Take Kickstarter’s ability to attract support through crowdsourcing, give it a political twist and you have
, a new web tool for political advertising, activism and advocacy.
RBV was created by high school chemistry teacher Josh Lucas who went to work on the idea in response to the state’s cuts in public education funding last year, a decision he says has taken a drastic toll on programs and resources in the poorest school districts in the state.
Bootstrapping the startup, RBV offers web-based tools to help organizations, campaigns and nonprofits—on any side of the political spectrum—raise money to promote causes and generate the media attention they believe they deserve.
“We’re working really hard to stay nonpartisan," says Lucas, president and founder. "We think our long term success is as an open platform and unbiased voice.”
Sto-Rox was among RBV’s first success stories. The school community, teachers and administrators came together and raised $2,600 to pay for ads that will begin running this month on several local TV channels, spreading the word of the plight faced by many of the lowest funded schools districts in the state.
“It’s a real chance for a community to affect the conversation around a well publicized issue,” says Lucas. “There’s room in our model for the next election to really give the people some control of the mass media.”
RBV works by offering interested parties a “branded issue portal” page, a webpage where they can advertise themselves and their funding goals. Once an ad is fully funded by users, RBV distributes the ads to appropriate vendors across the nation.
RBV makes its money by charging a small transaction fee for each ad funded, in addition to tee-shirts and demographic data sold.
The site has is attracting a diverse interests. Among them are Haitian Families First, sisters Jamie and Ali McMutrie who are working to help families in Haiti; America’s Finest Hour, a celebration of the life of Ronald Reagan, and The Rox Reborn, celebrating the people and city of McKees Rocks.
“There will always be people who game the system,” says Lucas when asked how he plans to police the site. “We will work really hard to deliver honest info to our users.”
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Josh Lucas, RedBlueVoice