"Never before in history has it been easier to
change the planet."
~ Seth Godin
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
~ Margaret Mead
Change the Headline
At the Imagine Institute, one of the programs we're most excited about is Change the Headline. What if the news media could empower people like you to "Make a Difference" – on a massive scale?
Here's how it works. Imagine that you're reading the news, maybe you're online reading USA TODAY. You see a story about a horrible earthquake in Haiti. Thousands of people are killed or injured. It's heartbreaking. Your soul cries out. You want to help... but what can you do?
At the top of the article, you see a bright blue link that says: "Make a Difference."
So you CLICK it.
Make a Difference
The blue "Make a Difference" link takes you to a HUB PAGE. Right at the moment you are emotionally upset and you want to help, you are given the opportunity to Make a Difference in one of three ways: 1) You can give money; 2) You can give time (volunteer to help); or you can 3) Share information (teach). You have a choice between three kinds of giving: money, time, or knowledge. with the help of a nonprofit like Charity Navigator, we will be able to "vet" the charities that are "on the ground" where the disaster or tragedy is happening to ensure that they are solid, reputable, and reliable. This is the kind of vetting that the average person wouldn't have time to do on their own, so we'll do it for you. This way, you know your money and your efforts are going to a good cause and really Making a Difference.
This strategy also allows everyone - no matter what your level of money or time - to help. If you have no time, you can give money. You've increased your Compassion Footprint! If you have time but no money, you can volunteer and give time. If you don't have money or time, you can share information with your friends. What would this look like? You could invite your friends to come over to your house for a potluck (cheap), stream an YouTube video that we created (free), and by building Community with your friends, think of ways you might be able to help as a group of friends. With collaboration, cooperation and synergy (we call this Collective Intelligence, or CI – it's one of our best tools), a group of people can always do more than just one person alone... plus, it's more fun! Maybe you can pool your money or host a local fundraiser. All the way, we'll guide you with a "Make a Difference" packet. This is empowerment in action. It helps us to fulfill our mission of "empowering everybody to change the world... one idea at a time."
One thing that's striking is how often natural disasters and major tragedie strike: the Paris terrorist attacks, the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown, Hurricane Katrina, the shooting of students and teachers at Newtown Elementary School, the tsunami in Thailand. When we read news reports of these tragedies, we feel heartbroken. We want to help, but we feel powerless. News headlines typically make us feel discouraged, powerless, and depressed. At the Imagine Institute, our motto is: If you don't like the headline... CHANGE IT !
Change the Headline seeks to create partnerships with the news media to empower people to Make a Difference. We believe that there's an ocean of pent-up but untapped desire inside each one of us to help other people. It's a natural response of empathy – it's in our DNA! But how do we put this pent-up desire to help each other to good use? At the Imagine Institute, our goal is to take every opportunity to encourage people to think compassionately about issues that really matter... and to take action in small but highly-impactful ways.
The Influence Packet
We call this strategy the Influence Packet. At the Imagine Institute, we are pioneering an innovative idea called the Influence Packet to help people increase their Compassion Footprint. Because people are so busy, we know we can only ask for a few moments of their time. And precisely because they ARE busy, most people will not take action unless they are emotionally engaged. That's why Change the Headline is so important: It intervenes at a key moment.
A Horrible Tragedy
The first time we saw this strategy successfully used on a big scale was by the Red Cross in the days following the Haiti Earthquake. It was a horrific natural disaster of epic scale: Within minutes after the 7.0 earthquake struck, 200,000 people were killed, millions of people were homeless! The president's mansion pancaked and people were crushed as the ground floor of the building disappeared. Churches crumbled into dust, pinning people underneath mountains of debris. Gas lines broke and, sparked and ignited by twisted electrical cables, exploded into flames. Sewer lines mixed with water lines and here was no clean water to drink; 664,282 cases of cholera broke out. Whole supermarkets full of food began to rot because there was no electricity or refrigeration. The hospitals collapsed. The doctors and nurses who were still alive were overwhelmed by the number of dead, dying, and injured people who needed their help. When night came, Haiti was plunged into darkness. It was a worst-case scenario! Worse, the news media said: Do NOT come to Haiti. The last thing we need is more people here! So even if you wanted to help, what could you do? (This same tragedy is repeated again and again each year, such as when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. We must be ready next time it happens! )
A Brilliant Idea
Into this mess, stepped the Red Cross. They reached out to Americans thru the news media and asked people to give $10 by texting on their phone. It was so easy! It took less than a minute, and anybody could do it. And it was so little money, even a kid could send $10! It was genius. The result: The Red Cross raised $32 million in only two weeks to help the people in Haiti.
Make A Difference Day
Where did the idea for "Change the Headline" come from? It started with a wonderful lady named Marcia Bullard. She was a founding editor of USA TODAY who also served on the Board of Directors of the Points of Light Institute. She pioneered an idea to help people increase their Compassion Footprint by acts of service to others. She called it "Make a Difference" Day and it was sponsored by USA Today with incredible results. It quickly became the largest single day of service in the United States. After I met Marcia Bullard and heard her story, my first thought was: What if Make a Difference Day did not end? What if people could Make a Difference everyday? The gears in my brain started clicking. I combined this idea with what the Red Cross had done in Haiti, and asked: What if people had the opportunity, every time a major tragedy or a natural disaster strikes, to Make a Difference? What if charities could raise massive amounts of money to help people who were suffering – very quickly in the very beginning when it's most needed? The Red Cross had a wonderful idea. So did Marcia Bullard and USA TODAY. What if we could combine these two ideas and duplicate the one-time success of the Red Cross on a massive scale?
Voila! Change the Headline.
At the Imagine Institute, we take our mission to "empower everybody to change the world... one idea at a time" seriously. Help us out if you can. Change the Headline is only the beginning.
We hope you'll support us in this important mission because it is so vital to the welfare of humanity.