Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich

links for 2006-04-30
  • A $100,000 package of in-kind communications services to create and launch a breakthrough cause marketing campaign for a visionary nonprofit and its corporate partner. Applications due 7/31/06.
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An amazing case study in progress shows how social change can happen quickly within the MySpace generation.

From Leadernotes (via Seth Godin): How to Raise $500,000 from Middle Class White Kids (and Why the Red Cross Never Will)
Three 20-something kids with a video camera wind up in northern Uganda. They see incredible horror and encounter heartbreaking suffering, most especially among children.

Instead of turning their backs, they can't stop thinking about it. They decide to do something about it.

What can three white kids do to stop 20 years of horror and war? They decide that alone they can't do much, but if they can mobilize enough other youth, they can influence the powerful.

They know their audience - other youth. They use multimedia, they use rock music, they use myspace, they make music videos, they portray things raw and gritty and honest and authentic.

...They make their message viral and easy to share. Buy a DVD of their documentary and they send you two - one to share with someone.

They brilliantly merge online content with offline activities, such as house parties and private screenings. They provide materials to allow people to host their own house parties.

People who sign up online get regular updates on their Ipod to motivate and give them insider information.

The organization is dedicated to ending the war in Northern Uganda where children are abducted and forced to fight with the rebel army as child soldiers. For fear of being hunted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), these children commute on foot every night to find safe places to sleep in their town centers. To date, more than 30,000 children have been abducted and forced into war.

The Invisible Children campaign that they started is sponsoring a nationwide event this Saturday April 29th in 130 cities. In this Global Night Commute, participants will walk to their cities’ designated locations and sleep outside on behalf of the invisible children of Northern Uganda. It will be interesting to see if they are able to get mainstream media coverage of this event, or if it will remain under the radar except to the youth population.
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This Sunday April 30 is the Save Darfur Rally to Stop Genocide on the National Mall in Washington DC. Other rallies will be happening in cities around the country on that day. If you are able to attend one of the rallies, speak up for those who have no voice. If you cannot attend a rally in person, you can be there online via the Virtual March for Darfur -- sign your name and be counted.

About a year and half ago, I started speaking at Los Angeles-area schools to raise students' awareness about the situation in Darfur and slavery in Sudan. I was amazed at how engaged the students became with this issue, with many of them selling green bracelets to raise funds and getting involved with local events. In fact, they formed a group called "Teens Against Genocide" with students from 20 different area high schools and held their own rally in front of the Federal building last Sunday.

If you would like to learn more about the situation in Darfur, which is particularly poignant on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, take a look at information from the Save Darfur Coalition and/or watch this movie from Physicians for Human Rights. Then check out this list of 10 Things You Can Do Right Now from the Genocide Intervention Network.

"Never again," which is what the world said after the Holocaust, and again after Rwanda, has to mean that we do something when we know that genocide is happening. We take action. We're already too late for 400,000 people murdered by their own government. Millions more refugees are counting on us to help them. Let's be their voices.
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Social marketing campaigns seem to be keeping the rubber hand manufacturers in business this week. Here are two campaigns featured by Adfreak:

The first is a campaign from Amnesty International that uses rubber hands hanging from a grate in the street to highlight the plight of political prisoners who are put in jail because they hold the wrong opinion:

UNICEF used the same idea to raise awareness of children who are imprisoned simply for living on the street:
And this campaign from Brussels Airlines, as seen on Advertising/Design Goodness, makes clear the ease with which pickpockets can put their hand into someone's bag without them noticing.

As these campaigns show, the only limit to the types of promotional methods you can use is your own creativity (and your budget too, I suppose). It's interesting that all three of these campaigns came up with the same idea independently. Perhaps there was a sale on rubber hands at Hands 'R' Us. On the other hand...
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Last week, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report called "The Internet’s Growing Role in Life’s Major Moments." According to their 2005 survey, people are more and more using the internet as a primary source of information when either helping someone else with a major illness or health condition, or when looking for information for their own health issues.

Here are some of its key findings:
  • For about a quarter of the people interviewed who had to find information about a health condition or major illness either for themselves or others, the internet played an important or crucial role in making decisions about how to deal with the problem.
  • Over the three-year period from 2002 to 2005, there was an increase of 54% in the number of adults who said the internet played a major role as they helped another person cope with a major illness. And the number of those who said the internet played a major role as they coped themselves with a major illness increased 40%.
  • The internet’s largest impact comes in connecting people to other people for advice or sharing valuable experiences. For about one-third (34%) of those who used the internet in a key way in a decision, the internet’s capacity to let users draw on social networks was part of the decision-making dynamic. The “social network” effect is still larger for the 28% who said the internet connected them to expert services, at least to the extent that they were able to contact specific individuals for help.
And from a previous Pew report, from which this data is drawn:
In a social environment based on networked individualism, the internet’s capacity to help maintain and cultivate social networks has real payoffs. Our work shows that internet use provides online Americans a path to resources, such as access to people who may have the right information to help deal with a health or medical issue or to confront a financial issue. Sometimes this assistance comes from a close friend or family member. Sometimes this assistance comes from a person more socially distant, but made close by email in a time of need. The result is that people not only socialize online, but they also incorporate the internet into seeking information, exchanging advice, and making decisions.
The Joslin Diabetes Center is a good example of an online community providing support to individuals with a given health condition (you can login as a guest to take a peek around). A study of the effectiveness of the Joslin discussion boards, as an example of internet-based discussion groups found that they made a big difference in the lives of many who used them:
Nearly 75 percent of respondents to the study's 2004 survey rated participation in the discussion board as having a positive effect on coping with diabetes. As one woman commented, "I have found an oasis where I can be encouraged, inspired and educated by people who sincerely understand my struggles."

What's more, 71 percent of respondents stated participation helped them to feel more hopeful. One user, a representative of many, found the discussion board to be an online lifeline. "Here in Spain, I have no support," she commented. "I honestly don't know what I would do without the support I find here. It really has transformed my life and had a positive influence on the way I cope with diabetes."
If you have the information people are looking for, or if you can provide the framework on which these online communities and social networks can form around health issues, your organization can play a major role in the decisions people make about their health. But if you don't have an online presence, you won't even be part of that conversation.
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Along the lines of my post last week, here's an example of an organization making an explicit connection between religious values and an environmental issue:

What would jesus drive?

And in case you don't know about it yet, the blog I found this on, Houtlust, is an amazing source for examples of social marketing campaigns from around the world.
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And I'm back... Apologies for the not so brief hiatus, during which time I went to Israel and England for my brother-in-law's wedding to an amazing Brit. Upon my return, I was knocked out by a killer sinus infection, from which I've only just recovered. And I'm about to disappear again for a few days while I join millions of other observant Jews around the world in the culmination of the annual cleaning frenzy to prepare the house for Passover, which starts Wednesday night. Every inch of the house needs to be cleaned to make sure no crumbs of leavened food remain, to recreate the Jewish people's experience in the journey to freedom after being enslaved in Egypt. It's a beautiful holiday (once the cleaning and cooking are done!).

As I was taking all the food out of my cupboards and scrubbing away a year of accumulated shmutz (dirt), I reflected on the power of faith to motivate people to engage in behaviors that involve hard work, inconvenience, no immediate benefit, and a substantial monetary cost (sound like some of our social marketing behaviors?).

Believing that something is a religious obligation -- whether it is keeping kosher, spending time in a far-off country as a missionary, or making the hajj -- can be a major motivator for members of that religion to take on that behavior. What are the benefits? They may vary from person to person, depending on their reasons for being part of that religion in the first place, but they could include believing that you will go to heaven as a result, feeling included in the community, imparting your values to the next generation, feeling the satisfaction of doing what God expects of you...

There are many religious values that are consistent with other health and social values we as social marketers might want to tie in. For example, many Jews and Christians believe it is a religious obligation to tithe their income to charity -- how can your nonprofit relate its fundraising pitch to that religiously-motivated giving? The Torah holds the value of pikuach nefesh (saving a life) above just about every other commandment -- in a campaign trying to increase organ donation, this value might resonate with a Jewish audience. I have been involved with a campaign by the American Anti-Slavery Group relating freeing modern-day slaves to the concept of freedom at the center of the holiday of Passover.

Of course, I am using examples from what I know, but you can think about the religious values of your own faith and figure out ways to make connections with various social marketing issues. Faith is a powerful motivator, and you may be able to harness its power for your own program.

To my Jewish readers, chag sameach v'kasher (a happy and kosher Passover). To everyone else, a wonderful and productive week.
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