By Katie Couric
What if I told you for as little as $10, you could win a chance to be an extra in the next "Star Wars" film or Uzo Aduba's, aka Crazy Eyes, VIP guest on the set of "Orange Is the New Black"? Well, thanks to Omaze, an online charity auction, you could!
Best friends since college, Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins came up with the bright idea after attending an auction hosted by their childhood hero and basketball great, Magic Johnson. The opportunity to sit courtside and have dinner with Johnson was a dream come true, but like most auctions, the prize went to the highest bidder for $15,000.
"We couldn't afford to participate," says Pohlson. They considered "What if this was available to everybody online for 10 bucks for the chance to win, you could raise so much more money, so much more awareness ... and then guys like us would also have the chance to play basketball with Magic Johnson."
Instead of offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences to the wealthy donors, Omaze offers everyone the equal chance of meeting celebrities and leaders around the world. All it takes is a $10 donation, and the winner is picked in a random lottery. And in turn, celebrities raise money for their charity of choice.
Auctions range from being George Clooney's date for the night to driving to the "Breaking Bad" finale in an RV with Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston. Both auctions raked in over one million dollars for their cause.
Eighty percent of proceeds from the auctions goes to the appointed charity, and 20 percent goes to Omaze to cover its costs. In its first year, Omaze raised approximately $3 million for charitable causes. This year, it raised the same amount in the first two months. Cummins says, "What's great for us is that we're actually seeing that we're bringing people who were not previously involved in philanthropy over to causes ... but we also find out these incredible stories about all these incredible winners. "
To inspire action, Omaze videotapes the winners and the experience to share with other donors. Pohlson says, "They can see that these are the types of people that you're helping, these are the people you're connecting with, and in turn, that will make them want to give more and support more people that way."
Now I have an "o-mazing" opportunity for you. As you might know, I am a vocal advocate in the fight against cancer and co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer. For as little as $10, you can win a chance to be my guest at this year's Stand Up To Cancer's fourth annual televised fundraising event in Los Angeles. We'll walk the red carpet, interview celebrities and be a part of a special evening that is very near and dear to me. Go to www.omaze.com/katie to enter. See you on the red carpet!