions to Combat Climate Change at a Massive Scale, with Elemental Excelerator COO Avra van der Zee

    In this episode of Cause & Purpose, we sit down with the COO of Elemental Excelerator, Avra van der Zee.

    Avra's dedication to combatting climate change has spanned her entire career. From e-bikes, to sustainable pre-fabricated construction materials, to the 150+ startups in Elemental Excelerator's portfolio, Avra has worked, across her career, to help build and scale the innovative climate solutions that will help shape our environment for generations to come.

    A litigation attorney turned social entrepreneur, Avra has tons of great insights to share about everything from working with government programs, to storytelling, to climate justice issues, to storytelling, and building performance measurement and evaluation frameworks that empower organizations to maximize their impact.

    Join us as we learn a bit about Avra's background, and the way she, and Elemental Excelerator, are tackling global climate change at a massive scale.

    1h 29m - Mar 27, 2024
  • The Heat Initiative: Combatting Online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) with Sarah Gardner

    In this episode of Cause & Purpose, we sit down with Sarah Gardner, a trailblazer in the fight against child sexual abuse material (CSAM) through her work with the Heat Initiative

    Sarah's commitment to creating a safer internet landscape for children is not just a mission — it's a calling. Under Sarah's guidance, the Heat Initiative aims to elevate internet safety standards, advocating for robust protections that shield children from the dangers lurking within the digital realm.

    Her current campaign is a bold move to hold industry giants like Apple accountable, urging them to fulfill their promises to identify and flag content that exploits children. This initiative sets a precedent, challenging tech companies to prioritize child safety and establish rigorous online standards. 

    Join us as we learn a bit about Sarah’s background, the significant changes she's championing, and how each of us can play a role in safeguarding the innocence of children online.

    1h 24m - Feb 28, 2024
  • Welcome to Season 3 of Cause & Purpose!

    Introduction two Season 3 of Cause & Purpose.

    S3E1 - 1m - Feb 28, 2024
  • Tech Incubator Multiple: Empowering Entrepreneurs in Autism Innovation with Heidi Kershaw

    In this episode, we welcome Heidi Kershaw, the CEO of Multiple, a nonprofit organization focused on funding and incubating transformative tech solutions for people with autism. Rather than focusing on cure research or direct service to families, Multiple operates as a technology incubator, supporting scalable for-profit solutions. The conversation explores Heidi's personal journey as a mother of a neurodivergent child and how that led her to her work at Multiple. The episode highlights the importance of connectivity and acceptance for individuals with autism and how technology can play a role in enhancing their lives. Tune in to learn more about Multiple's innovative approach to addressing the challenges faced by the autism community.

    “If we did a better job at trying to trust one another, that we have good intentions, I think the world would look a lot different."

    Topics covered:

    [00:04:18] Relationship with autism mourned.

    [00:08:25] Parenting a child with autism.

    [00:12:23] Autism education and understanding.

    [00:18:10] Nonprofits and mission-driven work.

    [00:20:10] Creating a product for autism.

    [00:27:09] Bringing tech products to market.

    [00:32:55] Wearable for understanding communication.

    [00:36:05] Safety concerns for those with autism.

    [00:39:08] Receptive language development.

    [00:44:05] Job programs and economic growth.

    [00:47:32] Corporations supporting neurodivergent individuals.

    [00:55:14] Long waitlists for autism services.

    [00:59:13] Wearing a suit for acceptance.

    Links mentioned:






    Guest links:


    S2E37 - 1h 2m - Dec 21, 2023
  • Eliminating Medical Debt: Using Patient Advocacy to Drive Policy Change with Jared Walker

    In this episode of Cause & Purpose, we hear from Jared Walker, the founder and CEO of Dollar For. Dollar For is a nonprofit organization that helps tackle the issue of medical debt in the United States by advocating for patients and using patient data to drive policy change. Inspired by personal experience, Jared shares how Dollar For began as Dollar for Portland, crowdfunding money to support people with unexpected medical expenses. Now, they help eligible patients take advantage of charity care, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires nonprofit hospitals to waive fees for low-income patients. With medical debt being a significant cause of bankruptcies in the U.S., Dollar For is making a massive impact and aims to eliminate as much medical debt as possible. Tune in to learn more about Jared's journey and the work of Dollar For.

    "Being able to buy the repair for the wheelchair accessible van, or buy the medical equipment that they can't afford, or pay the hospital bill that's gone to collections, is a pretty freaking big deal for people."

    Topics covered:

    [00:04:35] Healthcare system frustrations.

    [00:07:53] Inspiration for action.

    [00:14:48] Community response to launch.

    ][00:22:09] Discovering Charity Care.

    [00:23:52] Frustration with the healthcare system.

    [00:32:06] Pursuing forgiveness of medical fees.

    [00:35:27] Childbirth as ineligible elective procedure.

    [00:41:14] Key metrics for impact.

    [00:44:14] Opportunities from the program.

    [00:56:08] Mental health organizations.

    Links mentioned:



    Guest links:


    S2E36 - 59m - Dec 14, 2023
  • Comfort Cases: Transforming the Foster Care System with Rob Scheer

    In this episode, we are joined by Rob Scheer, founder and CEO of Comfort Cases, an organization that supports kids in the foster care system. Rob, who grew up in foster care himself, shares his personal story and sheds light on how the foster care system functions. He emphasizes that empathy is not innate but taught, and discusses the need for dignity and basic necessities for kids in the system. Rob challenges the notion that the system is broken and instead highlights the importance of understanding and supporting children in foster care. Tune in to hear more about Rob's inspiring journey and the work of Comfort Cases.

    "If we're going to pay for these children's tuition, we need to pay for all the wraparound services to make them healthy humans of our society, because that's what we want."

    Topics covered:

    [00:01:36] The shattered foster care system.

    [00:04:30] Homelessness and resilience.

    [00:07:44] Creating a supportive foster system.

    [00:12:11] Rebuilding the foster care system.

    [00:15:28] Investing in our future.

    [00:19:47] Foster care and dental hygiene.

    [00:22:39] Dignity for children in transition.

    [00:28:20] People experiencing homelessness.

    [00:32:19] Foster systems around the world.

    [00:33:37] Obscure but badly needed niche.

    Links mentioned:



    Guest links:


    S2E35 - 34m - Dec 7, 2023
  • Pathways Out of Poverty: Empowering Rural India with Karya.in

    In this episode, the founders of startup Karya.In discuss their mission to create pathways out of poverty for people in low-income communities. Drawing from their personal experiences growing up in India, they share the challenges they faced and the emotional drive behind their entrepreneurial journey. The conversation explores the intersection of entrepreneurship and impact, emphasizing the importance of the smartphone application that connects rural Indian workers to tech companies, allowing them to earn income. The conversation also touches on the challenges and solutions in India's nonprofit sector, the importance of measuring impact and worker satisfaction, and the economic value of Indian languages. 

    “I think both the desire to create a nonprofit and the desire to tackle poverty comes from my childhood. For me personally, it's such an intense desire that I feel like . . . working on anything else always felt like a waste of time because it was almost existential.”

    Topics covered:

    (00:07:47) Growing up in poverty

    (00:15:09) Entrepreneurial Journey and Impact

    (00:22:28) The Impact of Travel

    (00:29:55) Karya: Empowering Rural Indians

    (00:36:37) Challenges and Solutions in India's Nonprofit Sector

    (00:43:18) Working with Gates Foundation and Microsoft

    (00:50:36) Measuring Impact and Worker Satisfaction

    (00:56:59) Amplifying Existing Human Forces

    (01:03:33) The Economic Value of Indian Languages

    (01:11:20) The Importance of Compassion

    Links mentioned:



    Guest links:



    S2E34 - 1h 18m - Nov 7, 2023
  • Reshaping Nonprofit Giving: Technology, Collaboration, and Impact with Woodrow Rosenbaum

    In this episode, Woodrow Rosenbaum, the Chief Data Officer at GivingTuesday, discusses the challenges and opportunities in nonprofit giving. He emphasizes the importance of funders understanding the impact of the organizations they support and the need for nonprofits to set themselves up for long-term success. The conversation touches on the role of technology, specifically artificial intelligence, and the importance of collaboration with other stakeholders. Woodrow highlights the increase in giving in 2020 due to COVID-related needs and racial justice movements, but also notes the risk of over-reliance on large donors. 

    “We're about relationships over technology, so we're in many ways a tech company; but we build the technology on the relationships.”

    Topics covered:

    (00:06:32) Engaging More Donors

    (00:12:57) Unlocking Donor-Advised Funds

    (00:19:02) The Importance of Donor Engagement

    (00:25:15) Understanding Generosity

    (00:32:00) The Importance of Collaboration and Effectiveness Measures in Philanthropy

    (00:38:36) Data interoperability and AI in the social sector

    (00:45:21) Blind spots in the social sector

    Links mentioned:



    Guest links:


    S2E33 - 51m - Oct 24, 2023
  • Nature, Privilege, and Environmental Conservation with Clara Rowe

    In this episode, Clara Rowe, CEO of Restor, delves into the intersection of nature and social impact. She shares her personal experiences in sustainable development and conservation, emphasizing the need to address privilege and the legacy of colonialism in natural resource management. The unequal contributions to climate change and the importance of transforming how we value nature are explored, alongside the role of philanthropy and non-monetary relationships. The challenges of navigating palm oil supply chains, reforestation efforts, and the work of Restor are also discussed. 

    “I think it has to be a combination of, ‘are the right people using it to do the right thing, which is to get us toward that longer impact?’ and, ‘do we have clear cases of how this is making shifts not only for individuals, but for larger systems in social impact work?’”

    Topics covered:

    00:06:20) Challenges in Climate Change Response

    (00:13:14) Navigating Palm Oil Supply Chains

    (00:19:26) Lessons from Conflict Areas

    (00:25:42) The Power of Reforestation

    (00:32:09) Tracking Impact and Building a Global Reforestation Community

    (00:39:08) Measuring Impact and Building a Story

    (00:45:38) The Future of Restor

    (00:52:01) Ways to be part of the restoration movement 

    Links mentioned:


    Ministry for the Future book


    Guest links:


    53m - Oct 10, 2023
  • Unleashing Nonprofit Growth: Strategies and Success During Challenging Times with Matt Scott

    In this episode, Matt Scott returns to the podcast for a second time and discusses the importance of having a growth strategy and hiring the right people to execute it in the nonprofit sector. He emphasizes the opportunity to stand out during challenging times, such as the pandemic, by focusing on growth and hiring. The conversation delves into the changes CauseMic has undergone and the challenges they faced during the pandemic. Matt also touches on building brand awareness for small nonprofits, managing organizational growth, and the significance of culture and communication in driving success, as he outlines in his new book, The High Growth Nonprofit


    “I think that it's actually a moment of opportunity when everyone else is running for the hills. It's a great opportunity to say, hey, here's our growth plan. This is where we're focused on hiring.”

    Topics covered:

    (00:06:31) The Challenges of Building Brand Awareness for Small Nonprofits

    (00:13:13) Rewarding Employees in the Social Sector

    (00:19:37) Nonprofit Culture and Incentivizing Employees

    (00:25:44) Culture and Growth

    (00:31:32) Instilling a Sense of Urgency and Growth Mentality

    (00:37:24) Importance of Communication and Growth in Change Management

    (00:43:44) Leveraging Systems and Frameworks

    (00:49:49) Proud Success Stories

    (00:55:58) Fast Forward Program

    Links mentioned:


    The High Growth Non-Profit book


    Guest links:


    S2E31 - 56m - Sep 26, 2023
  • From Personal Perspective to Social Impact: Launching Altruous with Eric Barela

    In this episode, Mike Spear and Eric Barela discuss the launch of their new project, Altruous, and share pieces of their personal backstories of how they got into this work. They highlight the significance of Altruous in addressing social challenges and amplifying unheard voices. The conversation explores the intersection of social justice and personal background, emphasizing the need to recognize and value diverse perspectives. They discuss expected value calculations, the debate between quantitative and qualitative evaluation, the role of human evaluators in an AI-driven world, and the importance of comprehensive evaluation methods. 

    “If we're going to pat ourselves on the back for doing good things, then we should actually be doing good things.”

    Topics covered:

    (00:07:55) The Intersection of Social Justice and Personal Background

    (00:15:06) High EV Calculation

    (00:21:48) Quantitative vs Qualitative Evaluation

    (00:29:11) The Importance of Qualitative and Quantitative Data

    (00:38:01) The Role of Human Evaluators in an AI-Driven World

    (00:45:47) Shared Passion for Impact Measurement

    (00:53:32) Burning Man's Impact and Integrity

    (01:00:25) Measuring Impact and Avoiding Harm

    (01:07:30) Marks of Success for Altruist

    (01:14:48) Democratizing Monitoring and Evaluation

    Links mentioned:


    Guest links:


    S2E30 - 1h 19m - Sep 12, 2023
  • Generational Activism: Engaging Millennials and Gen Z with Derrick Feldmann

    In this episode Derrick Feldmann discusses the importance of building social movements and engaging individuals in creating meaningful change. He explores the intersection of social issues and generational engagement, highlighting the unique perspectives and characteristics of Millennials and Gen Z. The conversation also delves into personal journeys in civic engagement, the motivations for giving and sustaining involvement, and the need for inclusive activism. 


    “The more you do, the more perspective you gain for the issues around you that are often hidden.”

    Topics covered:

    (00:06:44) Bridging Local and Global Perspectives

    (00:13:25) Personal Journey in Civic Engagement

    (00:20:16) Enabling Engagement and Action

    (00:27:18) Importance of Inclusive Activism

    (00:33:43) Social Issues and Generational Engagement

    (00:40:25) Motivations for Giving and Sustaining Involvement

    (00:47:19) Importance of Milestones in Engaging Supporters

    (00:55:07) Corporate Social Mind

    (01:01:49) The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility

    (01:09:09) Career Path and Cause Areas 

    Links mentioned:


    Guest links:


    S2E29 - 1h 16m - Aug 29, 2023
  • From Marines to Humanitarians: Transforming Disaster Relief with Jake Wood

    In this episode, Jake Wood discusses his journey from being a Marine to co-founding Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization that provides disaster relief and humanitarian aid. The episode explores the humble beginnings of Team Rubicon after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and how they gained traction through viral donations. The conversation also delves into the role of technology in their success, particularly their partnership with Palantir, a big data intelligence platform. The episode highlights the evolution of culture and leadership within Team Rubicon, as well as the importance of measuring impact and prioritizing vulnerable communities. 

    S2E28 - 56m - Aug 15, 2023
  • Building a Resilient Future for All: Infrastructure Predevelopment with Shalini Vajjhala

    In the premiere episode of Cause & Purpose Season 2, Mike Spear and Shalini Vajjhala discuss inefficiencies in the philanthropy space and how to make the most of your philanthropic dollars. From building footbridges to proactive disaster mitigation, we explore how to think about funding and collaboration to achieve the best possible outcomes for communities around the world.

    S2E27 - 1h 3m - Aug 1, 2023
  • Welcome to Season 2 of Cause and Purpose!

    Welcome back to Season 2 of the show!

    S2 - 2m - Jul 25, 2023
  • Bridging the Gap Between People Who Stutter and The People Who Can Help with Myspeech Founder Nathan Mallipeddi

    Nathan Mallipeddi is the Founder and CEO of Myspeech, an international nonprofit, where he leads a team of ~50 members and ~200 volunteers in tackling two of most significant issues in the field of healthcare services in speech therapy—the lack of access to care and unaffordable prices. They are currently building a technology platform to scale therapy and community services to millions of people who stutter around the world. They’ve impacted ~25,000 people in 26 countries, with partnerships in 30 schools. Their partners include Fast Forward, Future Founders, Harvard Innovations Labs, Microsoft, Salesforce, Verizon, the Westly Foundation, Donald A. Strauss Foundation, UCLA SOLE, the World Stuttering Network, and many more. 

    E26 - 52m - Aug 30, 2022
  • Expanding the Role of Technology in Non-Profit Impact with Consultant Jason Shim

    Jason Shim is the Director of Digital Strategy and Transformation at Pathways to Education Canada. With over 15 years of experience spanning the nonprofit and academic sectors both as an employee and a consultant, he has consistently helped organizations stay ahead of the technology curve. He loves to help organizations explore the question “How can we harness technology to make a difference in the world?” In 2013, he led Pathways to Education to become the first Canadian charity to issue tax receipts for Bitcoin donations, providing access and awareness to a brand new tech-savvy audience.

    E25 - 57m - Aug 9, 2022
  • Building the Largest Talent Pipeline of Black Women in STEM with BlackSiS Founder Diana Wilson

    Diana Wilson is very proud to be the Founder & CEO of Yielding Accomplished African Women (Yaa.W) and Black Sisters in STEM (Black SiS). They are a globally recognized nonprofit whose work has been featured by MTV, Google, The Malala Fund, Face2Face Africa, Blavity, The Late Afternoon Show with Berla Mundi and many more. Black Sisters in STEM is building the largest talent marketplace of Black college women in STEM and training the next Fortune 500 CEOs, innovators and world class leaders. 

    E24 - 1h 5m - Jul 20, 2022
  • Solving Climate Change By Empowering Campaigns with Climate Cabinet Executive Director Caroline Spears

    Caroline Spears is the Executive Director at Climate Cabinet, which began as a volunteer-based team in 2018, when a Texas state legislature candidate asked for climate talking points and policy solutions that were relevant to her district. They realized that this need was not unique: many candidates want to run on strong climate platforms but don’t have the time to simultaneously run a full-time campaign and do cutting-edge policy analysis. Thus, Climate Cabinet Action was born. Climate Cabinet Action has supported candidates and pushed climate on the campaign trail in four campaign cycles, including 2018 state legislature races, 2019 presidential primaries, 2020 state and congressional races, and 2021 Virginia House of Delegates elections. In 2020, they worked with 100 campaigns. 

    E23 - 57m - Jun 9, 2022
  • Guiding the LGBTQ+ Community Through Coming Out with Co-Founder and CEO of Worthy Mentoring Michael Edmonson

    Michael Edmonson is the co-founder and CEO of Worthy Mentoring, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects mentors and mentees in the LGBTQ+ Community through a mobile iOS and Android App. The Worthy Mentoring App offers a safe platform for our community to seek personal guidance, professional advice, support, and friendship.

    E22 - 1h 8m - Jun 2, 2022
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