June 16, 2010

How to help out with the Gulf oil spill

Chandeleur Islands Balloon Aerial Imagery from Grassroots Mapping

Ways to get involved & new technologies being used to stop and track the disaster

Sloane BerrentPresident Obama addressed the nation last night and made a stop in the Gulf Coast region this week to survey the damage and relief efforts. As local residents already know, the environmental and economic impacts are far greater than anyone could fathom or dare imagine.

The “Crude Awakening,” as it’s been called, is causing a lifetime of damage to the Gulf Coast, spurring over 45 rallies nationwide to demand BP step up and take responsibility for its actions and that the government pass stricter regulations on offshore drilling. The Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred on April 20, and crude oil continues to spill into the Gulf Coast region.

In the mayhem and despair, citizens and activists are in a constant state of emergency and disaster mode. Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, told me, “Our office is bombarded every day by phone calls and people who walk through the door wanting to help in the face of this impossible situation. We are putting them to work to document the problem – gathering data, making the people-to-people connections that will help the real story be told. When the spill stops, BP has a public relations machine ready to minimize this and pretend it didn’t happen. We don’t have a machine but we have something better – real people who are passionate and determined.”

This time of year marks another important date for the Gulf Coast region. It’s the official start of hurricane season. With wetlands and marshes already under attack, meteorologists and hurricane experts warn this year’s hurricane season is more dangerous than ever. Imagine cities not only suffering water damage but covered in oil.

It’s hard not to be despondent, and worse, not know what you can do to help. Listed below are organizations making a difference and bringing together technologies being used to stop the oil spill from spreading and tracking the spill, providing a dataset open to the public.

Consider supporting these organizations and finding a way to get involved.

Grassroots Mapping

Grassroots Mapping, a creation of Jeffrey Warren from MIT Media Lab’s Center for Future Civic Media, is producing imagery created by volunteers and owned in the public domain. By using balloons and kites equipped with inexpensive digital cameras, these “community satellites” are able to georeference and create maps with 100x higher resolution than what is available on Google to be used in the environmental battle and litigation proceedings in the coming years. Orientation sessions are being offered in New Orleans and a DIY wiki is available on their website.

What you can do: Grassroots Mapping is currently running a Kickstarter project to raise money for more kites and helium tanks to put in the hands of volunteers in New Orleans. They are looking to raise $5,000 in the next 20 days. A donation of $10 or more gets you a print of any photo in their public domain dataset. Continue reading

June 16, 2010

13 Facebook Page features that will make your day

John HaydonDuring the Facebook Foundations webinars I conduct with Charityhowto, I’ve kept a running list of the most common questions registrants have had about creating and managing a Facebook Page.

Below is a partial list. The video above walks though the answers to each one.

13 Facebook Page features that will make your day

  1. How To Quickly Find Your Page – Many folks have a hard time finding their Page once it’s created. One nonprofit marketer recently told me that they search for their Page each time they want to update it.
  2. You Can Edit Your Thumbnail – That little tiny section of your main image that everyone sees in updates and new feed posts? Yes, that’s your Page “thumbnail”. You can edit it simply by clicking “edit thumbnail” in the upper right-hand corner of your main image. Also, see Kim’s post.
  3. You Can Create Three Walls Streams Or One Wall Stream – You have two display options for your wall. One creates a single stream that includes posts by Page admins and posts by connections.
  4. Users Cannot Post To Your Wall Unless They Like Your Page – A great way to increase connections is to promote your wall as the single place for discussion during an event. When users want to join the dialogue, they have to “like” your Page. Charityhowto increased their fan base by 323 percent in three hours using this strategy.
  5. Continue reading

June 14, 2010

How to get involved and give back this summer

This originally appeared as a guest post on VolunteerSpot’s Summer of Service blog series.

Sloane BerrentIknow what many people say. They want to give back but they don’t know how. They want to get involved and volunteer in their community but they don’t know where to start. Well, we’re here to help!

In just one hour, you’ll have the ideas, tools, resources and motivation to get started. So let’s start this summer off with a new sense of how to give back.

For a lot of people, they go online to volunteer websites and start scrolling through the options. Everything looks good, or nothing, or somewhere in between, and they’re not sure what to pick. This is the vortex of indecision, and not where you should start!

First, block an hour from your calendar when you won’t be distracted and can sit and focus on the task at hand. Sit in a comfortable place with a blank piece of paper or in front of a blank document on your computer (with your browser closed!) and follow along with the exercise below. You’ll be identifying the key components needed to finding a nonprofit right for you and then we’ll provide the resources where you can find that match. Ready? Let’s go!

Write down the names of nonprofits that interest you. These can be nonprofits you’ve donated to in the past — maybe you’ve participated in a walk or event or have read about a cause or charity and are interested in learning more. Geographic location doesn’t matter; just start making creating a list of those nonprofits.

Write down the type of nonprofits or causes that you’re passionate about. My list would look something like: economic development, grassroots environmental groups, women’s issues (specifically girls’ education and financial literacy), health issues (specifically malaria prevention and treatment) and poverty alleviation. For you maybe it’s children or pets or house building. There is no right number to write down, if the list gets longer than five, prioritize your list to make going back later and looking at it easier for you. Continue reading

June 11, 2010

How to mash up a visual story for your nonprofit


Stupeflix & Animoto offer new ways to tell a story

Updated to remove RockYou, which has switched its business model to focus on games, and Slide, which closed up shop in March 2012.

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

In a world where we’re bombarded with 3,000 messages a day, it’s hard for nonprofits and social change organizations to break through the noise and get your message across in just a minute or two. But a new generation of multimedia storytelling tools lets you do just that. You don’t need high-end video editing software — just a compelling message, some good visuals and a knack for mashing up content and music in an eye-catching way.

Three companies that are helping to blaze the new multimedia-meets-Cuisinart terrain include Animoto and Stupeflix. The sites make it simple for you to upload photos — often from existing Flickr or Facebook accounts — add captions and music, and create a finished product that is both professional-looking and affordable.

Photo sharing services like Flickr and Photobucket let you embed a photo slide show — here’s a nice slide show by the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation — and we like those, too. But we love the new breed of multimedia roll-your-own-video sites, which take visual storytelling to another level. You’ll notice that these sites cater to pop culture; don’t worry about that, so does YouTube!

Here’s a look at what they offer:


Among the most advanced in multimedia technology, Paris-based Stupeflix has a lot to offer. It lets you choose from four basic themes and upload your images from your computer, Facebook, Picasa or Flickr. You can easily arrange your images by using drag and drop and add a soundtrack by choosing files from your own computer. Preview your creation and export it for free or upgrade to a higher quality version for just a few dollars. You can automatically upload it to Facebook or YouTube for no cost, or remove the Stupeflix brand and create own your own commercially licensed video for $5! (Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have the rights to use the music or that you use only a small portion, though this area of fair use is far from settled law. However, if you plan to sell DVDs, make sure you’ve secured the rights to use of all content in the video.)

The video above created by Stupeflix highlights Seedcamp 2008, a gathering of entrepreneurs in Europe. It can be used as marketing material or as a highlight reel of the conference.

Just as interesting, though, is Stupeflix.tv, an aggregation of tweets and Flickr photos updated to the minute and arranged based on topic. Check out this channel on global warming. Continue reading

June 10, 2010

Create video stories for your nonprofit in 6 steps

How to be a videoblogger on Vimeo.


An expert provides hardware & software tips to make it easy

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, social activists, NGOs, citizen journalists. This is part of our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits learn how to use and create media.

Guest post by Sharon Vaknin
New Media Labs

With YouTube pumping out 2 billion video streams a day, one thing is clear: Video matters. Although it may seem intimidating, using video as part of your nonprofit’s online presence has become surprisingly cheap and easy. If your nonprofit isn’t yet using the power of video, this post will help you discover how simple it is to get started.

Video is an important component of telling your organization’s story — and it’s not as hard to do as you might imagine. I met David Spark, owner of the custom publishing company Spark Media Solutions, at his “How to Be a Videoblogger” workshop in San Francisco. We gathered at a small cafe as he discussed hardware, software and video shooting techniques. In this 8-minute video, you’ll get a quick guide to how to get started in video.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch or embed the video on YouTube

Here are five tips on how to get started with video:

Get equipped

The Kodak Zi8, which retails for about $145.

1You’ll need a high-definition camera to start shooting. David recommends handheld Flip recorders such as the hi-def Flip Mino, the Kodak Zi8 or the Sony Bloggie. These pocket camcorders are ideal for on-the-go shooting, as they have a long battery life, offer auto-focus and don’t have any moving parts. Most of them are cost $145-$200. (We like the Zi8, which is slimmer and offers 1080i high-def recordings.)

Higher-end camcorders (aka prosumer models) are more expensive but produce higher-quality video and provide additional controls, such as zoom, white balance, audio out and headphone jacks. Check out the Canon Vixia line ($450 to $800). In addition, digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras can usually shoot high-def video in addition to still images.


2You’ll need a light for shooting in low-light situations, say, at a party, cafe or other indoor space. Grab the Sima Video Light, a cheap (about $30) solution that’s comparable to lights that can run into the hundreds of dollars. If you can afford it, a good alternative is the Litepanels Micro (pictured at right), which you can buy online for about $250. Continue reading

June 10, 2010

9 ways nonprofits should be using Slideshare

Beth KanterFor a couple of years, I’ve been an avid member of the Slideshare community, sharing, browsing and collaborating on content and watching how nonprofits use the platform. As I was reflecting about Slideshare and thinking about the characteristics of nonprofits featured in our book, The Networked Nonprofit, I realized that Slideshare is a haven for them. 

Networked nonprofits are simple, transparent organizations. They make it easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out. They engage people to shape and share their work to raise awareness of social issues, organize communities to provide services or advocate for legislation. In the long run, they are helping to make the world a safer, fairer, healthier place to live.

drank the Slideshare Kool Aid in November 2006. Today I have almost 200 presentations in my account, some with tens and thousands of views. Presentations and instructional content are an important part of my content strategy and the lifeblood of my work as a trainer. Slideshare helps set my work free and share it with nonprofit professionals all over the world.

Although PowerPoint has a reputation for being a deadly weapon, networked nonprofits know that when they give their presentations (and other documents) a social life, it can brings their objectives to life. Let’s look at the different ways they use Slideshare (or should be).

Networked professional development & learning

1Three years ago, I wrote a post about how Slideshare supports networked learning and networked professional development. This is what Nancy White is calling “Triangulating Professional Learning.” It’s the ability to learn from professionals inside and outside of your field. As Slideshare has excellent social media content, I can view slide shows across different types of industries and networks. I don’t have be a networked silo! Continue reading