May 10, 2009

Global Hug Tour

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Global Hug Tour from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI love stories like this. In Chicago last weekend I met Gail Lynne Goodwin of Inspire Me Today, who told the Business School for Bloggers gathering about her new project: the Global Hug Tour.

Gail and her husband Darryl — an ordinary couple from Boulder, Colo. — were sitting around one day and decided to make a difference in people’s lives around the world by launching an event that combines good vibes and charitable giving with the power of social media.

This fall they’ll be boarding a small prop prop plane, flying it more than 31,000 miles and visiting 50 cities around the world over five months. They’ll do three things in each location:

• Gather inspiration from local luminaries to share on

• Give 2,000 hugs in each of those locations, “literally wrapping the world in more than 100,000 hugs,” Gail says.

• Give away more than $1 million to nonprofit causes in each of those 50 locations. The causes run the gamut from breast cancer and AIDS prevention and treatment to grizzly bear preservation.

Now, here’s where you — and the power of social media — come in: Starting May 11, they’ll begin raising $1 million (it could go higher) on the site. Remarkably, the causes will be funded in $10 increments through the use of through social media, Twitter and other outreach tools.

“One hug in Chicago will feed three homeless people. Two hugs in Cambodia will pay the entire cost of educating a child for a year. 100 hugs in Chani, India, will pay the entire cost of open heart surgery for a child,” she says. “Just in Chani city there are 53,000 kids on a waiting list. It’s a crime to me to think that it only costs $1,000 to save a life. So that’s why we’re doing this.”


“Ten dollars won’t change your world,” she says. “Ten dollars will makes a phenomenal difference in the lives of the people we’ll be visiting.”

Like in other examples of Web 2.0 charitable giving, a donor can choose exactly where he wants the hug delivered and which of those 50 causes he wants to support. Smartly, they’re looking for sponsors and underwriters to cover costs so that 100% of all funds donated go to the cause and none to operating expenses. (Gail, if you haven’t discussed this yet, you should be using Twitter and tools like TipJoy to fund the project rather than just a destination website.)

She pointed to a 12-year-old boy who has raised $5 million for charitable causes, mostly online, and says, “If we really reach out to those who get social media, my goodness, what an effect we can have to make social media social first, but for social causes and social good, in a really powerful way.”

Gail adds: “Social media to me, first and foremost, is social. It’s about us reaching out with love and compassion and connecting to other people. … Share the love. Blog about it, write about it, tweet about it. Pass this on.”

A great idea. We’ll be doing that here at Socialbrite and hope you will, too.

You can embed this video on your own site by visiting the Vimeo page and copying the embed code. We’re interested in hearing about how this campaign spreads through the use of social networks.

Please sponsor a hug here.
JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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