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What Works, , , , , , — March 15, 2010 11:00 — 86 Comments

How to Get the World to Give a Crap in 2 Weeks

It’s Jehan and Simon here from Who Gives A CrapTM: non-profit toilet paper supporting water sanitation in the developing world. A few weeks ago we reached the $6500 target to become the world’s first Unreasonable Fellows. As a result, the Unreasonable team invited us to guest blog on the topic “How to Get the World to Give a Crap in Two Weeks.” Looking back we realized our winning formula was Message + Plan + Luck – Sleep = $6500.


Short and sweet. To keep our messaging clear, we created our own website – www.whogivesacrap.org – to act as the central ‘hub’ of our marketing campaign. This gave more of a target introduction to Who Gives A CrapTM (and an easier to remember URL) than our detailed profile on the marketplace. Our key messaging was: (1) Pledge now! (2) Help spread the word. (3) This is our concept, we need your help…in two sentences. (4) Go to our marketplace profile for more detail.

Give Something Back. Everything Who Gives A CrapTM will ever do is based on the fact that we don’t really appreciate a lot of the ‘traditional’ development aid fundraising tactics – images of sick children and people asking us for spare change really turn us off! We thought about what potential pledgers would appreciate and decided that we needed to give something back. Without a tangible product the best we could was a good dose of every bad pun in the book (it’s a crappy idea, this will never work in France but who gives a bidet, a quick re-crap, now for some toilet humor, …). We created funny videos, dreamt up humorous media stunts, created a toilet paper tagging Facebook campaign and dug up all sorts of strange and amazing toilet facts and photos from around the universe (mostly Asia!). Did you know the world’s largest toilet can be seen on Google maps satellite view?!

+ Plan

Launch Stage 1: Far, Wide and Impersonal. Due to the ever increasing weekly pledge limits, our launch plan was to create buzz using Twitter and the mainstream media in week 1 and then to engage with our (potentially more generous) personal networks in week 2. After having a HUGE prime time live TV stunt canceled just hours before going to air, the best we ended up with was this photo of Jehan (Simon in the background) in a big Melbourne newspaper:

Launch Stage 2: The Close To Home Push (Pun Intended). Despite our optimism, we didn’t end up raising much in Stage 1. But the hype amongst our family and friends made it much easier to approach them using Facebook and YouTube, and to create email content that would be more likely to go viral. We wrote a list of individuals to approach personally and emailed / Facebooked everyone else that we knew: email first, Facebook as a follow up. The individuals we approached personally were asked to become ‘pledge champions’ with the objective of finding 5-10 additional pledgers – this was responsible for raising thousands of dollars of pledges. Needless to say, we owe these guys BIG!

+ Luck

In hindsight we had a pretty good plan, but we were also very lucky for a few reasons: (1) We have strong personal networks with relatively high disposable income and near constant internet access. This really hit home when a friend in Malawi couldn’t pledge for 4 days (and eventually gave up) because her internet wasn’t fast enough. (2) We have contacts in lots of different areas of mainstream and sub-cultural media. (3) The economy was on our side – the Australian dollar is kicking some serious arse making pledges almost 1:1. (4) Our email campaign went relatively viral. Yes, this is mostly luck. We are still meeting strangers who received our mail out. (5) Finally, Melbourne’s Sri Lankan girls went unexpectedly crazy over the sight of Jehan’s bare legs.

- Sleep

What did we learn? (1) Don’t expect to get much sleep, or to ever complete that to do list. (2) Back lots of horses, some will fail and others will do better than expected. (3) Start earlier than you could ever think is necessary. Some of our ‘failures’ have turned into media ops that we’re now dealing with 6 weeks later. (4) Last but not least, prepare to be amazed by the generosity of both friends and strangers. All of it culminated in what was truly an amazing experience. The adrenaline (and coffee) made up for the over tiredness.

And that’s how you get the world to give a crap in 2 weeks!


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I want to live in a world where every human being can be the master of their own fate, unbound by the chains of poverty, oppression, or injustice.