June 10, 2011

NCVS: Innovation and volunteerism

Soledad O'Brien
CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien at NCVS this week.


JD LasicaThis week I participated in the National Conference on Volunteering and Service for the first time. The annual conference, held in New Orleans this year, brought together about 4,500 thought leaders in the community and volunteer sectors across America.

It kicked off Sunday with a Social Media for Social Good bootcamp that I put on with George Weiner of DoSomething.org, which drew more than 60 participants. (See our presentation here.)

But I’d rather talk about some of the other highlights I came across, and share this 100-photo Flickr gallery of the event.

Brian Reich and Scott Henderson put on a fascinating Idea Throwdown that I took part in, along with representatives from AARP, CauseCast, VolunteerMatch, MyImpact, TechSoup Global and a couple of dozen other organizations. Some outputs from that 2-hour gathering included the following:

• Participants ought to think about partnering with like-minded movements instead of launching duplicative efforts. We should be paying close attention to working together as a front, and participating in cross-sector collaboration, rather than claiming credit as trend-setters. Talk to three competitors and figure out how you can work together.

• Chris Noble: “Kill a feature a week and a program a month and your organization will get better.”

• In his “Information to Impact” session, George Weiner said, “If you’re never surprised by what you find in the data, you’re not asking the right questions.” And this priceless gem: “Data is better than gut.”

• Neil Bush, chairman of the Points of Light Institute: “Twenty years ago over 30 million people were volunteering. Today over 60 million people are.”

• I also was a panelist in Chris Noble’s session on “Brands and Causes” and argued that we need new language in the cause marketing space, especially around the nexus between nonprofit causes and corporate behavior.

• In my discussions with social entrepreneurs, we’re pretty much in agreement: Companies are too often looked at as sources of funding rather than as sources of solutions.

• Wonderful to be a few feet away from such celebrities as Soledad O’Brien of CNN (pictured above), James Carville, Mary Matalin, Neil Bush, Wynton Marsalis and many more.

June 6, 2011

A reality check on social media

Social Media for Social Good


It only works when it’s connected to the real world

JD LasicaAt the National Conference on Volunteering and Service — which some folks call “the Super Bowl of nonprofit conferences” — George Weiner and I teamed up on one of the most successful Social Media for Social Good Bootcamps that Socialbrite has put on to date. (Socialbrite has put on camps in New York, San Francisco, Miami, London and elsewhere.)

For those of us who live and breathe tech and social media — me in Silicon Valley and George, CTO of DoSomething.org, in New York and Washington, DC — it’s always a good reality check to come to gatherings like this and see how the non-early adopters are faring.

The three-hour session we led yesterday offered a range of tips on how to use social media strategically for campaigns, for collaboration, for building community, and I invite you to browse through the presentation above, since the attendees found it useful: “AMAZING session” (thanks, Volunteer Centre) … “awesome, fantastic session” (thanks, NCVS) … “Great session!” (thanks, Groupon).

But there were more beginners in the crowd than I expected. For instance, only about five out of 50 particpants were using Google Analytics (the free tool every website and blog ought to have). None had heard of the Grassrootsmapping.org effort to document the Gulf oil spill, even though we’re right here in New Orleans. And only one out of 80 people (not counting me) at today’s session on data had ever used Tumblr, an easy way to post blog entries and photos.

These are good, smart, motivated people — we need to break through the barriers and connect the tools and strategies with the organizations and causes that need them, starting with the basics.

So let’s take a deep breath and remember: We still have a lot of work before us, and there’s a lot of education yet to be done.

May 11, 2011

How to mobilize your supporters to take action

100,000 homes

JD LasicaWhether you want to grow your membership, raise funds or loans, recruit more followers, gather petition signatures, find volunteers for your cause or connect with your community, Social Media for Social Good: How to Mobilize Your Supporters to Take Action will offer guidance that will help your organization create impact for years to come.

It’s the pre-conference bootcamp that I’m putting on with George Weiner, chief technology officer of DoSomething.org, at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in New Orleans on Sunday, June 5. If you’re going to NCVS, we hope you’ll join us!

This special 3-hour workshop will dive deeply into strategy, tactics and tools available to volunteer organizations and nonprofit managers. NCVS has no tech track this year, so get up to speed on the mission-critical social tools in your sector.

When & where

When: Sunday, June 5, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Where: New Orleans Convention Center

How much: $99 (If you’ve already registered, we’ll accept payments at the door)

Register: Enter the session identification code 5638 during the registration process. Register now Continue reading