Monday, January 5, 2009

The Gift of Giving with KooDooZ

On December 22nd KooDooZ organized a “KDZ Giving” event for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. Our purpose was to introduce kids to the KooDooZ philosophy (and software) by providing them with a series of online and offline challenges and rewarding them for their efforts.

For me – after two years of intensive research, analysis, development and testing – this event stood out ... Not because it was monumental in comparison to any other product launch I've been a part of, but because the KooDooZ prospects ("KDZ" aka "Millennials") were so enthusiastic about a tool developed to increase their ability for "making a difference" in their personal, local or global lives.

As an aside, I have to share my passion for Millennial change-makers. The concept of “doing good” is a rationale Millennials don't only impose on themselves, they extend it to their peers, parents, neighbors, communities and just as significantly, to companies (as pointed out by a recent Cone Study.) As the first global generation ever, Millennials care strongly about justice and the problems faced by their society. Not only are they engaged in some kind of civic activity at school, they also have a deeper sense of “community.” Additionally, no generation understands new technology as intuitively as the Millennials do. So it was such a compliment to earn their verifiable vote of confidence by way of enthusiastic participation with KooDooZ.

On this day, we engaged 50 young minds (the youngest still in elementary school and the oldest just beginning to embark on their career) and while it was no surprise that most of these kids were more interested in “the doing” of a challenge than in “the prize” of a reward, it did spread my smile wide to see it in person.

The “KDZ Giving” event very specifically reaffirmed the fact that Millennials:

  1. Prefer to learn by doing, within a framework of organization
  2. Crave challenges and have a high motivation for turning them into achievements
  3. Thrive in structured team activities where they can build new relationships and foster new dialogue
  4. Partner well with mentors
  5. Care less about personal rewards and more about benefiting a social cause

Equally as important, the KooDooZ biz dev team targeted some forward thinking companies to sponsor specific challenges which allowed us to further prove that there is an emotional link that connects Millennials to causes and ultimately to the companies that support and/or benefit those causes.

According to research, there are an estimated 15.6M Millennials in the United States who are actively engaged in helping humanity and sustainability. This represents a huge potential opportunity for companies embracing Cause Marketing / Branding.

Sponsors from around the country who contributed to this event included: Albertsons, AMF, Ask Kids, Avery Dennison, Best Buy of Santa Monica, Color Me Mine, FedEx Office of Santa Monica, Pacific Park, Pavilions, Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals, Ralphs, Santa Monica Playhouse, Ultimate Arcade and Vons.

Because the event was themed around “giving" these corporations supplied products and prizes for the offline challenges so that kids could create some personalized gifts for the holidays. I’ll highlight two of my favorites: (i) “To Get Fueled Up” in which the kids measured then layered ingredients into jars for a meal to share with friends, family or to donate to a homeless shelter and (ii) “To Get Sweetly Soft” with all natural ingredients for a sugar body scrub which they mixed by hand.

What sold the “KDZ Giving” event to corporate sponsors was KooDooZ ability to add that third dimension into the brand marketing experience of fostering a relationship between the cause and the consumer. For example, KooDooZ challenged the kids “To Do Something Noteworthy” by either (i) writing a letter to Santa in support of Macy’s Believe campaign to raise up to $1M for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; (ii) designing an image centered around “change” for President Obama through the SecretBuilders contest; or (iii) composing a letter to a solider whose sacrifice for his/her country deserves constant recognition.

As I write this blog, it strikes me that I have not shared the KooDooZ mission, which is to "turn the good will & passions of "KDZ" (kids) into skills & strategies for creating change." KooDooZ was built as a “virtual meets virtuous” social networking site where KDZ are rewarded for subscribing to, designing and collaborating on goals that address a social mission. KDZ challenge themselves both online and offline, giving them the opportunity to impact people within their family, school and community as well as the worldwide web.

To prove that these young people constitute a potentially powerful force for good, KooDooZ engaged three other organizations: Iridescent, Centro Latino for Literacy and A Star Inside to continue to challenge KDZ throughout our private beta.

KooDooZ is committed to strategic partnerships with ethical brands and institutions, foundations, non-profits, schools and families. Parties interested in participating in our private beta program should send all requests to

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