December 16, 2008

Activism and the social enterprise

JD LasicaOne of the extraordinary things about the Bay Area is the relative ease with which you can bring a large number of bright, passionate, committed people under the same roof. When it’s a bar (and not just a barcamp but the real thing), so much the better.

And so it was earlier this evening when Sundeep Ahuja — a born connector and former marketing chief for Kiva who’s now on the executive team at RichRelevance.com — organized the second  awareness2action event at the Dragonbar in San Francisco’s North Beach. The event, attended by about 60 people involved with various social causes, featured an hour of socializing and an hour of panelists discussing social enterprises.

On the panel:

• Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org (here’s the video interview with Premal I published last week)

• Kevin Jones, Principal at Good Capital

• Steve Newcomb, serial entrepreneur & founder of Virgance.

No one videotaped the event, but here are a few snippets:

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December 11, 2008

A guide to cause agents and change makers

JD LasicaTom Watson, one of the people who have made a difference in this space, has written a new book, CauseWired, and here’s a review I published to Amazon.com:

causewiredIn the past two years I’ve been more and more drawn to the world of social causes. (I’m the co-founder of Ourmedia.org and have participated in some Social Media Camps.)

But something was missing. I needed a roadmap. A guide to the world of using Web 2.0 to do good.

So it was serendipitous that Tom Watson came along with his timely, practical and clueful "CauseWired." (Disclaimer: I’m briefly quoted in it.) I just finished reading this 225-page pearl (the paperback) and now feel much more grounded in knowing the who, what and whys of social actions and philanthropy in the digital age. And, importantly, the "OK, what now?"

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December 1, 2008

Podcasting, music and the law

Bad news for podcasters who want to abide by the law — it’ll cost you

Guest post by Matt May

ASCAP has updated its Internet licensing to reference podcasts — oh, excuse me, pod-casts. The move may have been intended to answer some questions as to the legality of using music in podcasts, but, as with the webcasting era, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. Is this all we need, just a $288 license to this agency, to be covered through the end of the year?

Well, there’s some bad news. The truth is that, no, that’s not everything. In fact, the landscape for music licensing is even more confusing than most people would imagine, and it at times consists of entities who may not even want to sell you a license. Here, I try to break them down. Know that I am not a lawyer, and as such am not going to know much more detail than is absolutely necessary.

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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.

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