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

September 23, 2011

Facebook changes will help you change the world

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Causes, with 140 million+ users, takes it to the next level

Guest post by Joe Green
Co-founder, Causes

On Thursday Facebook announced two of the biggest product changes in its history. First, Facebook is making it easier for people to share the action they take on Causes and get their friends involved in real time. Second, Facebook is launching Timeline, which will allow people to curate all of the information on their profiles to better share the moments in life that matter most.

Because taking action and then sharing it with friends is the core of what people do on Causes, we think that these changes will have profoundly positive effects on people trying to help the world by using Causes.

Causes was founded with the mission of empowering anyone to change the world. Our model is based upon the belief that everyone has the power to have an outsize impact on the world by banding together with other like-minded individuals, taking direct action, and inspiring their friends and their friends’ friends to join in. In short, we provide the grassroots with organizing tools for creating large-scale collective action.

We could not have launched Causes without Facebook Platform, providing real identity and real friends. Facebook Platform was created so that experiences that are inherently social in our offline lives could be brought online as an authentic expression of who we are; Facebook did this best in revolutionizing photo sharing.

Altruism is one of the most fundamentally social impulses, and doing things for others without expecting anything in return is core to what makes us human. This is why from the day Facebook Platform launched in 2007, Causes has been honored to be one of the most popular applications, with over 140 million users.

Timeline + new Causes profiles = a townsquare of giving

One of the most popular features we included in the launch of Causes was the ability for Facebook users to feature their favorite Causes on their profile. With Facebook updates over time, those featured boxes were removed, leading to the greatest user uproar in our history. Our users’ reactions demonstrated that people feel that their causes represent an integral part of their identity, and that we need to make it as easy as possible for them to express that.

Since then, we have worked with Facebook to once again empower our users to make their causes a core part of their Facebook profile, which is now an even more expressive and powerful tool called “Timeline.” Your timeline will include “reports” that roll up all of a user’s activity through a given application in a comprehensive report of what he or she has done. This change, combined with our newly re-launched Causes profiles, provides people a central public place to organize and promote all of their giving.

Until now, Facebook profiles have been dominated by recent information, such as a friend’s posts on your wall, or relatively static information, such as your hometown), but Timeline now offers an important middle ground for people to feature and curate lower frequency, but highly meaningful information that changes and builds over time.

My mom, for example, can join the Arts in Education cause, which supports her favorite nonprofit, choose it to be her featured cause, recruit friends to join it, and donate. Currently, all of these actions can be published to my mom’s friends in real time, but there is not a good way for her to showcase this cause and the work she has done to support it on her profile, which ideally should be the most complete representation of who she is. The reality is that my mom’s involvement with the Arts cause may be less frequent than playing a game on Facebook, but she may care more deeply about the Arts organization and its mission.

Frequency and recency don’t necessarily correlate with quality or “coreness” with respect to her personal identity. Facebook’s willingness to tackle this issue and give people the power to curate their timeline to feature depth of attachment and not pure frequency of engagement is exciting for developers like Causes that power deeply meaningful social experiences.

Facebook turns your profile into a life scrapbook

From the day Facebook launched in 2004, the profile was the most critical page on the site. People used to navigate the site by surfing friends’ profiles, and used their own profile as their navigational starting point. The profile mostly contained a list of interests, actively curated by the profile owner. Only with the addition of the news feed in 2006 did attention shift away from profile and toward recent activity. This shift certainly allowed Facebook to capture what someone was doing in the moment, but that information did not represent the whole of the person.

Now Facebook is making your profile into a more holistic timeline, or scrapbook, of your life. This will enable a new class of applications focused on helping people express themselves to emerge and revolutionize existing industries and experiences. We are grateful at Causes to be in a position to lead this sea change in the way people give and get involved in social change and will continue build a platform that empowers anyone to make a difference by taking action with their friends.

Look out for new ways to integrate Causes into your online identity and check out this piece in TechCrunch for a first look at the Facebook Timeline.

Joe Green is co-founder and president of Causes.
September 19, 2011

Rally: Raise money for your favorite cause

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, fundraising professionals, social media managers, cause supporters.

This is Part 6 of our series on social fundraising. See below for other articles in this series.

JD LasicaIf you’re a nonprofit looking to raise funds online or an individual looking to support a favorite cause, there’s a new kid on the block you should know about: Rally. Rally is an online fundraising platform that helps causes raise money faster, easier and in a more social way.

Following in the tradition of Causes, Give2gether, Fundly and other social fundraising services we’ve been writing about in this series, Rally brings some impressive things to the party: a sleek, streamlined interface, a simple business model and a platform that will soon be open to anyone who wants to support a cause. We wrote about Rally in Social fundraising tools: Our top 5 picks.

The platform is currently restricted to beta testers, like Students of the World, which raised an impressive amount of money in a few weeks, but is expected to open up to everyone this fall. Rally will be for anyone — nonprofits, foundations, political campaigns, churches, sports teams, neighborhood improvement efforts, filmmakers creating a documentary — looking to leverage social media on behalf of a bigger idea. We’ll update this article when Rally flings open the doors wide.

Check out the Students of the World page on Rally to see what it’s all about. Students of the World is a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits tell their story through video and photography, and they achieved success on Rally by interacting with their supporters with photos, videos and conversation.

I recently visited the San Francisco headquarters of Rally — where they also host the “RallyPad” incubator space for fledgling startups — and interviewed Kaitlyn Trigger, Rally’s director of marketing.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Rally is for nonprofits looking for a new revenue stream, Kaitlyn says, but it’s also for any person looking to raise funds to build a neighborhood playground or to raise money to support a friend with a medical condition.

“We know that one of the most powerful ways to get people to donate money is to have a friend ask them,” she says. “It’s the Uncle Joeys and Aunt Lucias of the world. When they tell family and friends about a cause they deeply care about, they’re going to respond much more generously than if an organization makes that ask.”

Rally has no monthly charges, no contract or set-up fees, and a flat per-donation fee of 4.5 percent, which drops to 4 percent when you raise a certain amount. Continue reading

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

May 16, 2011

A new way to show off your nonprofit’s fundraising projects


Project Night Night’s Causes Fundraising Project page.

 

New Facebook tab spotlights impactful projects on Causes

Guest post by Susan Gordon
Causes

Causes has just released a fundraising tab for Facebook Pages, which is great news for nonprofits that have been investing in Facebook but struggling to find the right fundraising solution for that audience. It’s also a huge opportunity to bring your social media community into the inspiring fundraising campaigns you’re running through other channels. So far this year, $3 million has been donated to Causes fundraising projects, and nonprofits of all sizes, budgets and missions are finding they are the most effective way to do online fundraising.

To add the tab to your Facebook page, you can follow the step-by-step instructions on the Causes blog or follow these simple steps:

  • Go to www.facebook.com/causes, log in to Facebook and click “Add to my Page.”
  • Go to your Page and click Causes in the left sidebar.
  • Click the big green “Get Started” button, where you’ll be able to find your nonprofit and add it to your Page. The default tab will look like this:

If your nonprofit would like to customize this tab, add videos/photos, price points, etc., create a Causes Fundraising Project and your tab will look like the one at the top of this article from Project Night Night. (See? If your nonprofit does not have a Causes Fundraising Project, your page will look like this.)

Free, customizable, socially enabled donation pages

In addition to being able to feature a project on your Page, Causes Fundraising Projects are free, customizable and socially enabled donation pages that nonprofits can promote through all their social media channels. Fundraising Projects help nonprofits tell inspiring stories of impactful projects ($10,000 for a school, $2,304 for a scholarship, $54,000 for a rally, etc.) that motivate supporters to donate. After each donation, donors are then asked to promote the project to their networks of friends and family on Facebook. Causes also provides back-end donation tracking and follow-up tools to help you build relationships with donors in the Nonprofit Partner Center. Continue reading

July 27, 2010

Support my birthday campaign on Jolkona!

Help enterprising Colombia youths running an Internet cafe

JD LasicaToday is my birthday, and in the tradition of other social media strategists working in the nonprofit space like Beth Kanter (I wrote about her last birthday campaign in January) and Geoff Livingston, I’d like to ask your help in making the day special for some enterprising young people in Colombia.

But first a quick word of explanation. This post comes in two parts: this introductory fund-raising appeal, followed by an interview with the founder and CEO of Jolkona Foundation, which is running the campaign and scores of others like it.

Empower young entrepreneurs in Colombia’s slums

This is the first time I’ve ever directly asked my blog readers and followers on Twitter and Facebook to donate to a campaign of mine, though I’ve spotlighted dozens of worthy causes over the years. So, please donate here — looking for nine people to donate an average of $25. Details:

What: Support young people in the slums of Bogotá, Colombia, as they develop their own community internet cafe business, called MegaRed (pictured above). The cafe provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs to create a better future for their families while providing a safe and positive environment for young people at risk of being recruited or attacked by armed groups.

What’s cool & different: Jolkona.org showcases scores of great causes to help out — and you get individualized feedback and progress reports on how your donation made a difference in people’s lives.

How much: We’re asking for $25, or whatever you can afford.

How: Click the Give button on this page. You’ll be able to track their progress in the months ahead.

Thank you! Please retweet or Facebook it if you can.

Jolkona: One-to-one philanthropy

Imet Adnan Mahmud, co-founder and CEO of Jolkona, during Beth Kanter’s book signing party for “The Networked Nonprofit” at TechSoup Global last month — and was immediately impressed by his seriousness and dedication to helping great causes through one-to-one philanthropy.

Support a library in Tibet that needs $50 to buy books, and you’ll get the list of books purchased through your donation.

Jolkona is at the bleeding edge of this phenomenon, which will become an increasingly important part of charitable giving in the years ahead, as young people in particular want transparency, interaction and accountability when supporting a cause.

Adnan says Jolkona is the first nonprofit “to give tangible feedback on your donation.” Kiva, which pioneered the technique, provides entrepreneurs with loans. And while nonprofits like charity:water and Global Giving often give updates on projects, Jolkona is positioning itself as a technology platform that enables one-to-one philanthropy for nonprofits of any size.

Watch, download or embed our interview on Vimeo Continue reading