I was recently drawn to a funding program sponsored by a big regional bank. It seemed so easy. Folks were to submit ideas for community projects and 100 would have a chance to receive funding. The project had to collect a “like” on the bank’s Facebook page for each dollar requested up to 500 dollars. No funds for a project that didn’t make their goal.
No sweat, I thought. A good idea would attract enough buzz to get 500 folks to help create something cool in Lancaster. I was in – The Lancaster Mobile Art Cart was born.
I wrote my copy, submitted it and made the cut. I had my daughter draw a picture of the cart for use in the campaign and contacted Jess Slavik Illustration about a sweet graphic. (No disappointment there!) I created a Facebook page for the Art Cart and waited for the voting to begin.
On August 13 the program went live and I shot out a couple of calls for votes via Facebook. Voting was sluggish and I was contacted by a few folks who were wholeheartedly in support of the Mobile Art Cart, but were balking at being part of the bank’s marketing program. I knew the bank stood to get some marketing mileage out of the whole thing, but I was perhaps naive to think that all they wanted was to associate their name with the distribution of warm fuzzies.
You see, to vote for a project you have to download the bank’s Facebook app and expose your Facebook profile to whatever data mining the bank folks are up to. I don’t remember reading about this in the literature, but once I figured this out (thanks, friends!), it felt strange to push for support. For one, many folks in my network weren’t with me on this one. They were willing to write checks, but not give up their details. It also felt creepy to be a part of a larger machine that was perhaps less interested in handing out money and more interested in the details of potential clients. I’m all for a win-win, but things seemed a bit lopsided here.
I very much appreciate the friends of mine who voted for the Mobile Art Cart, but it seems like this type of program isn’t a good fit for many folks who support things close to me. I don’t think I am ready for it either. What I do know is that Lancaster is ready for a Mobile Art Cart – a cart that will bring awesome free art projects to spots throughout the city. So stay tuned for your chance to help the the Mobile Art Cart – I promise I won’t ask for details.