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How to expand my social good project?
August 3, 2012 10:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to feed a few homeless people with a little side project I started, any suggestions for getting more people to participate?

In anticipation of reddit's Dedicated Day of Service, I came up with the idea of feeding homeless people in Philadelphia using Qdoba rewards points. This isn't a business, it's just a little real world hack of the Qdoba rewards system to hopefully do some good for a few people.

I "soft launched" to friends & family about a week ago and and we've already acquired 1300 points... but the goal is 100,000. If I'm going to hit that goal by Sept. 22 (reddit's DDoS), I'm going to need a lot more people using this shared rewards card.

Do you have any suggestions for getting the word out? I tried posting the project around reddit but I think it got caught in the spam filter.

Thanks!
posted by covercash to Society & Culture (12 answers total)
 
[Link removed. Asking for general strategy advice is fine, promoting the project here is not so much.]
posted by cortex at 10:05 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I "soft launched" to friends & family about a week ago and and we've already acquired 1300 points... but the goal is 100,000. If I'm going to hit that goal by Sept. 22 (reddit's DDoS), I'm going to need a lot more people using this shared rewards card.
Any unscrupulous person who joined would be able to spend the points and get free tasty burritos, right? I don't see how you could expand beyond the circles of people you know and trust without solving that problem.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:18 AM on August 3, 2012


Sorry, I only added the link at the end to provide more info. Here are some details to help people understand more about the project without saying the name of the project...

I never seem to accumulate Qdoba rewards points very fast, so I figured instead of waiting months to get a free burrito for myself, I could bank the points from friends & family and eventually buy some burritos for homeless folks around the city.

All people have to do is use our shared rewards card at checkout and all accumulated points will be used to buy burritos for homeless people in Philadelphia.

So far I've created a facebook page, twitter account, made a smartphone friendly code and made a flyer to print out and hang on community boards.
posted by covercash at 10:18 AM on August 3, 2012


@kickingtheground actually, Qdoba allows you to turn on "point banking" so instead of automatically giving you a free burrito when you reach 1000 points, they points just accumulate until you are ready to redeem. In order to redeem, you have to turn point banking off on their website.
posted by covercash at 10:21 AM on August 3, 2012


You should consider talking to your local Qdoba. They might be interested in partnering with you on this, maybe matching a certain number of points or points created during a certain time, putting posters up, etc. It would be good PR for them.
posted by shivohum at 10:23 AM on August 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Getting the word out to potential point donors:

LiveJournal communities for your city/neighborhoods in your city? Facebook pages for other good causes in your city/neighborhood?

Asking individual Qdoba restaurants if you can post your flyer there?

Contacting local newspapers, particularly the smaller weeklies that focus more on neighborhood and city news?

Creating an ad for local cable access?


Getting the word out to potential point users:

Have you spoken to folks at existing homeless outreach and food programs? They seem like logical partners for this.

Also, if you have a local "street paper" (usually sold by homeless and/or poor vendors), give them a call or send them a press release.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:54 AM on August 3, 2012


I think you need to think more about how you're actually going to redeem the points at the end who decides which person or group of persons benefits? How are sandwiches distributed? You need an answer that both inspired confidence (I wouldn't be so impressed by something like 'I'll stop banking and spontaneously choose random homeless people and buy them a sandwich) and that gets you some kind of automatic buy-in group. You'll have to consider the logistics of 'cashing' out and limits Qdoba might place on redemption.

Potential ideas: team with a DV shelter and at the end of banking, all the kids get a burrito party; team with an employment support organization and every job hunter gets a free burrito lunch on days when they go for interviews. Team with a homeless shelter and once a month the staff provides a burrito dinner for everyone staying that night. Etc.

These organizations will have experience and contacts for promoting this. It will also make your cause more attractive and solid to potential participants.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Qdoba Rewards terms say: "Points are non-transferable or devisable, and may not be combined with other member's accounts."

You have good intentions here, but the effect is basically to defraud Qdoba. So, as suggested above, go actually talk to your local Qdoba branch and see if they will partner with you. Maybe in conjunction with an established group that helps homeless people, to give you more credibility and help in thinking this through.
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're not transferring points or combining accounts. We're sharing a single group account. It would be like a family all using the same card but on a larger scale.
posted by covercash at 11:16 AM on August 3, 2012


I think you are underestimating the potential mayhem when you walk into a branch of Qdoba and ask for 1000 sandwiches? I also think that regardless of your interpretation of the Terms of Service, Qdoba will probably choose to nix your account if they think you are gaming the system, and they can probably tell by looking at the account history to see how and where the points are being accumulated.

However, I think it is possible to make this work and slip under the radar if you were to spend the points as slowly as you accumulate them, rather than having a massive points cash-in.

There was a similar scheme running using a shared Starbucks points account (used in a pay it forward kind of way rather than feeding the homeless) which ended badly. Firstly people started emptying the points without paying in, and then Starbucks corporate closed the account.
posted by Joh at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2012


Heh, the Starbucks card thing was part of the inspiration for this.

Once we start accumulating points, I planned to contact Qdoba PR to help coordinate the 'cash out' so I don't overwhelm a local Qdoba franchise.
posted by covercash at 11:39 AM on August 3, 2012


You should probably get in touch with Qdoba PR beforehand so that they have a heads-up about what's going on. It would be a shame to contact them about the "cash out" only to find out that you can't redeem the points because of red tape or something.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:41 PM on August 3, 2012


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