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Give a Tree: Viral Action on Climate Change

Idea: Viral giving of trees as presents with the main objective being education on the immediate dangers of climate change and the secondary objective carbon sequestration (with a bit of gaming for fun and marketing).

Give a tree works using social media 1). Recipients are given a tree with a personal message by the donor and are also given four trees to give as gifts. The sender is encouraged both to write something personal 2) to the recipient as to why they really care about climate change, as well as chose recipients who would do the same. 3) The overall messaging is overtly viral and explicit that we care about getting the climate change message out there now, not the cost of the trees.

After the personal message come a short but hard-hitting stock message. Something like: We have added 1510 GtCO2 into the atmosphere and can only release another 335 GtC02 to avoid the catastrophe of over 2 degrees warming source. We are currently adding at 38 GtC02 a year, so only have 8 years in which to stop emitting C02, we need you to spread the message in order make a difference. 4). The message will be updated with how badly we are doing clock ticking down, etc.

In the small print we state that this not-for-profit organisation is funded by the one in a thousand special people who have the money to make a difference (donors). We don't rely on those that don't have the means, we ask those that do have the means to do something (if they can't make £10k themselves it's fine to organise friends or fund raise to do it). All donors get another 4 invitations.

All coordination would be through the website Each recipient would get a supporter number 5) which are allocated in order by the web site. Every supporter also has a branch number which is the number of people they have signed up. The branch number increases to 4 if all of the invitations result in a signup on the web site and so trees planted. If anyone in the chain after them becomes a donor they get another invitation (with reduced length) as a reward and so the chance to get more rewards. It may be good to have a top 10 influencers on the web site, that is the display name of those people with the highest branch number.

Use something well trusted, like mailchimp, for ongoing communications. Allow easy opt out (got to - GDPR). If opt out then drop benefits (display name on web site and branch number). Maintain a trickle of hard hitting informedia to supporters.


  • Recipient: Someone who has been given a tree but not yet accepted it
  • Supporter: A recipient who has accepted and therefore agreed to give four more trees
  • Donor: A Supporter who has
  • Supporter number: A sequentially allocated number to each Supporter and also the number of trees planted
  • Branch number: The number of supporters you've signed up, more means you are more active


  • Q: Why only 4 invitations? A: This is a serious problem, we want you to pick the people who will make the most difference
  • Q: Does anyone make money here? A: No, this is a not-for-profit organisation
  • Q: Are you affiliated with any of the tree providers: A: No

Trees are real and will be planted through a well trusted partner, for example For the purposes of rough cost planning use £10 a tree, less in bulk. So the cost would be a bit over £10k for each donor. It would all be automated by the web site, no manual operation, it has to be able to scale fast.

Timescale: If this hasn't gone viral 6 months after launch it's not going to go anywhere. If it reached 1% of the population it would make a difference.

Funding: Mostly volunteers, maybe it doesn't need funding. See which has a deadline of May 2019.

Roles and responsibilities (I'm not necessarily any of these):

  • Coordinator - needs to pull everyone together, know the right people to talk to and be good at talking to the press
  • Web site designer - someone to code up the idea and make sure it scales
  • Marketing person - to be in control of the messaging and to make sure the content gets out
  • Commercial person - needs to negotiate best deal on trees and make payments happen
mechanism not worked out yet, email would work but not be as visible
and public
The length of the chain is limited to 5 so there are a maximum of 4 + 16 + 64 + 256 + 1024 = 1364 trees planted.
message needs cleaning up
I claim number 0!