Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hello? 'iPhoned' In A Donation - A Large Donation

Would you pay $100,000 for an iPhone? Would you give $100,000 to help get life-saving AIDS medicine to Africa? How about both for the same price?

Keep a Child Alive (KCA) marshaled its forces to "hijack the line" at Apple's SoHo store in New York City. Working in shifts, almost 60 volunteers stood first in line for more than 80 hours -- from 7 a.m., Tuesday, June 26 until the iPhone went on sale that Friday, June 29, at 6 p.m. The organiztion then turned around and put the item, which retails for $500, on sale on eBay. The $100,000 winning bid beat out 21 others.

Sure, the six-figure contribution isn't bad for a fledgling nonprofit that raised $3 million last year. But the exposure for the three-year-old Brooklyn charity is like those credit card commercials: priceless.

The media coverage of the KCA's iPhone campaign was estimated to be worth millions of dollars, said Senior Vice President Elizabeth Santiso, who's collected every piece, with more than 300 pages of press worldwide from as far away as Thailand.

"We try to keep things lighthearted because it's a serious issue," Santiso said. KCA aims to work directly with clinics in Africa, cutting through bureaucracy to get life-saving treatments to children and families with HIV/AIDS. "This type of guerilla marketing is essential for nonprofits that are working with something as timely as AIDS."

The iPhone will be awarded to the winning bidder at KCA's annual gala in October to honor U2 lead singer Bono. The event raises funds ($1.5 million last year) to cover operating costs so donations can go directly to programs.

KCA also gained attention with its "I Am African" ad campaign, which featured celebrities intraditional African paint or beads. Santiso said the organization doesn't shy from controversy "because it stirs conversation." - Mark Hrywna

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