Sunday, March 19, 2006

Support Masonic youth groups with an ad on "A Million Pixels US"

DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.

DeMolay alumni include Walt Disney, John Wayne, Walter Cronkite, football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton, legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, news anchor David Goodnow and many others. Each has spoken eloquently of the life-changing benefit gained from their involvement in DeMolay.

Brother John Ratcliff of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, is Chapter Dad for the Troy, Missouri, DeMolay. As a fundraiser for the group, he has set up

Mary and the Widow's Son urge you to support this DeMolay chapter by buying a pixel ad on Brother John's site.

Here's more about the concept, from John's blog
I’m sure you have heard by now about the guy who sold a million pixels on the Internet for a dollar a pixel and, yep, he made a million bucks. Good for him. And, perhaps, you have heard about the guy who sold a million pixels on the internet for a penny a pixel and made a cool ten-grand. Good for him too.

This got me thinking, could I use this same approach as a fundraising opportunity for my son’s youth group? I checked out these other sites and the first thing I noticed is that they are really ugly. It is also clear that fairly random people bought advertising on the sites just because it was part of a fad.

However, there can only be so many "million pixel" sites before the idea loses its appeal. In fact, when I investigated getting a URL reserved for a site it was obvious I wasn’t the only one who had this idea. In fact, there are now thousands of "million pixel" websites out there competing for your pixel dollars. It has even created a whole new class of internet advertising called "pixel ads."

One advantage of pixel ads is that it is a neat way to browse a lot of sites from a single portal. That said, I think it would help if the links were all related by some theme instead of this random mish-mash of marketing mania found on these other sites.

I concluded there should be some basic requirements set for a new pixel-ad site that would have any chance of success in this crowded market. Here is what I came up with:

All money goes to charity. I’m not trying to line my own pockets. Every link purchased is a donation to a worthy cause.

Each time someone donates to "A Million Pixels US" they not only get acknowledged for their generous contribution but they will also know exactly where their money goes. Every single penny raised will be reported and every penny spent documented on this public website. For example, currently my son’s youth group is trying to raise money so they can attend the annual State convention in May. We need at least $2,000 to send the entire chapter. If we are lucky enough to raise more money than we need for State Conclave then we will donate it to the other Masonic Youth groups in our area, including Rainbow for Girls and Jobs Daughters, as well as supporting own charities.

We will not accept links that are inappropriate or do not match the general theme of the site. This means there will be no ads for weight-loss, internet gambling, or any other inappropriate material. We will accept links to the following kinds of Masonic-themed sites:
  • Personal weblogs of Master Masons
  • Links to Masonic-themed message forums
  • Masonic Blue Lodge sites
  • Shrine sites
  • Eastern Star Sites
  • Rainbow Sites
  • DeMolay sites
  • Masonic magazines or books
  • Scottish Rite
  • York Rite
  • Job's Daughters
  • Amaranth
  • White Shrine
  • Shrine Circus
  • Masonic Buildings/Facilities
  • Masonic-themed photographs or histories
  • Grand Lodge sites
  • Commercial sites selling Masonic supplies
  • Anything else deemed appropriate, such as links to non-Masonic themed weblogs, appropriate discussion forums, and vanity links to photo-albums
To make the site visually appealing, the graphics real-estate being sold will be negative space on an attractive image that helps sell the theme of the charity. Since my charity is Masonic Youth groups I used a classic image of the "Square and Compass" as the background theme.

Image space is pre-divided. Effectively turning it into a "subdivision" where you buy a specific piece of image real-estate. Allmost all space that is being sold is in square blocks (except for a few rectangular plots) that are an even multiple of 10 pixels on a side.

The million pixels (of which we are selling about 500,000) is subdivided into 201 plots; ranging from $4 for a 20x20 pixel square to $100 for a 100x100 pixel spot. For every $10 you donate you will receive an additional free "micro-link" that will be hidden somewhere in the image. Here are the plots available for sale.
  • $100: (100x100) 13 plots offered, 10 bonus micro links with each
  • $81: (90x90) 5 plots, 9 micro-links
  • $64: (80x80) 5 plots, 6 micro-links
  • $50: (100x50) 32 plots available, 5 micro-links
  • $49: (70x70) 1 plot, 5 micro-links
  • $36: (60x60) 10 plots, 4 micro-links
  • $25: (50x50) 7 plots, 3 micro-links
  • $16: (40x40) 20 plots, 2 micro-links
  • $9: (30x30) 32 plots, 1 micro-link
  • $4: (20x20) 77 plots, no micro-link offered.
All plots sold include, for free, a one pixel border all of the way around the edge to help distinguish your ad from its neighbors. We are not selling all "one million pixels." We are, in fact, only selling about half of that, at a penny a pixel. The rest is reserved for the original background artwork or for free bonus micro-links.

Since my charity is Masonic Youth Groups (DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, and Rainbow for Girls), I want to engage the very active online Masonic community. Freemasons are, by nature, generous. We give frequently to many charities within our own lodges and area. However, there is another Freemason community out there which is bound, not by individual lodge, but by Weblogs and discussion forums. Here, with the click of a mouse button, a brother Master Mason can donate a few dollars to a worthy charity and receive a link to their blog, forum, or lodge website.

View or donate: See the million pixels page

Photo: Alex Ratcliff being installed as Chaplain of Troy DeMolay

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