A few weeks ago, we told you about Toyota's "Ideas for Good" competition, which encouraged scientists, inventors, and average Joes (and Janes) to put Toyota technologies to new uses. Now comes another community-minded contest from the automaker, which will give 100 Toyota vehicles to 100 U.S. nonprofits before August 16 -- and you can help choose the recipients.
Toyota recently solicited applications from nonprofits across the country, asking them to explain why they needed (and deserved) a new Toyota. An independent panel of judges who know their way around the field of philanthropy chose 500 finalists to compete in the contest.
Each day, Toyota pits five of those finalists against one another on its Facebook page. Like similar competitions, the organization with the most votes at the end of the day wins. As their prize, winners can choose to receive a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Prius, Sienna, Sienna Mobility, or Tacoma.
Good causes, bad contest
We're sure that each of Toyota's 500 finalists deserves a new vehicle. In fact, we're sure that Toyota's independent panel had a hard time whittling down the field to just 500.
However, contests like this make a little queasy. Here's why:
1. It's not especially ethical. Nonprofits in the U.S. receive much of their support from grants, which are awarded by informed panels of analysts, program managers, donors, and others familiar with the field of philanthropy. To turn that merit-based granting process into a popularity contest runs counter to the idea that nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are valuable to their communities.
2. It's not especially fair. The American Red Cross has a professional marketing staff and massive inroads across multiple social media channels. Pitting orgs like the ARC and their chapters against smaller organizations that provide after-school activities for rural communities or aid for people with disabilities in specific locales feels a little lopsided.
3. It seems a little disingenuous. Look, we're not naive. We understand that companies from the for-profit and nonprofit sectors take part in brand-building exercises like this all the time. But to see two major efforts in a row from an automaker that's been hit hard by the media over recalls...well, it seems like overcompensation. We don't mind rebranding exercises, but from where we sit, they work best when they're a tad more subtle.
All that being said, we're still happy to know that 100 worthy nonprofits will be getting some help from Toyota in the coming days. If you're interested in checking out the 500 finalists and casting your vote, you can visit Toyota's Facebook page. For more info about the contest, check out the video and press release below.
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Toyota 100 Cars for Good Program Opens Voting to the PublicPublic Voting Will Determine 100 Winning Nonprofit Organizations to Receive Toyota Vehicles
- Five nonprofit organizations will be profiled on Toyota’s Facebook page each day (http://www.facebook.com/toyota) from Monday, May 9 – August 16
- The general public is encouraged to vote each day to help determine winners
- One vehicle will be awarded each day through August 16 for a total of 100 vehicles
TORRANCE, CALIF. (May 9, 2011) – Toyota today announced that public voting for its “100 Cars for Good” program is now open through August 16. The program will award 100 vehicles over the course of 100 days to 100 deserving nonprofit organizations based on votes from the public.