In one of my very
first blog entries
, I commented on a friend of ours who was
using the net to intermediate and connect all of her various circles of friends
and associates, building a large base from which to draw support for her
fund-raising effort. It worked, as she raised several thousand dollars from
people who were one or two degrees of separation away from her household.
In the two and a half years since I first thought
about this kind of volume-to-value chain, I've tracked traffic to my blog via
search engines, various Sun-directed navigation paths, and regular readership.
What I've found is that about one-third of the people who read my ramblings are
regular gluttons for word play punishment. Another third get here because
they're looking for something Sun-specific, click through an internal
Sun page or off of one of our blog aggregators, or they're searching for
a Sun branded term. The final third are the people who didn't know they
were looking for something I wrote but end up here anyway; mainly they're
looking for New Jersey jokes, Veronika Varekova and Petr Nedved gossip,
or something snowman related. Google, Yahoo, and MSN rank the pages, and
something is interesting enough that the searchers stumble into a Sun branded
About a month ago, my son (the hockey player) and I started talking about
ways he could raise money for his mitzvah project, the culmination
of about 7 months of community service work as a "junior coach"
with our NJ Devils Youth special needs teams
and 8-and-under beginner's hockey clinics. Mitzvah projects are part
of his preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, the rite of passage to Jewish
adulthood (pen and pencil sets optional). A common theme in these
projects is tikkun olam, or healing the world, one adult at a time.
The confluence of ideas was pretty simple: many of our DareDevils players
have autism, there are a number of professional athletes (Washington Capitals
goalie Olaf Kolzig and former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie) whose children
have autism, April is National Autism Awareness month and his Bar Mitzvah
date, so putting his money where his mouthguard (or hockey stick) is fit
rather neatly together.
We did what anybody with a laptop and a few spare hours would do:
we built a web site.
On top of a lot of exposition we crafted links to eBay auctions,
PayPal donation buttons,
a "how to give" page with a PO box address on it, and a list of some donated and
discovered items that we could auction off. We just needed attention.
If a website falls in a forest of links, and there's nobody there to
hear it, does it make the "You've got mail" sound?
So we decided to circulate the URL to a few select groups of people:
the coaches and families involved in the DareDevils, a few people
who are hockey heads here at Sun, a few rink rat friends.
Relying on search engines, cross-posting of links, and a
$100 donation to Cure Autism Now's Autism
Town, we started getting noticed. And traffic. And donations.
Three weeks later, the simplest push for volume has yielded great
first to give us the props. And here I thought she was angry at me
for giving her kids noise makers the last time she (and the leaf
nodes in the MaryMary family tree) watched Bubba play
down in her neck of the hockey woods.
USA Hockey's Special Hockey web site had us on the splash page, thanks to
one of our DareDevils coaches.
Frederic Brandwein, who attended the "Miracle on Ice" 1980 Olympic ice
hockey game in Lake Placid, send us two of his Miracle on Ice posters. Just
because. We also got donations from the good folks at Stick Sock.
Out of the red, white and blue, email arrived from Chanda Gunn,
US Women's Olympic Ice Hockey team goalie, 2006 bronze medalist, and a
hockey player with epilepsy. She offered to help. Isn't she the kind of
person you want your young athletes to have as an Olympic role model?
The unofficial Assist From Bubba scoresheet shows about $950 in
donations, from checks and PayPal contributions to MissionFish
driven donations resulting from eBay auctions of donated items
and samples of our private reserve hockey-related stash. We're
continually amazed at the generosity of people we've never met.
It's a social network of a completely different order.