There’s been a lot of hype in the news about Bitcoin recently.
It’s easy to dismiss it as a bubble, but it’s worth spending a little time thinking about what it is, and what it could mean to fundraising.
Because it is a truly online, digital currency transfer of Bitcoins from one place to another, anywhere in the world, is almost completely frictionless and, as drug and gun dealers have learned, entirely anonymous.
At the moment, when we make an online payment, companies like WorldPay and PayPal help out.
They act as an intermediary between our bank, the Internet and another bank, and, not unreasonably, they take a small cut for their hard work.
And making a global transfer, with the likes of MoneyGram, will incur even higher charges.
This is why Bitcoin could have an interesting impact on the way charities operate and the way they raise money.
If Kiva taught us that donors want their money to go directly to the people that need it, and text donation has taught us that people want it to be very easy, then surely the emergence of a totally digital, frictionless, anonymous currency could change everything?
The school that needs books, the community that needs vaccines and the farm that needs an irrigation system will all be able to make their case and get the help they need without anyone getting in the way to slow it down, or take a cut.
A donation could be in the hands of the people who most need it within seconds of them asking. It would be as easy, safe, and anonymous as dropping change in a collection bucket.
Obviously it won’t happen overnight – but it will change things.
Someone will come along with a proposition that is more immediate, more donor-led and better value than what traditional charities can offer.
And, in my mind, that’s worth having a think about.
I, on the other hand, loved it.
It reminded me that there are moments of pure unadulterated joy in our world and it made me a want to drink a Coke.
I loved the fact that pretty much anyone who works in our sector would have at first thought the ad was actually for a charity (anyone else expect to see a Race for Life logo at the end?)
When I first saw it I was convinced it was another bad charity ad.
As Isobel said, it falls short of saying anything worthwhile. But I think Coke can get away with it, they only have to sell fizzy drinks.
A charity ad, on the other hand, must never fall short of saying something worthwhile or showing me how I can do something.
Too many charity ads don’t clearly show the problem and the solution and exactly what I can do to make things better. And because of that they fail.
And if you are a fundraiser or charity marketer reading this and feeling a bit miffed that Coke is stomping into our territory, then good.
It’s a reminder that we all need to work a lot harder to get our message over to an audience being wooed by feel good ads from the likes of Coca Cola.
Now, if you aren’t sick of Coke, then have another watch of their wonderful 1971 ad, I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.
PS. I’ve used a Pepsi logo to create a bit of balance on what is becoming a Coke heavy blog. At Open we also drink other popular fizzy drinks.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this advert, which stopped me in my tracks – although probably not in the way its makers were hoping for.
The children’s choir, ‘running for cures’ and random acts of kindness convinced me, right up until the end, that I was watching an advert for a charity. So Coca-Cola’s logo in the final few seconds was jarring to say the least.
Of course, a philanthropic, saccharine tone isn’t unusual for big brands like Coke. And it’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about it. But the whole thing left a pretty sour taste in my mouth.
So, why? Well, the uproar Coke has caused in its sponsorship of the current winter Olympics – and its total silence in the face of Russia’s anti-gay laws. This advert causes its share of controversy for dropping the scene showing the gay marriage in Ireland. It’s spineless on both counts – you’d hope that if they wanted to make a statement they’d at least stick to their guns.
What I also found unsettling was the total appropriation of language, imagery and tone that a charity would use.
It’s flattering that corporations are lifting messaging that shows they ‘believe in a better world’. And we know that appealing to people’s emotions are crucial – not only do emotions have an impact on the decision-making process, but they have long term impact. And our sector is, after all, about long-term loyalty – which we know leads to legacies.
What Coca Cola really fall short of is saying anything worthwhile. Ultimately, all they’re saying is ‘Life’s not too bad, look on the bright side’. And whilst that’s nice, shouldn’t it be about enacting some real, positive change?