- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Online donations account for a fraction of the money given to charities each year, but a new company is hoping to change that with a mix of videos, contests for celebrity meetings and behind-the-scenes access that was once reserved only for top donors. Here’s a look at Chideo, the Dallas-based company looking to build what founder Todd Wagner calls a “Cause Network” devoted to raising more awareness for nonprofits, and more money as well.

WHAT’S CHIDEO?

Chideo’s name is a mashup of the words charity and video, and it’s the newest venture for Wagner, a billionaire-turned-philanthropist who is sports and media mogul Mark Cuban’s business partner. The company has already signed more than 100 VIP ambassadors from the entertainment, sports and political realms to create short videos or participate in experiences that the site leverages for donations.

HOW IT WORKS

Chideo signs contracts with celebrities and nonprofits to create online fundraising campaigns, many of which result in contest winners meeting a celebrity or sports star in real life. For every dollar Chideo collects, 80 cents goes to the designated charity, while the company keeps 20 cents for its operations. The company handles logistics, publicity planning, and other elements of the event that can cut deeply into the amount a charity raises from traditional events.

WHO’S INVOLVED

Chideo’s ambassadors include everyone from YouTube stars to Oscar winners, with a number of sports stars as well. Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Patricia Arquette and Jennifer Lawrence have all participated in Chideo campaigns, as have Clippers guard Chris Paul, golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and broadcaster Craig Sager.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR FANS

Chideo has lined up a mix of experiences so far, ranging from golf outings, dinner with Paul, a meet-and-greet on a red carpet with Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and accompanying Arquette on an upcoming relief mission. Upcoming events open for bid now include a recording session with Clint Black, a meal and run with 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi and backstage access to a Darius Rucker benefit concert.

HOW IT’S GROWING

In the coming months, Chideo content will be seen as part of newscasts on some of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 162 television stations and Wagner says more partnerships with media companies are in the works. Wagner’s goal is to recruit six to eight media partners in the coming year to distribute Chideo content, broadening its reach.

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