Innovation That Matters

Activism site ensures participation

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Few things are more frustrating to those trying to effect social change than an effort that fails simply for lack of participation. The Point is a new activism site that avoids that problem by giving planners a way to organize fundraisers, rallies, boycotts and other events so that they occur only once enough people have promised to join in. To do this, The Point takes the notion of the tipping point—that point at which group action will produce a clear result and inevitable change—and applies it to organizing group efforts. Those who join a campaign pledge to take specific action—to boycott a company, for example, or donate funds toward a cause—but no one actually acts until the campaign reaches its preset tipping point, or number of pledged participants. When that point is reached, however, the action is triggered and participants make their donations, attend the event or boycott the organization. The Point can also be used to organize anonymously until a campaign builds to a level that provides safety in numbers and allows people to reveal their identities comfortably. Andrew Mason, The Point’s founder and CEO, explains: “The Point is a new way of thinking about collective action. People need a way to know where their participation adds the most value. That’s what The Point offers—an environment where people are only asked to participate when their action can be combined with others to create a solution.” There have been efforts in the past that used crowd clout and conditional participation—MyFootballClub, which we covered last year, comes to mind—but The Point takes a generalized approach and facilitates many different types of such efforts in one place. (Some, in fact, border on the frivolous, such as “John’s Proposal” to a woman named Patty—which he’ll make only if 999 people give their blessing.) Based in Chicago, The Point only just launched in late November, but in January it received USD 4.8 million from venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates; eventually, it plans to accept advertising as well. The site recently released an “Ultimatums” application on Facebook, and last month it was named a finalist in the SXSW Annual Web awards. Those in social activism will want to try the site out for their own organizing purposes. For all others, it’s a model to emulate! (Related: Crowdfunding software development.) Spotted by: Bill McMahon



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