By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
In light of the recent flash mob craze, where individuals gather to perform a particular act (popular flash mobs typically include a song or dance) in unison at a certain time, a new phenomenon is popping up across the nation: “cash mobs.” Cash mobs are designed to foster the shop local movement by organizing a group of people to meet at a locally owned and operated store and spend at least a certain amount of money to make a collectively larger economic impact. Comments on the Cash Mob blog suggest that people love supporting local businesses, but want to expand their reach to include local charities as well. If you are new to cash mobs and would like to organize your own to help nonprofits and/or small businesses, read on for tips on where to start.
Gather a group
Think of all the groups you belong to that care about making the community a better place: young professionals groups, your place of employment, a local chamber of commerce or even just a group of friends and family. Some of these groups may already be working on their own cash mob and could use your talents and network to make the event even more successful. If you are unable to find a cash mob plan already in progress, suggest one to a group you are a member of and offer to help spearhead the effort.
Identify a goal or mission
What is driving this event and what do the participants want to accomplish? By identifying your collective values and how you can make a positive impact in your neighborhood, you can determine a place (or places if you would like to make this an ongoing event) to shop.
Start a list of potential cash mob locations
If your goal is to help nonprofits, subscribe to listservs like Denver Young Nonprofit Professionals’ and follow local nonprofits on Facebook to find out about upcoming events and fundraisers (TIP: if you set up a Facebook page for your cash mob, it would be ideal to follow organizations on this account so you can repost the info for your group to follow). Signing up for information to come to you via email and/or social media makes it easier for you to quickly find local events and organizations to support (such as a local nonprofit holding a craft sale or partnering with a local eatery for a fundraiser—which supports both a local business and a nonprofit). Share these events with the group and keep a running list so decision makers have options when planning the event.
Spread the word
Whether you decide to start a social media account to share details of the event, email or start a phone tree, make sure that you are widely broadcasting the information so more people can participate. While you don’t want a group so large that you overwhelm the organization, the idea is to have a large enough group that it makes a significant contribution to the organization. Be sure to designate one person to communicate meeting places, times and other details with the group. If your group decides to have “rules” (suggested spending amount, what qualifications must an organization fit to be considered, etc.) as the blog mentioned above does, communicate those clearly with your group each time.
Be flexible and have fun
Cash mobs are fun and easy ways to improve your neighborhood, network and exercise leadership skills. The goal should always be to help the community in an exciting way, so don’t let the event cause you stress.
If you have organized or plan to organize a cash mob, we would love to hear about it. Share your ideas, suggestions and plans below with your fellow young nonprofit professionals.