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Vator.tv – December 24th, 2010
Micro-activism: A new way to give back
New Web businesses emerge to promote micro-acts of kindness
The holiday season seems to be defined by sitting in traffic in a mall parking lot, having to deal with neighbors' irritating talking Santa decorations, suffering through repetitive store Christmas soundtracks, and ending the whole holiday bang with an anticlimactic gift-opening session where you realize you got the wrong size, wrong model, wrong color, could've gotten it cheaper elsewhere, etc.
And then there's the contingent of people who subscribe to the whole "giving back" part of the holiday season. These days, giving back is easier than ever and takes a variety of different forms. Of particular interest, I think, are social enterprises that are finding new ways for Internet users to give back in a group atmosphere. Microfinance organizations like Kiva.org are revolutionizing transparency by making it possible for Web users to select where their dollars go and see how they are used. But what about those who want to be more hands-on?
An exciting new emerging trend is micro-activism, which, like microfinance and microlending, gives individuals the opportunity to take control of their activism and create their own unique, individual projects for giving back. One organization that's leading the trend is , which actually appears to have defined micro-activism. One of the founders, , told me that when the company looked up the term, they discovered to their surprise that the term wasn't owned.
"Micro-activism is not clearly defined, but we've found a lot of people who are creating their own little 'engines that could.' What we're doing is just putting a corporate structure around it," said Liss.
The Golden Opportunity
So what isand how does it define micro-activism? The Golden Opportunity is a low-profit limited liability company (L3C) that gives individual users $250 and a Flip Cam to create their own individual activism projects and upload brief 5-minute videos to show how they used their package. Applicants have total freedom to create whatever project they want and put the money to whatever use they decide.
For example, one user took his package to Africa, where he distributed his $250 among several small projects throughout the continent, including buying malaria nets for children in Tanzania and fruit for an orphanage in Kenya.
Another user chose to go beyond traditional charity-giving to simply brighten the days of five strangers by breaking up her $250 into five $50 bundles and leaving them in places where people often receive bad news, like a hospital waiting room, based on her childhood experience of coping with her mother's death. Her video series is called The Lucky Penny.
Many of the videos are surprisingly well made and artfully executed. And I won't lie-The Lucky Penny made me cry.
The Golden Opportunity defines micro-activism as: "The emergence of individuals choosing to take small-scale action(s) intended to achieve a personal and/or social goal, resulting in a large-scale impact or ripple effect."
The site currently has some 1,000 members and is gearing up to launch a page on Kickstarter to encourage more individuals to contribute to The Golden Opportunity. To apply, users can submit their project ideas to the Idea Gallery, where the community decides each month which projects to fund.
TGO is currently working on a project called Film It Forward, which would allow anyone to purchase a TGO package for someone else and then maps the ripple effects of those actions. Packages can be purchased through TGO's corporate partner, Ruby Sparkles .
A new model for giving
TGO is not alone in this field-but it is a pretty amorphous space that's still working to get some form of definition. At this point, many people are aware of microfinance and the work that Kiva and Grameen Bank are doing to help low-income entrepreneurs. While those organizations are doing amazing things to promote economic and social equality on a global scale, they rely primarily on the traditional donation model, which doesn't always appeal to people who want a more active, hands-on role in charitable work.
Additionally, people who are already economically strained themselves will not be as free to participate in these kinds of models-I know, Kiva's minimum loan amount is only $25, but for families on a tight budget, $25 might translate to groceries or a pair of kid's shoes. People like me who are on a budget (because they decided to go to not one, but two private universities and are now on a runaway train to financial ruin) may prefer to give their time rather than their own limited means.
This is where micro-activist organizations like The Golden Opportunity take a unique course as their aim is to promote activism and direct, hands-on participation over the traditional donation model. This can manifest in a variety of different ways, as the space is still so new and undefined. Recently, The Golden Opportunity acquired , an organization that was founded on similar principles of bettering the world by promoting community and participation.
Leveraging other businesses
TheBrightSideProject, which TGO acquired in November, has built up a community some 20,000 strong and is based on the very simple concept of making people happy. So each day the organization poses a question and the person with the best answer wins a free item, such as a gift certificate to an online retailer. Since the merger, TGO has gained TheBrightSideProject's 20,000 members while inspiring TheBrightSideProject to challenge its members with more "socially thoughtful" themed questions.
As the social enterprise space seeks greater definition, sites like these can leverage one another to gain more stability as they navigate the space's uncharted waters.
Businesswire.com -- Sept 8, 2010
tgo.tv Offers Free Flip Camera and $250 Cash Card as a "Golden Opportunity" to Prove the Power of Micro-Acts
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Golden Opportunity announces today the Golden Opportunity Challenge at tgo.tv, asking visitors to answer this question, "What would you do with a free Flip camera and $250?"
"What would you do with a free Flip camera and $250?"
By offering an opportunity with no strings attached, this social experiment intends to uncover whether individuals will be selfless, selfish or somewhere in-between. Each month, TGO will award visitors to the TGO.tv site, up to 25 'Golden Opportunity' packages containing a Flip camera and a cash card of $250.
Winners are selected three different ways: through a sweepstakes for all registered guests, by submitting the "best ideas" as voted on by the TGO community, and during ongoing challenges sponsored by companies, communities and celebrities.
TGO winners have already posted a wide spectrum of videos, including 'Scott' who presented malaria nets to a village in Tanzania, 'Natalia' who purchased a guitar for a man on the street and 'Fernando' who bought a pair of Toms Shoes.
Social media investor, philanthropist and TGO founder, Victor Kearney, comments, "The success of this experiment rests wholly in the hands of the people who participate. Our premise is that the majority of individuals, given an opportunity, will rise to the occasion and contribute. I really believe that TGO.tv can change the world, one meaningful micro-act at a time. However, individuals will have to step up and participate, or we'll have a very short-lived experiment!"
The Golden Opportunity Team anticipates that tgo.tv will trigger a ripple effect of meaningful micro-acts: small acts that cost little time or money, while creating a worthwhile and positive effect in the world. They believe the TGO experience provides the tools and platform for sharing these individual contributions, creating a unique dialogue and celebrating the power of individual micro-acts -- which in volume can have a macro, world-changing effect.
About The Golden Opportunity
The Golden Opportunity originated with the simple question: Would people, if given the opportunity, rise to the occasion and conduct a meaningful micro-act? The only request, whatever participants choose to do with their opportunity -- they film and share it with the TGO community.
The company will function as a low-profit corporation where TGO revenue is funneled back into the company in order to grow the business and drive the mission of TGO: to activate a ripple effect of meaningful micro-acts where participants film and share the creative ways they're contributing to the world, triggering hundreds more contributions. TGO strives to inspire people everywhere to participate more in life, contribute to society and recognize that meaningful acts can be simple, easy and powerful.
Appscout.com -- July 2, 2010
What would you do with $250 and a free Flip Camcorder? The Golden Opportunity wants to know. The new video sharing site offers a monthly sweepstakes to find out. It's a brainchild of philanthropist and social media investor Victor Kearney, who simply wanted to see how people would respond when given money and a compact video camera. Would they rise to the occasion or simply be selfish?
The idea is to create a remarkable video-sharing community made up of "meaningful acts." The site exhorts winners to: "do something, anything, really, no pressure. All we ask is that whatever they choose to do with this opportunity, they film and share it with the TGO community." So far, a few compelling videos have been posted, ranging from using the money to help combat malaria in Tanzania with nets, to a mother sharing her toddler with senior citizens.
You can enter the monthly sweepstakes for a free Flip compact camcorder and the 250 smackers by heading to tgo.tv. That's also where you can watch previous winner's cinematic-philanthropic efforts and comment on them.
Posted By: Michael Muchmore