An idea: We need a Groupon for volunteering

Check this out.

What if there were a Groupon for volunteering? Jim Gilliam, one of the most insightful and interesting people I’ve met in the progressive world, has this great idea.

As the organizer, you find a local charity and work with them to develop a “deal,” which is a project that could be completed in a weekend if they just had enough volunteers to help out. Like renovating a community center, or making a newly disabled person’s house handicap accessible. Be really creative, the more interesting and compelling the story and project, the better the “deal.”

An email goes out on Tuesday laying out the deal, and if enough people sign up, the project is on for Saturday (or Sunday). The email could include a link for folks to donate to cover food or other incidental costs associated with the event in case they can’t actually come themselves.

A second email goes out on Thursday with more specific details on logistics, tells everyone about all the people coming (we’re on!), and encourages more people to signup (don’t miss out!), tell their friends, and/or donate to defray expenses. You can even be a little fun with it and gently poke at people that helping someone else might be a great thing to do before they cash in their latest 50% off spa treatment deal from Groupon.

The project happens on Saturday. People are taking pictures, tweeting about it, meeting new people, having fun, and doing something awesome and amazing too. All the people seeing that activity will want to get in on the action next week. You send out an email on Monday with pictures and highlights from Saturday. Then when the next deal hits on Tuesday, people will be less afraid to go. So three emails a week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday.

Once you get some traction, people will start bringing their ideas for deals directly to you. They wouldn’t even necessarily have to be based around local charities, it might end up just being a family who needs help.

Cool, right? Could something like this happen at Brandeis?

Maybe Waltham group could organize something like this. I know I would totally go to “GroupOn’d” events, but I’m too intimidated to join Waltham Group directly. Or maybe a more activist groups could work with nonprofits in Waltham.

The idea is there, the Brandeis community is so tightly-linked through facebook that implementation would be a snap. We just need someone to organize something like this. Any takers? (I could help you set this up, but I’m too busy (and too old) to do this myself)