August 5, 2010

12 awesome platforms for social good

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Jill Foster of Citizen Effect conducts an interview in the Gulf Coast (photo by Geoff Livingston).


Vittana, Citizen Effect, Spheresavers among the networks galvanizing change

Target audience: Social change organizations, nonprofits, educators, community organizers, change agents.

Guest post by Katrina Heppler

Social tools come in all shapes and sizes. Yesterday we looked at 6 productivity tools for social change — mostly desktop and cloud-based apps and one cool gadget for your pocket. Today here’s my list of 12 platforms and online communities that are doing an amazing job in promoting social change.

You must have your own favorites (I’ve left off a few of my own, like and Causes, for example) — please share them in the comments below!

For a different list of 12 community platforms, download our flyer: 12 social action hubs.


Vittana: Send someone to college for $25

1Vittana is an amazing online platform that connects people through lending and helps young people around the world to get access to higher education for the first time. Through Vittana, you can make a loan to a student to help him or her go to college. Vittana reports that their students have a 95% success and repayment rate on their loans. In essence, Vittana is like a “Kiva for worldwide education.” Through online loans from people like you and me, Vittana is building a world where anyone can go to college. Vittana has been recognized as a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow and HuffingtonPost #1 Game Changer in Philanthropy. Follow Vittana on Twitter.

citizen effect

Citizen Effect: Empowering citizen philanthropy

2Citizen Effect empowers citizens to become citizen philanthropists by providing us with the tools and networks we need to work directly with communities in need around the world. Through CitizenEffect, you can create your own project, bring your friends, family and social network together, and raise funds to make a significant impact in the lives of a community in need. You can also find great projects to support that match your interests. Follow Citizen Effect on Twitter.


Blissmo: Making sustainability easier

3Blissmo (formerly Spheresavers) is a new platform that aims to make sustainable consumption mainstream by making it cheaper and easier for consumers to buy sustainable. Check out Blissmo (our writeup is here) for deals on products and services from sustainable businesses striving to balance people, planet and profit.


OpenIDEO: Design together for social good

4OpenIDEO is a place where people design together for social good. It’s an online platform for creative thinkers: the veteran designer, the critic, the MBA, the active participant and the creative enthusiast with an idea to share. IDEO, a well-known design firm, developed OpenIDEO as a way to include a broader range of people in the design process to tackle social issues. Follow OpenIDEO on Twitter.

frontline SMS

FrontlineSMS: Text groups of people anywhere

5FrontlineSMS is an award-winning, free, open-source platform that turns a laptop or desktop computer and a mobile phone or modem into a two-way group messaging hub. Since it works anywhere there’s a mobile signal, it doesn’t need the Internet – a major advantage for many grassroots NGOs, especially in the developing world. Once you have the software running on your computer, you can send messages to wide groups of people and collect responses to any questions or surveys you might want to run, all via text message. Follow FrontlineSMS on Twitter.


Global Giving: Support community-based projects

6Global Giving is an online marketplace that helps nonprofits raise money for grassroots projects and connects individuals and companies to grassroots economic development projects around causes and countries they care about. Through Global Giving, supporters can make direct donations to projects; no social activity or event organization is required to support a cause. Follow Global Giving on Twitter.


SeeClickFix: Get a local problem fixed

7SeeClickFix is a platform that allows citizens to report non-emergency issues and receive neighborhood alerts, providing a great way to get a local problem fixed. If you have an iPhone, Android or Blackberry mobile phone, you can download SeeClickFix’s free mobile app to report issues taking place in your neighborhood when you are on the go, anytime, anyplace. Follow SeeClickFix on Twitter.


Idealist: Turn intentions into action

8Idealist — a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit with offices in the United States and Argentina — is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a better world. Idealist is a great starting point online when you’re looking for opportunities and organizations that match your interests. Follow Idealist on Twitter.


IndieGoGo: A collaborative way to fund ideas

9IndieGoGo is a collaborative way to fund ideas. Launched in 2008, IndieGoGo is now in more than 130 countries with over 5,000 projects. If you’re looking to raise money for your project and convert fans into funders, be sure to check out IndieGoGo. Follow IndieGoGo on Twitter.


NeighborGoods: Trade stuff with your neighbors

10When it comes to sustainability, the best choice we can make is to find ways to use what we already have. But sometimes we need to buy things – even if we only buy those things once in awhile. What would happen, though, if people came together to share things instead of buying them? Say hello to NeighborGoods, a platform that provides a safe community where you can save money and resources by sharing stuff with your friends. Already members are sharing over $2 million worth of stuff from camping equipment to lawnmowers to vacuum cleaners and more. Follow NeighborGoods on Twitter.


InVentureFund: Invest in good

11Founded in 2009 with the belief that more could be done to lift communities out of poverty beyond traditional microfinance models, InVenture has created a market for “micro venture capital.” Through InVenture’s online platform, everyday investors can provide expansion capital to developing businesses. Free from debt and high interest payments, the business can operate independently and with an eye toward long-term growth. As soon as the business begins turning a profit, a portion of that profit is reinvested in the community, improving the livelihood of the community as a whole. Follow InVentureFund on Twitter.


Eventbrite For Causes: Events made easy

12 If you organize fundraising events for your nonprofit, Eventbrite For Causes is a great program to check out. Recently launched by Eventbrite, an online ticketing platform, Eventbrite For Causes provides nonprofits with discounted transaction fees and newsletters full of resources, tips and best practices related to the unique challenges and opportunities of hosting nonprofit events. Thanks to built-in sharing features within the Eventbrite platform, your supporters can also share your nonprofit event with their social networks when they register – a great way to help spread the word about your event. Follow Eventbrite on Twitter.

Katrina Heppler is founder of envisionGood, a company providing multimedia communications, consulting and Web strategy. Follow her on Twitter at @katrinah.

6 productivity tools for social change (Socialbrite)

Directory of cause organizations (Socialbrite)

An educator’s 5 top tools for social change (Socialbrite)

A change agent’s top 5 tools for social change (Socialbrite)

12 open source tools you should be using (Socialbrite)

A developer’s 5 favorite social tools (Socialbrite)

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17 thoughts on “12 awesome platforms for social good

      • ClearlySo is awesome! Thanks for the good reminder, Alberto. It should definitely be mentioned! : ) (and please forgive me for addressing your name incorrectly in my first comment: I was just speaking with my friend Carlos and am a bit sleep deprived. Glad it's Friday!) ; )

  1. Great blog, I'll come back another time. I Like your resources that you have created. I am not a non-profit however I do support many people and their causes. I love working with people who are change agents.

    Great Job!

  2. I'd like to add ContestCause – Fundraising Design Contests for a Cause.

    ContestCause enables anyone to run a fundraising tshirt design contest for any cause. 1/3 of all sales go directly to the cause & supporters get a custom-made shirt!

  3. I was curious about if you ever considered modifying the page layout of your web site? It is well written; I really like what youve got to say. But maybe you could add a a bit more in the way of written content so people can connect to it better. You have got a great deal of text for only having one or two photographs. Maybe you can space it out better?

  4. Great blog. It’s great to see this tend of social good growing. I’d like to add another platform although newer but definitely worth following; UJIMAA. They make it easy to sponsor ‘actual’ goods to charitable causes. You will know with certainty how your contributions are being used.