One of the lessons to be learned from successful services is that it is of no disadvantage if a site lets its users do something they care about, but beyond that get out of their way. Smart sites are hackable by design, they become a playground for doing stuff, they don’t try to anticipate everything what possibly could be done and they don’t try to tell its users how things should be done.
Sometimes the result triggers a co-evolution of a service integrating the best practices of the users – think about twitterers starting to use the @username addressing scheme and how it was picked up in the replies tab, but either way, plasticity of a site is a good thing and a lot of individual value can be build upon it.
Usually it is the users who come up with cool hacks, but sometimes a company hacks itself:
amiando is a service for planning events. You can describe your event, annotate it with photos and maps, send out invitations, manage attendees, republish it via a widget and so on. You even can sell tickets (both e-tickets and real tickets), for a minor charge amiando does the shipping and handling.
Yesterday they announced (in German) that non-profit organisations can use their ticket service for free, but they also came up with an alternate use case:
to use it for fund raising for a project or for collecting donations. All the organisation has to do is to create an event and to specify the prices for the tickets. If they want to raise a specific amount of money they limit the number of participants and they will have reached their goal if the event has sold out, otherwise they just provide an unlimited number of seats and hope for many contributions.
It is great that they are reusing their existing infrastructure for managing transactions in a way which has nothing to do with their service, but which might benefit charity organisations a lot.
(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)