“Grassroots Social Entrepreneurship” with Desiree Vargas Wrigley

CareerCast - Life-long Career Development

Desiree Vargas Wrigley An entrepreneurial mind-set can unlock solutions to helping families rebuild after disaster. Desiree Vargas Wrigley, CEO and cofounder of GiveForward, believes that it begins with one person, a strong vision, and strategic action. In this CareerCast, Desiree shares her experience, knowledge, and insights about grassroots social entrepreneurship from GiveForward and strategic philanthropy and her work funding innovative programs at the Kauffman Foundation.

Aired July 15, 2011

The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook: How to Start, Build, and Run a Business That Improves the World by Rupert Scofield (2011)

How to Be a Social Entrepreneur: Make Money and Change the World by Robert Ashton (2010)

Mission, Inc.: The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Enterprise by Kevin Lynch and Julius Walls (2009)

The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan (2008)

Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World by Gary Hirshberg (2008)

How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein (2007)

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham (2007)

Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar & Co. by Gary Erickson and Lois Lorentzen (2006)

Desiree Vargas Wrigley’s interest in strategic philanthropy and social ventures was born out of her work funding entrepreneurship programs at the Kauffman Foundation. But it was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that inspired the vision for GiveForward. While talking with colleagues, Desiree wondered if there was a better way for small-scale donors to contribute directly to families rebuilding. After some investigation, she realized that no online tools existed to raise money without being a registered 501(c)3 organization.

In the fall of 2007, Desiree developed the initial concept for GiveForward as a fundraising platform for anyone wanting to raise money for anything. But her big break came in the start of 2008, when a friend introduced her to Ethan Austin, who was looking to start a fundraising site for marathon runners. The two hit it off and launched the first version of GiveForward in August of 2008. Now, after years of hard work and a few leaps of faith, GiveForward has helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for loved ones during times of need.

Born in Costa Rica, Desiree was raised in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated from Yale with a BA in Latin American studies in 2004 and quickly went to work as a specialist in college entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City. When she’s not working, Desiree can be found spending time with her husband and stepdaughter, inventing recipes that don’t always work or busting a move in Zumba or hip-hop classes.