Monday, September 27, 2010

Pepsi: Final Thoughts on a Well-Fought Battle

Below is an email that Dionne got from a friend. It is appropriate for all of us who participated in voting for our causes in the Refresh Everything project.

Thank you all for your faith and hard work. We have been building on the momentum that we gained from the sacrifice and effort you put into the project, so even though we did not win the money ( battle) the war is still being fought.
The letter below is very revealing and I identify with all that is written. Please know that we have not now, nor will we ever, give up on the mission to free ourselves and others from the prison of the stigma surrounding HIV.

Dionne and I, as a result of the cohesion and clarity the campaign helped create, have been given the opportunity to represent our cause in arenas we may be more effective on a national level. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please continue to share your unmet needs to us so we can represent and convey them wherever possible.

We are honored to be a part of this soul group. There are some very exciting events being planned and coordinated for the coming months!!  We will keep you informed!! 

God loves you & so do I.

Good day, everyone!  I hope this note finds you enjoying this last official day of summer and preparing for a wonderful fall season. 

Over the past few weeks, many of you have written to ask when / whether I planned to publish a 'final update' about the outcome of our participation in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant challenge.  Honestly, I'd been waiting to send this update for two reasons.

First of all, as many of you noted, Pepsi's website was notoriously difficult to use, and I'm relatively certain that a number of you had problems actually registering your votes.  We were hoping that Pepsi might find some way to take that into consideration when calculating the final vote tallies.

Secondly, as many of you suspected, Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' competition was plagued by a very large number of - what's the nicest way to say this? - 'voting irregularities' that, if addressed by Pepsi, would've drastically altered the outcome of the competition in both the $50K and $250K grant categories.  

Over the final two weeks of grant competition, we and multiple other organizations meticulously documented and reported these 'voting irregularities' to Pepsi.  We did everything we could to urge Pepsi to take decisive action against the organizations who were working to alter the outcome of the grant competition by engaging in proxy voting, 'unsportsmanlike conduct,' and other types of behavior specifically prohibited by Pepsi's terms of use. 

Unfortunately, despite multiple promises from the 'powers that be' at Pepsi that they were 'actively investigating' these issues, Pepsi ultimately opted to take no significant action. That was Pepsi's 'last word' on the issue, and in a grant competition of this type, the 'last word' of the corporate sponsor is law.

Thanks to these voting irregularities, I really don't know who actually won Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant competition. In fact, nobody outside of Pepsi actually knows who *really* won their 'Refresh the Gulf' grants, as no one outside of Pepsi has access to the actual vote tallies, and Pepsi isn't  sharing this information with anyone. 

I can only tell you that, tomorrow, when Pepsi officially announces the recipients of their $250,000.00 'Refresh the Gulf' grants, one of the recipients will be a terrific organization that I genuinely respect and admire.  The other grant will go to an organization who received a $250,000.00 'Refresh Everything' grant from Pepsi earlier this year, who achieved their standing in the 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign directly as a result of a proxy voting scheme in which they knowingly and actively participated, and that - if the persons in charge of that organization are to be believed - were actually invited by Pepsi to apply for a second grant during Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign.

After working your hearts out for a month, I know many of you were disappointed to learn that Modest Needs would not be receiving the $250,000.00 'Refresh the Gulf' grant. I was too - for about five minutes.  And then, I started to consider all of the good that came out of our participation in this competition.

First and foremost, I'm proud of us - all of us - for the way we ran our grant campaign.  We did everything strictly 'by the book.'  We played by the rules, even when playing by the rules was hard.  We didn't enter into partnerships that would've given us tens of thousands of additional votes by proxy - a practice specifically prohibited by Pepsi.  And we didn't engage in the kinds of 'smear tactics' in which some other organizations unfortunately engaged throughout the grant competition. 

To me, the reputation that Modest Needs has earned over the years is worth a heck of a lot more than a quarter million dollars.  So even though we didn't win a $250,000.00 grant from Pepsi, we came away from this competition with our reputation for ethical behavior in tact.  As far as I'm concerned, that's something we can be proud of.  It's an unqualified 'win' for Modest Needs, and for those of you who support this work.

Secondly, our experience with Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign caused me - a lot of us, I think - to 're-think' the wisdom of participating in competitions of this type.   Initially, like many of you, I figured there wasn't any harm in submitting a grant proposal to Pepsi.  The worst thing that could happen would be that we simply wouldn't get the grant, right?


Now that we've actually participated in a grant competition of this type, we've learned that, in the immortal words of Han Solo, 'No reward is worth this!'  I'm all for additional funding, but this competition took much more time to manage than we ever imagined.  What's more, it required us to spend an entire month competing against our friends in the non-profit community and marketing Pepsi's products for them.

I think we can all agree that there are better, more effective ways to fundraise.  So while I'm not sorry we entered this competition, I can promise you that having done this once, we'll never do it again.  To avoid competitions of this type - that's important lesson we learned from participating in this competition, and you just can't underestimate the value of wisdom that comes from experience.

But best of all, participating in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant competition really brought the Modest Needs community together in ways I've haven't seen in a very long time.  I can't tell you how much it meant to all of us at Modest Needs to see so many of you become 'activists' for Modest Needs, to hear from you as you were voting, and - beset of all - to read the very kind comments all of you left about our work on Pepsi's website. Those comments, in fact, meant more to all of us than I could probably express.

And as for the daily reminders we sent out during our month-long grant campaign (thank you for tolerating those, by the way)?  Well, it turns out that they inspired some people to become new supporters of this work, brought former supporters of this work back to us, and encouraged some of you who already support Modest Needs regularly to do just a little more for those persons in need of our help during the month of August.

So, if nothing else, this grant competition had the result of pulling us together in pursuit of a common goal.  And you know what?  As a result, in the month of August - normally our slowest month of the year - we funded more requests for help than we were able to fund in June and July of 2010 combined.  And that, my friends, is truly a 'win' for all of us.

We may not have received a $250,000.00 grant from Pepsi, but we did have the opportunity to show the world our true colors in the way we handled the grant competition.  We learned some important lessons about the best uses of our limited time.  And best of all, we came together for common good and helped a lot of people in the process.

That kind of team work, our solidarity, is worth a lot more than $250,000.00.  It's the reason Modest Needs is so much more than 'just another charity.'

Again, thank you so very much for your support of our grant proposal in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' promotion, and, of course, for your support of Modest Needs.  I look forward to hearing from many of you soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the first days of fall, and above all, be well.

Warmest Personal Regards,

Dr. Keith P. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
Modest Needs Foundation
'Small Change:  A World of Difference'
(212) 463-7042


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Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

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