May 21, 2012

How to partner and form coalitions to grow impact

Image by Paha_L on

10 easy steps to help you on your collaboration journey

Guest post by Susannah Vila

To achieve scale and grow impact for your cause, it sometimes make sense to collaborate with other social good organizations.

Creating partnerships — and possibly building a coalition — is likely to increase the amount of resources available to you and the impact you’ll make in the world. Work with everybody – from the public to allied groups to governments to corporations – and let everybody work with you.

Here are 10 quick steps to help you on your collaboration journey:

Set expectations and define goals

1The campaign that you’re bringing other activists and organizations into should be clearly defined and visible. They should understand why they’re joining forces with you. What do you want the final result to be? What are the steps you’ll take to get there?

Determine a time frame

2What is your timeline? Depending on how short or long term your campaign will be, you might want to create a more temporary council or group of some sort instead of a coalition.

Make a list of potential allies

3When you think about it, you may be surprised at how many allies you have in your community. Groups, institutions, businesses and individuals who share some of the same interests as you are all people who you could be working with. Make a list of possibilities.

Research projects they’re working on

4Once you’ve identified organizations with similar goals, research them. Take notes. Educate yourself before you contact anyone. Know the projects that the organization is working on, the projects it previously worked on, and how the organization may fit within your campaign.

Consider organizations with different perspectives

5Don’t neglect “strange bedfellows,” or people whose politics may differ from yours but whose goals may be aligned with those of your campaign in at least the short term. You may be surprised at how frequently diverse groups can come together over a single issue. For example, read about the ‘”strange bedfellows” campaign to fight telecom immunity.

You’re more likely to succeed if the group of people brainstorming your strategy and tactics is itself from a diverse background, as one of them is more likely to see a situation in a novel way and come up with a novel solution. Continue reading

May 25, 2010

The Hub SoMa: Open for business


JD LasicaSan Francisco has a new co-working space for “radical collaboration”: The Hub SoMa.

There is poetry here: The Hub SoMa is located on the revamped first floor of the Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission. While one institution falters, another is born as a collaborative incubation space for new social enterprises. The 8,600-square-foot space, dubbed a Social Innovation Complex, will feature art exhibits, offices and large event spaces for members.

I already paid a visit to the Hub SoMa last week for a presentation by Reporters Without Borders, the international press freedom organization. Hub SoMa is a gorgeous space, one where entrepreneurs of all stripes can come together, compare notes and move forward where interests coincide. Two of the new tenants there include Intersection for the Arts and TechShop.

Thursday night is Hub SoMa’s Launch party — get your tickets for $10. 350 people have signed up so far. I’ll try to make it. Continue reading

April 28, 2010

Collaboration: The next phase of social change?


JD LasicaAt lunch yesterday in San Francisco, eight folks in the social change sector gathered at Samovar Tea Lounge to compare notes, discuss partnerships and answer a question posed by convener Christine Egger of

What is the problem you see in your sector, and how would you solve it?

The conversation quickly turned to silos and the need not to break them down but, as Kristy Graves said, to build bridges between them.

teaThe nonprofit sector. The social change and social innovation sectors. The social enterprise sector. The Gov 2.0 sector. The citizen journalism sector. The education sector. The micro-finance sector.

There are amazing parallel needs on display and immensely talented people working in all of these areas. Sometimes our efforts overlap. Sometimes we share resources. But too often we talk past each other, focus on our own events and pass up opportunities for collaboration.

The lunch came with no agenda and we left with no game plan but with a deeper understanding of some of the efforts taking place only a phone call, email or direct-message away.

One idea was to form a sort of cross-sector group or mailing list to help these sectors cross-pollinate. (I like that idea, but we’d need more participants for that to work.) Continue reading

March 18, 2010

Tap into the collective power of your community

Molena, Ga. - KaBOOM!

The Extraordinaries lets your organization create a crowdsourced ‘mission’

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

Recruiting friends and supporters to get real work done virtually on behalf of social-good projects is easy and fun with the help of The Extraordinaries. Based in San Francisco, the company has created a platform allowing anyone to create a micro-task and blast it to their community of friends and supporters to generate real, usable output when they spend a few minutes of their spare time on an iPhone or computer.

You can download the iPhone app at and check out a wide array of simple tasks you can help with. Missions featured today on the Beextra home page include:

  • Build a collection of cute dog photos for
  • Help build a searchable photo archive for the Smithsonian Institution (yes, that Smithsonian).
  • Create a list of job resources for youths on behalf of Goodwill.
  • Rate tweets from the SXSW conference.

banner-180x150The tools The Extraordinaries have created are available to nonprofits, for-profits, politicos, evangelists and passionate people alike. For example, Citizens Market, a company tracking corporate behavior, is using The Extraordinaries to research and rate company behavior. To map children’s recreational spaces, KaBOOM! is asking people to mark the GPS location of a playground, rate it up or down and snap a photo, such as the one at top.

Anyone can create a mission and harness the power of the crowd to achieve results while engaging and interacting with the broader community — the Extraordinaries has 29,000 registered users, more than 250 missions and 240,000 micro-tasks completed. The team vetts all apps submitted to the site.

Ways for nonprofits to use The Extraordinaries

How can you use The Extraordinaries?

1. Identify your needs. Many tasks, particularly administrative duties, are ripe for crowdsourcing. The Extraordinaries breaks these tasks into small bits of work with the potential for a big impact. Where could you use a few hundred extra hands? First identify your needs, then see how The Extraordinaries community can help meet them. Continue reading

October 19, 2009

Louder: A collaborative campaigning platform

Amy Sample Ward“Together we are … LOUDER!” It’s true! And that’s the leading tag for a new campaigning platform called  Louder

The platform just hit open beta, so create an account and start playing. You can create your own campaigns with unique URLs, add all kinds of media, and then start campaigning for change!

Here are some initial impressions.

What’s Louder?

LOUDER will be the new online home for campaigners. The free and accessible site draws together a range of social media tools for people who want to change the world.

Through Louder you will be able to create a microsite for your campaign with the most used ‘change-tools’ the web has to offer. You will be able to connect to and manage profiles on other social media sites helping you coordinate supporter action.

To help make your campaign louder you will be able to connect up with other campaigns and those running them. Providing a much needed online space for campaigners, from international NGOs to grass roots activists, to link up collaborate and share experiences.

Why I like Louder

I’ve been playing around with the new platform a bit and am quite excited about it.  I think it has a lot of potential to join with campaigning tools like Fairsay’s tool for Plone and collaborative tools like Zanby.

I like that Louder …

  1. lets you create and distribute content all over the web
  2. brings in content you create elsewhere
  3. lets you work on a campaign without everything being “live”
  4. uses a straightforward process to set up modules and then drag/drop to design your page
  5. is being developed by folks IN the nonprofit and campaigning for change sector, so they “get it” already
  6. Continue reading

September 29, 2009

YouthNoise: Helping young people network a cause

YouthNoise: Helping youths collaborate on causes from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI‘ve long admired the folks behind YouthNoise, the global social network for social good developed for and by young people around the world. Based in San Francisco, YouthNoise offers a community dedicated to creating lasting positive change around the world, with the resources to build campaigns, amplify projects and kick off grassroots movements. The site offers a wide variety of tools, Web and mobile technologies and peer support that let members turn ideas into action in areas ranging from health to human rights, from education and the environment to poverty.

Think of it as a for young people, but with a somewhat deeper set of collaboration tools.

Above is an 8-minute interview with Ginger Thomson, who recently stepped down as CEO to take on an advisory role to cement a partnership between LinkTV and YouthNoise, among other things. Ginger has long been a leading figure in empowering Generation Y with the Web 2.0 and social media tools to advance social causes.

With traditional volunteer organizations constrained these days, Thomson says, the tendency of young people to take a do-it-yourself approach to volunteerism may prove especially fruitful, with youths diving in and raising money for the causes they believe in. “This is the DIY Generation,” she says, and young people today have become more entrepreneuria. While traditional volunteerism among Gen Y may have declined, many young people are creating projects around causes that they feel passionate about — with the help of YouthNoise and other sites.

“Alongside the DIY element they also want to bring their friends in, so that everybody’s doing things together,” Ginger says. The YouthNoise site contains social networking capabilities, fundraising tools and access to resources. See the site’s Toolkit Hall of Fame and its Raise It and Donate It Toolkit. Continue reading