As many people know, on Monday of this week, the One Laptop Per Child project began its Give One Get One program whereby individuals who pay $399 (plus 24.95 for shipping) will end up buying two OLPCs -- one for themselves and one that "will be sent to empower a child in a developing nation." Of the $423.95 total out of pocket cost, $200 is tax-deductible from your income. The "G1G1" program only lasts until the end of this month and it remains to be seen just how successful it will be in pushing OLPCs out to kids in developing nations. One thing working in favor of the program is that it's the season for giving. One thing working against the program? It's the season of giving. This is, of course, the time of year where many people are already trying to figure out how best to stretch their budgets in order to accommodate their holiday gift buying. For most people I know, $423.95 isn't exactly pocket change.
But one way to look at it is how T-Mobile is offering a year's worth of T-Mobile Hotspot access (T-Mobile values this at $350) to anybody who participates in the program. If you find yourself in or near T-Mobile hotspots on a regular basis and need WiFi access for your notebook, PDA, or smartphone, then T-Mobile's offer practically turns participation in the G1G1 program into a wash.
At least one employer however has come up with another way to ease the sting of participating in the G1G1 program. Earlier this week, Quality Solutions founder Fran Toolan wrote [and blogged] the following to the staff of his small company:
I encourage you all to look at [the G1G1 program] very closely. In fact that I want to incent you all to look closely at this....[Quality Solutions] will pay any of you that get involved with this program $200 per laptop you buy.
According to Toolan, 6 of Quality Solutions' 20 employees have already opted-in for the program. Toolan goes on to suggest that other businesses in his industry (book publishing) take the same approach to paying the OLPC forward. This is brilliant and the only thing I'd add is that businesses of any type should consider adopting the program.
Furthermore, if the OLPC program managers want to match that brilliance, then they would be advised to take a queue from social networking world by creating a variety of digital badges that both individuals and businesses like Quality Solutions can attach to their Web sites and blogs.
For example, there could be a static badge for individuals with the OLPC logo that says "I gave." There could be another for businesses like the one I mocked up (above left) that says "We match." There could be other variations on these digital logos that, when refreshed, show the most recent tally of children who will get OLPCs as a result of the most recent contributions to the G1G1 program. These badges would link back to the OLPC Web site where other organizations could find "quick start kits" for firing up a matching program immediately. For example, the kit could include text that employers could easily cut and paste into the e-mails they distribute to their staffs as well as easy ways for staff to grab the digital badges and paste them into their blogs and e-mails.