According to Bell Canada, today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. The company launched an initiative that donates to Canadian mental health programs each time you make a long distance call or send a text (if you’re a Bell customer), and each time you tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk.
This program is part of, according to the company, an “unprecedented multi-year charitable program dedicated to the promotion and support of mental health across Canada” amounting to $50 million. It’s a worthy, topical cause. And, of course, companies aren’t obligated to engage in this kind of corporate philanthropy.*
Bell has been very successful in promoting the project. As I write this, they’ve counted about 4.5 million texts, tweets and long distance calls. Promotion is easier, of course, when you own “one of Canada’s largest privately held media companies which owns the Canadian television networks, CTV and CTV Two, along with 30 speciality television channels, Bell Media Radio which operates 35 radio stations across Canada and sympatico.ca”. In any case, if you live in Canada and consume any media today, it’s going to be hard to avoid Bell’s message.
It’s important to be a thoughtful consumer, and to consider what Bell’s motives are for the Bell Let’s Talk program. Consider the following:
Today, Bell offers its customers extra incentives to use services like texting and long-distance calls, from which Bell generates revenue.
Bell is paying $0.05 a tweet for brand exposure, thanks to its cynical use of the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. This amounts extraordinarily cheap advertising.
That advertising is made cheaper by the fact that Bell can write off all of its corporate donations.
Bell’s charity partners aren’t exactly front-and-centre on their program site. They’re buried at the bottom of a couple of pages, and haven’t been featured on the program’s Twitter account at all.
Make no mistake–Bell Let’s Talk is first about promoting Bell, and secondarily about raising money for or awareness about mental illness. If my experience with similar projects is an indicator, Bell has a fixed amount of money to give, and they’re going to donate that money whether or not they generate an adequate number of tweets, texts and calls.
I’ve worked on projects similar to this, and am familiar with the tensions between corporate interests and charitable activities. Compromises are made, and strings are attached. But, if this is the way forward for corporate philanthropy, then we must play by the rules that the corporations set.
I do wish that Bell had, at the very least, done the following:
Instead of declaring their very own branded day, they could have run their campaign around the universally-recognized WHO’s World Mental Health Day, on October 13.
Instead of shoehorning their brand into the hashtag, they could have then used #worldmentalhealthday, like everybody else.
They could have chosen not to tie funding to services they want consumers to use, like texting and long distance calls.
They could have made their partner charities the heroes of the campaign, and prominently featured them on their site.
I applaud the other donations and support from Bell for the issue of mental health. They seem worthwhile and wise. Bell Let’s Talk Day is neither.
Movember is the annual excuse to grow ridiculous facial hair masquerading as a charity event. As you no doubt know, it’s a month-long moustache-growing-thon where people raise money for prostrate prostate cancer and related men’s health issues.
James cajoled me into becoming an assistant captain for the Digital Vancouver team. I’m not sure what being assistant captain involves, but there it is. If you’re a Vancouverite and participating in Movember, feel free to join our team.
But here’s the thing. I’ve never had more than three or four days of facial hair growth my entire life. So, I thought it would be fun to grow a Novembeard for the month, and maybe shave it down to a moustache on the last day.
That’s the plan. I did the big Shave Down today, so that I can start the month with a clean slate. Here’s a bad photo, just to document Day #1.
I’ve been looking around at beards over the past few days, and asking bearded men about grooming practices and such. Should I grow a Sedin? Or maybe A Galifianakis? The latter is a tall order for 30 days, methinks.
I’m going to try to raise $1000 this month. You know what that means? If you can spare a few dollars (or, you know, more than a few) for men’s health research, please consider donating. I’d be much obliged. Plus, you know, they’re tax deductible.
On a related note, I’m also looking for facial hair grooming advice and best beard practices. All opinions welcome.
Today is the day of the (does it get a definite article?) Twestival, a kind of Twitter-powered meetup in over 175 cities around the world, in support of Charity: Water. It’s a terrific idea, and the best example yet of a non-profit organization or charity wielding new communications channels for good.
Here’s the blog for Vancouver’s Twestival. The event will be in the Opus Hotel in Yaletown, organized by Rebecca of Miss604 fame.. I’d thought about organizing one in Victoria (as that’s where I happen to be today), but ran out of bandwidth.
Sameer points to this effective ad for Charity:Water featuring the hotness that is Jennifer Connelly. Fetching celebrity + hot social media trend = victory.
For whatever reason, when I hear “Twestival”, I think of the prologue from Into the Woods.
Since most NHL players switched to graphite sticks, there’s been a bit of a plague of broken sticks. Rarely do I watch a game where at least one stick isn’t broken.
Here’s a simple idea for a charity campaign: every time an NHL player breaks his stick in a game, he donates the value of that stick to a particular charity. Maybe a group of charities get together, and the player can choose the one he wants to support.
How often does a given player break a stick in a game? It feels like there’s, maybe, two broken sticks a game. There’s 40 players in a game, so the odds of breaking a stick are 1 in 20. So does the average player break four sticks a year? If so, that’s $1200 a year. Multiply that by roughly 600 active players, and you get $720,000. Not an insignificant sum.
But the real money would be if they promoted and extended the program into recreational hockey. Maybe beer league players each agree to donate $20 per broken stick. According to Wikipedia, there are a million registered players in North America. That’s a lot of potential cash.
Actually, I take back the ‘player chooses the charity’ model. Using the Nothing But Nets model, I’d pick a very specific charity, something that I could clearly associate with the whole stick thing. Maybe something around planting trees? Of course, 95% of professional players use sticks made out of graphite, not wood, but the gist is there.
Kris has contributed some prints to the Art of Giving art exhibition and silent auction at the Orb gallery. It’s not a fundraising event per se (the event name seems a tad misleading), but 20% of the proceeds go to charity.
Joe has assembled a wiki that is “a collection of case studies/examples of nonprofits & social change makers using popular social networks for social change.” A very useful resource if you’re in that space. The wiki is part of Joe’s preparation for the talk he’s giving in Vancouver tomorrow night.
The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time at a maximum speed of 45mph, a feat that would take the player 8 hours of continuous play to complete, as the game cannot be paused.
The bus contains no passengers, and there is no scenery or other cars on the road. The bus veers to the right slightly; as a result, it is impossible to tape down a button to go do something else and have the game end properly. If the bus veers off the road it will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time.
Thus far, they’ve raised nearly US $15,000 for Child’s Play, a charity started by gamers that raises money for “toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hospitals across North America and the world”. I sent them $10 just for their tenacity.
Gillian asked me to mention that she will once again be participating in The Underwear Affair, a BC Cancer Foundation fundraiser for fighting those below-the-belt (prostate, colorectal, ovarian, testicular, bladder, cervical, and uterine) cancers:
I am doing the event again this July 7th, though this time I will be doing the 5K walk due to physiotherapistÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s orders that runningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s out. However, this means that people will be able to see my near-nakedness more clearly, which is way more embarrassing than when zooming past them at lightning speed.
That’s a bit disappointing, because I was going to say that a bonus is reading about how badly she injures herself during these runs. Alas, this year we’re going to have to make due with the underwear photos. There’s no word on whether the team uniform will change for 2007.
Think of what’s in your pants, and the pants of your family and friends (as if you’re not doing so already). Go forth and donate.
On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Britain. On the following morning, Italian bombers attacked Malta (then a British colony). Lonely Planet Malta picks up our story:
The only aircraft available on the islands on June 11 were three Gloster Gladiator biplanes–quickly named Faith, Hope and Charity–whose pilots fought with such skill and tenacity that Italian pilots estimated the strength of the Maltese squadron to be in the region of 25 aircraft!
Did the Italians ever acquit themselves well during World War II? I only ever seem to hear about Italian defeats.
Anyway, the story of Malta during World War II is fascinating, and I’d love to read a book length account (the aforementioned Lonely Planet recommends Siege: Malta, 1940 – 1943) of that period.
If you think the London Blitz was bad news for the British, consider that in 1942 the island suffer ed154 days and nights of continuous bombing. That compares with 57 days at the height of the aerial attacks on London.
Though the island was constantly attacked for three years, they never surrendered, and provided a critical tactical advantage for the allies in the Mediterrenean.