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Virgin Mobile Pioneers a Different Kind of Network

Virgin Mobile Pioneers a Different Kind of Network

Philanthropy and social activism are the latest frontiers Virgin CEO Richard Branson seems to have his eye on.

October 10, 2007 —

Young people and musicians always seem to "care" about social change. Whether it's vague pronouncements about world poverty at the Grammy Awards or the disbelief that many high schoolers express toward the vast injustices they occasionally hear about on MTV News, the will seems to be there. So why has that translated into so little action as of late? Many teenagers and young adults say they just don't know where to start, and others can't prioritize social action into what are increasingly increasingly hectic high school and college years.

But Virgin Mobile thinks its found a way to make it easier for everyone to do a little bit, even if that's all the time or money they can spare, through a new project called RE*Generation.

"Our customers are in a unique position to act," said Dan Schulman, chief executive officer of Virgin Mobile USA. "When we talk with our community of 4 million, they tell us they care deeply about social causes and want to help, but don't always know the best way to get personally involved."

Virgin Mobile customers can now buy select ringtones from artists such as Panic! At the Disco, Bloc Party, KT Tunstall, Jewel, Gnarls Barkley, and James Blunt with 100% of the profits going to RE*Generation causes. They can also send a text message and choose to deduct $1 from their balance to be matched by $1 by Virgin Mobile and donated to the youth oriented non-profits YouthNoise and StandUp For Kids.

If the plan itself may not seem that ambitious to you, imagine the following: 

You hear an an interview on the radio with a representative from a Sudanese relief organization and feel compelled to "do something." At the end of the interview the representative gives out a number you can text if you want to give a couple of dollars to the charity. How much more likely are you to help out if you don't have to write down a website or pull out a credit card later that night? Virgin Mobile thinks the answer, especially for young people, is a lot.

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