Non-profit "gimmicks"?

Sent this note to a local social-media contact of mine for opinions... but heard nothing back, which may or may not mean anything... so, here's what's on my mind:

...the whole topic there [at the July Social Media Breakfast in Minneapolis/St. Paul] rekindled my "how do you get people plugged into a good cause" questions. The Dream Team 2010 concept is great at first blush (or second or third)... and then I started thinking about it and realized that it's actually pretty strange.

I wonder if this "celebrity"-endorsed contest-type thing is a sustainable fundraising/engagement model, or if it's going to be like the Old Spice personalized YouTube response videos (where the first agency to do it is wicked-clever and the second one to do it is a lame copycat).

Anyway, here's the strange part: Common sense would dictate that if, for example, Land-O-Lakes really wanted to give $25k to end hunger... why don't they just do it? Why the "game" of getting people to sign up and "release" a dollar and tweet it out and whatever?

The plain old answer is, "Duh, Eric, it's for promotion and to engage people in the cause..." and that's true... but then it seems to go back to the point I was inarticulately struggling through with your [...] colleagues at lunch -- that it seems a forced choice between "manipulating the unwilling" vs. "cajoling the indifferent"

Wouldn't it be nice if those who cared about hunger (for example) just plain cared about it with X-many units of "caring-ness" and did what they were going to do without having to play games of tweeting out messages and competing for iPads?

(And you know me -- instead of "hunger" you can sub in "online learning" or "Bible study" or "ovarian cancer detection" or whatever cause resonates with you.)

Not sure if any of that makes sense, but if anyone can understand it, it'd be you. Not sure if there are any papers/thinkers/etc. that I should be exploring on the "community engagement" front, or if the ultimate answer is just "Yeah, that's life; learn to deal with it, bub!"??

(And for what it's worth, I turned it into a podcast over at so you can check that out there, too.)??

Thoughts on the topic?


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