This morning I read an article about a young man who emailed CNN commentator, Jack Cafferty, about how he used his mobile phone to donate to Haiti. As the story goes, this guy raised $50-dollars while playing poker with his buddies and showing them that they could text a donation easier than they could text their girlfriends.
The next piece I read was about a 20-year old University senior who’s using Facebook, text messaging and online micro-donation mechanisms to run for mayor.
These two actions are yet further proof of how socially aware and politically charged our youth today are — despite what critics to the contrary might say.
Among the many factors for this new era of engagement with youth, I believe the exposure to cause & social impact campaigns has helped punctuate the roles Gen Y and Gen Z see themselves (capable of) playing. Brand partnerships with non-profits invite our kids to care and innovate as social entrepreneurs.
The breaking news today of Haiti’s 6.1 magnitude aftershock — where the death toll is at 70,000 and rising — most of us are well aware that this number may take over 200,000 lives. While a parent’s first instinct may be to protect their children from such gory details, youth online worlds have taken the other approach and are finding new ways to spark digital engagement. From iTunes newly enabled Haiti donation feature, to games for good and virtual worlds, it’s impossible for youth not to get involved. Consider these examples:
GAMING FOR GOOD:
- Zynga, for example, opened a World Food Program fund with 100% of profits going to Haiti. In just 5-days, more than 300,000 players purchased $1.5 million in virtual goods to support relief efforts.
- Bungie, which was opened by two undergrad students in 1991, has urged their players to show their support in Halo 3 by earning a Haitian relief emblem. For every 1,000th player wearing the badge, Bungie will donate $100-dollars (up to $77,000) to the Red Cross.
- Today, Humble Daisy announced its donation of all proceeds from software sales. In a similar model of giving, PopCap donated a day’s proceeds from their store to Partners in Health to aid the effort in Haiti.
- GamingAngels conducted a charitable auction for special prize packs with donated items from Electronic Arts, Capcom, Disney Online and PDP Gaming.
- Sony Online Entertainment offered ornamental purchases in their EverQuest and EverQuest online worlds for the sole purpose of driving charitable funds, with no in-game advantages to the consumer.
VIRTUAL FOR VIRTUOUS:
- Hello Kitty Online is donating to Haiti efforts through a “Food For Friends” guild event which invites players to compete for points and purchase items in the mall which are then traded for donation points. Proceeds benefiting Doctors Without Borders.
- Gaia Online is matching up to $10,000 in donations to the Red Cross by engaging more than 9-million teens and young adults in site forums and message boards to discuss the tragedy.
- Xeko is helping Haiti earthquake victims by having them purchase a virtual emergency kit which translates to a real donation made to Mercy Corps.
- In Second Life, several fundraisers and benefits have been organized
- KooDooZ challenges invite kids to take on social good goals which ask for both real-world and online verifiable actions.
Earlier today, KooDooZ sister-site, Cause4KDZ.com blogged about innovative “real-world” programs to involve youth as global citizens. Some highlights include:
- zyOzy Foundation is helping MBA student, Amy Carol Wolff bring the voices of children together in a three-way partnership between Brighter Way, Citizen Effect and Gallery of Carpet Recording Studio by asking kids to record a video of themselves singing “A Brighter Way” for Haiti
- Nickelodeon launched The Big Help: Help Haiti as a resource where kids could learn about the actions they could take to support a relief organization
- GO Campaign, a KooDooZ partner, is encouraging kids to create “We Care!” cards that can be delivered to Haitian kids along with dried and canned goods
- The American Red Cross Santa Monica Chapter is encouraging youth to participate in a 2-mile run on January 23rd
- Architecture for Humanity is challenging students to consider how they might improve the living standards of 5 billion people with their Open Architecture Network