February 23, 2011

Support a new project: Help A Woman Out

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help-a-woman-outSloane BerrentI’m really excited to announce the launch of Help A Woman Out. It’s a new web project from me and The Causemopolitan Labs and something that has really taken off in the two weeks since it launched.

Help A Woman Out is your guide to finding organizations, events and nonprofits that support women and girls. Attend. Donate. Learn. Join. Jobs. Curated by your biggest cheerleader, me!

I released this site within three days of coming up with the idea. I found a domain name. Found a Tumblr theme I liked and customized it. Started seeding content and then pushed publish to the world. Sometimes we need to create just to create. The power to press publish is powerful and freeing. I am of the school that (in regard to personal projects) you can fix just about anything after it launches. Start small, start anywhere, see what happens … and then iterate to match the feedback. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit in me that wanted to put this site out there to share, and then get feedback and figure out what needs to change or be upgraded.

I learned a lot about customizing Tumblr themes for this site and also how to put the Facebook “Like” and Twitter buttons into the HTML. I’m working on learning more of the development parts of websites this year and this was a great introduction toward that goal.

I know many women would like to get involved and help but don’t know how — because they are too busy with their lives, careers and families. I wanted to create a place on the Web that would seem magazine-like. A place to flip through women’s organizations, inspirations, quotes by women, events listings and job opportunities that would focus specifically on girls and women. All of this content would create a portal to Help A Woman Out.

I really believe that woman are at a crucial point in history. Women are being recognized as the change makers for society, an emphasis on girls’ education exists in some countries for the first time ever, the UN recently joined all of their programs and projects for girls and women together into one platform called UN Women. The third Millennium Development goal focuses on gender parity, and there are only five years left until those goals are set to be met.

Three inspirations for the concept

I have three inspirations I’d like to thank that helped piece this project together first in my head and then in reality:

1. Help A Reporter Out is a site founded by Peter Shankman to help reporters find sources and sources get stories placed in a quicker and more efficient fashion. There are lots of projects out there that play off of the name and I hope Peter (who is an amazing guy I had the privilege of working with on My Mardi Gras Experience in 2010) doesn’t mind this flattery! I didn’t have a name in mind for this project and was out walking one night in my neighborhood, where I usually get my best inspirations, and playing with words in my head. It all literally happened in one hour. I thought of the name Help A Woman Out and came home to see if the domain was available (the real test) and was surprised that it was. I bought it on the spot — you never know when you’re going to want to use good domain names! I always believe in giving credit where credit is due, so thanks, Peter.

2. Nerd Valentine is a recent Web project from my friend Amrit Richmond. When I asked Amrit what prompted her to start this new Tumblr blog, she said, “Sometimes you just have to create something on the internet for fun. I wanted to create something people would love. Plus there wasn’t a good site of gifts for nerds.” I loved her attitude. I had the idea of a site focused on girls and women-based initiatives for a while but it was far down my to-do list. After talking with Amrit, it jumped to the top. I realized I didn’t need to create something complex and complicated. I could create just to create! I could create and not ask for anything in return. This was a huge wake-up call. The Internet pays my bills, but it also drives a lot of my relationships. I love it. I want to do more to show that respect by creating projects like Help A Woman Out.

3. Susan McPherson is a true inspiration. I’m so lucky to have been connected to her first through To Mama With Love (a 2010 EpicChange project by Stacey Monk) and then in person when I moved to New York. She is a true connector both through her work at Fenton and by being on the board of BPeace — and just by loving to put people together. She immediately included me into her circle of high-achieving women and a good part of my New York experience is thanks to her and the women she’s introduced me to. When I left Los Angeles after five years, I knew I was leaving behind a group of amazing female power brokers, and that has consistently been the No. 1 thing I miss about LA. Those women, some friends and some in my extended network, shaped my experience in Los Angeles. I’ll never forget the change that happened when I started cultivating a strong female network to be around. I know it will take time for that to happen here in New York, but Susan has helped a lot with the first hurdle. Her excitement about women’s issues and conversations about women, corporate social responsibility and the broader scope of business were a big inspiration to this site.

So thank you to those above. I hope everyone checks out this new site and gives feedback. I’m always looking for more to post on the site. If you have any suggestions for content, please submit the information here or leave a comment below.Sloane Berrent is a cause-based marketing consultant who works with nonprofits and social cause organizations. See her business profile, contact Sloane or leave a comment.

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