Be Lazy…For the Good of Humanity

By Simon Dunne

Thanks to a wave of socially-minded crowdsourcing platforms, laziness is suddenly legit.

Kiva opened the door in 2005, allowing individuals to contribute small loans, donated electronically, to entrepreneurs throughout the developing world. Together, these loans have funded hundreds of thousands of small businesses and helped pull many families out of poverty.

Since then, doing good has become easier than a Google search.

In the wake of Groupon – the daily deal service that flaunts the power of the online crowd –a host of socially-minded deal slingers have emerged.  First among them is the Portland-based copycat CauseOn, a deal service that does everything Groupon does plus gives 20% of its revenues to a good cause.

If that still feels like a lot of work, there are even easier ways to do a good deed. The Hunger Site translates clicks into cups of food for the hungry.  Sponsors pay for the food in exchange for advertising and e-commerce services on the site. Literally, all one needs to do is press a button to help the hungry.

The corporate world is taking note. Pepsi launched its Refresh Project in 2010, offering people the chance to submit and vote on ideas to make the world a better place. The top vote-getters are awarded funding from Pepsi, from $5000 to $250,000. The program has been a huge success and Pepsi plans to bring it back for 2011.

Naturally, Facebook is becoming a key platform for socially conscious crowdsourcing.  A great campaign from the Credit Unions of B.C. called Be Remarkable invited people to tag themselves in a photo of their neighborhood; for every tag, the Credit Unions would donate $1 to a cause in that particular neighborhood, allowing people to contribute  in their own backyard.

Another promising campaign tying Facebook users to non-profits is the current ‘Likes for Bikes’ campaign from Specialized. The program is as simple as it sounds:  Specialized donates a kid’s bicycle to its partner CYCLE Kids for every 1000 likes it receives on its fan page in the next six weeks.

Consumers are responding well to these types of campaigns, an encouraging sign that will push corporations to out-muscle each other for social supremacy.  Conscious crowdsouring is part of a larger marketing trend that goes beyond simple announcements, or even tw0-way communication,  and towards having a positive impact on the lives of consumers and the issues they care about.

While this may not be shovel-in-the-dirt volunteerism, the viral nature and collaborative impact can mean big differences from small individual efforts.


Simon Dunne is a freelance Behavior Change Specialist, motivating consumers to make smarter choices for the environment.

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