Pepsi announced a $20 million corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign, in lieu of its traditional Super Bowl sponsorship, called the Pepsi Refresh Project.
The program essentially gives monthly grants to different organizations or ideas that are chosen via online voting by the general public. It's like a social responsibility idea generation site funded by a major soft drink company. Anyone can submit an idea and anyone can vote. Pretty cool. There are a four different monetary categories that an idea can compete in from $5,000 to $250,000 and Pepsi awards the top winners in each category—how many top ideas depends on the monetary amount (i.e. many more $5,000 idea projects are funded than $250,000 projects).
So far the level of engagement is huge! It's a challenge just to get your idea in the running (they only accept so many ideas per month for voting) and then the voting competition is fierce. It's great to see so much engagement between a company, it's consumers and a wide variety of charities and community projects.
Okay, I'm gushing a little, but I'm a fan of CSR programs. Some people write them off as merely green washing large corporations to make them feel friendlier, and sure, most companies aren't going to participate in such a program unless they see some sort of ROI, but even so, don't you like seeing corporate money going to good causes? I do.
Global Genes Project, which is working with the Children's Rare Disease Network for their Pepsi Refresh idea. Essentially, the Global Genes Project aspires to serve as an awareness and funding platform for rare diseases. Rare diseases suffer in these areas simply because they're each so rare, but if you add up all of the rare diseases and the number of people affected by them, you start to get more significant numbers. Therefore the Global Genes Project is a way for many smaller rare disease charities to work together toward mutual goals. Pretty cool idea honestly and it's up for the $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant to help jump start it (the Global Genes initiative is only about a year old). If you're so inclined, please check out vote4hope.org where they'll show you three different ways you can vote in the Pepsi Refresh Project for the idea. It's currently around #23 and only the top two ideas get the grant. You get up to 10 votes per day, so you can vote for other ideas too. Check it out!