June 15, 2011

B Corporations: What do they mean for nonprofits?

B Corps use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.


A company either makes money or does good, right? Think again

Target audience: Social enterprises, nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstAnew type of corporation has come along that makes money and does good for society and the environment. They’re called B Corporations, for benefit corporations.

Nonprofits can smile about these dual-focused companies because they make great like-minded partners, and they may help fund and support their social good goals.

A new sector of the economy

B Corporations for social good B Corporations first appeared four years ago. Today, more than 400 companies across 50 industries and several countries have achieved certification by B Lab, the nonprofit that recognizes for-profit companies as being ethical, socially aware and eco-conscious.

Basically, B Corps have to do more than report to their shareholders; they have to consider the people around them and the world they work in. Being able to stand out in the social enterprise sector is a benefit for them.

I first learned about B Corps at a meeting in Atlanta and thought they sounded like a great idea for the increasing numbers of consumers seeking good companies. Of course, people at nonprofits are often seeking out companies behaving ethically as well.

Companies know that people want to be green. B Corps cut past the marketing hype and greenwashing as companies that are truly committed to policies that promote the social good.

One thing for nonprofits to consider about B Corps

Some nonprofit leaders have come out against B Corps. They say that nonprofits might now get as much money because people will choose to back B Corps rather than nonprofits.

Others argue that B Corps will in turn fund nonprofits as well as social benefit initiatives. Jordan Chazin, a B Lab Ratings Associate, says, “Many B Corps are incorporated as C or S Corps or LLCs and are technically designated as for-profit ventures, but elect to give up to 100 percent of their profits to charity.”

A few examples of B Corporations

Freeworld Media, a B Corp, is a digital marketing group that helps companies raise awareness with social and emerging media. Sean Wood, founder and CEO, described his company becoming a B Corp in a statement earlier this year: “We are proud to be a leader in the use of social media to foster corporate social responsibility. What matters to your customers matters to your business.”

Freeworld Media, social media for social good

Many companies that serve mainly nonprofit customers are deciding to become B Corps, including PhilanTech, Care2 and PICnet.

“Nonprofits need tools and services to support the pursuit of their missions,’ ” says Dahna Goldstein, founder of PhilanTech. “With B Corporations, nonprofits can be confident that their service providers are also committed to social and environmental responsibility.”

Nonprofits that want more information about the relationship between nonprofits and B Corps should visit bcorpsfornonprofits.com.

As a nonprofit, what do you think about B Corporations?


4 ways nonprofits can learn from social entrepreneurs (Socialbrite)

The Hoop Fund makes its debut (Socialbrite)

Catchafire: Connecting nonprofits & professionals (Socialbrite)

October 27, 2010

Tips on how to mobilize your supporters

George Weiner
George Weiner, CTO of DoSomething, during our panel

JD LasicaWhen you moderate a panel at BlogWorld Expo, ironically, sometimes you’re the last person to blog about it.

Such is the case with the Oct. 16 “Mobilizing your social network” panel with this all-star lineup: Andres Glusman of Meetup.com, Justin Perkins of Care2, George Weiner of DoSomething and Giselle Diaz Campagna of Free Speech TV. There were some valuable resources mentioned, so I’ll try to assemble them here into a neat package.

• JD Lasica (that’s me) offered a one-stop shop for resources on how nonprofits and cause organizations can use social tools: http://bit.ly/mobilize — a landing page that aggregates resources on social networking tutorials, handouts, top fund-raising tools and much more. This includes the short presentation I gave during the panel on steps to mobilize your supporters. Also, download this free flyer on 12 steps to mobilize your cause: bit.ly/12steps-flyer

• Andres Glusman of Meetup.com (8 million members) offered a powerful presentation that went beyond showing off the organization’s cool Meetup Everywhere feature — a way for you to mobilize your constituency. “Recognize people who are active on your behalf,” Andres urged the crowd. “Create a regular routine that can be annual, quarterly or monthly. Build a routine that people can set their watch to, to build up momentum around an organization.”

See Meetup Everywhere on Tumblr for best practices and examples.

A Mashable meetup in Greece.

• Justin Perkins offered this frogloop article about cutting-edge integrated social media strategies and multi-channel social network campaigns. (By the way, Care2 is up to 14 million members now and still growing like gangbusters.)

• Justin cited the campaign Care2 did for climate change advocates 1Sky. They recruited an email list of 10,000 people, used data mining to determine which Facebook and Twitter users would be most the most active and created a funnel that let to five or six precinct captains who canvased door to door and organizing house meetings on behalf of a campaign. I may have gotten a detail or two wrong but the overall point was that organizations should take steps to move from online action to offline activity.

• Justin also pointed to this article on how to bring social network avatars to life and an essay on how slacktivism is a misnomer.

Giselle Diaz Campagna offered to work with nonprofits interested in having their stories told through video on the freespeech.org site and DirecTV Channel 348 and Dish Network Channel 9415. Don’t step away from controversy, she advised. “We loved it when Glenn Beck did a piece on us,” she said.

George Weiner gave a passionate presentation that showed how social media and video could be used as part of an educational campaign to curtail violence against teen girls and young women. One out of three teens will be abused online. If your nonprofit has any programs for young people, you should collaborate with DoSomething.

• Several of the audience members were with political organizations rather than nonprofits, such as two representatives of evoiceamerica, which makes it easy to email your elected reps.

• Justin also pointed to this resource of 17 nonprofit benchmark studies.

Other highlights from BlogWorld’s nonprofit track

I was darting in and out of sessions during BlogWorld — juggling interviews I was giving, interviews I was conducting and networking in the hallway — but managed to capture a few other highlights:

• Learned more about mobile fundraising service Mobilecause from its CEO, Douglas Plank.

70% of all US households donated to a nonprofit last year, totaling $227 billion.

• According to Douglas: 70% of all US households donated to a nonprofit last year, totaling $227 billion given by individuals. 7% of the US gross domestic product comes through the nonprofit sector. 8% of Americans work in the nonprofit sector.

Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.tv led a great discussion-in-the-round. Snippets: He recommends YouTube for video hosting because of its nonprofit program, while others said nonprofits should use Vimeo because the site supports Creative Commons licenses and lets you actually download the damn video. (In either case, read their Terms of Use.)

• Horvath said YouTube turned over some of its front page programming to the subject of homelessness one day this year, and fully one quarter of the views came from mobile devices.

• One participant recounted the funny story of trying to live-stream the CTO of the federal government from his Washington, DC offices. “Live streaming from a government office? One of the most difficult things in the world to accomplish.”

• Quote of the conference came from Mark Horvath, talking about importance of audio in any video. “I was once told by an audio guy, ‘Without us you’re just surveillance.’ I will go with audio over video.” Excellent! 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

May 28, 2010

24 tools for fundraising with social media



How to raise money to support your favorite cause

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, cause supporters, businesses

By Vivian Ramirez and J.D. Lasica
Socialbrite staff

In the old days — before 2005, remember? — we would solicit our friends to raise funds through walk-a-thons, cake raffles and similar homespun events. If you were raising money for a favorite cause, you’d look to your immediate friends, family and co-workers.

Today, social media has changed the game. With the surge of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you can reach a much wider audience to raise money for your cause. The success of such online efforts varies widely: 30,000 runners in the Flora London Marathon raised $7.3 million through the online fundraising platform Justgiving. On a smaller scale, the Trail of Tails Pet Walk and Festival raised $41,000 for the Jacksonville, Fla., Humane Society using social media tools. And New York dancer Amanda Gravel raised $988 using the widget ChipIn for the campaign against breast cancer.

How did it work for them? Social tools now make it easy to solicit donations using fundraising widgets or badges, social networks like Twitter and Causes (part of integrated with Facebook). With Network for Good or PayPal usually handling the transaction, the solicitors can concentrate on sharpening their message and targeting the right recipients. Not all take the same approach: Some let you add advertising to your site, or create personal webpages, as a way to support your cause instead of ponying up dinero.

Depending on the size of your campaign and budget, cause advocates and small nonprofits now have lots of tools to choose from — further down, we’ll tell you about the ones for mid-size and large nonprofits. (See last month’s 10 mobile apps for social good for ideas on how to donate or volunteer using mobile devices.)

Here are 24 tried-and-true tools for online fundraising. Have we used them all? No. But if you’ve used some of these, add your observations. And we know there’s a 25th out there, so tell us your favorites in the comments below.


ChipIn: The easy way to collect money

1ChipIn is the most popular widget used by fundraisers today for distributed fundraising. It’s a simple tool you can place on your website or on a Facebook profile page. It amounts to a donate button that comes with a thermometer that measures the campaign’s progress. If you don’t have a site, you can subscribe to ChipIn and they’ll host your campaign for free. Subscribing to ChipIn is free, but you’ll need to set up a PayPal account to process donations. Every monetary contribution made through ChipIn is charged at a rate beginning at 2.5 percent of the amount donated.


GlobalGiving: Donate to grassroots projects

2GlobalGiving is an online marketplace for philanthropy where anyone can post an idea and get it funded. The nonprofit connects donors with community-based projects that need support in the United States and abroad. You select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution and get regular progress updates — so you can see your impact. The organization sustains itself with a 15 percent optional fee you can add so that 100 percent of your donation goes directly to the project.


Change.org: Empowering people to take action

3A social enterprise, Change.org helps to raise awareness about important social causes and to empower people to take action, chiefly through partnerships with leading nonprofits. Actions might range from joining an organization and making a personal pledge to signing an online petition or calling a congressperson’s office about an issue like homelessness or sustainable food. In addition to signing petitions or leaving comments, you can raise funds by creating a page with photos, videos, logos and supporting materials. Change.org’s fundraising pages use donation widgets with progress thermometers that track the amount raised. Basic membership is free; it costs $20 a month for those who want customized pages. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent for every transaction.


ChangingThePresent: Make the world a better place

4ChangingThePresent is a nonprofit that connects you with more than 1,500 meaningful if nontraditional charitable gifts — for instance, “stop global warming for $20″ or “adopt a tiger for $40.” Browse by cause or nonprofit to find a gift for friends or for your own charitable giving. The service also encourages donors to make simple donations of any amount through their home pages. A premium profile costs $100 per year. Donation processing fee: 3 percent of each donation plus 30 cents.


Razoo: Experience the joy of giving

5Razoo is a new way to donate and raise money online. Whether you want to donate money, run a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit or raise money as a nonprofit, Razoo offers simple, secure tools to achieve your goals. A nonprofit based in Washington, DC, Razoo helps donors find inspiring giving opportunities and helps nonprofits and volunteers with fundraising pages, social media tools and donation processing.


Causes: Empowering anyone to impact the world

6Causes is a wonderful way to gain attention for a cause. Co-founded by Sean Parker, an early member of Facebook’s executive team, Causes allows fundraisers to solicit donations from their own contacts and recruit volunteers who want to participate on behalf of a cause. People who use the site as a way to socialize can also participate in fundraising ideas by posting Cause profiles on their Facebook page. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent through Network for Good; only Facebook members anyone can donate.

Continue reading