12 March 2007

Two Degrees of Separation

Last weekend, I had a two-degree of circular separation incident.

At our annual Bowl-A-Thon fundraising event for camp, I put out a notice that we were desperately looking for a new Treasurer. One of our most fabulous camp counselors, who has been with the project since the beginning (both a kid from an LGBTQ family and LGBTQ-identified), and had put a team into the Bowl-A-Thon, introduced me to BoyX. BoyX looked familiar, talked familiar, and was just in general familiar. Together we unearthed that we went to different universities at the same time. Then, the puzzle was solved.

Separation formula

BoyX – Camp Counselor – Me

Me – Best friend – BoyX

BoyX was the mysterious male that my best friend had a crush. I remember orchestrating several evenings out so we could casually bump into BoyX in an “effortless manner.” The only thing I cannot seem to remember is if we just stalked BoyX for a month or if BoyX and my best friend had actually gone on a single or multiple dates at some point in time.

I write all of this in an ode to tangential thinking that has been invaded by worlds merging by Kevin Bacon pop cultural references. The six degrees of Kevin Bacon has been around for a long time now. And now, Kevin Bacon is playing on the game to help fundraise for charities through SixDegrees.org.

Basically, the site is about social networking (think MySpace) with a twist of charitable conscience. You can create a badge and through this badge you connect to your charities of choice, raise money for them, and learn about the charitable causes near and dear to your heart and those of other celebrities. It calls on the average joe to become a fundraising celebrity.

Right now, the site is running a challenge to provide a matching grant of up to $10,000 for the top six charities. Now, what’s interesting in the end is that it isn’t the dollar total that matters (well, at least once your past the $10,000 mark cause you do want to maximize your matching), but the number of people who donated. Because it’s all about who you know and the number of people you can motivate into giving.

What I love about this is the mixture of pop culture and charity with a dash of celebrity.

I learned about this from Family Pride (now on their mailing list after having attended the not-so-great OutSpoken conference in November, in the sense of not what I expected, but it was another two degree of seperation that got me here) which is participating in the challenge. As of today, they’re ranked 3rd.

Here’s their badge - nicely designed and eye appealing and user friendly - which won't embed in the page.

This is yet another organization that I admire for their smart and savvy fundraising copywriting. They are really good at creating a narrative, pulling on the heartstrings, and motivating you with multiple calling points for action. Albeit, they engage in too much virtual fundraising for my taste, I’d love to be able to emulate some of their donor building and fundraising strategies if we were to secure some high end supporters for camp.

But alas, SixDegrees.org is yet again another American exclusionary phenomenon in which we cannot participate.

I just wish, yearn, and hope that some fun and innovative fundraising initiatives like this could be launched for Canadian charities. Puhlease!

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