January 20, 2012

How NGOs can use social media to combat poverty

Socialbrite presents at the United Nations today

JD LasicaToday my Socialbrite partner Shonali Burke and I are giving a presentation to NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) at the United Nations.

Back in November, an invitation flew into our laps from Amine Lamrabat of the Civil Society and Outreach Unit (CSOU), Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). By gosh, when it comes to acronyms, nobody beats the UN!

The department is focusing in the new year on marshalling resources to combat poverty — quite a challenge, considering up to 80 percent of the world’s 7 billion people live in poverty or near-poverty conditions. (See stats from the World Bank.) So we tailored our presentation to highlight the work of some international nonprofits that are making an impact, especially in the developing world (or Global South, as some call it), including:

Send a Cow, a UK-based nonprofit that is helping African farmers create a sustainable ecosystem and a process of paying it forward. Farmers who are helped, with training on how to grow crops in harsh climates, agree to pass that knowledge on to other farmers — along with a first-born calf. Send a Cow helps African farmers grow enough food to feed their families, sell their produce, start small businesses and rise out of poverty. They do a nice job with their website, produce high-quality videos and are growing a fan base on Twitter and Facebook, though we couldn’t spot any online fundraising or mobile efforts.

USA for UNHCR’s Blue Key campaign, which Shonali is overseeing, has built a nice community over the past year, with occasional tweet-a-thons to raise funds, $5 per key, and awareness about the plight of refugees.

• In my view, charity: water has made the most astonishing use of social media and new media, with breathtakingly good videos, multimedia, photography and smart ways to mobilize social networks. Check out the story of charity: water video they did for their 5-year anniversary as well as the new WaterForward campaign. Also, see the video How charity: water changes lives through multimedia and find your charity: water project on a map — I’ve been using on that in my presentations for years. Continue reading

December 22, 2011

Say ‘Happy New Year’ to nonprofits worldwide with one click

Click to support .NGO

Shonali BurkePerhaps you’ve started celebrating Hannukah, or you’re counting down the hours until Christmas Day. In the midst of your holiday cheer, which is well-deserved and much needed, would you take a moment to give a really great gift to nonprofits worldwide?

All it will take is one click. I’m serious.

Here are the deets:

Next year, thousands of new Internet domains will be up for grabs. One that is important to the nonprofit community is the .ngo domain (pretty obvious why, right?). So it’s equally important that the right organization be chosen to run this new domain.

Public Interest Registry (PIR) is the nonprofit organization that currently manages .org, the domain that has served the nonprofit community for more than 25 years. So it’s the natural choice for managing the .ngo domain.

They are up against venture capital and other for-profit groups that would like to gain control of the .ngo domain. However, the nonprofit community can make sure that doesn’t happen by signing this petition supporting PIR’s bid. Note: Only nonprofits should sign this form.

Continue reading

January 30, 2009

Mobile phones join the rural radio mix


kiwanjaA little over a year ago I found myself sitting in the San Francisco offices of an international humanitarian NGO. Their main focus at the time was a major human-rights treaty, and they wanted advice about mobilizing rural communities to lobby their governments to ratify it. There was clearly great potential for a mobile phone-based solution, and they wanted me to help them understand how text messaging – and FrontlineSMS in particular – could be of use.

So, it came as something of a surprise when I recommended they look more closely at rural radio instead. Although I’m a great fan of mobile phone technology, it isn’t by default the best tool for reaching out to rural communities. Radio – far from being outdated and irrelevant – remains a powerful, relevant and far-reaching medium. Unrivalled, in fact.

Radio stations existed in Africa long before many of its countries reached independence. Over the last twenty to thirty years, however, liberation of the airwaves in many of these countries has opened the door to a new wave of broadcasters including commercial, private, community and public radio stations. This expansion has created some new and exciting opportunities.”

kiwanja’s latest PC World article looks at the potential of mobile phones and rural radio stations to jointly deliver relevant, timely and useful information to rural populations in developing countries, and allow listeners to engage with radio programmes in a new way. Projects highlighted include initiatives in Africa by Farm Radio International and Developing Radio Partners.

Head on over to the PC World website for the full article.

This post originally appeared at Kiwanja.net.