Here's What Happened When This CEO Used A Rock Marketing Approach To Teen Volunteering

Brutal economics have helped drag thousands of Australian teenagers off the couch and into volunteer work.

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It took an offer of a product for which there would be high demand at a reasonable price: free concert tickets for big-name acts, in exchange for four hours of your time.

RockCorps, a global youth movement, innovative brand platform, concert producer and community service advocate, has enticed young people in nine countries – now including Australia – to do four hours of community service in return for a spot at a gig.

The community work is the only way to secure a ticket.

Up to 5,000 volunteers aged 16-plus will see The Script, Tinie Tempah, and Guy Sebastian perform at the Optus RockCorps concert at the Hordern Pavillion on Thursday.

There has been a lot of interest in the gig: 10,000 more people have volunteered, but are yet to do the required community service.

Which means in total, more than 15,000 young people have signed up to volunteer through RockCorps since it was launched in Australia two months ago. To avoid having to turn them away, a new incentive, “The Collective” will start next month to give volunteers tickets to other concerts.

“We act like a music brand, we don’t act like a non-profit,” RockCorps CEO Stephen Greene told Business Insider.

“RockCorps is like a lifestyle brand, not a worthy brand. We let our artists do the talking. It’s not the message that sells, it’s the messenger.”

By marketing the Optus RockCorps concert through a partnership with Nova FM, thousands of teenagers were drawn into supporting local community projects, and around 75 organisations have got on board.

Even the hours spent volunteering “feel like a party”, Mr Greene said, with music, a lively atmosphere, and surprise assistance from the stars.

The retention rate would be enviable for any walk-in business: around 35-45 per cent stay involved with charities after the gig.

The publicity has also boosted profits for charities, such as when Lady Gaga spent several hours at a support centre for people with HIV/AIDS in Manchester, UK. They then received more donations in the following week than they had in the previous three years, Mr Greene said.

He finds it particularly refreshing as he spent several years working in non-profit organisations before he departed, disillusioned, to work in venture capital before RockCorps was launched.

“The real magic is in the brands,” he said.

“In non-profits it was the business model that frustrated me the most. No matter how good your project is, sometimes your funding isn’t directly connected to it.”

By making RockCorps a marketing platform for sponsors he has found a sustainable model that keeps growing.

“The generation now is really changing,” Mr Greene said.

“You see kids organising themselves and they are so connected. They really believe that change is within their grasp, in a way that we didn’t when we were growing up.

The music is like a handshake; we are sort of brokering a new relationship. We want there to be a structure upon which the volunteers can continue their engagement.”

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