What is karma, and how is it used?


rct-springdale1.pngIn most volunteer organizations, a small group of individuals contribute most of the effort, relative to the number of people who benefit. The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy is no exception, and over the years we've pondered ways of encouraging more folks to get involved. Public requests for help with trail and administrative work were less than fruitful, so in 2012 we concluded we should try something different.

We know that incentives work. The Rachel Carson Trail Challenge is very popular, so why not use that fact to entice more people to volunteer? However, the primary constraint we faced when considering an incentive program is managing the recordkeeping required to fairly and accurately track the activity. It had to be automated as much as possible.

In 2012, we opened a new Challenge registration system and karma is what it uses to determine the selection ordering for the limited number of spots available.

Karma Explained

The term karma means action or deed, the cumulative effect of which determines your destiny. The MyRCTC website allows you to view and manage your contribution to the Conservancy in four distinct areas: volunteer hours, event participation, donations, and membership. You earn karma in each area, the sum total of which influences your position when allocating spots for events like the Challenge. Here's how karma is earned:

Volunteer Hours Every hour you volunteer at a Conservancy event earns you 150 karma. If you volunteer for six hours on a trail work project, you'll earn 900 karma.

Event Participation For every paid Conservancy event you've participated in (including the Challenge back to the beginning), you earn 250 karma. If you participated in the Homestead Challenge twice and the UltraChallenge Relay once, you'll have 750 karma.

Donations Every dollar donated to the Conservancy earns you 10 karma. Donate $20, earn 200 karma.

Membership Every Conservancy membership-dollar earns you 10 karma. Join or renew at the $50 level and you'll earn 500 karma.

Event participation, donations, and membership are automatically tracked and recorded by the system or a Conservancy volunteer. Volunteer hour reporting, however, is up to you. After you've volunteered at an event or project, you'll need to log on to the MyRCTC site and submit your hours. Once the event supervisor or project leader approves it, you'll earn karma.

Karma has two characteristics to keep in mind. First, karma never expires. Once earned, it's yours. Second, karma can be gifted. If you've earned lots of karma and want to give it to a friend to help them get a spot in the Challenge, you can do that on the web site. Once you gift karma, it cannot be revoked. The only way to retrieve it is to have the recipient gift it back to you.

We believe karma is a fair and objective way of determining the contribution an individual has made toward achieving the goals of the Conservancy.