TODAY   |  April 28, 2014

Edward Norton: ‘Get creative’ in raising charity money

The actor joins TODAY to talk about founding the website and describe its impact on raising funds for charity.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> " shine a light ," our yearlong commitment to give back to causes that mean something to us.

>> that's right. natalie did her part running in last week's boston marathon to support the bombing victims and disabled athletes. and some of you donated to her efforts on the fundraising website crowd rise. it's actually something created by oscar nominated actor edward norton , who happens to be sitting on the end of our couch right now.

>> good morning.

>> nice to see you. you came up with this idea a couple years ago. i think you were actually running in a marathon at the time.

>> i was running the new york marathon for a conservation organization, and we raised like 1.2 million bucks in a couple weeks. so many people came at us asking us what our tricks were, and we just decided to build a site that everybody could use.

>> did you find it was easy to do, or were there some growing pains with this?

>> it blew up really fast. in the first three years of people using the site, it raised over $125 million and we're expecting to double that this year alone. so it's become very quickly a very popular site for people to do peer to peer fundraising, and then this month, we had so many people ask us if they could do fundraisers for help friends or family members who were in crisis. just right now, we're launching the capacity to mount a fundraiser to help a friend with medical expenses or a family member with education expenses.

>> let's make sure people don't get the wrong impression. this isn't you and your celebrity friends and people writing big, fat checks. these are grass roots contributions, small dollar figures.

>> absolutely. you know, what natalie did is incredible. raising over $60,000 is a huge number for someone running a marathon. but we see 13-year-old kids raising $5,000 in $50 donations doing virtual lemonade stands. one of my favorites is two young guys who literally said, we will never run a marathon, but we will go to the concert of bands we don't like totally sober. i won't say the bands. but they said, we will go to the concert of this band and we will not drink. and they've raised a couple thousand bucks. but people have gotten very, very creative. they give up their birthdays. they give up their weddings. we have a charity wedding registry now for people to do it. it's really proliferated. and our whole operation is in detroit. so we're employing 30 or 40 young people in detroit now, which we love.

>> we have carson , by the way, next up in our process taking on an ability to kind of fight hunger . and it's not a competition, but it would be good to inspire people to donate to that cause.

>> what should you do to get people --

>> what are the odds carson 's going to run a marathon? okay, so i think carson could say that anyone who donates $10 is entered to get a spray tan with him.

>> there you go.

>> or shave your head if he raises a certain amount of money.

>> there you go. or he'll do an ichat with you. something like that. you have to get creative. but, you know, david axelrod , the president's famous adviser, raised a million dollars -- saying if he raised a million dollars on crowd rise, he would shave his mustache. which he's essentially wedded to. but he did it.

>> it's a great idea on your part.

>> thank you, it's fun.

>> thank you for letting us be a part of it. if you would like to help carson build a garden in every school, visit his fundraising page at carson .