Mike Villar on Virtual Philanthropy and PhilippineAid.com
In a span of only two days, the website Philippine Aid was able to raise over P300,000 for the Philippine National Red Cross, to support the organization’s efforts to help the victims of Typhoon Ondoy. We were able to interview the man behind the site, Mike Villar.
What inspired you to start Philippine Aid?
I’m almost ashamed to admit that, in the past, when disaster struck other parts of the country (and the globe), I’ve always felt indifferent. And really, if you read my blog, I’m not *exactly* a good guy in the conventional sense. I guess you really don’t realize how severe these things are until they hit you close to home.
When you see people’s houses half-submerged–houses of people you know–it just hits you “this is really happening!” and instinctively, you jump up and do what you can to help. Being a professional Internet Marketer, with considerable clout in the local internet community, I figured creating a website to collect financial aid is the best I can do.
Who helped out?
EVERYONE helped me, every single contact I have in the local internet community was instrumental in getting the word out; pounding twitter, blogging about it, posting on Facebook. The concerted community effort was so tremendous that the site reached its tipping point in around 4 hours.
I found out about chipin from one of my Internet Marketing Idols: David Armano. David mobilized his social media contacts to raise money for Daniela, a woman who divorced her husband after years of abuse and was in need of a new home. The initiative’s original goal was 5,000USD; it ended with 545 contributors generating over $16,000 in donations.
How easy was it to set up Philippine Aid? All in all, how much did everything cost?
Very easy. Less than an hour, I think… I installed WordPress [the blogging software he used to publish regular updates on the site] using DreamHost’s auto installer.
I already had existing web hosting from DreamHost so all I needed was a domain—luckily after staying with DreamHost for almost 3 years, I had a couple of free domain registrations I could avail of. So the answer to your question is: Zero pesos and Zero cents.
PayPal froze your account after a while, requiring documentation from the PNRC. Was it because you broke a certain amount? Or do they do that for donation-drives in general?
The deluge of donations coming in probably raised flags. And yes, I think they do that for all donation drives which is understandable. There are a lot of opportunists out there who wouldn’t think twice of taking advantage of a situation such as this.
I did speak with the PNRC Rizal Chapter Administrator and she said that she would be more than willing to give me a letter of subordination as soon as possible. She was really thankful for everyone’s efforts too.
Additionally, I heard that PNRC is making a donate-via-PayPal option available. Once that happens I will be redirecting traffic to their account. I’m really happy that Philippine Aid and sites like Txtpower.org’s efforts brought the importance of technology to light
Are there any plans to keep the site alive, for future Philippine Aid projects?
While I was doing this project, I found out that there is a natural high in helping out other people–something I wish I realized earlier in my life. Yes, even long after the relief operations for Ondoy are done, there are going to be people in the Philippines who are going to be in need. I plan on using the site to amplify pleas for help from the Philippines and try to get them as much help from the community as possible.
What do you think helped Philippine Aid achieve its success, aside from your contacts in the internet marketing community? Surely you couldn’t have visualized that you would raise hundreds of thousands!
Here’s a cryptic viral marketing lesson as an answer: There is no better ‘virus’ than one that infects for a cause… a GOOD cause.
That’s from who?
Haha! Thanks for your time Mr. Villar, looking forward to your future contributions online!
And I look forward to doing more interviews for one of the best, if not THE best Tech blogs in the country. [Disclaimer: Mike and Rico used to be officemates]
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 at 7:30 am and is filed under Featured, Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.