tiny weekend campaign to donate internet

how much impact can you have with a few hours effort?

tiny weekend campaign to donate internet

A mini campaign idea came to me fully-formed and felt simple, fun, interesting, and worthwhile, leaving me curious and playful to see what happens without any expectations.

tiny vision, tiny goal

This began with seeing a friend joyfully post about their eSIM getting activated, which got me intrigued to learn about the initiative and try it myself; to use an effortless medium like Instagram Stories to communicate that 'you did something and that others can too' was powerful in retrospect.

A few days later I had a visual identity concept (stemming from my belief that the icon is the promise) and all the needed parts for a tiny campaign I could produce and run over a weekend easily, quick, and cheap: how far could this get? and with what kind of results? Of course, food would actually be more necessary and urgent as people there are on the brink of famine, but I chose to focus on what could be helpful without getting blocked by borders; I also have credibility with technical things and certain skills that can be fittingly deployed with respect to this kind of idea. My wish was to share a simple action people can do to instill hope and comradery in the midst of a dire situation.

structure and steps

I timeboxed with a limit to keep it approachable, so it took probably a few hours of effort in total, and because the idea was more or less fully-formed, I just needed to execute on the fly, without too much pre-planning. Always begin by brain dumping everything, to give new refinements and ideas a place to go: let time work for you.

unusual visuals

My concept was to link the sense organs with a smartphone to communicate that Internet becomes our 'eyes and ears', and make it a bit weird by showing more hands than I actually have. I took two photos of myself (~5 minutes), imported them into Photopea to superimpose one on the other via layer masking (~5 minutes); removed the background (~2 minutes, but almost automatic), and duplicated the result on a portrait-sized canvas to create some quirky repetition (~10 minutes).

do something and document the steps

I got an eSIM to understand the experience, made a note of the steps and anything noteworthy that wasn't in the project instructions, and simplified everything into a small unintimidating guide (~15 minutes) with three concise sections: introduce the original project, list different options for purchasing, and the important step of donating the QR code, prefacing the whole thing by giving an idea of how long it takes.

It takes less time than boiling water for tea 🍵 or heating a slice of pizza 🍕 to donate internet access for Gaza.

Hyperdraft let me just edit text to quickly create an online home for this: no setup, no nonsense, just write.

share on Stories

After importing my earlier photo composition into Instagram, I was able to put some text on top and link to the guide.

It took a bit of fiddling and re-writing to find nice wording (~30 minutes) even though I already drafted possibilities in my initial brain dump, then I finally posted it to Stories on different platforms (~5 minutes). I also made another version for public social media (~10 minutes).

The important part here is to set and communicate a small, achievable goal ("5 people") so that it doesn't take much to accomplish something meaningful.

ask friends who would likely join

This took the longest: I direct-messaged about 106 people in my network who were posting about the situation there (about 20 were able and willing to participate, and 15 eventually did) and corresponded with those who were on board to help them, send encouragement, and share progress (~2 hours spread over the weekend); I extracted templates from my personal messages to save time, spell correctly, and include important details, then refined them through experience and usage; this means copypasta but I always respond personally to any replies.

Some people wanted to participate but felt not able because of financial constraints and I found them sponsors so they can still engage with the initiative. Some already heard about the initiative and had done this before, so I just encouraged them to share the guide with anyone who could use it. The point of reaching out is less about their donations and more about making contact: the feeling of knowing that one of your friends is doing this can often be worth the effort.

I mostly stuck to Instagram but found Beeper and FluffyChat helpful for both multi-platform messaging and not feeling distracted with timeline posts.

celebrate progress

When someone completed the steps, I told them how many other people had done the same and gave a sense for the total impact.

I tracked progress in a spreadsheet and at the bottom of the guide itself.

Everyone who did this felt happy and excited at the end, so I encouraged them to share that they did this in their own story: this enabled more people to get exposed to the idea and feel comfortable, potentially starting a recursive process and channeling that energy into future progress.

lessons and reflections

  1. I probably shouldn't have worded this as 'donating eSIMs' as many people might have no clue what that means: if you're not tech-oriented, you might wonder "is that something lying around at home?" or "do you buy one from a convenience store and bring it to the post office?". I eventually rephrased to 'donating Internet' and tried to communicate how it can be done online and even from your phone.
  2. I probably should have mentioned 'Gaza' as many may have understood 'donating eSIMs' as a general request for some random cause rather than related to the current situation there. I eventually rephrased to 'donating Internet in Gaza'.
  3. As a tech person, I thought 'total gigabytes' was an interesting metric to track progress, but of course not everyone speaks that language. I eventually tried to estimate what the data could be used for and converted it to more meaningful numbers:
That means: 24 hours of livestreams or videocalls (1.5gb per hour), 18,000 photos (2mb per photo), 288 hours of audio calls (2.5mb per minute), text messaging for 30 days (rough validity).

All of that involved random edits to the guide and spreadsheet (~1 hour).

  1. It was necessary to reach out, as likely nobody would have taken action via the ephemeral story alone; I imagine asking directly helps move an abstract idea to one where people might consider acting and see themselves involved. I received feedback several times when someone said they were aware of the idea before, but eventually did it because they saw that I did it, which tells me the importance of modeling the action before or while you ask; in a way, this whole campaign happened because I saw a friend friend post his eSIM activation in a story.
  2. I wish I had operated with less urgency, as it unnecessarily drained me. I tried to disconnect regularly, but was often magnetized back to my phone simultaneously from excitement (at progress) and doom (desire to help the situation over there); as I described in watching catastrophe, the time to change course was a decade or two ago and there's something misplaced about urgency 'now'.


Inspired by someone's action, I had an idea to transform my own contribution into a call for other people to follow my example. I asked for five people and over a dozen stepped up (on a weekend) to contribute, without any in person interactions (completely digital); I feel that's a success, and only in the least because of the material result: the feeling of 'doing together' and any resulting conversations from this will probably have future effects that we'll understand later.

It was a bit exhausting to do this, but I really enjoyed it; I engaged in the kinds of things that fit my curiosities, maybe other people would take a different approach to fit theirs. How much impact can one have with a few hours work? Maybe it would take you longer to do similar tasks, but there are other possibilities easily afforded by your skills—do you have a sense for what they are? What's the value of feeling that we can accomplish things within our own circles, rather than waiting for larger institutions to help? I like to believe sometimes that it doesn't matter where we go as long as we do it together.

If anyone else wants to donate or sponsor please reach out and I'll happily help you 🙏🏽☀️❤️

go deeper

I can't take much credit for many ideas here, as this was a chance to put into practice what I learned from The roads to funding your community network projects.... and the Get Together book and podcast; I'd recommend those for anyone interested in this sort of thing.

If you want more, there's hopefully some comfort in when bad things happen in the world, tips for dialogue in "Why Are We Yelling?" by Buster Benson, and more collective visions in secular churches for continuity.

Subscribe to Utopia / Rosano

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.