October 12, 2009

An inventive cause campaign to fight malaria

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A cause campaign to fight malaria from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Causeitsmybirthday.com raises $16,000, effort continues through Saturday

JD LasicaSocialbrite’s own Sloane Berrent has been a bit busy of late. Fresh off a three-month stay in the rural Philippines doing field work as a Kiva fellow, she and her friend Doug Campbell of Mindshare launched Causeitsmybirthday, a cause campaign with a wild premise: parties in seven major cities on seven consecutive nights to raise money for malaria nets for orphanages and refugee camps in northern Ghana.

Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. It has killed more people than all the wars in human history combined, causing 1 to 3 million deaths per year. And the tragedy is that the majority of those deaths could be prevented with simple actions such as putting up mosquito nets to ward off the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. (This YouTube video explains why nets are so effective in the battle against malaria.)

I’ve never seen an effort quite like this, but Sloane, who blogs at TheCausemopolitan, and Doug pulled it off, working with the small nonprofit Netting Nations to make sure that 100 percent of the charitable donations go toward malaria nets. As of today, they’ve raised more than $16,000 and, even though the seven-city tour is over, you can donate to the cause online through Saturday. (Use the PayPal widget at the left.)

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch the video in QuickTime H.264 on Ourmedia

“People want to be inspired, and they want to be engaged, and they want to be involved,” says Sloane, a force of nature (like our other Socialbrite colleagues). She came up with the idea because she wanted her 30th birthday (last week) to be about giving instead of getting and she “wanted to use birthday as a platform for social change.” It’s a great idea, one that we’ve seen Beth Kanter use to good advantage in recent years, but now the social tools are mature enough to tie together online and offline activities.

Increasingly, sites are helping to connect people so that they meet up in person, and Causeitsmybirthday worked because it gave people a portal to get information about the cause but it also a way to meet offline. (Disclosure: I’m an advisor to the project.) Sloane talks about how social media can be used for grassroots efforts on behalf of any kind of cause.

We conducted the interview at night, outside the Eve Lounge and Kate O’Brien’s in San Francisco, on the sixth night of the seven-city swing through New York, Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle and finally Los Angeles.

Sloane also talks about her recent experience as a Kiva fellow. Kiva now operates in 55 countries with more than 120 partners.

“We hope that by doing this 7-city tour, people will be inspired to do something like this on their own,” she says. Perhaps an event that’s not quite so ambitious, but something that makes a difference.

So do we at Socialbrite.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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