That’s a nice SPP you have on

The SPP, or Signature Participation Project, is a key element of the Transformational Giving process of coaching champions.

If you’re new to the blog or would like a refresher on what an SPP is and what good and bad examples look like, click here and head down the rabbit hole of links in this first post. They’ll take you back through most if not all of the previous posts on this subject.

That most recent post on SPPs was about my vote for the worst SPP of 2010, Movember’s moustache growing campaign.

The campaign’s main flaw?

The, um, tenuous connection between a man’s prostate and his moustache.

That being duly and as tactfully noted as possible, let’s turn to one of my favorite SPPs for 2010, The Uniform Project.

Emma Carew just did a nice Chronicle of Philanthropy piece on the Project (I encourage you to click through so that you can see the video that follows that article):

Inspired by the school uniform she wore as a child in India, the New Yorker Sheena Matheiken has been wearing the same dress for 273 days in an attempt to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation, an Indian charty that supports children who would otherwise be unable to attend school.

She and her designer friend, Eliza Starbuck, made seven identical black dresses, and Ms. Matheiken has been wearing one every day with the addition of different accessories, with the goal of doing so for one full year. The Uniform Project, as they’ve dubbed it, has raised more than $53,000, or enough to keep 147 students in school, according to a widget on their Web site.

Ms. Matheiken calls the project “fashion philanthropy” on her Twitter page, and updates the project’s blog daily with a snapshot of her daily outfit, dressed up with accessories that have been designed or donated by others, or items she has purchased on e-Bay and Etsy. Each day readers rate the outfits, using labels such as “batty” and “brave” or adding their own.

Here’s what I like about this SPP:

  1. It’s synecdochic in a deeply personal way. Ms. Matheiken was raised in India, where school uniforms were mandatory. By wearing a “uniform” for an entire year as an adult, she herself is experiencing a taste of school life once again, in solidarity with those whom through her own actions she hopes to keep in school.
  2. It’s participatory. Champions can contribute to her outfit every day, and they can comment on her outfits on the blog. Through the outfits she selects, she is able not only to have fun but to illustrate certain aspects of the cause she is championing.
  3. It’s high touch. I mean, let’s be respectful to Ms. Matheiken and ask permission first, but essentially you can touch and see and even send in accessory pieces for the dress she wears. This enables people to become progressively more involved. Donate a bow one day, a buck the next.
  4. It’s understandable with reference to itself. That is, I don’t have to know anything about the Akanksha Foundation to understand what Ms. Matheiken is doing. I can see her in her uniform and understand that, just as when she was a child, there are children in India who need an education, to whom I can make a donation.
  5. Because the dress and blog are such personal media, they can be vehicles for Ms. Matheiken to draw those she meets deeper into the cause, rather than just soliciting a transaction.

One major potential drawback: this appears to be a self-contained SPP which does not have the goal of drawing people deeper into the cause. But the concept is so delightful and so potentially able to be a means of drawing people deeper into a cause that anyone whose nonprofit primarily does work overseas ought to be able to draw upon this SPP for inspiration.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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7 Responses to That’s a nice SPP you have on

  1. Jon Hirst says:

    Eric, this is very cool because of how personal it is. It affects what you wear every day. You are reminded almost every second of the day what you are doing as the wearer and the others who participate through accessories are also specifically involved. Here is a question, would the next step for a participant to provided an accessory be to wear a uniform as well?

  2. Tracy Nordyke says:

    http://theuniformproject.com/home/daily/Mmm-cookies—.html?month=February

    Or another next step is to buy a scarf like the one worn on Feb 1st with the proceeds going to the U.P.

    That’s two participants for the price of one scarf…the woman who donated the original scarf is in by donating the proceeds of future sales and anyone who buys another scarf is in. Maybe I’ll ask for one for Valentine’s Day.

  3. Pingback: Cool Signature Participation Project alert: Tomorrow is One Day Without Shoes « Transformational Giving

  4. Donna Carlson says:

    Au contraire regarding the last comment. This is not necessarily a self-contained SPP. It makes me want my own black dress. Syndicate the project. To Tracy’s note, auction all the donated accessories. Invite designers like Abi Ferrin to donate pieces to complement the dress and auction those online! I don’t knit, but my daughter can knit a scarf to accessorize the dress and auction that to her grandparents.

    No, this is a very effective SPP!!!!!

  5. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagrism or copyright violation?
    My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either created myself or outsourced
    but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the
    internet without my permission. Do you know any solutions to help protect against content
    from being stolen? I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • EFoley says:

      Tory, your question is good, important…and very tough to answer. We always put our copyright information in all of our posts and resources, but enforcement is certainly a herculean task. I remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:18, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” I just have to keep practicing at the rejoicing part!

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