Rob Sobhani on democratizing charitable giving - Kathy Varol
Rob Sobhani
August 3, 2022   |   Episode #: 035

Rob Sobhani on democratizing charitable giving

Show Notes:

Rob Sobhani is the founder of Sparo, a technology company on a mission to democratize charitable giving. With Sparo’s patented e-commerce plug-in, retailers can offer an easy way for their consumers to donate a part of their purchase to a charity. The retailer covers the donation cost, not the shopper. What’s in it for the retailer? Sparo increases conversion while reducing abandoned online shopping carts.

Rob has had an impressive career. He is a leading international expert on energy, domestic policies, and international relations. Formerly a professor at Georgetown University where he taught foreign policy and energy security, he now serves as Chairman and CEO of the Caspian Group Holdings, which provides strategic advisory services in energy.

One thing I appreciate about this conversation is that Rob’s path is an illustration of how everything we learn, every lesson and experience, is fodder for what we can do now. Those experiences and lessons add to your toolbox.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The power of a crucible moment in shaping perspective
  • Building loyalty with online consumers
  • How to embed meaning into a mundane shopping experience

Key Takeaways: 

  • We live in the most frazzled, multi-tasking time in human history. While attention spans continue to drop, the intrinsic desire to contribute to something bigger than ourselves remains as strong as ever. The Global Pandemic sparked the intrinsic desire-fire even more. Therefore, offering a frictionless experience (which means making it as easy and convenient as possible) that enables people to donate to causes they care about during their regular online shopping has significant potential to increase giving. Especially when that donation doesn’t come out of the shopper’s pocket.
  • Beyond reducing friction, there are three other elements for adoption and acceleration that Rob spoke about as themes for success across his career, whether with Sparo or sustainable energy. These were: democratizing access to participation, reducing costs, and using systems thinking to ensure the approach can be executed across each piece of the puzzle.
  • When we ask questions that might feel off the wall, like “what if 80% of lottery winnings went to support social and environmental change programs selected by the winner, and 20% was pocketed by the winner?”. That type of question has the power to jolt us out of the sticky trap of the status quo. That type of question can put a crack in the belief that since this is the way something has always been done, it’s the way it needs to be. Ask yourself, what questions in your industry, or in your life, feel completely absurd? It might be worth sitting with those for a bit to understand why.


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