Cash mobs are the kissing cousins of philanthropy. “Kissing cousins” are those distant relatives you know just well enough to greet with a kiss. It seems to me that the motivations that inspire us to support local charities are also what’s driving the growing cash mob movement.
Cash mobs, if you haven’t heard or experienced one, are a fast-growing phenomena that began in late 2011. Wikipedia says…
“A cash mob is a group of people who assemble at a local business and all buy items from that business. The purpose of these mobs is to support both the local businesses and the overall community. They may also serve a secondary purpose in providing social opportunities. They were inspired by flash mobs. The cash mob is related to the carrotmob, which supports companies for ethical, mainly pro-environmental actions.”
The citation in Wikipedia goes on to state that cash mobs have taken place in 32 states. The concept has even come to Northern Michigan. The local press has reported two events within the past several weeks, one at a camera store in Manistee and another at a bakery in Traverse City.
What motivates cash mob participants? Many express their desire to spend locally and to support small business owners. Reading between the lines, it’s not hard to find themes familiar to the non-profit community: the desire to make a difference in our communities; to help someone who is working hard to better themselves; to contribute to a greater cause, one that goes beyond your own self-interest.
Whether the concept is fleeting or turns out to have staying power, it’s encouraging. People who commit their resources to take positive action are an essential building block for our society and for our communities. We need empowered, committed, active citizens to be volunteers and donors for our charitable organizations.
Smart local charities, who already bring together civically minded, charitable individuals could capitalize on the phenomenon. For example, perhaps public radio stations, through their social media channels, could organize support for local businesses that underwrite programs. The United Way could attempt to mobilize support for member agencies.
The core concept, rallying people to take action and support an entity valued by the community, seems an entirely appropriate way to reflect appreciation. Let’s hope the cash mob phenomenon leads to greater community engagement at every level.
- “Cash Mobs” gather to splurge in locally owned stores (news.yahoo.com)
- ‘Cash mob’ giving boost to struggling Bremerton businesses (king5.com)
- How to Attract a Cash Mob (openforum.com)
- 1st ‘cash mob’ in West Seattle/White Center to be @ Village Green (westseattleblog.com)
- “Cash Mob” Business (newsfeedoftoday.wordpress.com)