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Turning global activism into a game

Heather Kelly, CNN
A trip to see Stevie Wonder play at the U.N. Day concert is one of the Global Good Challenge prizes.
A trip to see Stevie Wonder play at the U.N. Day concert is one of the Global Good Challenge prizes.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Global Good Challenge it trying to turn activism into a game
  • Prizes like tickets to a Lady Gaga concert could raise awareness of issues like malaria in Africa
  • The U.N. Foundation hopes the games will reach younger, Twittering constituents

(CNN) -- Every year, 1.5 million children around the world die from vaccine-preventable diseases, 10 million girls under 18 are forced into marriages, and 1 million people die from malaria.

What does it take to make people in developed countries more aware of these life-and-death issues happening in what can seem like distant parts of the world?

How about fun online games and the chance to win fabulous prizes, like backstage passes to meet Lady Gaga?

That's the concept behind the Global Good Challenge, a new initiative to grab the Facebook generation's attention. The online contest's goal is to promote the United Nations Foundation's missions and drum up support for international activism and the U.N. itself.

The games are a combination of simple one-question quizzes, sharing information like your ZIP code or e-mail address, and social actions such as Tweeting or following the organization on Twitter, Liking something on Facebook, or posting something directly to your timeline. Referring friends is also worth points. For every action you take, you earn "tickets," and for every three tickets you earn you are entered into the sweepstakes once.

Why the grab for your information and social media activity? The project's creators believe social capital is just as valuable as money. Like a benevolent Ursula the Sea Witch, the Global Good Challenge is most interested in getting your voice.

"We're trying to reach to a lot of different constituencies" said

Timothy Wirth, president of the U.N. Foundation. The games are a way of engaging a new, younger audience, and gathering broad citizen support. That can take the form of people calling their congressmen or any number of other informal actions, said Wirth, a former senator from Colorado.

The newest prize, announced on Friday morning in San Francisco, is the chance to ride along as a guest during an America's Cup practice run with champion yachtsman James Spithill.

"It's the equivalent of being on the back of a linebacker during a (football) game," Spithill said.

Even more interesting than the online challenges are the programs themselves, which are worth talking about without the promise of prizes. Shot@life is working to increase vaccinations in developing countries. Girl Up encourage American girls to get involved raising awareness of the issues girls face around the world, and the U.N. programs addressing them. Nothing but Nets raises money for mosquito nets to prevent malaria in Africa.

The Global Good Challenge project is the brainchild of the Global Entrepreneurs Council, a group of successful under-40 entrepreneurs assembled to refresh the UN Foundation's image and find new ways to promote its programs by tapping into the social media set. Members include Zaw Thet, Brian Gott, Sergio Fernández de Cordova and Randi Zuckerberg. Wirth affectionately refers to the group as "our young tigers."

Each contest is open for a limited amount of time, and new prizes and challenges will be added in the future. Current prized include the America's Cup ride-along, two VIP tickets and backstage passes to a Lady Gaga show, tickets to see Stevie Wonder at the U.N. Day concert, and a chance to go to the MTV Video Music Awards. To win, you just need to spread the word.

"You will literally be becoming a digital do-gooder, or a 'clicktavist,' and saving someone's life," said Elizabeth Gore, the U.N. Foundation's vice president of global partnerships.

The U.N. Foundation was founded by Ted Turner in 1998.

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