VAIL, Colorado - Like many of us, Zack Yanger has had his share of strike-it-rich dreams. Now, he's trying to make that dream a reality, and benefit charity in the process.
Yanger, a "creative content producer" who splits his time between Vail and Brooklyn, has invented a social-media experiment, an attempt to raise $1 million, 25 cents at a time. If Yanger hits his goal, the money goes to charity.
People who donate are encouraged to track the project's progress online. They're also being asked to suggest worthy uses for the money, and vote for their favorites. The money goes to the organizations with the most votes.
If the project fails, though, Yanger gets to keep the money.
"That way, potential recipients will drive more donors to the site," Yanger said.
A couple of weeks into the project, and with virtually no publicity, Yanger said he's already had more than 200 donations, mostly from people he's already linked with on Facebook and Twitter. He's also had suggestions to use the money for the national Ronald McDonald House project - which provides a place for family members to stay while a sick relative is being treated at a hospital - and a camp in Florida for kids with diabetes.
Yanger's also heard more light-hearted ideas for using the money. New York friends have suggested using the money to open a Publix, a grocery chain popular in the southeastern U.S., and, of course, more than one person has suggested a very large party.
While a 25-cent donation doesn't seem like much, that's kind of the point of the experiment. Yanger is only accepting money through the PayPal account on the website so he can track all the donations. And he's adamant about only contributing a quarter at a time.
"I really want the $1 million to come from 4 million people," Yanger said. "I want to show the power of digital sharing. A $1 million donation isn't as significant as 4 million people contributing."
To do that, though, Yanger needs exposure - the reason he emailed the Vail Daily, of course. And it wouldn't hurt to have a big-time celebrity learn about the project and tweet it out to his or her Twitter followers.
"If Justin Bieber can get 500 million people to watch a video, I hope I can do this," he said.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.