Ok so Richard, can i call you Richie? Dunno if you saw my tweets the other day, but i deliberately tagged your official account @richardbranson in the hopes that you’d respond. Alas you did not so i’m writing you this open letter because i reckon my idea is worthwhile and also i can explain myself better here than in several 140 character snippets. You’re busy…i get that, but hopefully this post will somehow make it to your desk. I read that you were once asked what your biggest motivation was and you answered “to keep challenging myself”. So you could see this as challenge, a way to merge exercise and charity where everyone comes out a winner.
Here’s the drill…basically my idea is to blend excercise and charity via your Virgin Active health clubs. I know that you have signed up to Giving Pledge and committed to give away half your fortune to philanthropic causes. Well played. An obvious indication that you are willing to help those less fortunate. I also would like to contribute and so do millions of other people out there, but we just need to actually do it. The greatest stumbling block is choosing a worthy cause and then actually sending them money. What if you removed that stumbling block and made it easy…and then at the same time told people that they could simultaneously improve their health and fitness.
Here’s where you come in Richie.
Imagine being at a Virgin Active gym and knowing that running for 20 minutes on a treadmill would result in Virgin donating a small amout to charity. Imagine running on that treadmill for 15 min and thinking about stopping and giving up, but then carrying on because that extra 5 min would contribute towards the wellbeing of someone less fortunate. I would keep going and i have no doubt most others would.
So your key objectives would be to
- generate funds for charity
- improve health and fitness of Virgin Active members
- give Virgin Active members a ridiculously easy way to donate to charity
- make Virgin look awesome for improving humanity
- get Richard Branson a Nobel prize (ok not really, but i’m throwing that in anyways coz it would be rad and i’m visualizing)
Sorry i know that may not be the most flattering picture of you, but it’s the only one i could find of you on a treadmill in a Virgin Active gym.
Now i’m not the most technologically inclined chap out there so i’m not sure how the software would actually work, but you have the machines in all the health clubs. They could be programmed to give people the option to choose the exercise that would result in Virgin donating to charity. For every 20 min they spend on a designated exercise machine Virgin would donate to charity. How much is entirely up to you…i’m sure you have smart geeky number cruncher types who can figure out what you can afford.
Every Virgin Active member has a membership card with a magnetic strip that could be used to scan into each machine prior to them choosing the charity exercise. That way you could keep track of the data. Who they are, how long they have exercised on each machine and how much money they generated for charity.
With all that data you could even create a competitive element. Have a leaderboard within each gym and on each machine showing which member donated the most to charity on that particular day, week or month. Give them prizes etc.
You could even combine all the amounts in a particular gym and then make the various gyms around the contry compete for bragging rights to see which one donated the most and whose members are the most ‘active’…physically and also philanthropically (not sure if that’s a word, but you get my drift).
I also thought about building in an incentive for members whereby the money they end up donating could be deducted from their monthly membership fees. Or getting their health insurance company to subsidise the amount. I’m sure the health insurers would be game for that…healthier members mean less claims in future.
All in all it’s obvious i havn’t really hammered out the details, at the end of the day the most important thing is that money goes to those who need it the most. Virgin Active members get physically healthier and feel better about themselves for making a difference by donating to charity, Virgin Active looks like an awesome health club and you Richie look like a bad ass for bettering humanity.
Ok that’s about it…i wanted to write a more concise post, but i’m lazy so i’ll leave it up to you to figure out. Do your whole visionary thing and what not.
Ball is in your court, you know where to find me.