The 50/50 project: what to do now

Last week was amazing. Some truly incredible people got in touch with us - individuals, developers, teams and agencies from all over the world - all of whom want to run projects. This blog post is intended to bring people bang up-to-date with the latest thinking, planning, decisions, explanations and so on. Everything continues to 'evolve' at a frightening rate. 

Tomorrow, we plan to get the first public release of the site live - complete with some example projects (these will be real - but still in progress) live onto the Interwebs. This should make everything a bit more tangible and easier to understand. 

 
Our 50 days start next Saturday 27th August, and ends on Sunday 16th October on the UN's World Food Day.
 
Last week we continued to iterate the site and API, and to think hard about which payment services and aid collection agencies to use in different countries. There's a diagram below to show how that will *probably* work.
 
 
We've also been trying to refine the way we describe 50/50, and explain the different ways people can get involved. I'm not sure we've been very good at describing the different types of projects we're looking for, so we've tried to clarify that (there's nothing like an imminent public launch to crystallise some of this stuff!). 
 
So, here's the latest.
 
50 projects in 50 days to raise millions for famine relief in East Africa 
 
We've debated £1m or £50m. £1m is clearly a drop in the ocean, but we're worried that £50m is so huge some people might be put off, and so we're saying between £1m and £50m now ;)
 
50/50 is a collaborative experiment, a platform of 50 little bets: digital projects created and run by individuals and teams of makers. Each project aims to engage a network of supporters to help spread the word and generate as much money for famine aid as possible. 
 
We hope these projects will be weighted towards 'making' - making playful, shareable things that engage people in a more active and - dare I say it "participatory" way than simply asking for donations. We're hoping to end up with an incredible set of social donation mechanisms, and to refine and iterate these as well as the platform to make them more and more effective over the 50 days.
 
The idea of 50 little bets instead of trying to do just one thing seems like the right way to go because we get 50 chances of something going stratospheric instead of just one, but it also brings together a transient community of really amazing people who want to do something - that may turn out to be its true value.
 
We've contacted a lot of creative and digital agencies to start with. This is mainly because they're likely to have teams with the right kind of skills who are keen to get involved. But we've also been contacting Internet start-up communities, brands, big tech companies, media owners, relief organisations, NGOs and government bodies - as well as individuals. We've been overwhelmed with the response from all these people.
 
There is a undoubtedly a groundswell of feeling that, as empowered digital citizens we can all get more directly involved, that we can do something *as well as* just passively giving, and that together we have new powers to intervene directly, to challenge and change things ourselves, and to make a big difference. The barriers both to becoming involved in more active and direct intervention, as well as to actually making stuff and getting people to use it to donate, are very much lower than they were, say, during the 'Live Aid' Ethiopian Famine in 1985. (The current crisis in East Africa is far worse than 1985 by the way…). 
 
So, we're looking for people to help 'make' projects. And by 'making' I think we mean:
 
 
We are also hoping that 50/50 can provide a focus and momentum around other ideas that might involve big brands and social tech-giants like Twitter. Edward Boches, for example, wrote a fantastic blog post about paying a small amount per tweet through Twitter. As a result, Edward has opened a dialogue with Twitter's social innovation person Claire Diaz Ortiz. This may be a long shot - but it might just work, and if it did it would be massive. A team at Edward's agency Mullen is also working on a project that contrasts the kind of "food porn" that we see a lot online at blogs and in photos, and the reality of a world where millions have no food at all. I think this project plans to use Instagram.
 
The response this week from people all over the world has been both heartening and humbling in equal measure. Thank you to all those who've contacted us to say they'd like to do something. We shall be saying a lot more about these projects.
 
If you would like to propose a project that you would like to run over the next 50 days at 50/50 please drop us a line - use this blog or mail me at tim[at]madebymany[dot]com or Tom or Dan from Good for Nothing at tom[at]pipelineideas[dot]co[dot]uk and dan[at]pipelineideas[dot]co[dot]uk. We need all sorts of help - not just in creating projects, so please be in touch.

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