Making a difference – one tree at a time

Gamification. What is it and what’s it got to do with philanthropy?

Snip20150914_5Bob Jacobsen can tell us. Jacobsen works for T-Mobile, a global telecommunications company, as their Senior Manager of Travel. In this role, Jacobsen is charged with incentivising T-Mobile employees to book travel smarter and, ultimately, to save the company money. He realised his audience is diverse in age and, as a result, their approach to the topic is different from one another. Enter gamification.

Jacobsen worked with his travel agency who had a gamification platform, which had not picked up steam, and brought it new life. He combined the best of this platform with a sustainability initiative by partnering with The Eden Projects, an initiative dealing with the catastrophic deforestation in Haiti. Jacobsen told Business Traveler News, “The Eden Projects employs entire villages to plant trees, which in turn gives the farmers and the planters money to send their kids to school.” Each tree costs only 10 US cents to plant, increasing the T-Mobile program’s impact. “If the traveler does everything right, they get 1,000 points. That plants 10 trees in Haiti.”Lush Tropical Jungle Rainforest Background

Just for one second, measure this impact. A T-Mobile employee books smart travel and earns points. Those points pay for trees to be planted in a devastated and impoverished nation. Those planted trees earn farmers and planters money to send their kids to school. T-Mobile delivers on its sustainability goals. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Each of us in the non-profit sector seeks to make a difference day in and day out. Bob Jacobsen and the people of T-Mobile have made a big difference. The staff created a model for others to follow. Isn’t this what philanthropy is all about?