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May 2010

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Hey Beth,

Though she's on vacation until January 6th, I'm emailing this to Kim Davis at JP Morgan Chase Foundation. Don't know if she's checking in during the holiday, but you never know who might be checking the public pulse. Especially if you're a big bank who is at risk of becoming a poster child and branding agent for all that's wrong with Banking, capital B.


John Haydon

I heard the NPR segment (selfish giving) and agreed with a psychologist who commented that a healthy, happy culture is one where people give freely without expecting anything in return. They give because it's the right thing to do.

As you know, I was in DC for the Share Our Strength conference and interviewed Ed Nicholson from Tyson Foods. He shared how Tyson has been fighting childhood hunger for 25 years. 25 years to me demonstrates sincerity that goes way beyond what we see today in cause marketing.

Beth Kanter


Thanks so much for sharing your video and your work with Ed. As many readers of this blog know, I'd had the pleasure of working with Ed Nicholson at Tyson on a couple of projects, including the comments for food donations last holiday season. That's why I recommended him last year to Fast Company for their profiles on innovative giving

Beth Kanter


The offer stands for a guest post from them!

Ami Dar

Hi Beth,

Thanks for the great summary/timeline. One thing I would add (full disclosure: is among the 100 who made it to the next round), is that while I agree with much of the criticism that has been voiced, I also want to acknowledge that Chase TRIED something new here.

Innovation in the funding world is pitifully rare, and regardless of what one may think of their motivation, they tried something new and big and bold. And so while I want to see these crowd-sourcing attempts (and other innovations) get better and better, I would hate to see them to stop altogether because people get scared of a possible backlash. So yes, they could have done this better - always true the first time any of us does anything - but at least they DID it - and most corporations would have not had the guts to even try.

Have a good 2010!


Beth Kanter


Yes! You're right - and what a great teachable moment they have to talk about their experiment, taking risks, and dealing with the lack of control! They also have an opportunity to shape a conversation about social media infused online corporate giving or whatever want to call it.

PS I saw Idealist - was delighted! Congrats and good luck on winning a big prize

Chris Noble

Great post Beth. I think it's unlikely that these things will go away for three reasons: -1) contests, sweepstakes and other promotions have been around since advertising began. 2) merging charitable pursuits with your marketing campaigns is a proven way to do well and do good for corporations. 3) Social media makes it easier than ever for supporters to engage on behalf of their causes. So these sort of contests are with us for quite a while.

They do need to evolve though, better transparency and more control in the hands of the crowd are needed, as you and others have stated. What I'd like to see in the next evolution are contests that are driven by more than just "click and go" behavior. Suppose competitions in the future are weighted by level of engagement. Not just votes, but hours volunteered, dollars raised, other metrics that show an active support base and also drive the NPO's goals whether they win the competition or not.

That was one of my favorite things about the Case Foundation's Giving Challenge - every competitor moved forward on their funding and awareness goals. That's not true for most of the other challenges out there - even the one's our company has run. ... See More

I'd like to see this change in the future, and to help change it, of course. Competitions which help activate the donor and supporter base will always be useful to the NPO, and to any supporting Brand.

Thanks again Beth, for watching...and talking...about the cutting edge of social media / social good. And Happy Holidays!



David F.

One thing that I haven't seen discussed much is the effect on the nonprofit's brand when particpating in this kind of beauty contest. This may sound elitist, but I was surprised to see some of the organizations who competed for what was clearly intended to be a contest for small nonprofits with a local impact on their communities. I mean no disrespect to Ami and the great folks at Idealist, but I was surprised to see them competing. The contest seemed pretty clearly aimed at "local" smaller npo's.

It's a bit like those short story and poem contest where a published author submits and wins. You say to yourself: "Hmmm, what the heck is Paul Auster doing competing with the 20-year-old undergrad who wants to get their first publication?"

I'm sure I'm not alone in this perception.


This is a great opportunity and challenge now for Chase. Like many organizations, they want to take on a great new idea and do good, but don't have the internal alignment and internal trust quite in place yet to easily make this happen. Its a fundamental problem with large orgs that have a big huge ship to turn around.

Here's hoping they can make an honest attempt to take this teachable moment and learn, and that we give them the chance to redeem themselves.

Beth Kanter


Thanks for your thoughtful response here on contests. I think the discussion that Case Foundation is organizing will be helpful field wide.

Chase has a huge opportunity to take a thought leadership role in the discussion on online contests, doing well by doing good, best practices w/social media and cause marketing - but radio silence doesn't promote learning!

It's unclear whether or not they're monitoring their brand or not.

They could come out looking great if they acknowledge the feedback and use it to reshape/design the execution of phase 2 of their contest.

Chris: If this was one of your clients, what would you be advising them?

Craig Weinrich

I'm hoping that the backlash from the nonprofit crowd won't discourage other corporations from doing this type of "giving." What if another corporation was putting together something, but didn't want the negative publicity from trying to do good.

I agree with Ami, that we should give props to Chase for trying something, and those 100 organizations that are getting $$ are most likely to really appreciate this contest.

But, yes, there are flaws; hopefully other corporations can take their queue from Chase and learn from it, and hopefully find a way to make their online contests more than just a popularity contest for a fixed number of contestants. (My organization, a Chase grantee, wasn't in the original list of organizations, for whatever reason!)

So kudos to Chase and now Pepsi for trying something new and different! Let's not begrudge the corporations for trying something. Nonprofits should then continue to develop the relationships with the funding world that, really, is the key to success in sustainable fundraising!

Beth Kanter


I don't think we're begrudging - we're just trying to make sure their time and money invested in such contests and experiments really ends up making a difference.

I don't think would discourage them - generosity and giving is new the marketing strategy. Have you read Rosabeth Moss Kanter's book? It does help their bottom line - assuming they execute it using already known best practices!

Chase has a great opportunity to take the bull by the horns and be a leader in this space -- unless they prefer to stonewall.

Even a small step, like adding a leaderboard to the second phase of the competition - would be great. A big step would be to be a thought leader in the conversation about reshaping philanthropy.


It occurs to me that Chase could fix this problem very easily:

1) By publishing the true leaderboard, with an indication of which orgs were eliminated and why.

2) Give the eliminated orgs the $25k that they earned.

3) Leave them out of the next round, with an apology for not being more transparent about their selection criteria earlier in the process.


Hi Beth,

It’s been a while since we met at SxSW, but I’ve enjoyed following your work. I appreciate you opening up a forum for dialogue on your recent post about our bold move to invest $20 million in the Pepsi Refresh Project, and the lessons to be learned from Chase’s recent program. It's a pleasure to watch the refinement of best practices in running these types of programs happening in real time. We aren’t exactly sure where this space is going to take us, but with insights from conversations happening across the internet, our foundation, GOOD, Global Giving, our Advisory Board, bottlers, customers, partners, etc.. (the list goes on) and the leadership of the brand; we think the Refresh program is forward leaning.

The good news is that many of the issues you raise have been at the center of our internal planning conversations -- very long conversations. I’d welcome the chance to walk you through our approach – and to have the benefit of any additional insights or perspectives you’d be willing to share. We also plan to participate in the conversations and set up some discussion with the community in the new year.


Beth Kanter


I'd love to hear more about your approach - on the contest design, theory of change, and your crowd management techniques. Happy Holidays


good food for thought - but there are tradeoffs - i think you just made them gun shy from giving - one thing a biz is afraid of is giving that will back fire on them - so don't look to chase to get burnt again - on the other hand @kanter you might want learn also that we need to have a transparency crowd sourced check list - trust agents need to think ahead as to giving their stamp of approval - we need to do our homework and dig and ask hard tough revealing questions that they might not have though of too and also maybe there might be worth organizing a trust agent team that has no leaders and no agenda that looks at what to trust and to be suspicious of and to recommend things to funders or sponsors - for example - i have 250,000 people who follow me on twitter and elsewhere i have to ask these questions rather then assume anything - there is more but as a new yorker i believe a deal that is too good to be true is probably too good to be true - food for thought -

Andy McRea

Beth -
Always appreciate your posts and find this one and the following discussion to be filled with interesting thoughts. I am especially interested your thoughts (and others) about theory of change, and more specifically how to truly shift a statistically significant portion of our population from sitting on the sidelines to getting in the game. I am gambling my (and my families) future on the idea that getting people involved in service (the 70% who currently don’t) will not happen without some personal and meaningful incentive for each of those individuals. I am developing a simple-in-principle, yet complex-in-execution-done-well model of rewarding volunteerism through an online network. This social network and clearinghouse is where offers of life experiences become the ‘push’ to get people involved (and also recognizes those who already are). We have a quick video and more info at ( Any questions on our goals or progress are welcomed at – and I would love to work with you to start a dialog about the concept of rewarding actions that should be reward enough on their own.
Thanks and have a great new year! - Andy

Ed Nicholson

Beth and John
Getting back online after a few days off the grid. Thanks for the mention. It's been an honor to learn from both of you. Thanks for all you do in helping those involved in causes form community.
Best for 2010.

Will Hull - United Cerebral Palsy eCommunications/eDevelopment Specialist

Great post. We decided that we didn't know about the contest well enough in advance to be prepared to compete with all of the other nonprofits gunning for this money. Instead we concentrated our energies on our end of year fundraising strategies. Also, we were in the middle of migrating our Web site hosting from one server to another and reconfiguring how we accept donations. Needless to say, this was the worst possible time for us.

Broadly, about nonprofits, it may have been a bad time for them to engage in a contest as well, seeing that over 45% of donations come in during the month of December for just about all nonprofits (Blackbaud has a report on this fact). As such, it would be a way to distract nonprofits from reaching their goals during the holiday season by asking for a vote rather than a donation.



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