Donation by Action: The New Social Charity Model

rss imageDrew Olanoff was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May of 2009 and launched For every person that follows @DrewFromTV, Drew Carey will donate $1 to Olanoff's charity of choice, LIVESTRONG.

2009 was a heck of a year for technology. In the age of sharing, mini-sharing, and micro-sharing, something unexpected happened: A lot of good actually came out of it. And I was lucky enough to be involved in a real renaissance of caring, action, and good old fashioned awareness-raising.

With the economy in the shape that it's in, bouncing back or not, charitable donations go to the bottom of everyone's to-do list. "I'll donate money to charity next year." That's definitely something I've said, until May 20th, 2009, when I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Being a geek and a sharer, I had one of two options: I could have packed it in and stopped working, tweeting, updating Facebook, and sharing for 6-7 months; or I could take this opportunity to do something good. I could do something that until a few years ago, couldn't be done with such proficiency and impact. I could take you on a really scary journey with me.


Lance Armstrong Tweet Image

Clearly, I didn't opt to hide away. Instead, I started a web site with my friend Mike Demers (who beat Hodgkins himself) called where on Twitter you could blame my cancer for whatever you like. The hook? By doing so, I promised that I would find a way to raise one dollar for each unique person who blamed my cancer for something.

How was I going to do this? I had no idea. But I pledged to worry about that. All you needed to do was take an action and raise awareness about a horrible disease. In the process, I stumbled upon a new "business model" for raising money for charity: Donation by Action. No money needed from you. Just your heart and your tweets.

It took off. Nearly 15,000 people (most of whom had no clue who I was) blamed my cancer for everything from the band Nickelback, to global warming, to losing their own friends or family members to the disease. I had struck a nerve, it was (and still is) powerful. We raised way more than $15,000 for the awesome Lance Armstrong Foundation LIVESTRONG.

During the past 7 months (most of which I was undergoing chemotherapy treatments and felt like garbage), me and a team of lifelong friends from Philadelphia threw a 24 hour "Blame-A-Thon," appeared on local TV stations, CNN, and got picked up by tons of blogs from every corner of the web. This was working. The masses took an action, and I found other people and businesses to donate.

Two Famous Drews

Drew Tweet Image

Looking toward the end of my treatment, I decided to take it to another level. I'm the owner of the Twitter name @drew. It's a pretty neat party trick to say "I'm Drew on Twitter." Recognizing the value of that, I decided to (with Evan Williams' and Twitter's blessing) put my username up for auction to benefit LIVESTRONG. After January 1st, I won't be @Drew anymore, but it's worth it.

There are two famous Drews I thought would bite: Drew Barrymore or Drew Carey. Little did I know, Drew Barrymore publicly stated that she disliked Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet in general, despite dating a Mac (Justin Long from the famous Apple commercials).

While at Starbucks in San Francisco I saw a tweet pass by from someone who goes by @DrewFromTV. It was Drew Carey, the host of The Price is Right.

Drew CNN Image

He had bid the asking price of $10,000, and took it to another level by starting a bidding war with himself — raising the price to $100,000. Then, he dropped the bomb: If Drew Carey got one million followers by December 31st, 2009 he'd donate one million dollars to LIVESTRONG. Even if he didn't get to a million, he'd still donate $1 for everyone who followed him..

That's it. Donation by Action. We set up to track our progress.

Follow @DrewFromTV

Drew Price is Right Image

This story is surely to be continued. Right now, we're cooking up some interesting new things, and setting up our own foundation called Blame Cancer. But until then, be sure to follow Drew Carey, and tell your friends, family, co-workers, and everyone else: One follow = $1 to cancer research and support for LIVESTRONG's Young Adult Alliance.

That price is definitely right!

More social good resources from Mashable:

- 4 Social Good Trends of 2009
- Why Social Media Is Vital to Corporate Social Responsibility
- 5 Essential Tips for Promoting Your Charity Using Social Media
- 20 Ways to Change the World in Only 15 Minutes a Day
- HOW TO: Do Good on Twitter
- HOW TO: Do Good on Facebook
- HOW TO: Do Good on LinkedIN

Reviews: Facebook, Twitter

Tags: blamedrewscancer, donation, drew carey, fundraising, social good

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