It’s a clever strategy to sell something you don’t own. Search for ‘buy a piece of the moon’ and a long list of companies selling lunar real estate come up.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to sell up your terrestrial possessions and move, because these titles are meaningless (if not worthless, the certificates of title cost real money).
Souvenir plots of one square foot or more of Scotland are sold as gifts so that one may become a laird or lady. However, unlike moon land the Scottish plots can be walked upon, looked at, pieced together to form larger plots and made into a garden bed or campsite to pitch a tent.
Some zoos let donors sponsor animals, and in the spirit of these initiatives, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is selling 175,000 patches of virtual sky at $50 per square kilometre to raise funds for their operations. If all 175,000 were sold, the scheme would raise $8.75 million.
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The scheme comes with fulsome disclaimers, stating that the sky you buy is virtual, not real sky (which would hold no mass as it’s a two-dimensional space). But buy-in lets donors be kept informed of RFDS activity in their patch.
Red Agency devised the strategy, and managing director James Wright said its aim was to capture a younger donor and give them a “sense of ownership that they can make a difference for the Flying Doctors” and “bring you in as a partner of the Royal Flying Doctors so you’re actually helping them fly that route”.
He said people were motivated to donate by the fact the RFDS flies to remote areas where other emergency services can’t access.
The current group of RFDS donors are aged over 60, Wright said, and the new campaign was designed to appeal to people in their 30s and 40s.
Donors get information on services passing through their patch of sky, including information about staff, about the planes and patients, “it’s this idea of interaction, you have this value exchange,” he said. “There is a regular interaction between you and the service which keeps it front of mind”.
But Wright said they weren’t steering donors towards popular air routes, which could produce more feedback to donors, but some routes were more popular such as busy routes or those over iconic locations.
And no, they haven’t been flooded with complaints from good citizens outraged that the RFDS is selling the sky over their heads, but Wright said it was considered.