The Big Ask


We interrupt normal programming to make way for an important request from our friend Tim Malbon, co-founder of Made by Many:

Okay, so most of our pals will know by now that we’ve been involved with this 50/50 thing for the last 50-something days. It was a ‘somewhat loopy’ idea to try and raise money online to save lives in East Africa by asking a coalition of partners to come together to build 50 little things.

We need your help

Nevertheless, somehow that happened, due to a vast number of inspiring, creative and passionate people in 8 countries.

There are some amazing projects. Projects of every size and type. And there are still projects coming. This week we’ve had three more projects join – we reckon we’re just over 50 now. It’s amazing, but now the hard part starts – and this is the bit where we need you. We need to ask you – in the name of a very good cause – to spread the word about these incredible little web apps, mini-campaigns and digital playthings and to take them into your real-life networks, to the world beyond the overlapping set of agency/geek networks that spawned them.

You know those 300+ people you know on Facebook, and their friends – the ones who aren’t on Twitter and still think it’s a bit weird? Yes, they’re the ones. We need to reach out to Mums and Dads, to schools, to – dare I say it – the analogue people who actually live outside our tiny bubble of self-importance. And we desperately need you to help.

I said it’s a good cause, and it is
Nothing is getting better in East Africa. Children are still dying every six minutes, and 12 million people are still at risk. In fact, the only thing that has really changed is the developed world’s preoccupation with itself may even have deepened. This was always a premise for 50/50.

Our campaign launch video set the scene by describing a world obsessed with natural disasters and banking crises. Well, none of that has got any better either – and in fact we were surprised that UN World Food Day hardly got a mention with Occupy Wall Street kicking off and spreading round the world. “The global protest movement” (as the BBC calls it) is currently pre-occupied with domestic injustice and inequality, and the global context of haves versus have-nots remains somehow invisible by contrast. And yet it is obscene that 30,000 children have died in the past 3 months. It’s a shame that we’re not hearing their cries for help.

Famine is the real obscenity

Great ad from Sadly, the UK advertising standards people have banned it.

But talking of obscenity, you probably know someone who likes to swear – other than me. We’ve got not one but TWO swearboxes taking part in 50/50: The Swearbox and The SwearJar – why not mail this round to some real people? We know people love the idea and understand it immediately – and it makes giving a little bit more fun.

And, yes I said mail – because the other person we all know is the person who still sends Internet links round. My Dad, for example. He’d like the SwearJar.

With so many and such diversity, there’s a 50/50 project with pretty much everyone’s name on it, especially if your name is Mr Fat Planner – that guy deserves a medal for surviving on a diet of refugee camp rations for 50 days. Please pass The Fat Planner’s page around – and ask people to give – because he deserves to raise even more money, and the truth is that people do care and they do want to give. It just takes a little prompting sometimes.

There are so many projects now that it’s impossible to call them all out individually. But one project that’s making a lot of money right now is undoubtedly Phone2Food project from Moonshot in Los Angeles. It’s the mobile phone buyback service. The buyback totals are not being updated on the site, but every phone is worth $150-$200, which means we only need 8,000 to make $1m – and with the new iPhone coming out… we must all know someone who’s going to have at least one spare phone that could save some lives. Probably most of know of several phones lying around in drawers in our own houses and offices.

Another project that’s doing well is the Six Minutes Project – a Facebook app that helps you donate six minutes of your salary. It’s a brilliant idea from The Social Practice and The Kaldor Group in London – takes about 5 minutes to give some money, is easy to understand, but needs to find more people, and people who haven’t already been assaulted by a new 50/50 project every day for the past fortnight ;).

There’s lots more to come
We’ve been profiling some of the projects on the website, so please send that around, and follow the 5050good account on Twitter.

If you know someone with kids, send them Kids Draw For Africa.

If you know someone who likes eating, send them The Good Belly Project, Let’s Not Do Lunch, Tips For Change, or Today I Eat For Africa.

If you know someone who buys apps, books, music or games from iTunes (!), send them Buy Tunes For Africa, or perhaps point them in the direction of The Chemical Brothers’ exclusive 50/50 Mix.

And if you’d like to help more to help us spread the word, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll start mailing you things to tweet and spread as we turn up the volume and more projects go live.

This is an experiment, and we’ve deliberately been very agile. The 5050 site is a Minimum Viable Product – the very least we could launch in order to see what to do next, based on evidence. The idea is to learn and to iterate, and to get better and better at this over time. We remain utterly convinced that with all the amazing projects and people who have become involved in 5050, and with all these different mechanics embedded into digital networks and just waiting to be activated, that we can all work together to turn this into a bigger, broader movement that reaches millions and millions of people, and raises more than £1m.

We’re certainly not scared to try. We don’t really feel there is a choice. Come on, let’s raise some money and save some lives!