Location: Hershey, Pa.
Last year, when one Kickstarter campaign earned more than $55,000 to make potato salad (“I haven’t decided what kind yet,” the organizer wrote), Michael Clark was using crowdfunding to achieve a less pedestrian goal. Since 2013, through his non-profit Small Sacrifice, Clark, a senior sales representative at Eli Lilly (No. 151), has held six virtual events to fundraise for a variety of charitable projects. With each event, he asks participants around the world to give up something, like lunch or make-up, and instead donate the money to a related initiative, like the non-profit Feed My Starving Children or paying for cleft palate surgeries for children.
Clark was inspired to start Small Sacrifice after traveling to Lima, Peru through an Eli Lilly volunteer program called Connecting Hearts Abroad. There, he volunteered at a school for special needs children in a poor neighborhood. Since the school couldn’t afford to feed the children lunch, they would bring their own—often moldy sandwiches or tiny cups of rice. “I was helping them eat stuff that I wouldn’t eat myself, and that tore my heart out,” Clark says. “I don’t have a lot of crazy skills, so I was thinking, what can I do?” Since founding Small Sacrifice, Clark has raised money for 20,000 meals, 34 cleft palate surgeries and 20 lifetime water filtration systems for families, among other initiatives. But one of the most meaningful parts of his work has been seeing the impact his work has had on his twin daughters. On their third birthday, they told him they didn’t want presents—they wanted to give meals to needy children instead.