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Pepsi Refresh Project

Personally, I prefer Diet Coke to Diet Pepsi.  But, an exciting new grant program from Pepsi is causing me to reconsider.  The Pepsi Refresh Project is giving away $1.3 million every month through January 2011 to individuals and organizations that develop innovative programs which have a positive impact on their communities.  What is unique – at least for now – about the Pepsi initiative is the way it uses the empowering principles of social media technology to determine grant awards.  Other corporations – including Western Union, Microsoft, Target, and J.P. Morgan Chase – have occasionally used interactive technology to solicit applications and user recommendations for corporate contributions.  Pepsi has taken the concept further, by leveraging its resources with the democratic principles of such user controlled philanthropy incubator sites as, and  Pepsi accepts grants in six categories (Arts and Culture, Health, Food and Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods, Education) and awards several in each category at the end of each month, based on the number of votes submitted for each application by members of the public.  In these challenging times, it is nice to see a company spend over $15 million on a program to improve its corporate image, which also provides resources that support good causes.  While the Pepsi project will quickly become very competitive and not solve any one organization’s financial problem, the real value of this innovative project would be if their use of social media principles had a viral impact on other corporate, foundation, and government grant making processes.


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