Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Twist on "Buy It Forward"

A while back I posited an idea that struck me as a way to help the economy get back on track and to steer people from self interest based consumption to a more selfless based consumption. I called it Buy It Forward (read about here). When I asked for feedback it was clear to everyone that there was a major and insurmountable flaw - fraud and abuse. In retrospect the real problem was one of scale. I was thinking nationally with a region by region focus across a broad spectrum of wants and needs.

Recently I saw an ad on TV that was honoring a gentleman named Charles Best for being someone who has made a real difference in this life. It seems Mr. Best came up with MY idea long before me. The difference was he applied the idea to one and only one concern - school children.

Read this brief synopsis:
Charles Best, a 28-year-old teacher at Wings Academy, a high school in the economically depressed South Bronx. Four years ago, Best started the Internet-based non-profit,, for teachers in New York City. Earlier this year, he was able to expand it for teachers in North Carolina. Here's how it works: Teachers submit proposals for classroom supplies, which are then reviewed and posted on the site. Potential donors can then browse these proposals and, if they choose, fund them fully or partially. Donors then send their financial contributions to DonorsChoose, which purchases the items for the teacher and ships them directly to the school. In return, contributors receive photos of the students using the gift and thank-you notes from the teacher and the entire class.

This is exactly the kind of thing I had envisioned. Without the resources and the technical expertise I could not hope to put something like this together on a huge national basis, but maybe it needs to start small and far more narrowly focused like what Mr. Best has done.

I need to do more thinking on this!