October 15, 2012

How DoSomething uses data to change the world

Sometimes impact can be achieved without money, an adult or a car

This post was written by Beth Kanter, co-author of the new book Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World. She and co-author KD Paine appear at TechSoup headquarters, 525 Brannan St., Suite 300 in San Francisco on Wednesday from noon to 1:30 p.m. Register to attend the free talk.

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

Guest post by Beth Kanter
beth’s blog

The New York-based nonprofit DoSomething.org has a big social change goal: To harness the energy of young people 25 and under and unleash it through national campaigns on causes teens care about. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and does not require money, an adult, or a car. Their measurable goal is to get 5 million active teen members engaged in social change campaigns by 2015. They use social media, mobile, and data to reach that goal.

A recent example is their “Pregnancy Text” campaign featured on their quarterly dashboard. This clever sex education campaign is an updated version of the teen pregnancy education program where young people carried eggs around and pretended they were babies. It was a text campaign where teens opted-in to receive texts on their mobile phones from the “baby.” Once they joined (and they could share it with their friends), they received regular annoying text messages at all hours from the “baby”  that poops, cries, and needs their immediate attention. 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

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 9, 2010

Where to volunteer this summer, and beyond

From Fabien Cousteau’s Plant a Fish site.

This is part of The Causemopolitan‘s summerlong series of guest posts that will inspire you to get involved and give back. For more, see Cause It’s Summer!

Guest post by Susan McPherson

This summer I seem to have even more enthusiasm and energy to support the causes that I’m passionate about. I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons why, but perhaps it’s knowing that I’m shortly embarking on a new career as well as reading the blaring daily headlines about the tragedy in the Gulf.

So here’s my thought: What if we could take the extra 3-4 hours of sunshine that we are so graciously provided every summer day and use that time to give back to some of those fabulous organizations that need help? For every interest, passion, category, location that exists, there is a worthy nonprofit organization that is dying for volunteers and support – young and old.  

Below, I’ll share some of my favorites:

Plant a Fish: ‘Replanting’ key species

Have you ever thought of planting a fish, an oyster or another sea creature?  Intrigued?  If so, check out Plant A Fish, a new nonprofit founded by Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the legendary ocean explorer, Jacques Yves Cousteau.  Fabien’s goal is to help children and communities around the world “replant” key species in their local waterways – rivers, lakes and oceans.  

The organization will also be helping with the relocation of various sea animals affected by the Gulf Oil Spill.  If you are passionate about our planet, the outdoor world and the environment, I encourage you to sign up today.  Within the next few years, there will be Plant A Fish communities created in cities around the world. Follow on Twitter: @plantafish.

Bpeace: Help women affected by war & conflict

Job creation.  Nice thought, don’t you think?  Have you ever considered how much holding a job can mean to someone?  We often take for granted the fact that a paycheck comes every week or so, but there are millions around the world who aren’t so fortunate.  What if you could help women in areas of the world affected by war and conflict, build their businesses and create employment – places like Afghanistan, El Salvador, Rwanda and Bosnia?  What if you could use the skills you have acquired over the years to help train others to run more efficient and profitable businesses?  

Business Council for Peace (Bpeace) is a group of businesswomen dedicated to helping women in regions of conflict and post-conflict build businesses to sustain their families and strengthen their communities. Whether you choose to visit one of the above-mentioned countries and provide expertise on the ground, or work while at your laptop or mobile device, Bpeace can truly use your brainpower. Follow on Twitter: @bpeacehq Continue reading

February 2, 2010

DoSomething.org: How young people can take action

Sloane BerrentAt the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, I attended a dinner on the “Future of Philanthropy,” which was a really great talk about the role of philanthropy across nonprofits, family foundations, corporate partnerships and how individuals can get involved.

The dinner sessions at Davos I heard were a must. They’re expensive add-ons to the experience, but provide you an opportunity to sit at tables with a facilitator and go through topics related to the issue at hand.

Nancy Lublin is the CEO and “Chief Old Person” of Do Something, a nonprofit organization that gets young people excited and involved with voluntarism and getting involved in cause. Nancy is one of the Young Global Leaders, a subgroup of the World Economic Forum. Some 200-300 people each year are chosen from around the world who are making a difference and contributing to their communities.

Nancy identified three trends important to teens right now:

  1. Mobile – the ability to give online
  2. Slacktivisim – the ability to click a button and have something delivered to a person in need. Examples include Free Rice.
  3. Crowd-sourced giving like the Chase Community Program through Facebook that recently ended and the Pepsi Refresh Project (which by the way started this past weekend — if you have any idea on how to change the world, you really should check out this program and see what Pepsi is doing instead of placing a Super Bowl ad on TV this year).

Continue reading