The Big Give: Kiva, Oprah, & the Reality TV Juggernaut

kiva.jpg“If reality television is indeed here to stay, its evolution into philanthropic programming is, for this viewer, a welcome one,” writes Kate Golden, E.D./Editorial Chief of Changing Our World in this prescient newsletter, “onPhilanthropy.”

Ditto that…In triplicate. But where IS Oprah’s “Big Give?”

I’ve been waiting for a year for her reality show since her initial press last winter about this time, to be exact. It now has a nebulous start date pushing from winter ’07 to rumors of early ’08 on ABC…hopefully it’ll be worth waiting for on the kids’ media influence front.

Anything aiming to inspire people to do good things by giving away millions is MY kind of positive media…Though I’ll admit there’s a side of me flailing and hailing ‘her goddesship’ like a taxicab, “Yo! Oprah!—Think you could kick some of those 46 million weekly viewers and 2.3 million magazine readers our way at Shaping Youth?”

Anyone have a contact at Harpo Productions to even let ‘em know we exist? Sigh.

I could sure use a ‘big give’ since we’re quietly making a difference pre-launch sans media moguls. Ah, such is the life as a wee nonprofit start-up…

Frankly, I’m just thankful this kind of ‘reality’ media even made it to the ‘greenlight’ stage, as it bodes well for kids.

Hopefully it will take root and blossom with the same wild-weed-growth that the music industry and social media has sown.

If anyone’s got the power to ‘do it right’ Oprah does…She’s got the clout to turn the tide of reality TV away from backwash once and for all.

Evidently, the show “will center on the competition, drama and emotion as millions of dollars are given away to make a difference in people’s lives across the country.” (sneak peek here of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in one of the episodes)

philanthropy-tv.jpgLove the idea. Wonder about the execution…Will it turn into sensationalized slop? Tug on the heart strings media manipulation?

Reality shows like the Home Edition/Extreme Makeover have lit up the ratings while warming hearts…so it’ll be interesting to see how Big Give is produced, and how it sells, because just tagging it with the Oprah brand is sure to give it a powerful presence.

Recently, Kiva’s founders, Matt & Jessica Flannery found that out firsthand. They’ve had so much play from their Oprah mentions and news feeds that their gift site for entrepreneurial investment has crashed the last three times I’ve tried to log on!

Granted, Kiva’s also got some serious press blitz/server overload due to the Today Show, Clinton’s book “Giving,” and maybe even their virtual world Second Life presence for all I know…but it just validates what can happen using the power of media for positive change when an org ramps up and takes off!

Clearly, Kiva’s hangin’ with some A-listers…

oprah-angel-network.jpgIf you thought former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki’s blog mention was big…put Oprah on your dance card and see who wants to boogie. Woohoo! They’re ‘Dancing with the Stars’ now!

I just hope cool sites like Kiva don’t get lost in the Oprahization of philanthropy, because there’s always a risk that media itself will overshadow the cause.

oprahs-book-club.jpgMuch like her book club skyrockets unknown authors into the stratosphere Kiva could be the digital equivalent of such explosive growth…(Ever notice how some of those authors end up with their own talk shows, and others we haven’t heard boo from? Maybe they’re all counting their cash on a Caribbean island and collaborating on their next tome, I dunno…)

Sure gives some teeth to Kiva’s business model and funding and couldn’t happen to a more worthy org…so yay!

Nice to see media, marketing and philanthropy collide…

Anyone else notice the trend toward ‘DO-ing over BE-ing’ these days?

CNN’s new “Be The Change” journal-style video channel looks interesting…with more than 200 million households/hotel rooms in over 200 countries/territories worldwide, I agree with Kate’s comment, “The potential to reach new audiences- especially in countries where philanthropy has not fully entered the mainstream – and encourage them to volunteer their own time and money is huge.”

Whew. I’ll say.

But wait a sec…do youth philanthropists even tune in to CNN? Or do they still mostly get their news from The Daily Show or Comedy Central’s Colbert Report? Hmn…

Eh. Either way, it looks worthy from a ‘reality show’ media message regardless…As a counter-marketing queen, I’ll take ANY positive media that falls in the ‘be the change’ category.

Rock on, ‘reality TV/righteous cause’ folks…It’s a quantum shift away from Paris, and that’s encouraging in itself…

Visual Credit: Logos from respective sites, TV ‘phenom’ graphic from philanthropy blog article: How Television is Playing Its Part in the Popularity of Philanthropy



  1. I can’t wait to see the big give too! Just saw a great spot about Kiva on CNBC. great post.


  2. It’s OFFICIAL…MARCH 2ND 2008 IS THE DEBUT! Hat tip to Bill Daul for this ‘hot off the press’ link…

    Now…anyone know anyone ‘on the inside’ there to let ’em know of our existence?

  3. I wish I could tell Oprah about all of the people in the USA that are loosing their homes to bankruptcy due to the high cost of living. My Husband and I have worked hard trying to hold on to our home for seven years now. We have had to rob Peter to pay Paul for the last few years. It breaks my heart having to tell our boys that we have to move.The all America dream is to have a Family a litte piece of land and a home to call your own. The hard working poor just can not do that anymore.If I could only get some help , but from where.Just maybe if Oprah could see my Family`s tears she would help us and people like us on Oprah`s big give. Do you know how to get this message to her. Please help!!!!!

  4. gosh, Mary, I wish…

    yes, you’re right, it’s a universal conundrum, as Countrywide Mortgage and other lenders lay off right and left and foreclosures and auctions kick in…(we have one right down the street)

    Heartbreaking indeed…As you can see by #3 above, I’m in the same boat of ‘wishing we knew’ how to tell ‘big media’ about big problems…It’s a huge conversation…the only thing I can say is you might bring your local media into the conversation to shine the spotlight on your region and your personal issue as a human interest story? Sometimes in our SFChron, we have these ‘funds’ to help families in troubled times…worth a shot anyway.

    Your own plea speaks to the large issue of the economy, labor force, job cutbacks and instability as a whole…that speaks volumes and should be covered in the media far beyond ‘celebrity’ hoohaw…sigh. Hang in there…

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