Skip to main content

Window's Live Messenger and Multiple Charities

Tech Companies: Steal This Idea from Mr. Softy!

I’M intrigued by the new cause-related marketing campaign Microsoft is promoting right now called the “i’m Initiative.” Sign up with the i’m Initiative in the United States and every time you use Window’s Live Messenger Microsoft will make a donation to one of nine designated charities.

The money for the donation comes from splitting ad revenue, which echoes the way Seth Godin’s makes charitable donations.

As currently constituted the nine charities are: American Red Cross; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; The National Aids Fund; National Multiple Sclerosis Society;; The Sierra Club;; Susan G. Komen; and UNICEF.

The most recent survey of IM users that I’m familiar with comes from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, published in September 2004. They found that 42 percent of American Internet users, or 53 million people, used IM. The heaviest usage is among Gen Y (age 18-27). Pew reported that 46 percent of Gen Y used IM more than email and that the largest portion of people…35 percent… who use IM for an hour or more a day are Gen Yers.

In short, IM appeals to Gen Y the way a welcoming barnyard appeals to farm animals.

Microsoft’s signup page is certainly illustrated with Gen Yers, leading me to believe that’s their target with this promotion.

There’s a lot to like here. There’s no cap on the amount that can go to one of the nine charities, but all are guaranteed a minimum of $100,000 this first year. Likewise, as of right now, the i’m Initiative will be a permanent part of their business plan. That, too, is reminiscent of They've also built in a capacity for Live Messenger fans to spread the word virally using the theme "i'm making a difference."

I have two small reservations.

The mix of charities is a curious one if they are indeed targeting Gen Y. The Red Cross, MS Society, UNICEF… and to a lesser degree the Sierra Club and Susan G. Komen… are slightly fusty choices. I’m not saying they’re unworthy of the program’s support (or your support or mine, for that matter). Only that these causes are most likely to appeal to an older generation. But maybe Microsoft is just hedging its bets that older people will sign up, too.

My second reservation has to do with having to choose just one charity to support. Unless I’m missing something, it seems to me like it would be a simple matter to allow someone to support multiple charities at once; say, The Sierra Club and Or, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Why not allow the option to split on a percentage basis the revenue generated by each call among multiple charities? Or, why not split it by month such that UNICEF gets the proceeds from your messaging in January, the National AIDS Fund in February, etc.?

I'M in hopes that this promotion will fly. Because just as Mr. Softy has borrowed a page from Squidoo, there will be a lot of web-based endeavors that will steal from Microsoft if it works.


I think it's great that Microsoft is using a business goal to stimulate a charitable goal. I just wish they'd use the technology available through the internet to point donors to all of the charities working in the US or the world, and let donors choose which ones to give to.

By picking the few brand name chariteis on the list the rich get richer and the small non profits working in neighborhoods all over the world continue to struggle to find resources.

This could change if doners were pointed to directories listing all chairites, with sort features that could narrow down choices by cause, or by zip code. Thus, if someone chose a zip code of Chicago without a Boys & Girls Club, maybe other youth serving organizations in that area would get some help.

I host a Program Locator at that illustrates how maps and databases could help donors focus on all charities in a single category in a big city, rather than just the few brand name groups.

There's many areas where this same concept could be applied, and would lead to a better distribution of resources to more place.
Stas said…
We have exactly what you seek. We have a search engine that benefits charities. Most of the money on the internet is made by search engines. What we've done is set up a search engine with 2 added features. First, the ad revenue we collect is shared with charities. Second, you can select which charity you want to benefit. It is no cost to you or your favorite charity and if your charity is not in our databesa, you can add it. It's called I hope you like it.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…