A recent article in the New York Times featured the much-lauded malaria-prevention campaign Nothing But Nets; a campaign we’ve been following too. In fact, Carol Cone spoke about the grassroots campaign, stemming largely from a 2006 Sports Illustrated column, to conclude her speech on “Harnessing New Media for Your Cause” at last week’s Cause Marketing Forum. The program, for a mere $10, allows donors to purchase an anti-malaria bed net and save the life of one of the million children who die from the preventable disease each year.
The campaign is successful precisely because it provides simple tools that deliver easily achievable results. It utilizes the power of new media to inform, connect with and mobilize people to save lives. Due to their sheer volume and seeming complexity, the use of new media tools for cause campaigns can feel like an overwhelming endeavor, but it need not be if we remember that the objectives are still the same: to tell powerful human stories, to listen to and engage with our audience and to provide actionable, tangible results. New media tools provide a more efficient infrastructure for people to spread a call-to-action virally among their friends and other contacts. With the help of a diverse array of partners and supporters (including the UN Foundation, the Methodist and Lutheran Churches, the NBA, VH1 and American Idol), Nothing But Nets has successfully raised more than $20 million, largely from teenagers and young adults who are drawn to the Web-based communication (including videos, a game and interactive maps), and who can effectively save a life for less than the cost of a pizza. Few other small investments provide such a substantial return.