Dave Gloss gives “mess maker,” as his job title. He actually co-founded Here’s My Chance to work as an interactive cause marketing agent – which means he mobilizes any number of digital strategies to engage audience participation in profit and nonprofit causes – but for a young technology entrepreneur, “mess maker,” just rolls off the tongue better.
“I don’t really know what I’m doing a lot of the time,” Gloss said, “but I find the people who are smarter than me to help get things done.”
Michael Hoffman is a smart person. As CEO at See3 Communications, a new media firm that works exclusively with nonprofits to advance social causes, Hoffman partnered with YouTube six years ago to create a video competition called the doGooder Awards.
They invited nonprofit organizations nationwide to submit five-minute videos that told a story of the impact of their work. The public voted on the nonprofits’ videos that were posted on YouTube.
After some whispering in Hoffman’s ear, Gloss got the first-ever local version of the doGooder Awards to take place in Philadelphia this year. The idea to propose the project came to him during one of his frequent meditations.
“I see myself as a producer,” Gloss said, “My role is to bring the right people together.”
Gloss set out to bring local filmmakers and nonprofit organizations together, two groups who might not otherwise know about each other. In June, he started talks with Comcast and the media production company ShootersINC to help him present the Philly doGooder Awards. By September, the infrastructure for the competition was complete.
“Somehow we got our shit together,” Gloss said.
The doGooder Awards in the City of Brotherly Love will occur in five phases: the Hackathon, general submissions, public voting, organization needs assessments in honor of Martin Luther King Day, and the awards ceremony.
“Dave is a very focused, ambitions guy,” said Thomas Firchow, senior account executive at ShootersINC, “I’m not surprised in the least he was able to accomplish so much so fast.”
The Hackathon, which ended November 11, invited professional filmmakers to produce videos for nonprofits. The general submission round is underway until December 10. Instead of using YouTube, Gloss kept the competition hyper-local by having a regional news site, Philly in Focus, host the Philly doGooder videos.
With 42 videos currently uploaded, only 33 more can enter. Gloss and his fellow organizers plan to cap the competition at 75 so they can provide an MLK Needs Assessment to each participating nonprofit. The MLK Needs Assessment, occurring on January 21, spends four hours with each organization to determine what resources the organizations need, and to develop a plan for getting them. The Hackathon and general submission video winners will be announced at the Philly doGooder Awards ceremony held on February 21.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” said Meghan Mallouk, the marketing and membership manager for the Fairmount Park Conservancy, “We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.” Mallouk and Anna Stormer, an executive assistant at the Conservancy, attended the Hackathon on behalf of their nonprofit that helps preserve and improve the Fairmount Park System.
Filmmakers and nonprofits in Philadelphia applied separately to participate in the first phase of the competition. At the Hackathon kickoff on November 2, Gloss drew names from a hat to randomly assign the teams, who then had 10 days to produce their videos.
Firchow represented ShootersINC at the Hackathon. He walked among the 25 filmmaker-nonprofit teams doling out advice as needed. Firchow described Shooters’ role during the event as a consultant to help guide the teams through storyboarding and staying focused during the film-making process. He will serve as one of the judges of the Hackathon videos at the February awards ceremony.
“There’s lots of waiting in the wings until someone needs guidance,” Firchow said.
Aidan Un, who made the video for the Fairmount Park Conservancy, jumped right into brainstorming with Mallouk and Stormer, even though he’s only been professionally producing video for the past year. They decided to focus on the Conservancy’s Hunting Park Revitalization Project. Mallouk and Stormer introduced Un to Leroy Fisher, the president of a stewardship group for the park.
“I’d drive to the park in the morning and basically stay there until the sun went down,” Un said, “and that was how I spent my 10 days.”
In Un’s finished product, Fisher walks through Hunting Park sharing a story of playing football there while his father watched. Fisher talks about the park after it fell into disrepair, saying kids started to play ball in the street, dodging cars because that was safer than risking a fall on drug paraphernalia in the park. While Fisher’s narration plays, his mouth never moves in the video. Un edited the film as if the narration were an internal monologue of Fisher’s memories.
“It’s a good tool for us to use when we talk to funders,” Mallouk said. The Fairmount Park Conservancy is still raising money to fix up the football field at Hunting Park. She’s already added the video to the Conservancy’s YouTube channel.
Marianne Bellesorte, the senior director of public policy and media relations at Pathways PA, said her organization had worked with video on and off for the past few years, “but none of them seemed to get across the message we wanted.” Pathways provides women in vulnerable situations with residential and community-based services.
“We were excited to pair with someone who could help us with our vision,” Bellesorte said. Steven Denisevicz, the filmmaker paired with Pathways, came up with the idea to shoot their video in black and white with an accent color of purple, the color that recognizes domestic violence. Bellesorte said they plan to start pushing the video on their social media outlets the week voting starts.
Un’s video of Hunting Park currently has 129 views on Philly in Focus. That number places Un’s piece in the upper bracket of video views, excluding an outlier video, “One Simple Wish: It takes a Village,” which has an extraordinary 912 views. Filmmaker James Madison submitted “It takes a Village,” on behalf of One Simple Wish, an organization that fulfills wishes for children in foster or vulnerable families.
When Un started working on his Philly doGooder piece, he said he just wanted to make sure his video didn’t seem amateur in comparison to the other filmmakers he met at the Hackathon. But as he worked on his project, his confidence grew. “I wanted to make more than just a passable video,” Un said, “I want people to watch it and say ‘Wow, this is well-made.’ I hope people feel like they’ve seen something of value that gets them thinking and, even better, doing.”
The Philly doGooder videos are on view at phillyinfocus.com/dogooder. Public voting begins December 17 and runs through January 31. The final awards ceremony will take place February 21 in Hamilton Hall at UArts.