They’re turning to the social media generation to change how philanthropy works

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jun. 19, 2019 at 2:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The sponsors of a new documentary from a Hawaii-based filmmaker are trying to re-imagine how philanthropy works in the social media age.

“Save the Reef” premiered at Kualoa Ranch last week, and underscored the degradation of coral reefs around the globe.

It was made possible by Karmagawa, a charity community formerly known as the Timothy Sykes Foundation.

Karmagawa works alongside over 30 charities raising money through merchandise sales – 80% of which are donated to philanthropic projects.

[Read more: In ‘Save the Reef,’ young filmmaker sought to inspire rather than discourage]

The twist: The company hires talented young artists and social media influencers to spread awareness about key issues to younger generations.

Co-founders Timothy Sykes, an entrepreneur and stock trader, and artist Mat Abad said Karmagawa is all about mobilizing people to change the world.

“You know what karma is, but ‘gawa’ means 'to do' in Tagalog," Abad said. "So, it means to do karma, but we’re all about doing good karma."

Even before “Save the Reef” was released, an Instagram account ― @savethereef ― was launched to generate interest and support for the project. So far, it’s accumulated over 386,000 followers.

The account is just one of the many projects around the world sponsored by Karmagawa.

Abad said he and Sykes have very similar dreams and missions and so created Karmagawa together.

The young photographer grew up in the Philippines, living in poverty and accepting rivers made of plastic waste as the norm.

He said the community was not educated on the dangers of plastic waste and he has since dedicated his life to spreading education to communities in poverty.

Karmagawa started in 2015, and has already made a mark.

Sykes said the company, for example, has funded the construction of 51 schools in Bali, Guatemala, Cambodia, Ghana, Laos and Nepal – with an end goal of 1,000.

“We are trying our best to educate in our new way,” Sykes said. “Education is our ultimate priority.”

Prior to the Save the Reef project, Karmagawa also sponsored the Save the Rhino movement in South Africa producing a short film called “The War Against Poaching.”

“We are trying to set an example," Sykes said. "We’re not in this to make money, we’re in it to make the world better.”

To learn more about the company, click here.

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