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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.