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Building a Global Crowdfunded Magazine Literacy Marketplace

Our vision is to create a global online/mobile crowdfunded magazine literacy marketplace – where literacy programs post their needs (i.e. a shopping cart or basket of magazine requests – a wishlist) and consumers and businesses crowdfund those needs. It’s very similar to – except they do school supplies for teachers, and we do magazines for shelters, mentoring, job training, and foster care programs.

How it works.

  1. Literacy Programs register and post literacy needs creating a wishlist of magazines
  2. Consumers and Businesses fund new and send recycled magazines for literacy
  3. Literacy Programs order new magazines and recycled magazines for delivery
  4. Magazines get to new readers via literacy programs.

Magazine Literacy Marketplace - Share

We are combining the functions of the following technologies to make this happen:

WordPress VIP – Content Management System
ShopLocket – Ecommerce/Ordering – Contacts Database
Crowdhoster – Crowdfunding
Giftflow/Sharetribe – wishlist and marketplace match between needs and magazine supply

We get great support from Automattic and companies like Shoplocket and Crowdtilt – they are rockstars and we appreciate it immensely. We need to rise to deliver on our full promise to respect their enormous generosity. We are also getting expert UxD guidance and other support from champions at Bendyworks here in Madison, and others.

We’ve migrated over to the WordPress VIP CMS platform, which gives us a very robust, reliable, and easy to maintain infrastructure – as well as the ability to handle traffic spikes during promotional events and media campaigns.

We have (Non-Profit Starter Pack), which we are using as our central contacts database, and ideally, with the intention to feed our other applications – but we need to look at options for integrating with WordPress and our other systems.

We imagine our marketplace as a merger between DonorsChoose and Netflix (would like to showcase the magazines available for literacy programs in the way that Netflix showcases movies for selection). We want to then add rich meta data to the magazine listings to improve the information that literacy programs have to make the right selections for their particular needs… we’d then like to curate additional content around the magazine postings to extend that information further, so that literacy programs have more ideas for utilizing the magazines in their programs, based on magazine content and the exchange of ideas in a social networking platform.

In addition, we want the marketplace to be a platform for posting bundles of recycled magazines for selection by literacy programs. We need tools for volunteer teams around the U.S. and in other countries to describe and post bundles of recycled magazines that they have collected… in the U.S., the magazines are bundled in medium USPS flat rate boxes… we’d like the volunteers to be able to order the boxes via USPS APIs… they post their bundles in our marketplace like you would post an item for sale on ebay – so there is a title and a description of the bundle (what magazines are inside) and photos… but the price is zero (literacy programs get the bundles delivered at no cost to them)… we need to allow the literacy programs to place orders for the bundles, so it’s like an e-commerce transaction – however, bundles are “funded” for delivery or “unfunded” – i.e. we need a way for a third party donor to pledge to cover the shipping expense for the bundle. Once posted, then ordered by a literacy program… and funded, we need the shipping label printed (hopefully via API, although I don’t think the USPS has this one yet) as a PDF and emailed to the volunteer team that created the bundle… then we want to schedule postal service pick-up of the labeled bundle via USPS API.

Our challenge is that we want a single unified marketplace and streamlined user experience, but we are serving different audiences with two similar, but different products (new magazines and bundles of recycled magazines) – literacy programs that post needs for both new and recycled magazines and place orders… local volunteer teams that post bundles and schedule pick-up for delivery… and consumer and business donors who fund the transactions. Ideally, for new magazines, once requested and funded, we’d place orders for bulk shipment via existing publisher fulfillment systems.

We are experimenting with a number of applications… ShopLocket, a WP VIP partner, is available to us… it’s an e-commerce widget that we are using here:

It’s helpful and easy to deploy, but it’s a single product widget with no shopping cart – a potential drawback for literacy programs that want to order more than one bundle of magazines at a time – however, their team has been spectacular champions of our literacy needs, and hands on tweaking their code to work for us.

We are exploring forking giftflow, which recently shut down (PHP on codeigniter) – and sharetribe (Rails) – available as an open source projects on github, which could be a starting place for our marketplace, but we’d need to integrate with WP.

We are also exploring the crowdhoster platform for crowdfunding. We are among the first to be invited to use it.

It’s like kickstarter, but allows us to create unlimited campaigns and to custom brand the entire site. It handles payments and gives a fundraising progress bar for each campaign and we should be able to incorporate social sharing tools.

It’s perfect for industry employees and CSR leads to form fundraising/teams across their companies and social media networks. It could also be integrated into the part of our marketplace that crowdfunds literacy program requests – where consumers and businesses cover the expense of new and recycled magazines for programs. The integration will be tricky though and we also need to be respectful of our ShopLocket partnership – this is really an extension of that. The ShopLocket piece is for posting a ordering the recycled bundles, so there is differentiation… it’s just awkward and confusing if we don’t find a way to integrate the technologies at the user interface so we do not appear to be running separate systems – we need a unified front door to the market (i.e. it may be weird to see groceries at Target, but the big red logo and the door into the store hasn’t changed and frankly, they are selling a lot of groceries.)

Crowdhoster has been very generous toward us by extending the capability. Crowdhoster is built on selfstarter and is a project of Crowdtilt, which does the same thing without the custom site branding.

We’d like to improve the collection and creation of magazines bundles by creating a baseline database filled with magazine cover images and maybe even creating an app for volunteers that would do cover matching to load up the meta data for the magazines in each bundle to cut down on manual data entry. That would ease and speed the bundling process… images could be snapped with smart phones to not only grab meta data from the database for posting, but also to include with the marketplace listing. Even if that runs outside WP – we’d want to integrate it.

We want to do augmented reality wherever magazines are found – on newsstands and coffee tables – driving consumers to fund the magazines they love for delivery to our readers – at the push of a button or snap of a photo.

We need to integrate our database with our applications and WP VIP marketplace.

We have grants for all of google’s enterprise mapping tools, so want to build that in to pinpoint and create visualization around all our field teams, programs, and activities.

Google also supports us with generous adwords grants to drive traffic to our marketplace.

iMAGine it and make it so!

iMAGine Magazine Literacy

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