Hijack in progress

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Under attack from OBX

My fellow Charitocracy donors: There is a hijack in progress.

We are under attack by a local band of generous micro-philanthropists armed with dollar bills and a common goal. And that goal is to raise funds for their favorite local charities in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Those charities feed their hungry, house their homeless, and strengthen ties with their minority communities. And your monthly contributions are aiding and abetting this flagrant benevolence.

Coordinated series of ambushes

On February 4, 2020, Sea Change OBX was nominated by a fermented vegetable peddler from whom I purchased delicious kombucha and kimchi at a farmer's market 4 months prior. (That is the only direct connection Jessica and I have to these hijack attempts, believe it or not!) Then one of the founders of Sea Change, seeing the potential of our platform, conscripted friends, family, and other Sea Change supporters to join Charitocracy and vote. She even handed out flyers to spread the word. February saw Sea Change OBX slowly rise through the ranks and squeak out a victory in its first month, a check for $1262, while recruiting some 3 dozen new Charitocracy donors.

Fast forward to July 1, 2020, when a board member nominated Food for Thought. Same community, same steady rise in votes and almost 20 new Charitocracy donors. They surpassed 2nd place Feeding America, a national charity with similar mission, by a healthy margin. They took home $1447.

And now in August, OBX Room in the Inn had attracted over a dozen more new Charitocracy donors and had risen to 1st place even before the Top 10 were selected. They're only a couple votes away from beating the all-time record of 48.39 votes, set in September 2017 by Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at GHCF. Local charities in OBX seem virtually unstoppable!

How to hijack it back

Is this a marauding gang of do-gooders? A cartel of caring? A bevy of benefaction? And will this madness never end?

That's partly up to you! Do you know how to win friends and influence people? Can you help build your own cabal of like-minded altruists?

Here's a mission outline borrowed straight from the hijackers' playbooks:

  1. Establish objective
  2. Choose a charity. During the 1st week of the month you can nominate a new one. But if you can rally around one that's already nominated, go for it! No need to spread votes even thinner if the charity of your dreams is already on our list. And remember, causes that address needs at a national level may be more attractive to more voters, unless you knock this next one out of the park...

  3. Recruit squad
  4. Have friends already on Charitocracy? Reach out to them with your plan, and friend each other on Charitocracy. But then go further and invite every one of your close friends and family members to join Charitocracy and vote for your cause. Inviting them to like Charitocracy on Facebook or follow us on Instragram/Twitter/LinkedIn doesn't hurt, either. We throw $1 extra in the pot for each new like/follow!

  5. Publish propaganda
  6. Keep your crew informed on progress as you rise through the ranks from obscurity into the Top 10 and beyond. Push out materials promoting your Charitocracy campaign over all media: social, email, face-to-face (sorry, mask-to-mask) conversations, leaflets dropped from planes, whatever it takes! And don't let up until you're victorious.

  7. Call in reinforcements
  8. If you need that extra push over the line, e.g. right before the Top 10, or Top 3, or final vote on the last day of the month, dig deeper into your intel network. Maybe one of your close friend recruits has a friend or 2 of their own they could tap. There's plenty of glory to go around. Just find a way to git 'er done!

  9. World Domination Victory
  10. You won! Clearly you have what it takes. Your charity of choice will reap the spoils. Time to plan your next charitable conquest...

A message to the "enemy"

Congratulations to our neighbors in OBX. I hope you're not offended by my hijacking analogy. You've raised money for the causes dearest and nearest to your hearts. You've boosted Charitocracy's donor count to never before reached levels. And you've done it through no small amount of effort. This is how you conduct a Charitocracy campaign!

However, there is a risk here. Having OBX causes win month after month may (or, almost certainly, will) disenfranchise the majority of Charitocracy donors from all around the country who wish to support causes that help Americans nationwide. Some of them give much more than a dollar per month, and losing their interest and support would reverse Charitocracy's growth and send monthly pot sizes crashing.

So maybe space out your campaigns over time? Or target some national or more geographically diverse causes? Let me be clear: Nothing you're doing is against the rules. Frankly, I'm impressed and super pumped by your enthusiasm. But I'd hate to see the other shoe drop where all we're left with is an OBX skeleton crew competing for a $400 monthly pot.

Any brilliant ideas?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any potential solutions to this hijacking dilemma. I have some longer term plans that will mesh nicely with this OBX phenomenon, but I'm all ears for your thoughts. And OBX folks, we could discuss in person over coffee at my "office." (Outdoors, 6' apart, with masks on in between sips?!)

Charitocracy needs more hijackers. Change my mind.

2 thoughts on “Hijack in progress”

  1. Hijack is a good word to describe what now is happening here. I noticed a shift in voters and causes with the success of Food for Thought and Room in the Inn. It looks like Peace Garden will win this month. My first response was good for the supporters of Food for Thought. Now I see a strategic plan to push a specific local charity forward each month and dominate voting results. To say it makes me uncomfortable is putting it mildly. The local Outer Bank nonprofits that have won are very successful, popular and well run causes. I personally know leaders in all winners. I deeply admire Michele Lewis of Peace Garden. I feel like the only way to fight this friendly or hostile takeover of voting is to go negative. I live on the Outer Banks and resent this provincial approach. If I lived in Michigan or Oregon, I’d leave. This is not some school yard game. It’s a democratic way of helping good causes. It can provide a place for a discussion on philanthropy principles and ethics. Making choices on even a small scale is good for the soul.

    I’ve volunteered in communicating programs and issues on the Outer Banks for more than ten years. I’m not naive to think there isn’t some politics and competing for a finite number of donors.

    It is said there is no such thing as local politics. It is also said all politics is local. People please stop and think about the long term results in your strategy to dominate monthly voting. Think bigger than your back yard. Let’s broaden who is our neighbor and recognize national systemic issues. Follow the example of the Outer Banks Community Foundation. They require specifics on what the $1000 dollar grant is going to be used for. Covid affects programs and services. Room in the Inn is working creatively on how to shelter people safely. They probably have a real need for cash donations. On the other hand, how does Food for Thought work with remote learning and with restrictions on volunteers because of social distancing. What are they going to do with an extra $1300. No offense here.

    It is not my intention to sow discord or accuse anyone of vote manipulation. Well maybe that’s not true. Vote manipulation is exactly what is happening. Please don’t ruin a good thing.

    I will leave if voting manipulation continues. I’m not going to fight back by creating my own team. This is not a school yard game. Tribalism is everywhere. Democratic voting is under threat and I don’t need a reminder here. Let’s build a diverse and broaden community.


    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Nancy!

      I’ve been giving this lots of thought. On one hand I’d like to encourage the level of engagement and recruiting efforts I’ve seen this year. Charitocracy had been coasting along with a sustainable level of donors, but with not even 50% voter turnout. We had a very diverse mix of causes winning. But Charitocracy had become somewhat… sleepy.

      Seeing a group of donors band together and work the system, all in the name of great local OBX causes, has been more heartening to me than anything else. They’ve shown me that it’s possible to grow Charitocracy and have over a hundred voters consistently voting month after month. It’s a model for how Charitocracy is meant to work. Except for the strictly regional “my own backyard” focus.

      I am seeing cancellations and I am seeing donation reductions in other parts of the country. So I need to do *something* to “fix” this. And I think I have a decent solution that will make everyone happy.

      What if I spin off an OBX-specific version of Charitocracy? Only local OBX causes could be nominated there, and no longer on the original national Charitocracy. We could probably get a whole lot more locals to join up, and hopefully match or exceed the national monthly pot size in time.

      Does that sound like a good solution for everyone? No small amount of work for me, but that’s what I’m here for. 😉

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