October 20, 2008

Social Actions: Toward a philanthropic Web

social actions

JD LasicaI spent this afternoon at a fascinating gathering in San Francisco: Lunch for Social Action Platforms. Hosted by Peter Deitz of Montreal (see my recent interview with him here) and hosted by TechSoup, 33 people got together on two days’ notice to discuss how to work together to make it easy for people to find and act on social causes that they support.

Or, as Deitz put it, how do we make it easy for bloggers and website operators to support the philanthropic Web and enable "micro-philanthropic opportunities"?

Without getting too techie: APIs (application programming interfaces) are making this easier. The goal, said Deitz, is to create "one cloud of action where anyone can tap into and find high-impact actions on causes they care about."

Simply put, today you can visit the Social Actions Lab and create a widget that allows people to take action through your blog. Even with a limited set of microformats (five or six datapoints), anyone can republish excerpts from an article and include a widget with a call to action — letting people not just report on an issue but enlist others to do something about it.

This is potentially very big.

When the next natural disaster hits, we may be able to see which charitable organization online donors are sending their money to. We’ll be able to see how many people contributed, how much they gave, which organizations are raising the most funds, and so on.

"We’re talking about a new format that encourages the spread of actionable opportunities in a way we’ve never experienced," Deitz said. "We’ve been talking about open standards for philanthropic opportunities for a while now, but this is the first time we actually have one."

I’ll be thinking about how to support the philanthropic Web, in my work with Ourmedia and as an individual, in the coming days and weeks. It’s exciting that this is no longer pie in the sky — it’s here, right now.

Postscript: I interviewed Ben Rattray, founder of Change.org, at the session and will try to post our talk soon.

October 16, 2008

SoCap: Advancing the social good


Advancing the social good from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHere’s a 4-minute interview I did with Kevin Jones, founder of a new conference called Social Capital Markets. The three-day gathering in San Francisco, with 650 attendees, focused on social enterprises, the blurring line between nonprofits and socially conscious for-profits, and the tidal wave of interest in organizations that promote the common good (especially in the wake of the stock market’s meltdown). VCs, entrepreneurs, foundations, aid agencies and journalists all attended.

Watch the video in Flash on Vimeo

Watch the video in H.264 QuickTime on Ourmedia
Download the original video from Archive.org

Cross-posted to Socialmedia.biz

October 14, 2008

How to pitch your social enterprise

JD LasicaI‘m handicapped by not having my MacBook Air, which was stolen yesterday, but here are some notes from Day 2 of the first Social Capital Markets conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

At the Pitching in Action session, four organizations gave presentations on social enterprises they’re planning to launch. Each had a compelling story.

Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation said investors look at four things in deciding whether to invest in a social enterprise startup:

  • What is the compelling problem you want to solve?
  • Do you have a solution to connect the dots on a path to impact?
  • Do you have a plausible path to go to scale?
  • Do you have the right organization to deliver on your vision? 

BAVC

Ken Ikeda, executive director of the Bay Area Video Coalition here in SF, outlined the prospects for a new venture called FUSE, an online platform and portal to provide digital media training online.

The appeal of FUSE, Ikeda said, is that its short, intense classes last two to three days rather than the weeks or months in schools or other programs. "Most of us don’t want to go back to school," Ikeda said.

Continue reading

October 13, 2008

How to attract funding for a social enterprise

JD LasicaToday I attended the first Social Capital Markets conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The overflowng crowd of 600 attendees filled the four conference rooms on hand. So far, this is one of the best-run first-time conferences I’ve ever attended.

I’m here mostly to get the lay of the land. Ourmedia.org wants to support nonprofits and social change organizations by offering a suite of social media tools for cause campaigns. And SoCap is turning out to be a gathering where both the wealth of sessions and the hallway connections are equally valuable.

During today’s session on Pitching Your Organization, panelists offered tips on attracting seed funding for your social enterprise venture:

• "open with an eye-catching stat," not just a generic statistic about the size of the marketplace

• very high up in your pitch: what problem are you solving?

• who’s involved in your effort who’s impressive in this space?

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October 12, 2008

Social media tools for causes

Education in Iraq

JD LasicaSeth (last name unknown) at the Berkman Center blogs: Social media tools for causes.

Lately, I’ve been using flickr, twitter, and mailman as tools for my favorite cause. So far I’ve seen some neat results from using these that I don’t see a lot of others doing. I will document some of the ways that I have been using these, and hopefully others will follow suit. …

Cross-posted to Socialmedia.biz