Raising Money the Obama Way

What can we learn from Obama’s grassroots organizing and fundraising efforts?

Last, week I got a call from John Brennan, a college roommate, who asked me to help form a new movement to create more national holidays in the United States. He pointed out that America’s national holiday schedule is abysmal compared with many other countries — especially in the developed world.    The United States has 9 and a random check of Denmark (14) and UK (8), Germany (10)  Japan (17) shows that we tend towards the lower end of the curve.  However, when you consider our limited vacation time (2 weeks vs. 4 in many European countries) John makes an interesting point.

The thesis behind his phone call was that we could organize an Non-Profit organization to campaign for a new holiday.  Early nominees include Earth Day, a day devoted to using less energy, and Teachers’ Day we celebrate soldiers on memorial and veterans day — why not  teachers?.

John believes we could launch a movement and fund it with tiny donations to battle the corporate forces that are certain to challenge us in Washington because they don’t want more paid labor.  The timing is interesting.  Alice Walker encouraged Obama to enjoy his family while in the White House.  Family time may be one of the remedies for the difficult economic times ahead.  Companies that will struggle to find ways of helping their employees during this period may be more receptive to a new holiday.  Of course, Energy and Education will be core issues for the Obama administration.  The timing for John’s movememnt is interesting.

How could people support the new holiday movement?  Typically NGOs form because the affluent donors who found or act as patrons for them.  That’s the 20th century way.  Obama proved that NGO’s can find grassroots support with his campaign.

Of course, NGO’s need a mechanism for payment and people shouldn’t have to even give $5 or $10 for this movement.  Maybe they only want to give a quarter or a dime.  Maybe that should be enough.

And this brings me to tipjoy a web service that was created to enable consumers to voluntarily pay artists, writers, non-profits or anything that folks would like to support.  Think of it as a giant guitar case and web surfers are the passersby with loose change.  Tipjoy is a lightweight application that uses paypal as its payment platform.  Pretty smart.

Here are my questions:  Can NGOs do what Barack did and raise money in a highly distributed fashion to fight for the causes in which they believe?  If so, could Tipjoy be the right platform?  Let the discussion begin.

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One Response

  1. Aaron, you hit it on the head — yes for NGO’s and more. The future is distributed — what Obama did will be understood over time, its not easy, the tools are still rough — but its a huge opportunity

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