Pepsi’s Refresh Project Uses Facebook to Award Millions to Charity

Pepsi’s Refresh Project is a charity contest set to donate millions of dollars to organizations throughout the United States in 2010. Located on an application in a tab within the company’s “Pepsi – Refresh Everything” Facebook Page and on its web site, the contest lets users submit and vote on the charities they think are most worthy of funding.

Pepsi partnered with four non-profit groups in the venture, who will award up to $1.3 million a month in several increments. Each monthly amount will be split up between two grants of $250,000 and up to 10 grants of $50,000, $25,000 and $5,000 each. Any legal U.S. resident over 13 may submit a proposal, either on their own or in conjunction with a non-profit or business, but the projects must be U.S.-specific.

With the motto, “Submit. Promote. Vote,” the contest opens this month as grant submissions will begin to be accepted from January 13 until January 24; thereafter submissions will run from the first through the 15 of the month, or until the first 1,000 applications are received, whichever comes first.

[Update: Refresh participants are reporting that the site is accidentally compromising personal information.]

Categories of the grants include health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighbors and education and winners will be selected each month of 2010 by Facebook voters, in Pepsi’s words, “in a democratic way online wherein members of the public will vote for projects that they find the most compelling.”

While corporate giving is not a new concept, using Facebook to do so is, and the process is not without a few kinks.

JPMorgan Chase & Company had a generally successful crowd-sourced charity funding campaign on Facebook; but, a few charities said they were cut out as voting came to a close because their missions included legalizing marijuana and opposing abortion. In this app, some people will inevitably want Pepsi to fund charities that address issues Pepsi wants to avoid.

In any case, Pepsi’s Refresh Project is set to run throughout 2010, so despite any bumps along the way, they’ll have a lot of chances to get it right.