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Frequently Asked Questions

There's an old saying that there are two ways to make a donkey walk forward: Either offer a delicious carrot out in front of it, or hit its behind with a stick. Think of businesses as "donkeys" which people are trying to move. Traditional consumer advocacy uses a lot of "sticks," such as protests, petitions, boycotts, and so on. We want to use the "carrot" instead. We believe that we can get businesses to make big positive changes by offering them lots of money in return. It's a positive, win-win model. So that's what the "carrot" means. The mob refers to the large group of consumers who come together to achieve shared goals.

No. Never. And yes, the Oxford American Dictionary and New York Times have both spelled it with a big M, but you wouldn't jump off a bridge just because the NYT jumped off a bridge, now would you?

Get started here!

Carrotmobs are planned by local organizers. You cannot organize a campaign to benefit yourself.

Yes! We expect the biggest, most successful Carrotmob campaigns to be created by other organizations using our platform. We are focused on building the Carrotmob network, and we want this network to function as a "commons" which should be available for organizations to tap into in order to better advance their missions.

Most people see Carrotmob campaigns as an advocacy tool...a way to more effectively vote with your money, advance your values, and so on. But businesses think about Carrotmob from a business strategy perspective. Each business has its own priorities, but here are some common reasons why businesses may get excited about Carrotmob:

  • Increased sales
  • New customer acquisition (passionate customers looking for a values-aligned business to support)
  • Highly-customizable cause marketing tactic
  • Strengthens values-driven brands
  • Unique opportunity for authentic brand co-creation
  • Customer engagement opportunities via social media
  • Clear ROI from Carrotmob can make desired CSR projects financially viable
  • Promotion by a third-party lends credibility to CSR communications
  • Earned media opportunities, both local and national
  • Access to a new communication channel for sharing progress on good work in the future
  • Insights from rich aggregated customer data which includes values, location, demographic information, and more...

Carrotmob can create a great deal of value for businesses. But keep in mind, businesses can't take advantage of what Carrotmob offers unless they earn it by taking a significant action! Win-win!

There have been over 250 campaigns in over 20 countries. The majority of the campaigns which have happened so far have focused on issues of sustainability and energy (ie: stores doing energy-efficiency retrofits). So far the #1 country in the world for Carrotmobs is Germany, followed by the US, and then Finland. Australia has done the most on a per capita basis, with Canada in the number 2 spot. Asia, Africa and South America have each had Carrotmob campaigns, but Antarctica is our weakest continent, with zero Carrotmob campaigns. Hey Antarctica! You do realize that being a continent comes with certain responsibilities, right? I mean, sorry for melting you, but it's probably in your best interest to pull yourself together and start Carrotmobbing! UPDATE! Antarctica has responded!

Anyone can organize campaigns in their community. Carrotmob HQ does not generally organize small-scale community campaigns. Most campaigns are organized by ordinary people, community leaders, schools, advocacy organizations, and so on. However, when it comes to large-scale campaigns with larger companies, Carrotmob HQ will always be actively involved, vetting and approving the campaigns. Anyone who wants to create a campaign focused on large companies should contact Carrotmob HQ for assistance.

We used to spend a lot of time worrying about this, imagining that it would be a big problem with our model. What we've learned is that it's actually almost never a problem. The reason it hasn't been a problem is that the businesses who win Carrotmob campaigns are very interested in improving their reputations. They want to look good, so they have a strong incentive to follow through. However, in the future we plan to design campaigns to have even more certainty that the business will take the promised action. We are still researching what will be the best approach, but we have a couple options we're exploring. One approach is to simply sign contracts with businesses to create a legal obligation. Another approach is to collect payments from consumers directly (and give out redeemable vouchers), and in that position as a "middleman" we could hold a portion of the business' money in escrow until they completed the promised action.

We believe that there's no such thing as a "good business" or a "bad business." Every business has a wide diversity of practices that can each be judged individually. As far as Carrotmob is concerned, every business starts out with a blank slate. You can probably think of a dozen companies that you think are horrible. But even if you're right, Carrotmob won't pre-judge anybody, or automatically disqualify them from winning a campaign. Carrotmob will always be a safe place for brands. Everyone gets a chance to improve if they are willing to come to the table and take a good, meaningful action.

Furthermore, we have no problem with businesses that choose not to participate in our campaigns. We are here to help businesses do good by making it economically advantageous to do so. If businesses don't participate in our campaigns, we recognize that we have not yet offered enough value to them in return. There's just no good reason for us to ever criticize a business, so we won't. As long as businesses are honest with us, we're happy.

Well, some people may think that any work related to addressing social and environmental problems is inherently "political" in some way. But no, we don't think of ourselves as political. We don't do campaigns related to politics or elections, and we don't align ourselves with political candidates or parties. Why not?

Well, politics is a nasty horse race... the negativity of politics clashes with our positive carrot sensibilities. Politics is like several herds of horses running in different directions, and each herd hates all the other herds. Carrotmob is a unicorn. We're not like the other horses. We don't belong in anyone else's herd. Regardless of their herd, most horses tend to support what we're doing. Unicorns are rare, magical, and beloved by everyone. We're staying out of politics because we want to keep it that way.

Our goal is not to limit what organizers can do. All of the success of this movement has been (and will be) because of the energy and creativity of organizers. We want to push more power to our organizers. But we think it's in the mob's best interest that we have some sort of review process in place. We need to be part "spider" and part "starfish," as they say. Here are the main reasons for having a review process, and not necessarily approving every single proposed campaign:

1) We are a mission-driven organization. People join Carrotmob because they care about having an impact on a cause. Reviewing campaigns lets us make sure that all our campaigns are going to have a good impact, and not a bad (or non-existent) impact.

2) We need to be strategic about what messages we put out there. If someone creates a campaign which attacks a business, or promotes dendrophilia, people will get the wrong impression of what we're about. On behalf of Carrotmob organizers everywhere, we feel a responsibility to protect the reputation of the movement.

3) We are building a technology product to support campaigns. We need to have a focused product. We don't want people creating campaigns which our technology can't support, so we'll widen the scope of what we allow over time, as our technology develops.

We plan to expand the issues we allow over time, but we're going to start with a limited list of issues for the reasons explained in the previous question. Here are the issues we allow, and two examples to illustrate each issue:

Civil Liberties

For example:
Reward a business for changing a policy in order to better protect consumer privacy on the Internet.
Reward a business for changing a policy in order to advance freedom of speech.


Climate Change

For example:
Reward a business for making their operations more energy efficient or embracing renewable energy resources.
Reward a business for switching to a low-emission vehicle fleet.


Environment

For example:
Reward a business for improving their operations so they don't pollute water sources.
Reward a business for adjusting their supply chain in order to preserve the habitat of an endangered species.


Fair Trade

For example:
Reward a business for sourcing more of their coffee beans from fair trade sources.
Reward a business for prominently featuring fair trade products at their retail stores.


Food

For example:
Reward a restaurant for switching to local, organic, GMO-free food.
Reward a restaurant for offering more healthy/vegetarian/vegan menu options.


Health/Safety

For example:
Reward a business for removing a dangerous/toxic chemical from their product.
Reward a business for investing money in order to have emergency defibrillators on hand.


Human Rights

For example:
Reward a business for switching suppliers to ensure that when they buy their raw materials they aren't inadvertently supporting the child slavery industry.
Reward a business for refusing to do business with nations where the government encourages hostility and discrimination against its LGBT citizens.


Jobs/Workplace

For example:
Reward a business for changing a policy in order to allow employees to take more time off to be with their adorable newborn babies.
Reward a business for changing their operations in a way which creates more local, high-quality jobs.


Local Economy

For example:
Reward a business for embracing a policy which uniquely meets the needs of the local community.
Reward a business for taking actions which strengthen the local economy in a positive way, reinvesting locally rather than channeling community resources out of the community.


Social Justice

For example:
Reward a business for changing a policy in order to remove barriers preventing women from advancing into positions of leadership.
Reward a business for choosing to spend more money to safely dispose of waste, rather than incinerate their waste next to a school in a poor neighborhood and give all the kids asthma.


We wanted to start with these issues because we think they cover many of the most pressing social problems in the world, and they represent mainstream values. No list will ever be perfect, and this list is a starting point which will surely change in the future. If you don't see the issue you care about, don't panic, it may be a subset of one of these existing categories. Just because we didn't list your issue as an example doesn't mean it's not OK. If you're not sure whether your campaign idea will be approved, feel free to email us and ask us. If there's something big that you think we've missed, you can suggest other issues you'd like us to address by clicking here.

As a general guideline, we plan to base our decisions about what to approve based on the following beliefs: Facts matter. Science matters. Research matters. Here's an example of what we mean. We have a lot of campaigns focused on helping businesses take action to stop climate change. Let's say someone comes to us and proposes the following: "Let's reward Jimmy's BBQ Shack for burning more charcoal, all night long, even when they aren't cooking anything, because that will accelerate climate change, and catastrophic climate change will improve the global economy." We would judge this campaign to be based on ignorance, rather than facts, and we would not allow it on our website. We don't expect many people to propose campaigns like this, but hey, we ought to have a policy in place, so there you go.

If you disagree with a campaign, you shouldn't participate in that campaign. We're about voting with your money, but it's your money, so you get to decide what you want to vote for. The campaigns with the widest base of support will be the most successful, and less popular campaigns will be less successful. We're a grand buffet, not a prix fixe menu.

Also, if you've found a campaign you don't like, please keep in mind that just because a campaign exists in your community it doesn't mean that the Carrotmob organization has masterminded that campaign. If you find something about a campaign objectionable, send us an email to let us know.

So glad you asked. We have written up two documents about this... our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. If you have any feedback or suggestions on these documents you can email info@carrotmob.org.

Most people prefer using Facebook to join because it's the quickest and easiest way to create an account. It also makes it easier to share with your friends on Facebook (if that's something you want to do). We don't require you to connect your Carrotmob account with Facebook, but it's encouraged. We chose to request permissions when you join that will help make your experience as streamlined as possible, and the Carrotmob movement as successful as possible.

Here are the permissions we currently ask for, and the reasons why:

Basic Information: Your basic information gives us your name and picture so we can quickly and easily create your account. It also includes a list of your friends so we can show you which friends are also using Carrotmob.

Email: We need a way to contact you!

Location: This let's us make sure we tell you about local campaigns near you, and that we don't bother you about campaigns that are nowhere near you.

Likes: You're great and everything, but no, we don't actually care that you like "America's Next Top Model" on Facebook. As you know, we will have the biggest possible worldchanging impact if we are able to change large companies. So we have to grow our network and convince these big businesses that winning a Carrotmob campaign will be valuable to them. They will ask us questions about who our mobbers are, so having some stats will be critical to convincing them that they want our business. For example, we can go to an outdoor apparel company and tell them "We have 25,000 Carrotmobbers who like 'hiking' on Facebook!" and they will flip out. Or we could go to a restaurant and brag that we have 50,000 sushi lovers who are also interested in sustainability. We don't really care, but businesses will eat this stuff right up. This permission amplifies the power and influence of everyone in the mob.

Birthday: We're going to buy you a pony this year! Just kidding, it's the same as above... knowing the age range of our mob helps us convince companies that our people will be interested in whatever they are hoping to sell.

Post on Your Behalf: Sometimes we may ask for this permission. We want to make it easier to share campaigns with your friends so we can spread the word and grow the Carrotmob movement. We'll make it clear each time there's an opportunity for you to post something, so you'll be able to choose when you do and don't want to share.

So that's why we've chosen what we chose. Thanks for trusting us!

First, read this FAQ page. Then, if you have ideas, complaints, praise, suggestions and other questions that may be interesting to other people, please use our Feedback Form. If you represent a large business or an advocacy organization, email orgs@carrotmob.org. Any other inquiries can be emailed to info@carrotmob.org. You can also say hi on Facebook and Twitter, but we can't promise a response to every comment we get. Thank you!

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The fastest and easiest way to join Carrotmob is by connecting with your Facebook account. You will also be able see what your friends are doing on Carrotmob and quickly share some of your activities with your network. To learn more about how this works, read this. If you are curious about the permissions we're requesting of your Facebook account, read this. Clicking this button will NOT post anything to your Facebook wall.

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