campaign to watch: the $5,000 ping pong match (vs. Scott Harrison).

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Campaign: The $5,000 Ping Pong Match
End date: March 21, 2009
Campaign leader: Shane Mac
Amount raised to date: $1,476
Campaign mission statement:
“I spend over $5 a day at Starbucks when I can drink water for free. When I heard that there are one billion people who don’t have access to clean water I decided to skip my coffee today and give the cost of that one drink to build a well. Think about if you gave the cost of your coffee today, tomorrow, or even for the entire week? Imagine the difference we could make by giving up something that we don’t even need… How many people can you find to skip their coffee today and come together for an amazing cause?
BONUS: When we get to $5000, Scott Harrison, the founder of this wonderful organization charity: water, has agreed to play me in a ping pong match in NYC for bragging rights. is going to broadcast the event live online so you can help root for the cause that you helped create, all by just giving up one drink.
Here is what Scott has to say:
‘I bet you wouldn’t even get 10 points, but love your challenge. The match is yours for 5K.’
I thank you, truly,
Shane Mac”

Shane Mac is an entrepreneur/speaker/consultant/musician living in Seattle, Wash. He stumbled upon charity: water’s September campaign video one day last year while skimming through Vimeo’s top-watched — and he’s incorporated charity: water into his daily life ever since. We asked Shane what drives him to raise money for clean water (beyond bragging rights to beating Scott at ping pong).

First off, this ping pong match. Are you some closet ping pong master or something?
Not really! I just play at work and with anyone who wants to.
I was going to do a whole different thing [for my campaign]… but then I saw on Twitter one night that Scott and a guy from Tom’s shoes were talking about a ping pong match. I was like, ‘I play ping pong, I’ll get out there and play this guy.’

And so you challenged him… and he couldn’t resist!
Yeah, I reached out to Scott in early December. He was all in.
It’s totally funny. People love hearing about it. We’ll just have fun with it! Really, a ping pong match? Yeah, why not? And other people are like yeah, why not?

Ok, back up a bit. How did you hear about charity: water in the first place?
It was the September campaign video. I was randomly going through Vimeo and I passed by it. I probably watched it a hundred times. Then I just went to mycharity: water to check out some other campaigns. I was inspired by Alyssa Milano’s campaign and a kid that asked a couple people at work and ended up raising way past his goal. You can really do anything for water. It’s such a clever way to raise money. I was like, ‘That was brilliant, it’s so easy, everyone feels great about it.’

Was your first idea for your campaign a ping pong game?
No, I was going to do an online show. I did it a year ago to raise money for St. Jude’s [Children's Research Hospital] since my best friend has cancer; I played guitar online from my basement, streamed it, took requests, and raised about $500! I’m actually doing that for the final push of this campaign [see Shane's video and watch his live show tonight at 9 p.m. here].

So, you’re a marketer. What have you done to spread the word about your campaign?
I’ve added something to make giving more personal; I changed the theme to ‘one coffee, one well.’ The cost of one Starbucks coffee can give someone water. I send out Tweets that say, “give your coffee today” and I’m encouraging people to use #skipmycoffee when they Tweet about it.
I honestly just talk to anyone about charity: water, even at work. It’s one of those things where people are at work, talking about things that are positive and good and cool and they want to join whatever you’re doing. I recommend to anyone that they start a campaign, too. And I actually use charity: water in my job all the time.

I advise non-profits and I always tell them to watch the September video — the simplicity, a real simple message, and the music with infographics really lay out clearly what the effect is… thought that was super beneficial.
charity: water has made me ask, ‘Why do people give?’
On my blog, I just did a post on how charity: water can help you get a better career. You can walk into an interview with the same stuff everyone else has, or you can show that you’re doing something real, that you care, and show your mycharity: water campaign. The person across the table could not know charity: water is, and you have a great story to tell, that you’re building a well in Africa. It inspires them and it sets you apart.

So charity: water has inspired you beyond your campaign for clean water?
Oh, yeah. It all started with this little campaign, but now charity is always in the back of my mind. I tell people all the time — one little thing can make a big difference in the way you look at everything else. That was charity: water for me.

Who are your biggest supporters?
My family is pretty stoked. I’ve had a few friends give and I’ve gotten more from people I haven’t even met. Some gave big — a few hundred bucks — I was only asking to give the cost of a coffee, so I was surprised. I’ve gotten 400 new followers in the last month or so.

Have you been training? Do you think you’re ready?
The company I was at had ping pong but they shut it down; we used to play all the time so I’ve been playing for a few years. The first thing I saw when I walked in the door of my new company [Gist] was a ping pong table. In the past month, I haven’t played much at all, but I’ve recently picked it up again. I think I’ll be alright.

Any advice for other fundraisers?
Honestly, I think the most overlooked thing is making it something big. I was thinking mass scale when I first started. But the minute I said what can one person do every day that won’t really affect them… like one person giving a dollar… I realized that it’s not about one person giving a million but about a million people giving a dollar.
It’s so easy. It’s more about community and inspiring others than a few people giving a lot of money. Make it a ‘camp’ of supporters, where people want to tell others. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money.

Bike, swim, run, dance — you can do anything to raise money for water projects. Click here to learn more.

Previous sneak preview: UNSHAKEN, a campaign to provide long-term water solutions in Haiti. Blog Home Next Help us: don’t let Haiti become “old news.”