September 27, 2011

Techniques to add dazzle to your advocacy video

Matanya’s Hope tells stories of Kenyan schoolchildren through photos & video

Lauren MajorMultimedia storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool for your organization to attract funders, motivate volunteers and demonstrate the power of your message.

Our friends at Matanya’s Hope asked us to create a visual story for their nonprofit by seamlessly blending photos and video footage that they have captured over the past several years with original interviews, music and graphics we developed.

Founded in 2005 by Illinois native Michelle Stark, Matanya’s Hope is a nonprofit dedicated to educating children in Kenya. Last summer I accompanied Michelle to Matanya Primary School and saw the destitution these children and their families face: severe poverty, hunger, lack of clothing. And I realized why Michelle is dedicating her life to this cause.

For nonprofits and other organizations looking to capture their stories through powerful imagery, here are some simple tips for creating professional-looking video:

  • Use “b-roll” (stills & video)
  • Incorporate stock music
  • Use narration or background sounds
How to incorporate b-roll

By using B-roll – still photographs and short video clips referencing what the interviewees are talking about – you can make the video much more interesting than by solely using “talking heads” (straight interviews of people talking without any additional footage). As we are hearing Michelle talking about the children with “no shoes and torn and tattered clothing,” the still photographs visually reinforce what the interviewee is saying. B-roll also allows us to edit the interviews without a noticeable cut (“jump-cut”) in the action or picture on screen.

Use background music to add texture

Background music was also selected to set the mood of the video. Royalty-free music can be purchased online from a number of stock music websites for a modest charge. One of my favorites is Triple Scoop Music. There are also a slew of free sites offering rights-cleared music, generally using Creative Commons — see Socialbrite’s Free Music Directory. Continue reading

September 19, 2011

Rally: Raise money for your favorite cause

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, fundraising professionals, social media managers, cause supporters.

This is Part 6 of our series on social fundraising. See below for other articles in this series.

JD LasicaIf you’re a nonprofit looking to raise funds online or an individual looking to support a favorite cause, there’s a new kid on the block you should know about: Rally. Rally is an online fundraising platform that helps causes raise money faster, easier and in a more social way.

Following in the tradition of Causes, Give2gether, Fundly and other social fundraising services we’ve been writing about in this series, Rally brings some impressive things to the party: a sleek, streamlined interface, a simple business model and a platform that will soon be open to anyone who wants to support a cause. We wrote about Rally in Social fundraising tools: Our top 5 picks.

The platform is currently restricted to beta testers, like Students of the World, which raised an impressive amount of money in a few weeks, but is expected to open up to everyone this fall. Rally will be for anyone — nonprofits, foundations, political campaigns, churches, sports teams, neighborhood improvement efforts, filmmakers creating a documentary — looking to leverage social media on behalf of a bigger idea. We’ll update this article when Rally flings open the doors wide.

Check out the Students of the World page on Rally to see what it’s all about. Students of the World is a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits tell their story through video and photography, and they achieved success on Rally by interacting with their supporters with photos, videos and conversation.

I recently visited the San Francisco headquarters of Rally — where they also host the “RallyPad” incubator space for fledgling startups — and interviewed Kaitlyn Trigger, Rally’s director of marketing.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Rally is for nonprofits looking for a new revenue stream, Kaitlyn says, but it’s also for any person looking to raise funds to build a neighborhood playground or to raise money to support a friend with a medical condition.

“We know that one of the most powerful ways to get people to donate money is to have a friend ask them,” she says. “It’s the Uncle Joeys and Aunt Lucias of the world. When they tell family and friends about a cause they deeply care about, they’re going to respond much more generously than if an organization makes that ask.”

Rally has no monthly charges, no contract or set-up fees, and a flat per-donation fee of 4.5 percent, which drops to 4 percent when you raise a certain amount. 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

March 22, 2011

Photos from Nonprofit Technology Conference

Moria Gunn & Donna Edwards
NPR’s Moira Gunn and Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., at the end of their chat at 2011 NTC.
 

And a wealth of connections made — and introductions sought

JD LasicaHere’s my Flickr photo set from the Nonprofit Technology Conference held Thursday to Saturday in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Hilton — 89 photos in all. I got a chance to try out my new Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm lens.

It was the biggest (2,008 attendees, founder Holly Ross announced) and best NTC yet.

I’ll be writing several posts over the coming days and weeks about some of the highlights. I snagged video interviews with Mark Horvath of Invisiblepeople.tv, Jonathan Greenblatt of AllforGood and Ramya Raghavan of YouTube.

Other folks I met or got better acquainted with included:

• Jeanette Russell, Democracy in Action
• Brian Choc, Teaming for Technology Colorado
• Tim Lim & Matt Slutsky, Change.org
• Matt Mahan and Susan Gordon of Causes
• Randy Paynter, Care2
• Tatiana Marshall, Oceana Continue reading

July 27, 2010

Support my birthday campaign on Jolkona!

Help enterprising Colombia youths running an Internet cafe

JD LasicaToday is my birthday, and in the tradition of other social media strategists working in the nonprofit space like Beth Kanter (I wrote about her last birthday campaign in January) and Geoff Livingston, I’d like to ask your help in making the day special for some enterprising young people in Colombia.

But first a quick word of explanation. This post comes in two parts: this introductory fund-raising appeal, followed by an interview with the founder and CEO of Jolkona Foundation, which is running the campaign and scores of others like it.

Empower young entrepreneurs in Colombia’s slums

This is the first time I’ve ever directly asked my blog readers and followers on Twitter and Facebook to donate to a campaign of mine, though I’ve spotlighted dozens of worthy causes over the years. So, please donate here — looking for nine people to donate an average of $25. Details:

What: Support young people in the slums of Bogotá, Colombia, as they develop their own community internet cafe business, called MegaRed (pictured above). The cafe provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs to create a better future for their families while providing a safe and positive environment for young people at risk of being recruited or attacked by armed groups.

What’s cool & different: Jolkona.org showcases scores of great causes to help out — and you get individualized feedback and progress reports on how your donation made a difference in people’s lives.

How much: We’re asking for $25, or whatever you can afford.

How: Click the Give button on this page. You’ll be able to track their progress in the months ahead.

Thank you! Please retweet or Facebook it if you can.

Jolkona: One-to-one philanthropy

Imet Adnan Mahmud, co-founder and CEO of Jolkona, during Beth Kanter’s book signing party for “The Networked Nonprofit” at TechSoup Global last month — and was immediately impressed by his seriousness and dedication to helping great causes through one-to-one philanthropy.

Support a library in Tibet that needs $50 to buy books, and you’ll get the list of books purchased through your donation.

Jolkona is at the bleeding edge of this phenomenon, which will become an increasingly important part of charitable giving in the years ahead, as young people in particular want transparency, interaction and accountability when supporting a cause.

Adnan says Jolkona is the first nonprofit “to give tangible feedback on your donation.” Kiva, which pioneered the technique, provides entrepreneurs with loans. And while nonprofits like charity:water and Global Giving often give updates on projects, Jolkona is positioning itself as a technology platform that enables one-to-one philanthropy for nonprofits of any size.

Watch, download or embed our interview on Vimeo Continue reading

July 12, 2010

FeelGood: A new approach to fight hunger

FeelGood: A new approach to fight hunger from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHave you heard of FeelGood? It’s an innovative nonprofit social enterprise, based on 27 college campuses, that offers a new way to make a difference in the fight against hunger.

The program transforms students social entrepreneurs and responsible global citizens. Its goal is simple: End world hunger in our lifetime. They do it one grilled cheese sandwich at a time. Founded in 2005, FeelGood empowers college students to run nonprofit delis on their campuses, specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches that are given away for a voluntary donation. At the delis, students develop business skills, launch effective educational campaigns and initiate dialogues about the root causes of and solutions to poverty.

Fully 100 percent of the profits the students raise are invested in organizations with a track record of eradicating extreme poverty and empowering self-reliance. And here’s a remarkable stat: Every $100 invested in FeelGood yields $120 for certified organizations working to end global hunger.

I ran into FeelGood’s founders, Kristin Walter and Talis Apud-Martinez, at the last Social Capital Markets conference. (The next one will be Oct. 4-6 in San Francisco).

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo Continue reading