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Making Money in Panama

Image by thinkpanama via Flickr

Ok, my wife and I have had this idea for about 6 months now. I'm not sure it's a business, but we know that we like to look in to it and see if we can give it a go.
Here's our idea:

It's kind of a "pay it forward" with a social media side. We'd like to call it the 1512 Project after John 15:12 of the Bible. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

We want to make it easy for people to do a kind deed, give a gift, or give money to others spontaneously and deliver a message of, "God loves you and I love you." . The giver, after doing a kind act or giving a gift, would also give the recipient a plastic gift-type card. The card would have 1512Project on the front and on the back would have the question, "Want to know why you were given this card? Visit 1215Project.com to find out." Also on the card would be a unique identifying number.

The recipient would visit the site to find out why they were given the card. The site would tell them that the person had given them the card because that God loves them and the giver wanted to show them that love in a tangible way. The recipient at that time can look in to that further if they want. The recipient would also be encouraged to follow up by doing something for someone else and passing the card on. They can also go to a page that will allow them to put in the unique identifying number on the back of the card in to a form. They can put in as much or little information as they want, but I am hoping to at least capture the location (zip code) and maybe some details as to the circumstances of getting the card.

For each card that is entered and passed on, I would have it mapped on a google map. It would give you the ability to track the card to see where it went and what stories went with it. This is assuming that the original giver registered the card, again with hopefully at least the original location of the card.

The site would have a blog, forum, and a store front where people could purchase the cards.

A couple of things that I want to stress about this:
- This is not an evangelism movement, but a "kind act" movement that shows God's love in a tangible way
- The motive of tracking the card is not to build pride in the giver's, but to give people the opportunity to see how God works through everyone.

I came up with this idea after becoming frustrated by wanting and having done things for people, but not having the opportunity to tell them why. I had given the cashier at the Dollar Store my change from $20 after having bought a couple of items. There were several customers behind me and the cashier kept telling me she couldn't take the money, so I just walked out. It would have been great to have been able to give her something like a 1512Project card.

So what do you think?

Is this a good idea?

It is already being done in some way?

Can it be made in to a business? Would it even be ethical or moral to make an income from it?

If it can be a business, what legal structure should I use? I really don't want to be a non profit due to the requirements the government puts on those.

We have a lot more planning to do, if this is workable, and we are obviously just in the basic idea/planning stage now.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


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Comment by Matt Rise on November 12, 2009 at 12:32pm
Thanks for the great input! I really appreciate your time that you took in reading and responding.

Peter - I "forgot"/didn't think about the advertising on the site would also be an option for additional ways to monetize it.
I really want to have a place where people can share their stories of giving and receiving. I think it would be a great way to show how God works through even the smallest act (with the maps). I really need to spend some time in developing a marketing plan, so that the momentum builds on giving the cards. The cards in themselves can be a sustained marketing tool for the business.

Thanks for taking time to give your opinion and advise. I really appreciate it.
We've spent quite a bit of time thinking and planning on the card design and wording. My initial thought was to keep them somewhat vague to peak curiosity and subsequently visits to the site.

To your questions, Jason.
I consider what Jesus did to be both an evangelism movement and compassion movement. It seems to me that he was always putting others needs first. And that's how I want to approach this. The cards have a two fold purpose:1)To help giver's purposely think about helping someone out, even in the smallest way, 2) Let the recipients know that someone else did this just for them with no present motivation other than compassion.

My prayer is that this would help spread the message of Christ and that some would be led to follow Him as a result.

Thanks again for the advice and help. As you can see we are still really hashing this out and clearing up our thoughts on what this can be.
Comment by Jason Garey on November 12, 2009 at 12:14am
Hey Matt. I love this concept...a lot. Peter's got some really suggestions too, especially about making the site interactive. That's definitely key to spreading your (God's) message. It's a great Scripture you've chosen. What I'm about to suggest is a slight departure from your name, 1512 Project, but maybe you'll like it.

What if you made the card look like a business card, perhaps with a woodgrain look maybe with a faint image of Jesus on it? It could be Jesus' calling card and have the "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." on the front and the "Want to know why you were given this card? Visit 1215Project.com to find out." on the back.

Question: Do you consider what Jesus did to be an evangelist movement? Wasn't what He did a"kind act" movement, showing God's love in a tangible way?

Pray on it and see where God leads you. Blessings. ~ Jason
Comment by Peter Brissette on November 11, 2009 at 9:30pm
It is an interesting idea to be sure. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

You are going to have to find out what the cards will cost. It is possible that you could get them for little to no cost but I am not sure.

There are a number of ways to monetize this and in my opinion it would be moral and ethical to do so.

Websites are monetizied a number of ways.
1. Google Adsense: These are the boxes of little ads on sites that you sometimes see. When someone clicks on one of those ads you get paid. Now it isnt much but if you have enough traffic it can really add up.
2. Advertising: If the website becomes high traffic you will attract companies that will want to advertise on your site.

One awesome feature you should have on the site that will build its size and creditability and acceptance with visitors is a way for those you receive the cards to give feedback about what the card meant to them and maybe what they used it for, or how their life was touched, etc. If you want to learn more about that feature let me know and I can get into detail about it.

You will definitely want to ad a blog as well so you can provide more information about why are you are doing this and tell stories you have heard etc.

The other thing is mapping out how you are going to get the message out to those who will be gifting people. I would research this in greater detail to find out the challenges you might have in getting people to the sight and actually following through. So research is key.

Getting published in some quality magazines, articles, blogs, etc. will go a long way to build credibility. So a good PR campaign would be essential.

So those are my thoughts initially.


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