I received an email from Seth Godin's Triibe letting me know that Seth's had a new book out and that we had a chance to get the book three weeks ahead of the publication date. Now, I love getting (and reading) Seth Godin books. I have the milk carton from Purple Cow and the cereal box from Free Prize Inside on my shelf. My picture is one of the multitude on the inside cover of Triibes. So of course, I jumped all over this.
The catch was that I didn't have to pay for the book, per se. I had to donate $30 to the Acumen fund. Since it was a donation, I actually donated more. Seth's goal was to raise $100,000 for the fund, and get the book into the hands of his biggest fans.
Within two days, he had raised $108,000. And all of us get the book first. Win-Win.
Paypal provides the payment engine and gives away prizes each week. It looks like a great way to encourage people to donate to their favorite charities and to bring their friends and network along with them.
A week before Christmas, the Fruitcakes have collected close to $17,000. The biggest charity has raised a little over $2,000. There's probably a greater good will here, but it's not working as well as Seth's campaign. That might be for two reasons.
With the Fruitcake, the person asking is a friend, not someone we look up to. And it's not clear what's in it for us, except that warm and fuzzy feeling.
Both are great ideas; don't get me wrong. But it's worth thinking about what makes great ideas work.