A few days ago I called on my Twitter network to participate in a vote to help brothers Kyle and Brady Baldwin win $10,000 with which to buy and distribute 8,000 books to needy children through the My Own Book Foundation they set up when they were 14 and 16 years old (hear an interview with Kyle and Brady Baldwin, here). The competition for the money is run by Ashoka’s Youth Venture and is apparently sponsored by Best Buy. The voting procedures aren’t the simplest and the site is anything but user-friendly, but it was worth it to spread the word for a good cause and to help these two young and selfless Boy Scouts raise money to continue the amazing work they do.
I called on the goodwill of my own community and specifically asked influential people like Mitch Joel (3,500 followers), Chris Penn (3,500 followers) and Chris Brogan (25,000 followers) to help spread the word to their networks and they helped spread the word. More people continued to retweet the appeal for voters. It seemed exciting to me that there would be a chance at helping Kyle and Brady win their money.
Alas, Ashoka’s Youth Venture website is not ready for prime time. The voting interface regularly fails or gets stuck when you submit your vote then tells you that you don’t have appropriate privileges to vote. You’re supposed to be able to vote once each day (not so). To make matters worse, the contact page doesn’t load so you can’t report any problems. I found another route to report concerns, and after 48 hours have heard nothing.
I blew the call. It would have been far better to appeal to everyone to donate $5 to the My Own Book Foundation. Even if only 3,500 people donated $5 each, Kyle and Brady would raise $17,500 — much more than they stand to win through a site that for all, intents and purposes, doesn’t really exist. Imagine if 25,000 people pitched in???