November 2007 Posts

The Golden Gift Card

From earth to earth (I’ll explain), the idea of GlobalGiving’s new gift card is quite compelling – especially considering recent gift card criticisms from marketer, Seth Godin, and the magazine, Consumer Reports. Essentially, the cards are perceived as “convenient and popular, but…often loaded with fees, expiration dates, and other hassles.”

This, we know. And it was something we kept at the front of our minds as we planned the creation of GlobalGiving Gift Cards, a fun extension of our year-old Gift Certificate program.

Fun extension, you say?

Indeed, I do. The cards are corn-based plastic – as opposed to real plastic – that will biodegrade when exposed to nature’s elements.

No, the card will not decompose in your back pocket or purse, but it may after a few months in a fish tank (if you do this, email us pictures of your results and we’ll post them here on the GlobalGoodness blog. WARNING: do this only after redeeming the card).

So, what about “earth to earth?” Think about this card’s true physical lifecycle: it comes from a plant that grew up from the ground, is traded between hands of compassionate people, and returns to the earth, both directly and indirectly (especially through projects like this). Now that’s something worth giving.

A Trifecta

As most of my friends and colleagues know, one of my favorite columns of my favorite online publication is The Dismal Science column on Slate. And I muse often–and out loud–about how women do (or do not) behave differently at work than men, or whether they have greater chances at happiness today than before, because I’ve come to a feminist consciousness late in life and I feel like I need to make up for lost time. And I love the science of economics, despite not having chosen it in college or in graduate school–again, making up for lost time.

So this latest article from Slate started talking about how when legislative mandates forced more women into leadership positions in village councils, the delivery of public goods increased (and the quality of such goods stayed as high as when men were in leadership positions) but residents of villages headed by women were actually less satisfied with the public goods, I thought I’d hit the trifecta. [Icing on the cake: the Slate article cited the work of Esther Duflo, whse work at the Poverty Action Lab at MIT I have really admired over the years.]

My trivial little delight at finding an article that was as relevant as any Google ad served up to me in my Gmail account using entirely analog searching techniques aside, this finding really makes me pause. Because the implications are startling. Either we have really not understood the nature of public goods (and they aren’t really good for people), or we have hardwired biases against being able to perceive objective reality (which means those biases are extremely difficult to overcome, or …

It’s something I actually often wonder about international development. There’s a small group of people in the world (and I hang out with them all the time, so my own perspective is warped) who have the privilege of knowing about, and participating in, the adventure that development can be. How we can communicate the drama and the incredible high that comes from hard-won success to people who don’t know about it–and perhaps even have a bias against learning more about it?

But I’m a liberal at heart–I do believe human nature can change. After all, if I can gain feminist consciousness and an appreciation of the dismal science late in life, why not?

Coming Soon to a (Small) Screen Near You…

As GlobalGiving’s marketing director, I’m responsible for getting the word out about GlobalGiving. But with a tiny marketing budget – that can be a real challenge. We frequently hear from GlobalGivers who say “Hey, GlobalGiving is a great idea, but why don’t more people know who you are? Why aren’t you doing more marketing?” Etc.

Well, in a few weeks we’re trying something we haven’t done before that we hope will reach a whole lot of new people who will be inspired to check us out. We’re producing a public service announcement (PSA) that is scheduled to be shown on Lifetime TV and potentially a bunch of other outlets (let us know if you have airtime to offer up, or ideas about who might!)

Our friends (and pro bono partners) at Leo Burnett pulled out all the stops to create what we think will be an awesome PSA. These things usually cost a lot of money – we learned that TV commercials are, on a cost-per-second basis, the most expensive kind of production – but the Burnett folks, led by our producer Vincent Geraghty, did an amazing job of convincing a lot of people to donate their time and talents to help us out.

The result – Donna and I were in Hollywood last week (ok, it was actually a warehouse up in the San Fernando Valley) to see the whole thing come together and watch the PSA being filmed. It was a great experience. Industry veteran and award-winning director Jim Gartner (you’ve probably seen his work…) liked the storyboard developed by Burnett’s creative team of Sarah Block and Eric Routenberg so much that he agreed to direct the PSA pro bono. We got to meet the “talent” – all card-carrying SAG members who showed up enthusiastic and energetic despite the late-Friday-night call time and LA traffic. Roger the producer’s friendly golden retriever even made a cameo appearance. And the crew of ~40+ others – including our very own team of “grips” and “gaffers” – transformed an otherwise nondescript warehouse into what became, for that one night, a manifestation of the GlobalGiving “marketplace for good.”
Our PSA is now in post-production mode and should hit the airwaves early in 2008. We’re pretty excited. And hopefully the TV-watching masses (and potential GlobalGivers) will be, too.

From California, it’s a wrap…for now.

QuantumShift.tv – More Goodness Online

Check out what the guys at QuantumShift.tv are doing. Here’s their mission:

Quantum Shift TV is a 21st Century storyteller renewing the cultural values of community, care and interconnectedness through the use of leading edge technology and citizen journalism. Here’s the kind of stories you’ll see there – ones of:

  • Human cooperation and survival
  • Solutions to combat global warming
  • The positive impact of aid workers around the world
  • Perspectives and contributions of philanthropists
  • Corporate social responsibility progress
  • Environmental improvements and breakthroughs
  • And all other stories about those making a positive difference on this planet.

A great companion to what we are trying to do here…and in the spirit of full disclosure, I just found them today when my Google Alerts let me know that they had posted this cool video about GlobalGiving gift cards as an alternative to “stuff:”

[flv]http://www.quantumshift.tv/2007_11_22_1195727781.flv[/flv]

The second part of the video is about Google + Specialized’s “Innovate or Die” contest. Also very cool. They are giving away money and bikes to pedal-generated ideas for good.

Here’s a project that links the two pieces of this story together:
Get great free widgets at <a href="http://www.widgetbox.com">Widgetbox</a>!

Like we said, guaranteed goodness.

Giving Thanks

We wish everyone happy and safe holiday.

In keeping with tradition…

This year, I am thankful for: Mike Lowell (just kidding). 

In all seriousness, I am thankful for my family, my health, unending generosity, unexpected opportunity, unfaltering (and sometimes undeserved) patience, and unlimited possibility.

GlobalGivers, if you're out there today, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you.