Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    March 27, 2009

    Where is the Nonprofit "Apprentice"?

    The other day, I was watching a show on Style Network called "Running in Heels." In this show, three interns compete for a position at Marie Claire magazine.

    What a great promo for the mag, I thought to myself. And, this was just the newest in a myriad of reality TV shows, that while not specifically focusing on promoting a specific company or product, acts a great promo vehicle. Love Top Model? Each and every show they mention the grand prize-a spread in Seventeen magazine. Ever watch Top Chef? Those people at Glad sure must be loving their stuff flashed in front of our eager viewing faces. And the likely most unabashed promotion of stuff I have seen lately is on Biggest Loser,"where the trainers helpfully give advice on "losing weight" by shamelessly exulting the weight loss benefits of a certain brand of gum, or oatmeal, or cereal.

    Really, it's a win win for everyone. Someone waving around a box of cheerios isn't going to turn me off from finding out who is going to be voted off that week, and hey, maybe next time I am at the store, I will pick up a box of those Heart-healthy treats.

    The best symbiotic reality TV relationship I have seen has to be The Apprentice. For product marketers, Donald Trump must be the holy grail. Not only do they get to launch new products to the American public, BUT they even get free marketing ideas from teams of highly educated, highly ambitious individuals competing to be not fired by the Donald.

    (picture from

    Even if they have to pay to be part of the show, millions of eyes glued to their product for close to an hour has to be well worth it, especially compared to the declining ROI of TV ads.

    Why am I going on and on about this? Thinking about this, I got to wondering, where is the Nonprofit equivalent of "Running in Heels," or "The Apprentice"? Just imagine the exposure a nonprofit organization could get from its own version of "The Apprentice?" Some are already reaping the rewards from celebrities competing to claim the title on the celebrity version, with huge amounts being raised an exposure for organizations little know nation-wide.

    Just imagine the possibilities: What if the top prize wasn't a job with Trump, but say getting to work with Melinda Gates at the Gates Foundation? What if instead of competing to be Paris Hilton's new BFF, the competition was to be Angelina Jolie's travel assistant while she was busy ambassadoring on behalf of the UN?

    Maybe some might think that a show centered on a nonprofit would be depressing, but I think it has all the makings of a reality TV show.

    Just imagine the tasks the frenzied contestants could compete in:

    • Plan a huge fundraising dinner, including corralling rich people and their friends, getting goodie bags, and meanwhile, actually making some money on behalf of the organization
    • Convince "The Board" about a new strategy or project
    • Put together an annual report (good luck getting that info from the field offices ;) )
    • Train volunteers
    • Come up with a great new "a-thon"
    • Get the most "goods" donated for your cause
    • Figure out a way to recruit the maximum amount of people to your cause
    • Recruit the most people to your Facebook group
    • Convince the IT department to "let go" of the website..

    This could be a great show. A great way not only to come up with new ideas, but to provide exposure to the serious business on nonprofit work, from fundraising to helping hands on the ground. A great way to spark people's interests in building a do-gooding career.

    And a great way to reach out to Gen Y. We grew up with watching the proverbial people "like ourselves" do all kinds of strange things on television. We are the generation that made the Real World, a.k.a. the mama of all reality shows, a generational institution and have kept it going for longer than some Millinneals have been alive.

    So come on MTV, where is that "alternative spring break" host and party? And hey, NBC/Hulu--I want to be the next "Gates Foundation Apprentice." And I know a lot of people who would compete for the opportunity to spend 1 year setting up the new field office somewhere in a far away land. I even bet we'd get lots of corporate sponsors falling all over themselves to get featured as the "proud sponsor" of whatever task at hand. TV producers-do not fear, there would be drama galore!

    1 comment:

    hrgottlieb said...

    So many people belong to organizations that need to raise money. Non Profit Fundraising is becoming a way of life for many. If you need to raise money I would recommend you explore the different options at Easy Fundraising Ideas. They have lots of options for groups of any size. Many do not require any upfront money too.