August 29, 2012

How crowdsourcing can help your nonprofit

 

Best practices to help you leverage the power of the crowd

Guest post by Soha El Borno
Idealware 

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, general public.

Crowdsourcing can help you harness the crowd to increase awareness, cultivate new volunteers, gather information and even get work done — all for a minimal investment. How can you put it to work for your nonprofit or organization?

Since the earliest days of the Internet, people have used it to solicit and organize groups of people to participate in projects in small ways. Called crowdsourcing, this process can be done in a number of ways and used for a variety of goals.

In an early example of the practice, nonprofits would post questions to a Usenet discussion board to seek answers from the community — for instance, asking how to write a particular policy, or for recommendations about recognizing and rewarding volunteers. That “open call” approach is what distinguishes crowdsourcing from outsourcing, in which you’d send a task to a specific person or organization for help.

Crowdsourcing can be done at an organizational or individual level, and nonprofits have used it for everything from marketing and fundraising to volunteerism and activism. It’s a great way to enlist help from a wider community knowledge base, and to engage people in your work.

In the last few years, the rise of social media and new technologies made it easier to reach and engage a broader audience. But how can your organization harness the power of the crowd to help achieve your mission? We asked nonprofit experts and professionals for crowdsourcing best practices and techniques that have worked for them.

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May 2, 2012

An engaging, uplifting nonprofit promo video

Code for America from Inkerman Road on Vimeo.

Code for America: 5 tips on upping your video game

Lauren MajorCode for America, a nonprofit that uses technology to transform local governments, boasts a creative, compelling promotional video that not only clearly describes its message but also engages its viewers to get involved. In just five simple steps, any nonprofit can follow its example.

Be human and personal

1Be sure to make a personal connection early in the video. Many organizations and causes have a cohort of motivated, smiling people behind it. Bring these people to the forefront and show how upbeat and promising working for the cause is! Code for America illustrates its work environment by interviewing employees about what part of the job and cause they like. People are human and social creatures and are more inclined to stick with a video if they can relate to the on-screen subjects.

Use captivating visuals

2Watching a talking head is no fun for anyone. But listening to someone speak while looking at colorful flowers or a fun work environment is far more interesting. The supplemental footage in a video that does not capture a talking head is called b-roll. For example, Code for America’s video displays a shot of the office while founder Jennifer Pahlka speaks over it. Continue reading

September 27, 2011

Techniques to add dazzle to your advocacy video

Matanya’s Hope tells stories of Kenyan schoolchildren through photos & video

Lauren MajorMultimedia storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool for your organization to attract funders, motivate volunteers and demonstrate the power of your message.

Our friends at Matanya’s Hope asked us to create a visual story for their nonprofit by seamlessly blending photos and video footage that they have captured over the past several years with original interviews, music and graphics we developed.

Founded in 2005 by Illinois native Michelle Stark, Matanya’s Hope is a nonprofit dedicated to educating children in Kenya. Last summer I accompanied Michelle to Matanya Primary School and saw the destitution these children and their families face: severe poverty, hunger, lack of clothing. And I realized why Michelle is dedicating her life to this cause.

For nonprofits and other organizations looking to capture their stories through powerful imagery, here are some simple tips for creating professional-looking video:

  • Use “b-roll” (stills & video)
  • Incorporate stock music
  • Use narration or background sounds
How to incorporate b-roll

By using B-roll – still photographs and short video clips referencing what the interviewees are talking about – you can make the video much more interesting than by solely using “talking heads” (straight interviews of people talking without any additional footage). As we are hearing Michelle talking about the children with “no shoes and torn and tattered clothing,” the still photographs visually reinforce what the interviewee is saying. B-roll also allows us to edit the interviews without a noticeable cut (“jump-cut”) in the action or picture on screen.

Use background music to add texture

Background music was also selected to set the mood of the video. Royalty-free music can be purchased online from a number of stock music websites for a modest charge. One of my favorites is Triple Scoop Music. There are also a slew of free sites offering rights-cleared music, generally using Creative Commons — see Socialbrite’s Free Music Directory. Continue reading

March 8, 2010

‘The Cove': Will movies usher in a new era of social change?

Moving movie audiences to take action from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI‘ll confess: I was excited to see The Cove take home the Academy Award for best feature documentary last night. While all the entrants were worthy, “The Cove” is among the handful of movies pushing the idea of Hollywood productions as the fulcrum for social change.

A few weeks ago I caught up with Christopher Gebhardt, general manager and executive vice president of TakePart, the Beverly Hills-based digital arm of Participant Media, which marketed and helped bring “The Cove” to theaters nationwide. Participant Media (formerly Participant Productions) — Jeff Skoll’s social entrepreneurial film production company — has an incredible track record in bringing socially relevant films to screens nationwide, including “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Soloist,” “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Visitor,” “Food, Inc.,” “North Country” and now “The Cove.”

A breath-taking string of success.

dolphins“The Cove” is remarkable for its guerrilla filmmaking tactics in chronicling the grisly business of dolphin hunting in rural fishing villages in Japan, where as many as 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered annually. It won the Audience Award at Sundance last year. Participant didn’t fund the film but funded its marketing.

“We’ve spent the last five years at Participant figuring out how to take the film and really use it to … really get people involved with an issue,” said Gebhardt, speaking after a conversation on stage at Social Capital Markets 2009.

You may have noticed one fellow on stage at the Oscars — film subject and animal activist Ric O’Barry — holding up a sign that said, “Text DOLPHIN to 44144.” (The camera cut away after only one second — the academy has a long tradition of not acknowledging or encouraging overly activist sentiments.)

What’s cool about “The Cove” is that, just as the movie ends, theatergoers are met with the same message: Text DOLPHIN to 44144. When you text the short code, Gebhardt explains, you’re given ways to connect, including the option to sign online petitions to protest the brutal practice, send letters to President Obama, the US ambassador to Japan or Japan’s ambassador to the United States, or you can take other actions.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo. (I’ve started producing these in a higher resolution 3800 kbps bitrate at 720 pixels wide.)

I should mention that I was in the first group of bloggers in 2005 who signed on to guest-post on Participant’s first such effort: the “Good Night and Good Luck” site to discuss press reform and how changes in corporate ownership of the media have affected our democracy since the days of Edward R. Murrow. Continue reading

October 14, 2009

Blogworld Expo’s Cause/Activism track

Blogworld

JD LasicaI‘m flying to Las Vegas early Thursday to moderate a panel on social media tools for nonprofits at Blogworld Expo. I know a lot of the keynoters: Laura Fitton, Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang, Brian Solis, Kara Swisher, Scott Monty, Jay Rosen, Leo Laporte, Guy Kawasaki — the list goes on.

This is the first year the Expo has added a Cause/Activism track geared toward nonprofits, and it’s a welcome addition. The track, organized by Casemedia Group and funded by eBay, aims to provide a forum for nonprofits and bloggers to learn more about how to use social media to spread awareness and raise funds.

eBay and PayPal are sponsoring a Charity Smackdown Arcade at the show, allowing 10 charities to attend the show for free and be featured in the Arcade. The top 10 voter getters were Alex’s Lemonade (2,817 votes), Best Friends Animal Society (2,652), Surfrider Foundation (2,189), Mothers Fighting For Others (2,063), Spirit Jump (1,658), LA’s Best (1,475), 3for5 Foundation (1,466), Stepwise (1,303 votes), Heifer International Portland (1,152) and Canine Companions for Independence (1,143).

Blogworld still hasn’t updated its (badly designed) schedule — even though the Expo starts tomorrow — so here are the latest details on the nonprofit track:

All cause sessions are on Thursday, Oct. 15, in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s eBay PayPal Pavilion, Room 219

Tools for Nonprofit Organizations

When: 11am to 12:15pm (time change)

Topic: What social tools are out there to help organizations raise awareness about social causes? How can we use those tools to generate support and raise money? What strategies should nonprofits use to recruit members, evangelize causes and advance their missions?

Panelists:

Judy Chang, Paypal
Justin Perkins, Care2
David Levy, SocialVibe
James Sutandyo, Causecast
Scott Henderson, Media Sauce
JD Lasica, Socialbrite.org, moderator Continue reading

June 10, 2009

20 tips for mobile advocacy

mobile-advocacyKatrin VerclasMobile social marketing works in increasing awareness and moving people to actions. It is also becoming an effective way to engage users and constituents. Throughout our experience with mobile campaigns, we’ve run into the some great campaigns and some failures as well. In our ongoing series of articles and case studies on using mobiles for advocating for an issue and engaging a constituency, here are our top ten things that nonprofits should and shouldn’t do when running a mobile advocacy campaign.

The dos of mobile advocacy

1. Mobile messaging should be about interaction, not just pitch — a hard notion to learn for advocacy organizations used to pushing email messages by the millions. Mobiles offer a unique opportunity for interacting with a constituent. Advocacy organizations need to think about mobile marketing as a conversation, a way to talk two-ways with constituents.

2. Trust is key as the mobile medium is so very personal. Gain permission and offer relevant and timely content that is valuable to the recipient. Note how to opt out regularly and never ever spam.

3. Pull people to mobile interaction through other media — ads, billboards, the web and offer, in turn, mobile interaction with those media. Think of mobile as an acquisition tool.

4. Know your constituency. Be careful when targeting your demographics and make your ask accordingly — asking an older constituency to upload mobile photos is not going to be very successful.

5. Be relevant. Offer timely news and functional updates that are of interest to your audience — and be clever. Just by way of an idea: The American Lung Association could offer air quality updates via sms for where I live. If engaged in a campaign where I am signing a mobile petition, for example, let me know how it’s going — how many signatures have been gathered, for example. Remind me of events I have signed up for or activities that are part of an organization’s campaign. Give me information I want and need just-in-time when I need it.

Continue reading