July 19, 2011

How DoSomething engages young people


Make it easy to participate, make it mobile — and don’t forget the fun!

JD LasicaOne of the great success stories of online advocacy has been DoSomething.org, a not-for-profit that encourages young people to use the power of online to “do good stuff offline.”

Last fall I moderated a panel at BlogWorld Expo with DoSomething chief technology officer George Weiner, and last month I co-presented a Social Media for Social Good bootcamp at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service with George.

“This generation is far more engaged than anyone can possibly understand or measure due to the amount of conversations going on in social media.”
— George Weiner

So during a brief break in the action I got him to talk about how DoSomething spurs 1.2 million young people a year to take action on behalf of a social cause they care about.

“Young people have this amazing thing they can do that doesn’t require car, money or an adult,” he says. Simply put, any young person — 25 or younger, with a sweet spot of 16- to 17-year-olds — can launch a social cause campaign about any cause they feel passionately about.

The nation’s largest cause site for young people, DoSomething has about 30,000 cause projects started by young people.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Success comes down to a combination of factors

The annual DoSomething Awards airs on VH1 in August.

The site’s success comes down to these factors:

• They make it easy to participate by lowering the barriers to entry.

• They’re laser-focused on catering to young people.

• They make it easy to take part in campaigns via mobile devices.

• They try to make causes fun by emphasizing use of participants’ social networks. Continue reading

July 20, 2010

8 online petition tools: How to make a difference

green jobs


Sizing up your options & strategies for being effective with your online petition drive

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, educators, foundations, businesses, individuals. This is part of Creating Media, our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and make media.

By Julie Katz
Socialbrite staff

Political and social activists have a lot of choices these days when launching a petition campaign. But not all petition sites are created equal.

What options do you have to wage an effective petition effort? Here’s a breakdown of what you need, where to go, what to do and how to make an impact. (You can add Change.org and Causes to the list below — we covered them in our roundup of fundraising sites.)

First, you need a cause. Make sure your cause is clear and concise. Have some background information available to buttress your case, including links and citations. Supplement it with media: a video, photo or story that personalizes the issue.

Here are the major petition sites that you can choose from:


The Petition Site

1Care2’s first-rate The Petition Site offers a simple online form letter that makes it easy to sign and send off. Making a petition takes three easy steps on this site: Start the petition page, add your information and create a “petition promo” (how it will appear on the site). Viewers will find the petition statement or letter directly next to the form they will be signing on the petition’s page.

The nonprofit marine conservation group Oceana recently posted a petition asking Congress to save bluefish tuna, a fish rapidly facing extinction because of unmonitored overfishing. The petition has received 10,600 signatures toward a goal of 15,000.

Petition Online

2Petition Online offers a slightly more intricate process to posting a petition. First, you can choose to have individuals’ names hidden, which can help gain signatures but lessens impact, in our view. Second, more information such as comments or zip code can be displayed next to the signature. The site’s most impressive feature is the ability to enter tags and targets for search engine optimization and community outreach. However, we don’t like the fact that you can’t see how much support a petition has gathered beforehand.

As a bonus kick, PetitionOnline’s Twitter account offers updates on recent petitions. The site claims it’s collected more than 87 million signatures with tens of thousands of active petitions. Here’s an example of a petition against the slaughter of horses. PetitionOnline is a branch of DesignCommunity, owned by Artifice, Inc.

Go Petition

3Go Petition is an independent site boasting petitions from more than 75 countries and a No. 1 ranking from Google. What makes GoPetition a bit different is its claim of working with non-governmental organizations and government patrons.

GoPetition also offers filtering options such as the ability to filter profanity and duplicate signatures as well as SEO capabilities. Typical petitions call for stopping the killing of Cape Town’s baboons and one that calls on Denmark to repeal a law banning certain breeds of dogs.

Act.ly Twitter Petitions

4And now for something completely different. Act.ly is a Twitter-based petition site that couldn’t be more simple: Type in the target’s Twitter name, type in what you are petitioning them to do, and there you have it! A petition is created and, as anything goes in the world of tweeting, you can start spreading it like wildfire. A page comes up with the direct tweet and the full message. Act.ly will display an area to show whether the target has responded or not.

Here’s an example asking Whirlpool Corp. not to close a refrigerator manufacturing plant in Evansville, Ind., that would put more than 1,100 people out of work. People have created 2,100 petitions on the relatively new site so far. Continue reading

February 23, 2009

How does mobile giving work?

nelson-mandalaKatrin VerclasMobile fundraising is taking off — or so at least hope nonprofits hard hit by the economic downturn. Organizations are looking for a new channel for people to give on the spot, wherever they are, with their phones and a quick text message.

Mobile giving via SMS in the United States and many other parts of the world, has been out of reach because of high carrier charges — up to 50% of a donation would go to the telcom — unacceptable to most charities.

But this has changed in the last two years. Mobile donation campaigns in the United States that go through the Mobile Giving Foundation are not subject to the high carrier fees. The Mobile Giving Foundation charges a smaller percentage fee — currently 10%. As a result, in 2008 the field of mobile giving in the U.S. attracted the attention by organizations large and small, including by such brands as UNICEF, the Salvation Army, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

in England, there is also talk about establishing an entity similar to the Mobile Giving Foundation that would negotiate a no-fee arrangement with the operators and vet charities for SMS giving campaigns.

Continue reading