They tell me that life isn't fair...
The company I work for went bankrupt, and after a year I am still looking for a stable place of employment. A talented mother of three loses a husband, a house and hours of sleep wondering how to make ends meet. A trusting eight-year-old gets scammed by a local car dealership crushing his faith in others. If you raise your eyes from your electronic device, you will see at least one person dealing with unearned injustice -- hopefully you're not looking in a mirror.
During a 1100.7 mile trip to Houston, Texas, I swapped these kinds of stories with a colleague over breakfast. For two hours we told tales of bad luck, and could have gone on all day. However, by the twenty-seventh round, we came to an understanding that should have happened after five minutes in. In all our stories all the "unfairness" was alleviated by one helping hand: a job was obtained through a network connection; a car was fixed by a friend; a business was saved by a small line of credit. Simple things that were done by ordinary people that made all the difference in the world.
But it seems that a we underestimate their power to help. We want to help, but we don't know how. It's like our caring brain is separated from our rational brain, and if those two would just get together... All we need is that connecting piece -- that spark.
I propose that we create a space that provides such a spark. A place that gives a boost of goodness through a helping hand, by righting a wrong, and/or performing a calculated act of kindness. Just a group of ordinary people helping other ordinary people, and posting their efforts on various digital platforms in order to inspire other ordinary people to help more ordinary people. Think of this effort as the epicenter of a goodness virus that spreads puppies and ice cream sundaes instead of bubonic plague.
With special help from super-marketer, Matt, I created a snapshot of what this type of organization would look like. Below is the full proposal. I don't know if it's feasible or if there is something all ready around. It's less extreme than a home makeover, but it could be exactly what the world needs.
So, if you could, please read through the idea. Also, I would greatly appreciate if you leave a comment about whether you think this would work (and why or why not). Your viewpoints could help decide if this is something to pursue or an idea to shelve along side baby dentures and disposable socks.
Purpose: To create an organization dedicated to giving ordinary people a win, while inciting a nation-wide movement for good.
What we do: Network for Good (NFG) specializing in being a catalyst for those that need a helping hand. By utilizing an ever-expanding network of do-gooders, NFG will help people change their luck, overcome minor injustices, and experience general acts of kindness. Basically, if someone needs life to get better, we will be there.
Those that we help will fall in three different categories:
Helping Hands: Every now and then a person’s life can be overwhelmingly altered for the worse because of bad luck. He and/or she could have done everything "right" – checked every box, crossed every “T,” played by the rule book. Life just sucker-punched the jaw, leaving this poor jerk struggling professionally, monetarily and spiritually. House fires, job layoffs, illnesses, accidents, etc. all can have a devastating effect. Sometimes even the best emergency plan cannot prepare for the storm.
NFG will become the helping hand that will bring people back to normalcy. By leveraging both the individual’s network and NFG’s “Do-Gooders," a plan is created that does whatever it takes to ensure that success is made a quickly as possible. Assistance can be monetary, but primarily will consist of finding experts who can help make success last. NFG will continue to offer help until the goals are met and everyone is better off.
Example: Joe was downsized and he has been without meaningful work for over six months. His savings has dwindled and his family is starting to feel the stress financially and emotionally. He has answered want ads and signed up for temp agencies to no avail. While his friends and family sympathize with Joe’s predicament, no one really knows what to do next – including Joe.
Joe’s wife nominates him for NFG and the group goes to work on “Team Joe.” Bringing together friends, family, former co-workers, etc. NFG explains exactly what everyone can do to help Joe out, both professionally and personally. Resumes are collected to give to different HR managers and friends have started bringing over meals, toys for the kids, and Walmart gift cards to help with groceries. The more friends and family that actively help “Team Joe,” the easier it will be for Joe’s family to weather the storm.
NFG also sees that Joe’s resume could use some work, so they contract a professional resume writer. He also is having trouble creating connections, so the organization connects with a corporate headhunter. A corporate fashion expert helps him buy a new, more professional suit and some clothes for both interviews and networking events. Finally, a financial advisor helps Joe and his family set a budget that better conforms to the new reality. After a few months, Joe does land a new job and celebrates with his network – vowing to help if others find themselves in the same situation.
Right the Wrong: While participants in the Helping Hands program have needs that require extensive planning, there are plenty who may need a much lighter boost. Many people have minor injustices that have altered their way of life that could be remedied through intervention from NFG or its network of Do-Gooders. These projects take much less time and effort, but they still can have an impact – even if its just to reaffirm a positive view of humanity.
Example: To get to work. Jodi rides her bicycle. Every day she pedals the half hour ride and locks it up in front of the office building, and then pedals home again. She rides her bike in every weather condition or she would have to rely on the city bus system, which takes twice as long. One day, however, she leaves work to find that the lock was clipped, and the bike was stolen. She now worries how she will get to work, or if she can even replace her bike.
A friend nominates her for NFG and they quickly contact a local bicycle shop to see if together they can set Jodi up with a new set of wheels. The store manager gives a great deal on the new bike, helmet and titanium bike lock in exchange for some good will and free publicity. NFG, the shop manager and the nominating friend all present Jodi the bicycle, with the only repayment to pay it forward.
Calculated Acts of Kindness: The third program type includes doing good for those who may or may not have a deep need for help. Some examples of activities could be helping a high school senior apply for scholarships at colleges, mowing a lawn for an elderly couple, or paying for groceries for an unsuspecting family. These small acts may be the least amount of planning or work, but they could have the most impact on inciting a movement.
The idea of NFG is not just to serve as benefactors for a few individuals, but to start a national movement of good. In order to promote the organization and create groundswell, NFG will use social media and other digital avenues. By creating content – videos, postcasts, blogs, etc – that can go viral, NFG can hit different platforms targeting vastly different demographics. The more content created, the more chance to raise awareness and gain active participants. And since most content can be monetized, revenue will grow as long as viewership grows, which let NFG help more people in more ways. Hopefully, these efforts inspire more people to help others without NFG help.
The following are the platforms that NFG will utilize:
YouTube: The only stipulation that NFG will require of service recipients is that they film their journey and show it on NFG’s YouTube Channel. The short films will not have a set time limit and be shot as “rough cut documentaries.” Each post will tackle a specific time snippet of service (Joe’s appointment with the resume writer; The surprise reveal of Jodi’s bicycle; etc). The goal will to upload at least two videos a week, monetized with paid advertising through Google Adwords program.
Podcast: NFG will produce a weekly podcast that promotes both NFG activity and what good deeds others are performing in the world. Using a round-table format, the podcast should bring personality to NFG members and create a relationship between the organization and fellow “Do-Gooders.” The program can highlight behind-the-scenes stories, rationales on why they chose the people for services, and spotlight those who are not receiving services, but could use some good in their lives. The podcast would be free through iTunes and other podcatchers, but paid sponsorship could be offered. Also, additional content could be offered through Patreon.
Website & Blog: The hub of activity would be the NFG website and blog. Here, daily updates of what we are doing could appear, as well as links to all the YouTube and Podcast episodes. Attached to the website will be a blog that offers more philosophical views on doing good. A series of Guest Bloggers should provide content and connect with their already-established networks. The website can utilize both paid sponsors and Adwords without it comprising NFG’s core mission. If the website and blog is successful, a forum can be created where “Do-Gooders” can interact and discuss how more people can be helped.
Social Media: The main “advertising” for the NFG will go through social media, as it has the greatest chance to inform people of the organization and the YouTube and Podcast channels, while maintaining a constant connection to those who want to do good. Success of NFG will hinge on how well these platforms are developed.
Even though the mission for Network for Good is to give a helping hand, NFG will be set-up as a for-profit company. The main reason is because of how NFG generates revenue for services. A non-profit exists mainly because of benefactors through grants and donations. NFG would like to raise revenue through ads, Patreon, corporate sponsorships and merchandise. Not concentrating on fundraising cycles will free NFG from the endless task of asking for money and allow the company to focus on programming and expanding the network. Also, for-profit companies have less regulations on what they can do to generate content and revenue, which is beneficial as NFG tries new ways to help people on a personal level.
The following are all possible revenue streams:
Google AdSense: Advertising on YouTube and websites usually goes through the Google AdSense platform. Every time a user views an ad (Cost per Mille) or clicks on an ad (Cost Per Click), the content creator receives a portion of the revenue collected from the advertiser. Currently, Google gives 68% of all ad revenue the content creator and pays on every 1000 views (or per click). Ads are also set on a bid system, so the amount of revenue varies.
Example: NPC uploads a video and it receives 60,000 views in the first day. 50% of those views did not skip the ad, giving the video 30,000 paid impressions. Based on what Google bids out the ad for, NPC receives between $54 - $90 for that day. Projected over the month, that’s $1,621 - $2,701. Over the year, the video generated $19,718 - $32,864 (provided viewership remained constant). NPG wants to upload at least two videos a week.
AdSense also directs revenue through automated ads located on the website. These are usually paid out in a Point Per Click cycle, also bid on through Google. Like YouTube ads, Google gives content creators roughly 68% of ad revenue.
Patreon: AdSense can be a significant revenue source for videos and websites, but it can be fairly volatile and depends on how many views and clicks an ad gets and the amount of the bid price. Patreon allows creators to generate a more stable income stream by allowing users to directly purchase content, either on a monthly membership fee or a la carte.
NFG would still offer YouTube videos and Podcasts free of charge and use Patreon for “bonus” content. Other organizations have had success offering uncut, live streaming feeds or more in-depth articles and film snippets. Content creators receive 90% of revenue (5% Patreon fee, 5% average credit card processing).
Sponsorship: As the network grows, NFG can start soliciting for corporate sponsorships for their various digital offerings (website, blog, forum, videos, podcast, etc) and/or programs. Sponsorship will not affect program offering, who NFG decides to help, or views and opinions given through digital content. Sponsors will sign contracts drafted to be mutually beneficial.
Merchandising: The NFG online store will be attached to the NFG website and Facebook page. The store will offer branded merchandise (T-shirts, mugs, etc) that promote NFG, what they do and how they help. Branded items should also serve as a catalyst for the overall goodness movement NFG would like to initiate. Items will either be shipped out of the NFG office or through print-on-demand services.
Along with branded merchandise, NFG will engage with affiliate marketing, either through the online store, or through links with Amazon.com and iTunes. Any time NFG members mention a product through the podcast, YouTube videos, blog or social media, an affiliate link should be published somewhere accessible (within blog post, show notes, etc). Affiliates make up to 15% through referral links.
Crowdfunding: Based on the highly interactive nature of NFG program offering, it makes it a great candidate for Crowdfunding projects. Platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe and Indiegogo give companies opportunities to promote products and ask for funds upfront to defray development and distribution costs. It may be advantageous for NFG to institute a crowdfunding campaign to generate buzz and start-up revenue, provided that the digital framework is already in place. The pledge amount will vary based on what NFG believe they can generate and what rewards it can give to backers.
Network for Good is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana, and all costs associated will reflect the midwestern city’s sensibilities. Because the production is mostly web-based, a city like Indianapolis becomes ideal because costs will be a fraction of those in a coastal entertainment hub.
Congrats, you made it to the end. Please leave a comment if you thing this is a terrible idea. Please leave a comment AND SHARE if you think this is a wonderful idea. The more you comment and share, the more we can show the Powers That Be that this flower should continue to blossom. That is if this idea was a plant. Which it's not. It's a poorly crafted metaphor.
Please comment anyway.
Jack Grubb writes an incredible blog, Losing the Internets, which is read by at least 37 people and over 2,100 Russian SPAM bots. In his spare time he helps small companies find their marketing voice. Jack currently lives deliberately in Appalachia, Kentucky with his wife, two daughters, Jack Russell and a Lego collection beyond compare.