Charity effects

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826_logo1Probably you already know this, but it’s not a bad idea to remind everyone that proceeds from Significant Objects v2 will go to 826 National. We recently decided we need to add some kind of running total box to the site to keep tabs on how your S.O. purchases are adding up for our ultimate donation, and we’ll likely do that after the holidays. So far, the ten auctions that have closed have raked in $361.54.

That means that, so far, we’re getting a slightly higher average than in S.O. v1. We had wondered if there might be some sort of Charity Effect this time — basically prodding people to bid a little more than they would have, because it’s For A Good Cause. Probably it’s too soon to tell. But I hope the answer turns out to be a definitive Yes. After all, 826 National is pretty cool:

826 National is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country. Our goal is to assist students ages six to eighteen with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Don’t you want to support them? And own a bona fide Significant Object? Sure you do. Bid away.

By the way, if you’re curious how we picked 826 National, the truth is we asked for suggestions via our Twitter account. A couple of people mentioned 826 National in their replies, and others endorsed it, so since we didn’t have any better ideas, we took the tweeters’ advice.

Interestingly, the possibility of a Charity Effect actually came up during v1, but that was our writers’ doing, not ours. Sometime in late October, when we were in the final third or of the original 100 Significant Objects stories (what Josh often refers to as the beginning of the “rococo period” of the project), several contributors at once informed us that that they would be giving their money to a charity or cause.

Meg Cabot gave her auction winnings to Heifer International. Maud Newton gave hers to Girls Write Now. Merrill Markoe chose an animal-rescue organization and Mark Sarvas opted for the Literacy Network of Los Angeles (although he did leave open the possibility of “blowing it on booze,” so who knows?). All quite generous, to be sure, but at the time we were concerned that suddenly injecting a Charity Effect into the mix might interfere with our results. After all, “it’s for a good cause” can be a pretty powerful rationale. That might even by why we avoided making v1 a completely charity-driven enterprise in the first place. (Actually I’m pretty sure we just didn’t think of it, possibly because we’re selfish misers?)

So in v1, we resolved the issue by telling these generous writers they could tout their charitable intent on their own sites and to their friends, fans, and readers, but we’d keep mum about it here until those auctions ended. So: A belated pat on the back to these contributors — and those who bought their objects.

And now back to v2. Remember: It’s for a good cause!


Rob Walker is the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, and writes the Consumed column for The New York Times Magazine.

2 thoughts on “Charity effects

  1. Pingback: Top 25 sales, Vols 1 & 2 | Significant Objects

  2. Pingback: First 100 stories vs. second 100 stories: The numbers | Significant Objects

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