Saturday, February 6, 2016

Codes for Change - The Future of Fundraising

I want every business to have the ability to easily do what TOMS does, but on more of a local and a personal level. Fundraising for those in need by selling a product or a service is a relatively simple process, but I want to take it a step further and allow the consumer to choose exactly where their money goes. On the other end, I also think it should be easier for everyone to raise $500 or less. 

There should be a nonprofit that focuses on helping those in need by allowing people to create brief profiles explaining why they or someone they know needs financial assistance. Their profile would include either a photo or a video, a brief bio, and what they would do with the money. The profiles would also feature a section that shows how many hearts or votes they've received. All votes are anonymous.

The money would be raised by selling a locally designed and printed T-shirt for $35. Each city's chapter would have only one T-shirt and the design would express love within the community. Every $35 donation qualifies the T-shirt recipient for one vote within the chapter the shirt was purchased in. (Each shirt would come with a secret code that is good for one vote.) The individual votes are anonymous. However, everyone who has had the ability to vote will also have a branded T-shirt.

Each chapter could team up with a new designer and print shop once a year. This would keep everything fresh and get more people talking about it. It'd be a tax write-off for them as well as a promotion. And for $10-15 a shirt it's not like they'd be losing much money if they chose to get paid. ($10 per shirt produced if the designer isn't a member of the print shop team and $15 per shirt if the print shop designs and prints them.)

Every profile that receives five votes or more would receive at least a $100 contribution. Profiles would only receive contributions in $100 increments, so a profile that receives seven votes would still receive $100 while a profile that receives 10 votes would receive $200. The most a profile could receive is $500 or 25 votes within a 30 day period.

If an applicant's profile doesn't get five votes within 30 days of applying it is deleted from the system and the votes are put back into the contributor's accounts, so they can find someone else to assist. They would receive an email notifying them of this change. Votes that go unused for 180 days would be transferred to a special committee of local volunteers. The committee would have the ability to apply the unused votes to any profiles of their choosing. This would make sure no money is wasted and that every penny goes toward helping those who need it most. 

Applicants would only be allowed to request a donation once every 12 months in order to reduce the amount of people who are just trying to make a quick buck. Each applicant would have to confirm an email address and a phone number in order to create an account. In addition, they'd be encouraged to provide links to their various social media profiles. This would prevent people from making multiple profiles in an attempt to scam contributors out of money. Access to the social profiles would also give the contributors a better understanding of who is asking for financial assistance.

The staff would primarily be made up of volunteers and student interns, but may include some paid positions for day-to-day duties (website maintenance, communications, etc.). Eventually I would like to see major brands and retailers selling products that include codes for votes and then donating a portion of their profits to this cause. If that were to happen we'd obviously need more than just a street team running this organization.

TL;DR A $35 contribution gets you a T-shirt and a potentially life-changing vote. Anyone can create a profile to explain why they need some extra cash. 

Let me know if there's anything you would like to add to this or if you would like to help turn it into a reality.