Technology has transformed the way billions of people all over the world live, work, and connect with each other. Not only has it made their lives easier, more efficient, and more convenient but it has also empowered those looking to make a positive impact on the world. From social media campaigns to crowdfunding platforms, technology has become a powerful tool for raising awareness, mobilizing communities, and effecting change.
Over the past decade, blockchain technology has proven to be one of the most effective ways for such a change to be achieved. From the use of a new cryptocurrency to boost Ukraine’s recovery after the invasion to making it easier to track donations. Now, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have opened up new possibilities for charitable giving and social activism after having exploded in popularity back in 2021.
This is where the collaboration between tech entrepreneur Jon Fisher and iconic vocalist Michelle Phillips comes in. The duo has recently come up with a unique NFT project called “The Orphaned Earring Society”, which aims to help raise money to support Ukrainian refugees by donating to HIAS, the world’s oldest refugee agency.
Those who join “The Society” will get to share their personal stories about their orphaned earring, a clear allegory to the effects the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on thousands of people. These stories will then be converted into an NFT, which will allow them to exist in perpetuity while also bringing a host of perks to their owner. Once the campaign is over, a book will be published and the best stories will be included in it, with the best story earning its owner a unique experience with Michelle herself.
“I was heartbroken. I had always treasured those earrings and the thought of losing one of them was devastating. I went home that night feeling sad and frustrated, wondering if I would ever see the earring again. But I didn’t give up hope.” reads one of the stories shared by the community that holds a close resemblance to the experience thousands of Ukrainians experienced during the early days of the invasion.
The project was launched through Fisher’s ViciNFT, a blockchain software startup that helps individuals and organizations design, build, and manage digital assets. By combining Fisher’s expertise in blockchain technology with Phillips’ passion for social activism, they are proving that NFTs are more than a passing fad.
This project is one of the latest charitable missions spearheaded by Fisher’s ViciNFT. Founded in 2021 by Fisher, Vit Kantor, Rich Smith and Jordan French, the company has already worked with other celebrities like Kathie Lee Gifford and organizations like the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. The company has also instituted a policy that requires at least 25% of all auction proceeds to be donated to charity.
“NFTs are an incredible piece of technology that can be used for so much more than just personal profit. They should be all about making a difference in the world and giving back to communities in need,” says Fisher. The SF Aquarium By The Bay NFTs raised nearly one hundred thousand dollars including the rights to name a gigantic sea bass. (The winning bidder chose General Zod). Kathie Lee Gifford’s NFTs raised six figures for her favorite charities including Kathie conducting fireside chats with her NFT-buying fans.
“By making NFTs all about the common good, we can create a whole new paradigm for giving and philanthropy. That’s what I am trying to do with ViciNFT and fortunately, I was able to find incredible people who believe in the same mission,” he added.
Fisher’s philanthropic views have already placed him in the spotlight several times in the past. Back in 2018, he was a keynote of the 160th University of San Francisco Commencement Exercises during which he shared some of the most relatable life lessons he had learned through the years. Videos of the speech quickly went viral, receiving millions of views and inspiring people all over the world.
It would be during this speech that Fisher’s views would be made clear in a single sentence: “How do we sacrifice a lot to save the planet if we can’t even sacrifice a little?”
His environmental views not only have impacted how Fisher’s companies introduce environmental policies such as ViciNFT’s commitment to stay carbon-neutral, but also his personal life. Fisher is known for taking his daughter Avery to school on an electric tandem bike and teaching her to appreciate nature through activities like scuba diving. Avery became the youngest to receive a prominent scuba certification, at age 12, that she spoke about at the Commonwealth Club of California.
“I don’t believe that wanting to leave a better place for your loved ones is enough. Of course, I want that but I also want them to do the same for all of the generations that come after us. This is something that I can only achieve by example,” says Fisher.
Being the founder of successful companies that end up owned by powerful Fortune 500 companies has led Fisher to lecture in business schools but otherwise keep a relatively low profile. Not only does he not have a social media presence but he is also quite selective about which events he participates in and what topics he shares his opinions on. When he does speak he is remarkably authentic.
“Everybody wants to be Elon Musk, but you can still get to a high level of success without getting to that level,” Fisher said back in 2019 in an interview with Grit Daily. “In this world we’re living in, I’m trying to project a bit of a refreshing message out there. It’s something that I’ve practiced for a long time. I’m just trying to be a person in Silicon Valley. You can change the world by building something good and living under the radar and still feel like what you’re doing is super rewarding.”
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