Eastside Moms Destroy Amputees in Mouse-Clicking for a Charitable Payout

Donations on the online odometer.

Clicks are the new currency in an Internet economy. And that's never been truer than in the case of a charitable promotion by Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union that climaxed last Friday.Seattle Metropolitan pledged to give $5,000 to a worthy nonprofit—whichever of seven finalists received the most votes on the credit union's Web site. The potential winners included a group that prepares meals for the homeless and a scrappy theater company.There were no limits to voting; no registering or providing e-mail addresses. Voters could just keep refreshing the page and voting again and again. It was all about passion and dogged determination. So it perhaps wasn't too much of a surprise which of the seven groups managed to crush the competition.Within hours, a tiny cooperative preschool on the Eastside—which employs just one teacher and assistant and relies heavily on parent volunteers—had taken a commanding lead. By Friday, Nov. 20, it had generated over 130,000 votes/clicks—more than twice the nearest competitor. Carnation Co-op says it will use the $5,000 to pay for future operating expenses and provide tuition aid.In seventh place was Amputee Advocates, which on Friday had barely mustered 2,000 clicks.The promotion, called "op:co op (operation cooperation)" is the latest phase of a huge marketing and rebranding effort that Seattle Metropolitan, like other local credit unions, has undertaken over the past couple of years. Their aim: to take advantage of recent financial distress and the PR black eyes suffered by big corporate banks while painting themselves as a folksier, more benign home for your ridiculously low-interest-earning savings account.Seattle Metropolitan even pledges to be guided by Seven Principles, with Principle #7 being: Giving Back to the Community Is an Obligation. And the community's obligation is to click for the gift.

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