November 29, 2012

Social Impact 100: Who’s really effecting change?

New giving platform helps donors direct their dollars to high-impact nonprofits

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

Guest post by Tamara Schweitzer
Social Impact Exchange

The giving season is upon us and it’s the time of year when many around the country are thinking about the greater social good and gearing up to make their charitable donations. With crowdfunding platforms and the opportunity to donate online through social media outlets, the act of giving to charities and discovering new causes has never been easier. But it’s not always easy to determine where those dollars can do the most good, or to truly know if those donations are having a real impact.

The Social Impact Exchange, a national membership association dedicated to building a capital marketplace to help scale high-impact social solutions, hopes to change that with the launch of the Social Impact 100 (S&I 100). The S&I 100 is the first-ever broad index of U.S. nonprofits working in the issue areas of education, youth, poverty and health that have evidence of results and are growing to serve more people in need. Continue reading

January 17, 2012

How charity: water changes lives through multimedia

Water, the Web and high storytelling & production values

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, social enterprises, cause organizations, businesses and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) divisions, video producers, educators, journalists, general public.

This is part three of our three-part series on how nonprofits can create engaging multimedia stories that motivate supporters to take a desired action. Also see:

Creating compelling advocacy videos for nonprofits

How to effectively use calls to action in nonprofit videos

Lauren MajorWith more than 1.3 million Twitter followers210,000 Facebook likes, and an extremely accessible and interesting blog called the charity: water log, the organization charity: water has successfully tapped the social media well, so to speak. We wanted to feature charity: water here because it is a nonprofit leader in social media and also because it embodies what it means for an organization to embrace all things multimedia.

charity: water uses multimedia to express heartfelt, character-driven stories about people affected by the water crisis

Stunning visual storytelling is the key to charity: water’s remarkable social advocacy and online fundraising success. In just five years, charity: water has brought clean, safe drinking water to more than 2 million people in 19 developing countries.

Mo Scarpelli, charity: water’s multimedia producer, recently sat down with me and shared some secrets to their success. Some 70 percent of their contributions come from online donations and online fundraisers, so it’s no wonder the organization puts so much love into its digital efforts. Scarpelli noted that charity: water’s digital storytelling drives their success – it’s how they connects and keeps in touch with their supporters. It helps that their founder, Scott Harrison, is a photographer himself and loves storytelling.

Who do they reach?

charity: water uses multimedia to express heartfelt, character-driven stories about the water crisis and the projects their donors are helping to support. Scarpelli explained that given the wide selection of content available online, website visitors are likely to tune out if their visuals are not compelling and professional looking. Crafting stories in an interesting way that people can connect with has really paid off for the organization and the people it serves. Continue reading

January 9, 2012

‘Giving 2.0′ chronicles changing face of charity


Image by Yodel Anecdotal on Flickr

JD LasicaThe world of charitable giving is undergoing its most radical transformation ever. As philanthropy has become democratized through the Internet and social media, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen offers a timely, clear-eyed and inspiring assessment of the charitable landscape in her new book “Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World” (Jossey-Bass).

Arrillaga-Andreessen brings an impressive set of credentials to the table: A philanthropist, educator and social innovator, she founded the SV2 Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, directs the Arrillaga Foundation and is president of the Marc and Laura Andreessen Foundation. (You’ll remember her husband, Mark, from his pioneering work as co-founder of Netscape.)

In “Giving 2.0” the author sets out a personal, accessible account of her involvement in philanthropy as she challenges traditional assumptions about who can be – and should be – a philanthropist. In several chapters, she chronicles her own personal odyssey in the philanthropic world (“instead of establishing an organization designed to make money, I wanted to create one to give it away”) and offers accounts of people charting their own course in this new realm.

Technology, she writes, has brought charitable giving to an astonishing new place: “Through technology you can raise your hand for a cause, and get other people to raise their hands with you. You can create a spark of social consciousness and watch it catch fire across national, or even global, communities.”

I was particularly glad to see her single out the work of Jolkona, a nonprofit that is at the forefront of this wave of one-to-one philanthropy. (See my interview with Jolkona founder Adnan Mahmud.) She also gives a shoutout to Catchafire, a startup that matches professionally skilled volunteers with nonprofits and social enterprises. (See my interview with Catchafire’s Jane Slusser.) Continue reading

January 5, 2012

Jolkona: Now we can all be philanthropists

During the holiday break, Socialbrite is updating and republishing some of our most popular posts. We noticed that Jolkona is prominently featured in Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s new book, “Giving 2.0.” Our regular publication schedule resumes Monday.

Imet Adnan Mahmud, co-founder and CEO of Jolkona, during Beth Kanter’s book signing party for “The Networked Nonprofit” at TechSoup Global — 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

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

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