A few days ago, a reporter asked me how we planned on keeping control of Cash Mobs. In this age of social media, anyone could potentially organize a Cash Mob in their community without us necessarily knowing about it; wasn’t that a big flaw of our model? On the contrary, I responded, I think that is one of the great (unintended) strengths of how Cash Mobs have evolved. Each person who wants to organize a Cash Mob is encouraged to do so; we’re not trying to oversee them all.
Cash Mobs are organized by individuals in each community who want to do something good. Many of the early adapters like Lauren Way in San Diego, Lisa Gilmore in Los Angeles and Joanne Forster-Coffin in Chicago have long histories of leadership and civic involvement. It is inspiring that they are still so incredibly active in their communities, and that we are now all working on this together. The part of this adventure that has been even more rewarding, though, has been seeing people who don’t have that sort of history of civic involvement hearing about Cash Mobs and thinking to themselves that they, too, could have an impact in their community. These people inevitably email us to say that they decided to stop wishing that things were different and that they decided to organize a Cash Mob. This is almost always followed by an email a few weeks later to say that they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, and that they were already planning their next mob.
The best thing we can do is help people take responsibility for their communities, and it sometimes feels like we’re giving people the tools to become community leaders. Beyond the short-term cash infusion that a Cash Mob has in a business, I think that helping people become more active in their communities will be the best legacy we can leave.