Solidarity Not Charity

Our portfolio company Zynga has been running campaigns in their games to raise money for Haiti and a number of other causes. Mark Pincus, Zynga's founder and CEO, calls this "solidarity not charity." Zynga describes this approach to giving back in this way:

not charity is a culture that is not seeking a handout but instead is seeking a partnership, and a culture that had demonstrated by its past that it is worthy of our respect, of our collaboration and our sustained commitment.

To date has raised more than $3.6 million for
Haiti in more than 13 separate campaigns, along with hundreds of thousands of
dollars for Gulf relief, and other causes. Almost all of these funds have been raised since the launch of Sweet Seeds For Haiti in October of last year. The effort is an ongoing part of Zynga's business operations.

The biggest beneficiary of this effort is a school that Zynga is funding called L’École de Choix (The School of Choice) in Mirebalais, Haiti.

Zynga, in partnership with FATEM (Mirebalais’s community organization), along with local representatives, global NGOs and others, have broken ground on a K-12 school and community center, intended from its inception to meet the most pressing and critical needs of those living in extreme poverty in Haiti, with a focus on quality education, income generation and financial literacy. Programs include traditional K-12 academics (in partnership with DePaul University and Francis W. Parker School), and will also include ESL, work skills for adults, and a youth center with a focus on psycho-social development, and even its construction will create jobs for the local community and use local sources and materials.

Here is a quick 5min video that showcases this effort:

Here are a list of the games and campaigns that Zynga has run. If you play Zynga's games, you may have helped fund these efforts.

Zynga programs 

I've written about this effort before. I am a huge fan of sustainable ways to give back and I love that we can all do that by playing games with each other.


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Noël

    To borrow Daniel Pink’s term, humans are purpose maximizers. It is great to see that this term can be also be applied to companies.

  2. kagilandam

    Solidarity is giving hand to equal to come up from the distress.Charity is one sided… from top-to-low and humiliates the low.Personally i like Solidarity than Charity. Charity makes people low and always stay in that state.Solidarity is being followed in one of the business communities in India … when someone’s business suddenly fragments to pieces …the community support him/her to come-up by not giving money but by giving business leads through which he/she can come-back.Our company produces medical devices. We have marked every 31-st machine to be given to a hospital for free…(less than 3% is not a great contribution…but that is what we can do now).

  3. Mark Essel

    Props for the school development to Zynga & Mark, he brings honor to my name :). The labelling of aid as solidarity is one positive step forward, but it really has to mean something different than charity deep down in the organization.That’s why projects like Kiva and Ashoka are so awesome. They’re focused on wealth building in struggling areas.What are AVC’ers takes on local versus, state, national or global altruism and philanthropy? I think local first.

    1. andyswan

      Agree Mark, I’m not sure how this example is “solidarity” instead of charity. Maybe I’m missing something in the details of the project, but it doesn’t really sound “sustainable” either, unless it means that the company can sustain it’s giving (i.e. the company is profitable)?Maybe I just woke up on the disagreeable side of the bed lol.

      1. Mark Essel

        Good time for house cleaning or a jog.I woke up exhausted, bitched about it on my blog and felt better. Looping the mall with the retirees because it’s raining then off to dayjob.

    2. kagilandam

      Mark Essel, You don’t have to seek honor from any other Mark to prove your solidarity. You have given 3000-likes on disqus … that itself tells it. You make people write more by giving them likes 🙂 I call that solidarity than collecting and giving 3.6million.

      1. Mark Essel

        3000 and 1 thank you very muchIt’s a clandestine community. Far from a meritocracy, and Marcs (spelled with c’s) are only venture partners, not GPs.:)

      2. ShanaC

        Truer words about Mark never spoken

    3. Dan Sweet

      local is an important element but i put the majority of my focus on global. its hard for me to take state and national to seriously when people are literally dying globally.the warren buffett line of thinking of “wow, i won the genetic lottery” really resonates with me.many of us have more resources than we need AND for the first time in history we have the means to share globally very easily. win/win. my thought is that for many that haven’t traveled or been exposed to other places, the global realm is “out of sight, out of mind.” so, i focus disproportionately globally to try to offset that bias i see in many people i know.

  4. andyswan

    This is a good story but like always, I will take the other (much less popular) side of the trade.I have two main concerns.1. I hate the phrase “giving back”. It implies that something has been taken in the first place, which (outside of criminal organizations) is almost never true. It’s certainly not true in Zynga’s case and even if it was, it certainly wasn’t Haiti that they took it from.2. I’m not sure that corporations should be involved in charitable efforts outside of their area of expertise, especially when there is no clear business advantage in doing so (maybe people seek out zynga games because they are charitable?). Why is it the role of the CEO/board to determine which charity gets shareholder money, instead of the shareholders? Why not do a $3.6m distribution to shareholders and let them use it as they see fit? There are just a lot of ways to get in trouble with this (“you sent our money to the mob in _______ instead of your own employees’ battle with cancer????”, etc).In other words, Home Depot and Wal-mart providing instant relief to New Orleans…. “YES!”….. Apple sending computers to a devastated school….YES!….. Friendfeed giving cash to African AIDS fund…..ehhhh.I’m a huge fan of charity, and especially sustainable efforts that enable less fortunate people to create wealth for themselves and their communities. I just don’t think we’re always going about it the most effective way.

    1. Mark Essel

      Because they can, and PR. If the board signs off on it, the shareholders interests are represented.Agree that sustainable trumps delta functions. The problem, nothing is sustainable without human will, aka people.And on the topic of shareholders, social networks and social apps are 100% owned by infrastructure and content devs and 0% owned by the highest value add of the network, people. It’s not a clear product customer relationship, the two overlap. Without constant human interaction these networks and games would be empty shells, why not let the folks that donate their time to these networks decide where to donate a share of revenue?Aka: My Facebook and Zynga game time is hereby dedicated to purchasing Pappy for Andy. (I deleted my Fbook account a while back, and only have a profileless one for ad campaigns. Btw Facebook is killing Google AdWords and TargetSpot Internet radio segments in clicks per dollar spent).*update below* I should see much closer performance, I just needed to tweak the targeted groups for the ads, not sure it will help improve sign ups though.

      1. RichardF

        You hit the nail on the head about PR Mark. Whilst I don’t doubt Zynga’s motivation behind the charitable strategy, it can be easily justified to shareholders as a marketing and PR line.

        1. Mark Essel

          Yup, Richard not sure if you are interested in better understanding the investment landscape but if you are I came across a wonderful share from Audrey Watters of readwriteweb this am. Damnable copy paste won’t help but it’s an interactive city based interconnected network / linked graph for investors.

          1. RichardF

            just saw your tweet ….cheers

        2. Dave Pinsen

          Right. Better people talk about Zynga giving money to Haiti, than how Mark Pincus “did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues”.

          1. TJNahigian

            astute observation Dave- Pincus is a cut-throat business man and has done every horrible thing in the book to maximize enterprise value – something thats worked out well for Fred and other investors, but hasn’t necessarily had integrity, values, and morals concerning his peers, partners, or customers in mind. “giving” 50% literally costs zynga $0 as they have a higher GM than that – furthemore it is a tax writeoff. give me a break

          2. fredwilson

            TJ – do you know Mark? i doubt it because that is not the man i know and have known for almost 20 years. he does have high integrity counter to the impression that many have painted of him.

      2. Mark Essel

        *update* I just heard back from Daniel Razumov who’s tweaking my TargetSpot net radio ads. Should be much closer performance now.Fantastic response, now if only I can make GarageDollar enticing enough or comforting enough for Yard sale folks to sign up! More maps work tonight.

        1. fredwilson


    2. LIAD

      why should they even be allowed to do so within their areas of expertise?dispersing shareholders money to a boards pet project or their political or perhaps religious leanings doesn’t sit well with me either.

      1. andyswan

        In emergency situations, perhaps the company is uniquely capable of solving the situation. i.e. shareholders can’t drive the trucks or utilize the supply chain to get people the medicine they need YESTERDAY (Wal-mart —> Katrina).

        1. LIAD

          just because they’re perfectly suited from a supply chain/skill-set perspective doesn’t necessarily translate to them having a right to arbitrarily spend shareholder funds on those areas.

          1. andyswan

            If the shareholders have authorized the board to do so, then the right exists.I’m just trying to find situations where I believe the company *should* engage in charitable activity instead of distributing cash to shareholders.

          2. LIAD

            understood. so your’s is an argument of efficiency and optimisation rather than ‘moral’ rights

          3. andyswan


          4. Mike

            Not sure I totally agree but at least they’re being completely transparent. After spending years auditing the financial statements of Fortune 500 companies, I can say that typically this is buried in a misc account that is usually immaterial (note: $50M can be immaterial at some companies) and thus no one gives it a second look.

      2. fredwilson

        this is not shareholder’s money. these are funds from virtual goods that customers buy with the explicit knowledge they are funding a good cause

    3. kidmercury

      disagree on #1. the reason most of the world is in poverty is because they are enslaved by debt. they are enslaved by debt because their countries leaders are bribed/blackmailed into accepting loans the nation can never repay. these loans are issued primarily by the IMF and world bank, which are institutions basically controlled by wall st banksters. in this way, capital is sucked out of impoverished nations and injected into the US economy and US financial markets. zynga, a company that has raised a bazillion dollars, is clearly a beneficiary of the US’ robust financial markets. in that sense, they have profited from theft, and so, giving back is somewhat appropriate, or at least a logical term. to clarify though i do not advocate any americans feeling guilty, though i do encourage taking responsibility for hte solution and living in awareness of the reality of how capital flows.agree on #2. due diligence and subject matter expertise are extremely important for all endeavors. i find it irritating that people can simply drop the word “charity” and everyone else smiles and acts like that solves everything. think of how much is given to charity, americans are remarkably charitable people, even a kook like me has to admit that. and what does all this charity solve? nothing. the problems are growing. most charity efforts address symptoms, not the underlying problem. (though i acknowledge that addressing symptoms has some value, and if my stupid ass is ever homeless and dying i will definitely want you all to address that symptom asap)

      1. CJ

        I disagree on the topic of guilt Kid, I think we should feel a collective guilt about some of the shit* this country has done, because as voters we allowed it to happen. We live in comparative ignorance to what our country has done or allowed to be done across the world and as such the raping and pillaging of countries continues. How can we not feel guilty about that, if we know it’s happening? And if we continue to maintain our ignorance, how can we not be seen as sanctioning the conduct? Good and Evil are not decided by morals, but by politics and greed and most of the country seems ignorant to that fact. When I see Americans who can’t identify the current president or the number of states, it’s a wonder if anyone knows the history of the Panama Canal or has ever heard of the School of the Americas or the numerous political assassinations sponsored by The Company.

    4. ShanaC

      For the sake of discussion, what kind of charity should media companies do- especially a game company? I’m with Mark on this one.In theory, the board is the proxy of the shareholders. If you don’t like the charities, vote the board out! (though of reasons to vote a board out, that may not be the best of reasons, I mean, charity??? You do realize civic service such as charity helps in some ways keeps this country and world going. They fill in gaps not provided by the government and by corporations. In some ways, there is this random critique of feminism that we killed elements of civil service by putting women to full time work- now there are less people and less time filling our charity institutions…)

    5. CJ

      Shareholders have recourse, if you don’t like the decisions of your CEO and board either sell the stock or vote them out. A business is NOT a democracy though, it’s a Democratic Republic, as such you have only as much say as your vote allows.I’d also argue that the money that Zynga donated wouldn’t exist to give to the shareholders if not for the lure of a charitable cause. It’s likely that revenues increased because of the promise to donate to charity which, if you extrapolate without access to real data, means that stockholders ended up with more money than they would have otherwise, even excluding the money that was donated. Giving money to charity is just a moral twist on the free giveaway scheme or the raffle scheme. You hope that more people buy your product or show up to your event because of the promise of what else could happen when they do.In this case Zynga gets additional revenue and good press, people in Haiti get money for education and other necessities, and the stock holders get increased return on investment. I have trouble finding where anyone has lost in this deal.

      1. andyswan

        Agree on both points.It’s marketing.

      2. fredwilson

        zynga didn’t donate this, their customers did by purchasing specific virtual goods in their games

        1. Mark Essel

          good clarification, that pretty much answers my question somewhere in the comments. how about users choose?, they already did

        2. CJ

          Which effectively ends any conversation on shareholders needing a say. Thanks for the clarification Fred.

    6. jneddenriep

      I understand your issue with corporate philanthropy in point 2 (not that I necessarily agree!) but Zynga is not simply donating profits, they are using their platform and audience reach to give game players a chance to opt-in to help Haiti. The campaigns I’ve seen on Zynga are low friction ways for me to donate to a cause during the course of gameplay. So I see Zynga’s philanthropy as a way of mobilizing willing potential donors that may not otherwise take the plunge. I think it’s a shining example of the possibility of social computing doing good – call me an idealist 🙂

      1. andyswan

        Great point. Agree

    7. fredwilson

      there are so many reasons why corporations might want to be involved in something like this. i will just name a few so you get the idea1) the company’s users are the ones who are actually funding this by purchasing virtual goods like sweet seeds. by connecting their customers to something that is making a difference for someone, it builds customer loyalty.2) this has huge morale implications for the company. the employees love this program and it helps retain and hire the best employees.3) as others have mentioned, there is great PR and marketing value that comes from programs like this

      1. andyswan

        All 3 great reasons. Thanks

    8. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

      “Giving back” doesn’t imply that something has been taken, it implies that something has been given, and I would suggest that most of us here have received a lot.If you look at human history, anyone who’s born in a first world country is very, very lucky and has received a lot. Schools and roads and a (mostly) functioning free market, not knowing what’s famine or war or keeping a change of clothes under the bed in case the secret police knocks on the door in the dead of night — those things were given to us by our forebears, and we did nothing to earn them. Just because you have earned your success and not taken anything doesn’t mean you haven’t been given a lot.

  5. Adrian Bye

    how have they been auditing the money that is sent? $3.6M is an absolutely massive amount of money to send to haiti and i didn’t see more than $20k of results in the video. haiti is rampant with corruption and even kiva had a pretty large scale fraud where one of its local microfinance partners in the dominican republic (neighbour to haiti) stole $250k

    1. Mark Essel

      Corruption and fraud are parasites to money flow everywhere. Sad to hear about, but it does mean more “due diligence” for funds.

      1. Aviah Laor

        You are in Techcrunch!

        1. Mark Essel

          Huh, news to me. Where at Aviah?(thanks for the heads up btw)

        2. Mark Essel

          haha, I just saw the post Disqus Rolls out Improved Global Profiles, Community Box, and More. My alerts failed on the image embed.Tricky Disqus guys. Must be Daniel!I got top billing over Gary Vaynerchuck

          1. fredwilson

            perfect choice for the “disqus power user”i loved it

  6. LIAD

    Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) a medieval Jewish philosopher defines 9 levels of charity in order of ascending merit.The base level (9th) is charity given grudgingly, the penultimate (2nd) is charity where the giver doesn’t know who he’s giving to and the receiver doesn’t know who he’s receiving from. (i.e. completely removes any hubris from the giver and any shame from the receiver)The top (1st level) of charity according to Maimonides is giving someone a gift or a loan or helping them find work in order that they can become SELF SUFFICIENT.Zynga’s solidarity not charity scheme (specifically the income generation and job creation parts) – are right on the money.

    1. ShanaC

      I always loved that aspect of Maimonidies. He’s on the money for certain aspects of everyday life. He’s very clear in a good deal of his writings that he wants people to be very self sufficient and knowledgeable in many different aspects of their lives, and that communities should plan out ways to help others to gain success in those sorts of ways, as well as forgive others who make mistakes along the ways. He also briefly had his stuff burned for being this way. Being a good person is not simple work.I also wish he and his mental descendants knew how hard it is to find charities to volunteer with that ascribe to those principles in an active way. I’m not finding gaming to be active enough. I want to go and do something. Never said being a good person is easy.

      1. LIAD

        I don’t get the gaming reference.

        1. ShanaC

          I’m not sure if gaming is the in the Maimondean active form of charity. On some level, he was an active propent of growth for also the giver. Gaming doesn’t do it for me. It’s passive, something you’d be doing already- it doesn’t get the giver to the point of self suffiency within a community context

  7. kidmercury

    1. if we really want to help haiti, perhaps we should ask ourselves WHY haiti is so messed up to begin with. the answer is because haiti is a country enslaved by debt. link.2. as enslavement by debt is something that is a result of the haitian government’s monetary and fiscal policy (just as how enslavement by debt in the US is a result of the US government’s monetary and fiscal policy), and as zynga creates by social currencies and thus its own form of monetary and fiscal policy, perhaps there is another solution…….as is always the case, give the people sound money, get out of the way, and watch what happens. that will truly be solidarity and not charity.

    1. Adrian Bye

      you really think that’s the reason haiti is messed up? thats a pretty simplistic view, you’re a bright guy and i’m sure you can do much better than that.if it was just a debt issue, that could be forgiven right away so haiti would move forward. but that wouldn’t make a difference.

      1. kidmercury

        yes, i really think that is the primary reason haiti is messed up. everything is a by-product of the debt scam. it is the same problem everywhere in the world, which is why we are in the midst of a global debt crisis and why the whole world is poor (except the financiers who sell debt).wherever the debt burden is excessively high, savings are not possible. contrary to what president soetoro tells us, the foundation of an economy is not credit (aka debt) but rather savings, which in turn is the basis of both credit and capital investment. economies burdened by excessive debt make savings impossible, thus making self-sustaining economic growth impossible. this is why those who expect the US economy to magically embark upon a path of self-sustaining growth are deluding themselves; the domestic savings rate is negative and as this crisis is global there is no one left to steal from. the only solution is debt forgiveness and a significant restructuring of monetary and fiscal policy. i think there is basically a 0% chance of this happening and thus IMHO a non-violent revolution is an easier and more effective path.

        1. thisisananth

          But why did the countries go into such places where they have can be blackmailed or bribed..? I think this ultimately rests with the people, isn’t it?

          1. kidmercury

            There are several contributing factors in my opinion:1. Ignorance on the part of the american people regarding how their govt operates2. Ignorance on the part of the citizens of the invaded country3. Monetary policy for all countries in the world since the full abolishment of bretton woods ageement in 1971; since then national debt has become too easy to create4. Corrupt bankers and everyone who tolerates and enables them5. Intelligence agencies, sponsored by the militray industrial complex, that kill honest politicians6. Dishonest media organizations failing to live up to the ideals of journalisitic itegrity, thus resulting in grossly misinformed public which in turn leads to corrupt govtI like to focus on #6. Thanks to the internet, that is the easiest one to fix. From there we can fix all the other problems. Alll solutions begin with the truth….it is the truth that sets us free…

          2. thisisananth


    2. ShanaC

      i always thought it was because Haitian Government was super corrupt

      1. kidmercury

        That is part of it; they are corrupt and hence accept bribes and sell out their people. If an honest person who won’t sell out comes along, the CIA (ultimately controlled by the same secret societies that control the international baking cartel) kills them, as they did to Omar Torrijos and Jaime Roldos in South America, and John F. Kennedy in the United States.

        1. Mark Essel

          “international baking cartel”, my wife would love that group.

          1. RichardF

            you shouldn’t joke about it Mark, they are a serious bunch, who do you think caused the current wheat crisis in Russia?

  8. kirklove

    I’m naive when it comes to the structure of business and the handling of this amount of money, but all I see is a company doing something good. 3.6 million times. Can’t it be just a nice thing and say bravo and not have the comments here fret over the terminology, board preferences, and distribution set up? There are 364 other days to do that.Nice job Zynga. Kudos.

  9. kagilandam

    It is possible that what Zynga did was neither charity nor solidarity.But when someone gives money to the one in-need (desperately caught in a disaster) we should not look at reasons for WHY…rather look at WHAT. What it has served and feel happy for the giver and taker.Is Zynga happy about giving and Haiti happy about taking? Period. Whether Zynga wants to call it solidarity or charity or Zyngarity … is up to them.Have you ever asked “WHY” when someone lends you a hand when you are drowning? Should I ask him to leave you and look for someone whom he can teach swimming? Teaching swimming is the right thing to do but not while someone is drowning…

  10. Kellee Khalil

    My father always said, “An open hand is always full”. I love this as a personal motto but also in business. The more you give of yourself the more you will receive. It is inspiring to see companies build in such practices into their model.

  11. Matthew Ramsden

    This past weekend, my Dad just left on his 3rd trip to Haiti in the past year. He’s had a 25+ year relationship with the couple cities and people he helps in Haiti, and I’m glad that Zynga and other companies are doing whatever they can to send money over there.I hope all of these companies can take the approach that its important to: send money immediately and also set up sustainable ways to continue helping in the future. Hopefully people are aware of the fact that its hard to engage the people of Haiti in serious discussions about turing their society around when alot of them haven’t eaten in 2 or 3 days. So making sure we take care of an immediate problem like that as quick as possible is really important. And the way that Zynga is using their gaming platform to encourage/incentivize giving is a great thing for all parties involved… it draws alot of people to Zynga to just start playing or to play more.

  12. JLM

    I am a huge fan of charity and I think that the accumulation of personal wealth is a perfect basis from which to assist others in need. I have followed this creed and have made significant contributions which frankly I view as a duty more than a charity.I must however sound a note of warning that I do not think that charity is a legitimate objective of businesses. I think that such decisions are the province of the shareholders.I am also particularly troubled by the recent Sup Ct decison which seems to stand for the proposition that corporations can literally fund national elections. Seems like a bad policy though I do understand and begrudingly agree with the legal concepts employed.It is difficult to find fault w/ those trying to do good in the world and I am reluctant to be a party pooper but I think that charity is not the province of business entities.

    1. ShanaC

      Actually, now that you mentioned it, I’m worried about presidential elections and corporate giving too. How much personhood can you give to a corporation- I don’t want them voting!

    2. fredwilson

      JLM, this is a different kind of corporate philanthropy than you might be thinking ofZynga offers virtual goods in their games with the explicit commitment that the funds will go to charityso actually Zynga’s customers are funding this, not Zynga and its shareholders

      1. JLM

        Yes, I get that and that does fairly change one’s view of things because, in effect, the charity decision is being made by the customer. I get that.The issue therefore may morph into whether the charities — selected by the sponsor — are ones that I would want my money to support.

  13. sbmiller5

    Not related to this post, but I know Women Entrepreneurs is a common topic in this community. This link profiles Cindy Padnos – founder of Illuminate Ventures and describes here white paper on women entrepreneurs – great read and some interesting data points.

  14. Pete

    This is a cool story. It is refreshing to see people in VC-start-up-land who believe in a higher calling than capitalism.As for the cynical commenters who believe businesses should not involve themselves in good causes, consider this: companies waste incalculable millions on misguided projects, failed advertising campaigns, poor hiring decisions, etc., etc. Why is a small charity effort bothersome?If anyone needs a cold-hearted capitalistic explanation, think of Zynga’s Haiti program as part of a branding campaign intended to wash over their scam-ad controversy of last year. Or maybe they really want to help people… Or maybe they did some bad things, but want to make up for it. Who cares, focus on the good.Also – everyone should read Larry Cheng’s post and video re: his trip to Haiti, it is very inspiring:…Pete

  15. Dave Pinsen

    In what ways does Mark Pincus believe that Haiti has demonstrated by its past that it is worthy of our respect, of our collaboration and our sustained commitment? I understand the desire to offer humanitarian aid in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, but why the “sustained commitment” to Haiti and not, say, Chile, which suffered a much more severe earthquake (but fewer casualties because it was far better prepared for it)?

    1. Mark Essel

      A reasonable question, but a simple answer. You have limited resources and can only help one person out of a dozen. The best choice is still to help the one you can. Splitting funds creates overhead and weaker aid to many locations.

  16. Dev

    The semantics/politics of charity vs. solidarity don’t seem that meaningful when a million people are in tent cities (which are still growing, meaning the problem is not getting fixed –… )Thanks for helping! (Regardless of how you rationalize it and how it contributes to anyone’s PR or self-actualization)

  17. baba12

    Is it cheaper to use “sustainable solidarity” cheaper to market brand than to run a marketing capaign. I am guessing as much as there is altruism in their effort it is also a marketing coup.If one is giving and naming it “solidarity” or putting on a different moniker the end result is what matters and more importantly those who give generally tend to do it quietly if they truly believe in trying to bring about a semblance of fairness/equality etc that one does through charitable contributions.One does not need to publicize who and what causes they support.So if Zynga is giving to help Haiti in a time of need then that is great.I just find it a blatant marketing ploy used by corporations to support so many non profit activities but using it as a means to market their brand.I find that to be sad and calculated move.

  18. iamronen

    Besides the point that has been raised in the comments numerous times that charity isn’t business’s business … I do not understand your motivation or need to downplay charity with some intellectual wordplay into solidarity? What’s your point?

    1. fredwilson

      my point is by creating a channel (in this case virtual goods) that allows its customers to fund good causes, Zynga is building a new and different and important model for giving

      1. iamronen

        Wonderful!! Still… why not call it charity or giving? Why solidarity?… “model for giving” gives me the creeps … giving (as opposed maybe to business) is thankfully a pretty straightforward thing.Businesses already have giving built into them – it has a less romantic title – Taxes. It’s an arrangement between a business and the society in which it exists. If you create an alternative channel of cash flow to “giving” aren’t you in essence bypassing this core giving-agreement?Is “giving” addressed with a similar priority and seriousness as other business objectives at Zynga?If you are really building a platform for creating cashflow from millions of individual donators to causes could you please make this into an open-source platform so that other business can also harness this kind of ability? Have you considered separating it from the core Zynga business?As for the causes: – How should causes be selected/added to this process? – Is it right for Zynga to have control over the platform and the causes which can benefit from this? – Is it right for Zynga to have any say on the causes at all? – Can you make it possible for other interested business to suggest and add their own causes? – Can you make it possible for causes to nominate themselves to this process?

        1. fredwilson

          it is tightly coupled to the gamesthat is where the magic is

        2. Mark Essel

          many of us missed the fact that Zynga provided a vehicle for individuals to donate by purchasing virtual goods, not quite the equivalent of donating revenue but related.I’ve thought about altruism and who and what structures should be able to participate, I’m of the opinion that if there is suffering and wish aid, and other folks can and are able to help, they have the right to do so.The open social capital platform concept is a solid idea. Are there any agencies that are in a prime position to make this happen (social entrepreneurship – Ashoka?).

  19. Dan Sweet

    giving is great, but do it with your own money, not firm always annoys me when companies try to make people feel good about themselves when said people haven’t done jack. “the people of Haiti thank you for wasting your life playing Farmville! you are really making a difference!” this is right up there with the whole “let’s play the lotto for the children, it will benefit the schools!”if you want to give, get off your ass and do it, but don’t delude yourself thinking your a winner because you logged an extra hour of Mafia Wars or cause you dropped $20 playing a clearly negative expected value lotto. celebrating companies/societies that relate to their consumers/constituents in this type of disingenuous manner seems lame to me.

    1. fredwilson

      a finance guyzynga isn’t giving its money to charity. it is creating virtual goods that its customers buy with the proceeds going to is creating an efficient way for its users to give back

      1. Dan Sweet

        thanks for the reply fred. I get the concept, my “firm capital” remark was meant for companies and “giving” more broadly.according to a Pew study 14% of Haiti giving went mobile already. $30M+ given this way as an early on number – hence, i’d argue we are already there in terms of efficient ways for people to give.any way you look at it, $1 in “solidarity” via zynga would have been at least $1.76 given through almost any other means (only 50% passed through). why are we supposed to feel good about that? because they aren’t using the word “charity”?my problem is that there are lots of ways this is good for zynga and few ways that it is good for Haiti. you take willing donors, give them the feel good of giving, halo some good feelings to the zynga brand as well, and likely up your traffic near term. all great for zynga.on the other hand you take willing donors, only pass half of their donation through to people in Haiti and they move on with their lives feeling they have done their part. had they given through an established player in the space we’d have (almost) double the impact on the ground in Haiti and zynga would have a bit less revenue. sounds like a MUCH better outcome to me. in the case of Haiti many organizations passed 100% of donations directly to the place of need. (the standard in the space is 88% for an organization that is looking to minimize overhead and still stay pay employees and stay legal.)again, how do you feel good about turning $1.76 in relief into $1? i’d argue any “incremental giving” this creates is offset by the “i gave at the office” mentality it generates.

  20. Yule Heibel

    Possibly off-topic (since it’s not about Zynga – but it is about helping), did people see the article about Leila Chirayath Janah, Samasource, a cyber solution to global poverty? QUOTEA company that connects youth, women and refugees to outsourced contracts with global multinationals, Samasource is a new-generation business that uses the latest work-flow processes and cloud computing to provide economic opportunities, employment and training to the poor in developing economies.With 16 service partners that have created work for 600 marginalised individuals in Kenya, Uganda, Haiti, India and Pakistan in just two years, Samasource is a hopeful alternative to aid systems that have created debilitating co-dependencies in developing regions. It comes as no surprise then to learn that Samasource derives its name from “sama” a Sanskrit word that means equal.UNQUOTEIt reminds me of those initiatives to buy a farm animal for a family (usually the female head of household), which would then provide an economic basis on which to build a business (eventually). In Samasource’s case, the individual isn’t given a cow or a bunch of chickens, but a job – albeit in their village. QUOTEThe advent of cloud computing would change the global outsourcing business and enable Janah’s micro-work model to become reality that would link US multinationals to people desperately needing to make money in emerging economies. Before cloud computing, outsourcing largely required people to travel to, and cluster together, in massive work centres. The move to Internet-based computing saw software, resources and information migrate into the cloud which meant dispersed labour models became viable.UNQUOTEI could quote lots more from this article, but read it for yourselves – fascinating insights and a really fresh approach, it seems to me.

  21. Donna Brewington White

    So true, Charlie. Well said.