May 23, 2012

10 top tools for cause campaigns


A visualization from Bigthink.com.

Target audience: Cause organizations, NGOs, nonprofits, foundations, social enterprises, political reformers, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaOver the past three years, as regular readers know, Socialbrite has put together dozens of guides and compilations of resources and tools for social change advocates. See the bottom of this article for a few, and our Sharing Center is all about social tools for social change.

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To celebrate Internet at Liberty, a conference on protecting protecting freedom of expression on the Internet that Google is organizing in Washington, D.C., this week — and where Socialbrite is running the social media workshops — we’re launching a new section today:

The Social Advocacy Toolkit features new and updated informational guides, tool roundups and resources for global activists, social good advocates, political reformers, NGOs and anyone looking to use online tools for social change. It includes tactics for effective campaigns, guides to the best monitoring and metrics tools (many of them free), lists of enabling platforms and organizations and other resources to help galvanize your campaign.

Below is a new guide that we’ve put together to help social change activists with their advocacy efforts, which we’re adding to the toolkit. Check out the Social Advocacy Toolkit for much more.

10 tools for activists & social change advocates

Asana: A leap ahead for productive teamwork

1Asana is a work-collaboration software suite that came out of beta in April 2012. “We built this company to change the world,” said founder Dustin Moskovitz, one of the co-founders of Facebook. Asana offers a simple, word processor-like interface to give people working together on a task a central place to discuss the project, share files and keep track of to-dos in real time. It’s free for teams of fewer than 30 users.

Alternatives: Yammer, Microsoft Sharepoint (for larger enterprises) and see our Collaboration roundup

PopVox: Advocate your cause in Congress

2You might remember our recent article on PopVox, an online service that individuals and grassroots organizations can use to lobby members of Congress on behalf of a cause. CEO Marci Harris founded the nonpartisan service based on her knowledge of how Congressional staffers interact with the public. For a cause to be effective, it has to be made concrete on behalf of or against a specific bill. PopVox helps you do that.

Geo-bombing with Google Earth

3I was blown away when I saw Tunisian activists from the collective blog Nawaat.org (The Core) link video testimonies of Tunisian political prisoners and human rights defenders to the Tunisian presidential palace’s location on Google Earth. Now, as you fly over the Tunisian presidential palace using a Google Earth KML file, you will see it covered with videos about human rights abuses that strongman Ben Ali tried to prevent Tunisian citizens from watching by blocking YouTube and DailyMotion. Visit earth.google.com/outreach for more examples. We’d like to see more organizations to take up “geo-bombing.” Continue reading

April 10, 2012

GroupMe: Keep in touch with your team members

At conferences or on the go, use mobile to plan next steps

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

JD LasicaAt last week’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco, the Socialbrite team debated which app would be most useful for us to locate each other and easily share our plans on which sessions or which parties to attend.

The first decision came with our agreement that a mobile app was the way to go. While we have a secret Facebook group (well, secret until now!), it’s just easier to check a single app on our mobile devices rather than check our crowded Facebook notifications. If you have three or more team members who are attending an event or who need to stay in touch while on the road, you have a few options.

GroupMe: Best of breed for group messaging

Without much debate, we settled on GroupMe, a free group messaging app. I like it because it’s both instant and asyncronous — that is, your teammates will see your updates instantly or when they next check their mobile devices.

Here’s how it works: Call up GroupMe and invite others in your posse to join your private group. Type your update and send it to the group, as you would an SMS message, and they’ll see it in a chat thread. (You also have the option of including a wider circle of colleagues who use GroupMe, but we stuck with the private route.) We used GroupMe as a way to settle on a time and place to meet in person as well as a means of keeping on top of the best sessions activities to attend.

One of GroupMe’s key features is that it’s cross-platform: You don’t miss a beat whether you have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or another kind of smartphone. In addition to the ability to share messages, photos and locations like the other apps, GroupMe also allows old-fashioned conference calls to your group for occasions when voice is easier than tapping out a message.

Among its advanced features, GroupMe figures out if you have a good or bad wifi or data connection and will switch to SMS for messaging if it things get bad – a common occurrence at conferences. We also like GroupMe because of its humble origins: It was created at a hackathon in 2010, though it was sold to Skype last summer in this fast-moving space. Continue reading