Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Flattery will get you ... a post

I refuse to be suckered into posting every pitch that crosses through my email inbox, but this one was irresistible for two reasons - first, the writer clearly knew my interests and second, I thought it might be of interest to you.

So, here, in her own words, is the pitch for the community level Neighbor.com "for benefit" campaign for My New Red Shoes:

"I wanted to tell you about a local Bay Area “for benefit” initiative, and ask if you might comment on how it’s an easy way for someone to make a contribution to a local kids’ charity as well as help local businesses while simply doing what people do best – giving an opinion. (It’s also a great use of funds for a start up.)

Palo Alto company, Neighbor, has partnered with Bay Area nonprofit, My New Red Shoes, which provides new clothes and shoes to homeless local kids for school. Through August 25th, for every opinion of a local business or institution that’s written at Neighbor.com using the code SHOES, Neighbor will donate $1 to My New Red Shoes – up to $10,000. This is 10% of the charity’s operating budget and represents a few hundred disadvantaged children going to school in new clothes – and a smile."

Frequent readers will recognize immediately the post's examples of 'sector blur' - the start up company using some of its angel funding to make charitable gifts to a non-profit so kids can go to public school looking good. Kids get shoes, charity gets money, startup gets email addresses, users, and data for their database.

Its a whole new world out there. I just wonder about the pitch made to VC's for startup capital - give us the money so we can use it to entice do-gooders to 1) populate our database (e.g. crowdsource our work) and 2) we will give it to charity. On the one hand, thats a lot of hands for a mere $10,000 to pass through before getting shoes on kids. On the other hand, if the same money builds a useful company and puts shoes on kids, that's a good thing.

The economists call it fungibility. I call it embedded giving.

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