Good for Nothing
has been running its own brand of creative collaboration gigs for less than a year, bringing together a group of creatives - including strategists, developers, illustrators, film-makers, project managers and designers - for a hack weekend of concentrated doing and making. Since launching last year, these London-based events have typically been cracking briefs for cause-led social innovators - everything from zero-emissions logistics service Gnewt Cargo
, to digital social venture Homeless SMS
. More recently, Good for Nothing teamed up with digital agency Made by Many
to run an event to find innovative ways to raise funds for famine relief in East Africa: the project just launched at 5050.gd
Last weekend the format went on the road, headed for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in the south west of England. Locally-based ethical insurance company Ecclesiastical
had decided to fund and facilitate a Good for Nothing-style event to support three local charities close to their hearts: Young Gloucestershire
, Cotswold Care
and Gloucestershire Young Carers
. With no real idea of what to expect, a small team from the London community joined forces with Ecclesiastical staff at Cheltenham Race Course to try out this new format, branded 'Good for Something'.
Good for Nothing is built on a philosophy of self-organisation and 'doing not talking', with the manifesto placing the event somewhere between Challenge Anneka and 'the Apprentice without the w*nkers'. The same principles applied in Cheltenham: individuals were encouraged to choose a cause, identify what skills they could put to use in smaller teams, and quickly get on with the business of making stuff. The proceedings were beautifully visualised on a giant sheet of paper by Scriberia
(as featured in Contagious).
I opted to work with Young Gloucestershire, the county's leading voluntary youth work organisation. They wanted to build a stronger position in the corporate giving market. We had a bit of time to speak with the charity's staff and - crucially - some of the young people that have been given a helping hand by their programmes. Fairly quickly, the team had divided.
One group branched off to develop a database of local corporates, and began approaching them with fundraising pitches. The rest of us focussed on building up a new set of pitch materials: filming and editing new promotional videos, writing documents for funding proposals, creating a new set of brand illustrations and templates for documentation, and designing and building a new HTML newsletter. Using the Google Maps API, I created an interactive map of the county showing the locations of Young Gloucester's network of youth clubs, drop-in centres and other locations.
With our heads down, it was hard to keep track of what the other teams were busily working on - but at the final presentations at the end of day two, it was clear that lots had been achieved. The Gloucestershire Young Carers teem had produced a new social media strategy, and built a new blog with an integrated Tumblr stream and discussion forum - all designed to be managed by the young people at the heart of the charity. Cotswold Care had a new logo and branding system, new designs for their shops and all manner of ideas for their 25th Anniversary celebrations next year. The charity leaders seemed to be genuinely overwhelmed by the positive work that had been achieved, and many attendees offered some longer-term support to help the organisations put all the work to good use.
Ecclesiastical Group Chief Executive Michael Tripp recently wrote an article
in praise of charities working with corporate partners in more active and direct ways:
'Social enterprise is a term that has entered the lexicon of the charities, but has yet to find lasting traction with the bulk of insurers. It reveals something about the new mindsets emerging among the charities - a move away from a reliance on traditional donations and fundraising to perhaps a more equitable relationship between charity and corporate partner ... Similarly, some enlightened businesses such as Google, IBM and Unilever have begun to think in terms of shared value, rather than charitable donations - creating a direct connection between the progress of the company and that of society.'
Good for Nothing provided a short, concentrated way to bring that model to life.www.goodfornothing.cowww.goodforsomething.co/ecclesiastical