June 29, 2011

How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

GreenFunder
Greenfunder funds socially responsible projects and businesses.

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part one of a two-part series on crowdsourcing.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstHigh-quality work at a low cost. That’s what crowdsourcing can achieve for nonprofts that wish to save money while pursuing their mission.

Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content or skills and solving problems, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. An offshoot, crowd funding, describes the collective efforts to pool their money together on behalf of a cause, project or business. Kiva (loans to entrepreneurs), Crowdrise and Kickstarter (raise funds for creative projects) and Greenfunder, which launched in May as a site to raise funds for socially responsible projects and businesses, are among the burgeoning number of crowd funding sites. (See a few others in our roundup of 24 tools for fundraising with social media.)

Crowdsourcing, a bit of a catch-all term, can be used to gather information, solicit advice, save money or get stuff done. It can also help to inform decisions, demonstrate inclusiveness and bring a whole new meaning to collaboration.

We’ve seen the rise of community crowdsourcing with the advent of social media, but it’s always been part of the way society works. And nonprofits have always been at the forefront of crowdsourcing long before the term was coined in 2006. The idea simply fits in with the way small organizations work.

Here are a few quick, low-key ways crowdsourcing works

Say you’re a nonprofit looking to improve your services. You ask your Facebook fans and Twitter followers — people who have chosen to connect with you — how they think you can become better. They feel included in the process and want to answer, and then your organization has a solution to its problem. That’s what crowdsourcing can do — it can get a job done.

Or take blog posts. Studies show that people respond better to posts with images, so your organization seeks to include a photo along with the information you provide on your website. Where can you find images? Two good starts are Socialbrite’s Free Photos Directory and Flickr’s directory of Creative Commons photos, with 160 million photos available under various licenses. Both can be used to find free photos that you can use for your website, blog posts, reports, presentations and more — just give the photographers proper attribution. Continue reading

October 4, 2010

9 Web platforms to help you change the world

MicroPlace
MicroPlace: Invest wisely to help alleviate poverty.

 

SocialVest, MicroPlace, Vittana can help you make a difference

Target audience: Social change organizations, nonprofits, NGOs, students, educators, individuals.

Guest post by Shira Lazar

While there might be more noise in the social good space, there are also more tools to make giving easier and more accessible than ever. Many are also calling this a trend toward “democratizing social good.” The fact is, you don’t have to be a billionaire philanthropist to contribute to positive change in the world.

Whether you want to start a movement, do something to give back or just share your story, here are some great platforms that are enabling different ways for people to participate and make a difference.

SocialVest: Support causes through shopping

1Founded by Adam Ross, Socialvest marries shopping and giving together to make it easy for people to support their favorite causes by creating a fundraising channel out of everyday shopping. Then you can choose to donate the money you’ve accumulated to the charities or causes you care about and give the money you’ve earned through your SocialVest “Giving Account.” SocialVest also allows users to promote your cause via social networking and set up give groups and fundraising projects through social tools.

Causes

Causes: Mobilize your Facebook friends

2Co-founded by Joe Green and Facebook’s Sean Parker, Causes is the app inside Facebook that lets people choose specific causes to mobilize their friends for collective action, spread the word and/or raise money. Since 2007, the app has been used by a community of 125 million people and has had more than $22 million donated through the application.

DonorsChoose: Help students in public schools

3DonorsChoose is a platform that connects donors with classrooms in need. Go on the site, choose the project that interests you and donate to a worthy project. The site delivers the materials to the class and in turn the students will send you thank you notes and photos of the impact made.

microplace

MicroPlace: Invest wisely to alleviate poverty

4With MicroPlace, for as little as $20, you can open an investment account, use their search tools to find an investment on their site, pay with PayPal or your bank account and then receive interest payments to make your money back. These socially responsible investments in microfinance can help alleviate global poverty, helping the billion people who live on less than $1 per day.

kiva

Kiva: Micro-loans to entrepreneurs

5Kiva has been a prime of example of online microfinancing, enabling people to give “loans that change lives.” As of Sept. 19, Kiva has distributed $160,822,200 in loans from 757,183 lenders. A total of 220,977 loans have been funded. Make a loan for as little as $25 to one of their deserving entrepreneurs, follow their progress and get your money back over time.

Vittana: Send someone to college for $25

6Vittana co-founder Vishal Cakrabarti was named one of The Huffington Post’s 2009 Gamechangers. With its motto “Students in school, one loan at a time,” Vittana uses person-to-person micro-lending of $1,000 or less to enable students to pay for their college education, highlighting “high-achieving, deserving” students in developing countries on its website in the hope that visitors might be inspired to help out. Continue reading

October 12, 2009

An inventive cause campaign to fight malaria

A cause campaign to fight malaria from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Causeitsmybirthday.com raises $16,000, effort continues through Saturday

JD LasicaSocialbrite’s own Sloane Berrent has been a bit busy of late. Fresh off a three-month stay in the rural Philippines doing field work as a Kiva fellow, she and her friend Doug Campbell of Mindshare launched Causeitsmybirthday, a cause campaign with a wild premise: parties in seven major cities on seven consecutive nights to raise money for malaria nets for orphanages and refugee camps in northern Ghana.

Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. It has killed more people than all the wars in human history combined, causing 1 to 3 million deaths per year. And the tragedy is that the majority of those deaths could be prevented with simple actions such as putting up mosquito nets to ward off the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. (This YouTube video explains why nets are so effective in the battle against malaria.)

I’ve never seen an effort quite like this, but Sloane, who blogs at TheCausemopolitan, and Doug pulled it off, working with the small nonprofit Netting Nations to make sure that 100 percent of the charitable donations go toward malaria nets. As of today, they’ve raised more than $16,000 and, even though the seven-city tour is over, you can donate to the cause online through Saturday. (Use the PayPal widget at the left.)

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch the video in QuickTime H.264 on Ourmedia Continue reading

September 10, 2009

10 new ways to take social actions

The Extraordinaries
Nathan Freitas, Jacob Colker and Ben Rigby of the Extraordinaries at NetSquared 2009.

JD LasicaThe Bay Area-based Extraordinaires are among the social causes highlighted in the current issue of Time magazine in an article titled New Ways to Make a Difference.

Time identified three new trends in doing good:

Put your time to work

1The Extraordinaries: The organization is helping to pioneer “micro-volunteering.” As co-founder Jacob Colker told us last week at Net Tuesday, only 26 percent of Americans volunteer — at all — in a given year. That’s partly because we lead super-busy lives. Beextra.org gives us a way to contribute bits and pieces of our spare time to do something worthy, from helping to add tags to museum archives to snapping water going to waste in San Diego. Got an iPhone? Look for an app called The Extraordinaries.

2IfWeRantheWorld.com, due to launch this fall, “encourages you to dream big — end poverty! cure cancer! — and then helps come up with small, specific ways you can help achieve progress in those areas.”

3Kinded.com promotes random acts of kindness. First, print a card at the Kindred site, then “do something nice for a stranger, like sharing an umbrella or helping carry luggage, and hand that person the card. The recipient can go online and note where the act of kindness took place and then pass the card along. It’s like Pay It Forward, with mapping features,” Time writes.

4AllforGood.org, a new aggregation site of volunteer opportunities that we wrote about three months ago, draws listings not only from traditional volunteer sites but also from Craigslist and Meetup. It also lets you share those opportunities with friends on social networks.

Put your money to work

5eBay’s WorldofGood.com is one of our favorite sites. Buy a fair-trade scarf or the work of an African artisan on the site, which vets every product to ensure that it’s eco-friendly and was produced in a worker-friendly environment. Continue reading

September 5, 2009

How the government can help spur social innovation

White House push for social innovation from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

By JD Lasica

At the Social Capital Markets conference this week, one highlight came in the opening keynote and panel discussion with Sonal Shah, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, who spoke about the federal government’s support for innovative, bottom-up social and community programs. Above is a 2 1/2-minute snippet. Some highlights of her talk:

• She talked about allocating resources toward high-impact models through the Social Innovation Fund that was part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Foundation Center has the details.

• She underscored the need for working across sectors, with the federal government playing a role to bring together nonprofits, the private sector and government agencies.

• Shah also pointed to the need to identify tools to help foster a culture of social innovation. (Perhaps Socialbrite can play a role here.)

I had my hand raised throughout the Q&A session but wasn’t called on. I would have said: Many people in the audience no doubt have some ideas on how to move this agenda of social innovation forward. Aside from the handful of foundations and nonprofits in contact with your office, how can we do so? What’s the best public forum? Where should these conversations be taking place?

By Beth Kanter

I was fortunate to have a press pass to SoCap09 this week, which got me a front row seat for the keynote address by Sonal Shah and panel discussion with Andrew Wolk, Root Cause; Vanessa Kirsch, New Profit; and Carla Javits, REDF, moderated by Jeff Bradach, Bridgespan Group.

Sonal Shah gave an overview of the goals and strategies for the Office of Social Innovation. Nathaniel Whittemore of Change.org, who was sitting next to me, has a great write up of the keynote. Marco Puccia has notes here as well.

I live tweeted the key points.  The main themes that resonated for me:

  • Don’t get distracted: Sonal Shah warned, “Don’t think about us as the ‘office that does cool stuff.’  She was warning against shiny object syndrome and used a different “s” word.
  • Government and feedback loops – how can they take the field’s learnings and incorporate in theirs?
  • Measurement is the major theme as the sector grows up. There was an emphasis on finding consistent or standardized quantitative benchmarks.
  • However, there was also a plea not to make evaluation painful, collecting huges amount of data and not using it to improve a program.
  • Continue reading

May 16, 2009

Sloane Berrent on the cause-filled life

The cause-filled life from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaSloane Berrent, who publishes TheCausemopolitan and blogs at LAist and GirlsinTech.net, talks about causes and building community in this 3 1/2-minute video interview. I caught up with her a few minutes after the LA tech scene session she co-moderated at South by Southwest 2009 in Austin; the session drew about 120 people.

Sloane, who practices what she preaches, is heading to the Philippines as a @kiva fellow for 12 weeks. She’ll be at the Kiva fellows social Wednesday at 6:30 pm in San Francisco. She’s already a good way toward raising the $7,500 she needs for air fare, vaccinations, work vise, lodging, transportation and daily living costs — you can support her here.

Continue reading