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Guest blogger Scott Henderson is managing director of CauseShift,helping organizations think, innovate, and solve problems. You can find him at causeshift.com, his blog, rallythecause.com, or on Twitter @scottyhendo.
“Do you really think you’ll end hunger this way? That seems to be a pretty audacious statement for you to make,” is something we’ve heard a couple times over the past few months.
It’s a reasonable reaction from those familiar with hunger in America. But our response was and remains: We need new ideas based on new realities, because what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked.
Though we live in the land of plenty, hunger is on the rise with 49 million Americans knowing it all too well. That’s 1 out of 6 Americans and has continued to rise despite many people’s efforts. Sadly, we have enough food to feed all of them. Unfortunately, there are barriers that prevent us from becoming a hunger-free nation.
More than click-thru philanthropy So what’s it going to take? First and foremost, we need more people to care enough to take action. Then, we need them to keep caring and taking action until we reach our goal. It's really that simple. Simple doesn’t mean easy. Nor does it mean just a click and “Poof!” it's gone. But, it does mean it's doable.
One week ago, we launched WeCanEndThis.com, a yearlong initiative to spark innovation and a broader engagement in the movement to end hunger in America. This is not a flash in the pan campaign. We are here until we have shifted the conversation and created real, tangible solutions.
What makes this different than most other cause initiatives is that CauseShift, a for-profit firm, is leading the charge. Why would we do this? Hunger, like many causes, is too big for one charity, company, or even the Federal government to end. We need someone who has no fear of failure; someone who can bring others together in new, innovative ways.
Widening the circle We cannot end hunger in America by working in silos. Nor can we end it by launching random, stand-alone cause campaigns. We need to bring together the major national players, local hunger organizations, companies with a vested interested in helping, and people who are highly connected through their digital and real-world social networks.
Together, we need to amplify the issue, reframe the questions we’re asking, and invite non-hunger experts to offer new, different perspectives. That's exactly what we’re doing thru WeCanEndThis.com.
Here’s our team We've brought together Share Our Strength, Feeding America, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Mashable, PepsiCo, ConAgra Foods Foundation, and Tyson Foods to launch this around the South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi). This annual gathering in Austin, Texas, attracts about 12,000 media and technology innovators every March.
To help us stand out from the crowd, we’ve assembled an army of creative agencies and others disruptors to create a yearlong experience that broadens our movement and sparks new ideas and solutions. We’re fortunate to have Clever Development, MediaSauce, CrushRepublic, Goodzuma, YupGrade, Appropriate Inc., and Humongus (formerly Plaid) step forward to help.
Get your attention! The first challenge is getting people’s attention. We realize not everyone cares about our cause, but we know some people do. And, they know others who will help. We just need to offer a creative way to lower the barrier to participation.
In our first 15 days, we’re challenging the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia to rally their communities. People making a promise to act will get to donate a digital can to their favorite state. On March 18 at 5pm ET, we will tally the cans with the Top 10 States each winning a semi-truck load of Tyson Foods product that will deliver 150,000 meals.
Brainstorm solutions True innovation comes from gathering great minds from a wide variety of fields and asking the questions differently. That’s why we’re using expertsourcing to fuel the CauseLab, a 30-day virtual brainstorm. We’re kicking off with an in-person event this Monday as part of the official schedule of SXSWi, with a collection of disruptors and innovators invited to set the bar high.
On March 22, we’ll open it up to all comers with a $1,000 cash prize for best idea and $500 for the best collaborator. With the money we raise in the ConAgra Foods Foundation $25,000 matching grant challenge, our three charity partners will implement ideas created or inspired by what’s submitted. The entire brainstorm will be the first to use the newly launched Goodzuma platform.
And, much more We’re assembling a collection of essays from innovative people representing different industries and professions. Hunger Shift will be a three-part e-book series that will start in April and offer new ideas and perspectives.
Our partners at YupGrade have launched their news gathering application with the theme of Hunger in America. This application, featured in the Huffington Post, rewards people who read and share news stories about hunger.
Square has agreed to provide us with their new payment device for our SXSWi street team to use in processing contributions on the spot. We’re excited to put their system to use and give them real world feedback for to make it better for charities and event-based transactions.
From April to August, we’ll deliver the ten semi-truckloads of Tyson Foods and use the opportunity to showcase the good things already happening in the winning states and their local communities. We’ll work with online and local media to highlight the issue and encourage more to get involved.
In October, we will coordinate a national day of service with events planned in the ten winning states and any other communities who want to take part. As we enter the holiday season, we will launch a new approach to engage the huge wave of holiday volunteers that keeps them engaged for more than one day.
How you can help now We’ve embraced radical transparency in what we’re doing, because we know it will help us improve our efforts and provide other causes with real-world lessons.
Want to tell us how to improve, learn more about our efforts, or experience what we’re doing firsthand? I encourage you to visit WeCanEndThis.com and let us know. You can also follow us on Twitter (@WeCanEndThis) or join our Facebook Fan Page (facebook.com/wecanendthis). Feel free to share our URL using this unique link (http://bit.ly/csfdt11) if you feel inspired to spread our message.
If you want to know the three things we need most, they are:
- Commit to end hunger.
- Brainstorm new ideas.
- Donate your time and money.