Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Do you still win gold, if you're the only one competing?

Today, we were given honorable mention in the Best of the Web 2.0 Philanthropy category by web2.0awards.org We were the only entity in the category. It's unbelievable the amount of traffic we've generated because we've been labeled a Web 2.0 website. I'm speaking at a Web 2.0 conference in May and at the risk of sounding hideously uncool and totally out of the loop, I'm still not sure what makes us "2.0" and great sites like globalgiving, donorschoose and kiva not qualify for "2.0" status.

The award website generated quite a lot of traffic to our site today, so I'm certainly not complaining but I do wonder why other online philanthropy sites that I respect and consider our peers don't get included.

In other news, a principal of a small charity that has started a GivingGroup at GiveMeaning emailed me last week asking if he could volunteer at GiveMeaning! Here's a guy who is working full-time on a volunteer basis for a charity and is asking us if he can volunteer for us!! This is why I love my job so much! Every day, I talk to tens if not hundreds of people who are so totally full of passion and conviction! It's an infectious energy!!!
I'm laughing at myself for my abuse of punctuation marks but really I can't contain my appreciation and the joy I get from the people I interact with on a daily basis.

So, I suggested that Ron come down to the GiveMeaning office and told him I had a project in mind for him. The project was to teach him how to search for bloggers that were talking about the subjects that his charity is helping address and then helping him craft a message of appeal to these bloggers asking them to link to his project profile at our site. Well tonight, as I went to check the 3rd party referrals to GiveMeaning, I noticed the first blogger had already posted a link to his GivingGroup!!!! This really brought me a lot of joy for a lot of different reasons. Not only was I happy for Ron that his efforts were bearing fruit but also it helped reaffirm how important it is for a part of my daily activity to be focused on sharing what I know about how the larger internet (not just GiveMeaning) can help play a part in cost-effectively building awareness for small charities. It's the old "teach a man to fish" axiom and hey, it's one blog (so far) but to me, it validates that a part of my job needs to be helping build capacity and greater knowledge of the internet and it's uses in the charitable sector.

I had a Photoshoot for a magazine today. I once felt cool doing press and now I just feel like a total frickin' dork. Perhaps I'm just reaching a new level of awareness (Have always been a dork?) but I'm growing increasingly uncomfortable with the attention that is put on my personal involvement in GiveMeaning. Not only is my role but a part but so too is the whole system of GiveMeaning but a part in the outcome. The real stories that emerge from what all of us at GiveMeaning are involved in are from the people that use our site. It's the Canadian living in Honduras who uses our site to build an orphanage, it's the wicked-smart academics who are raising funds for the people and places they are studying that deserve all the attention.

That's it for now... The last thing I will say, and this is so off-topic but I have to mention the CBS show "The Unit" It's a show based on the book "Inside Delta Force" by Eric Haney. The Unit is co-created by writer David Mamet who also wrote Spartan, a little-seen movie starring Val Kilmer that also used Haney as a technical consultant. Haney was a founding member of one of the most elite special forces units in the world and I suppose the world has a greater interest in the role of Special Forces in post 9-11 world. Anyway, 24 has long-been the show for drama using counter-terrorism as a main story-line but The Unit is giving 24 a major run for its money, and by my estimate, is a much better show and here's why:

24 appeals to a wide-ranging group of men. Most every man can relate to Jack Bauer because while his story-line may not be directly similar to any of ours, its very relatable. Office politics, navigating tough moral dilemas, the struggle between personal life and moral and professional obligations etc. And the advertisers that are attracted to 24 are Ford "built tough" and other very masculine-oriented brands.

But what's most interesting about the Unit is that their advertisers are predominantly female-skewed (Rimmel make-up, Expedia, a few feminine hygene products, etc..) For the most part, decidedly skewed female for a show about one of the toughest special forces teams... Tonight's episode of the Unit was a perfect mix of special forces action and the drama of the women who care for these men. There is something to be said of how this show straddles the basic desires of two very disparate sets of demo/psychographics.

I cant' say enough good things about the show and from an advertiser's perspective, it makes for an interesting analysis.

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