Earlier tonight, a friend of mine linked me to Tyson's latest charity effort: Hunger in the Bay Area - and How You Can Help - and I couldn't help but immediately think it was a campaign worth blogging about.
The concept is very straightforward: nearly 1.2 million people in the Bay Area live near the poverty line and risk going hungry, even more so now in today's economy. As the cost of staples like milk, eggs, and grain continue to increase and government allotments of proteins to food banks in needy areas like California's Bay Area decrease, people are forced to skimp on food supplies so that they can pay for other necessities, like housing. Tyson's solution? An offer to donate 100 pounds of high-quality protein to food banks serving the Bay Area for every individual comment posted on its blog entry - up to 200,000 pounds maximum.
Now 200,000 pounds of high-quality meat is a great deal of food, especially considering the kind. But the size of the donation isn't the most impressive aspect of the campaign. After all - and terrible, though it may be - the Bay Area food banks will have to provide roughly 219,000 meals per day this year. What makes this particular charity effort go beyond the standard bulk donation is the truly interactive, viral aspect of it, achieved through the comments requirement.
Asking readers to participate by adding a comment to the site does more than involve the reader - it likely educates them! While Yoplait's "Save Lids to Save Lives" and The Breast Cancer Site's "Click to Give" programs benefit great causes, neither necessarily elicits a unique individual response. It's easy enough to click 5 times on the Breast Cancer Site's button without learning anything you didn't already know about breast cancer, but when I'm asked to comment on a blog post I'm definitely more inclined to at least skim through the information.
That being said, the blog doesn't really create any barriers, stating that one-word comments are suitable commentary enough. But Tyson's comment form also requires an e-mail address in order to "prevent spam" and additionally asks, "One comment per visitor, please." In doing so, Tyson further demonstrates a genuine desire to inform as many individuals as possible, preferring people to mere frequency. So far the post has garnered over 1200 comments since the blog's publishing on Thursday.
The two things I really love about this campaign are: 1) its involvement of the "consumer," which is what makes it successful as a viral campaign, and 2) that it reminds us that what you're "selling" (in this case, a charitable cause) doesn't have to be "weird" or "edgy" or "funny" to stand out and travel by word of mouth - it just has to be a good idea that people want to be a part of. It just has to be worth telling people about.