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, 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

May 3, 2011

Oxfam America invites public into fight against poverty


Interactive photobook offers way to support contributions by women

Guest post by Stacy Coleman

Oxfam America ran a photo contest for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day in March. They created an interactive photo wall that enables supporters to upload photos and messages in support of women’s contributions.

We caught up with Victoria Marzilli, new media specialist of Oxfam America, to get an update about the work of Oxfam, its interactive photobook, and the nonprofit’s social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

What is distinctive about your organization?
Marzilli: Oxfam is unique because we are such a multifaceted organization. We work on the ground to implement long-lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice, but we also campaign for policies that help poor communities around the world. We not only provide emergency humanitarian response, but we create sustainable long-term development programs.

How and when was Oxfam inspired and created?

Victoria Marzilli

Marzilli: A group of volunteers founded Oxfam America in 1970 in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the fight for independence in Bangladesh. The next few years were pivotal as several key supporters made prophetic and significant decisions that defined Oxfam’s mission and principles:

1. Oxfam America decided not to accept U.S. government grants and to instead try to build broad-based, grassroots support that would remain independent of government foreign policy.

2. Appeals for support would also avoid promoting a condescending attitude toward poor people; communications would be thought-provoking rather than emotional. Grants would focus on small projects that could serve as models for others.

Last year Oxfam America celebrated its 40th anniversary. While the organization today is a very different place — one that has grown and changed to address both the times and the changing needs of developing countries — several things have remained steadfast: the commitment to addressing issues of injustice and poverty, and the set of core values that has informed our work — legacies passed down through four decades of staff and board members.

What is the overall goal of Oxfam? How do you hope to impact change?

Our overall mission is to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice. We hope to do this by a combination of on-the-ground programs and advocating for global policies.

Tell us about your photo campaign for International Women’s Day.

In the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, we created a movement that will support and better the lives of women throughout the world. Check out the entries in our first-ever ACT FAST interactive photobook. Continue reading

April 15, 2011

Fighting poverty by enhancing social entrepreneurship


Agora Partnerships expanding its impact beyond Central America roots

sustainatopia-logo JD LasicaOne of the coolest people I met at Sustainatopia in Miami last week was Daniela Hammeken, director of strategic partnerships for Agora Partnerships, a nonprofit that works with small companies in Central America to provide access to knowledge, capital and networks.

Based in Washington, D.C., and Managua, Nicaragua, Agora (tagline: “fighting poverty by enhancing entrepreneurship”) is a 6-year-old nonprofit that’s creating an entrepreneurial community, helping small to mid-size companies connect with each other and gain access to the financing they need from national and international investors.

“It’s really about using creativity and innovation to not only sell your main product but thinking about sustainability and the values in how they’re produced.”
— Daniela Hammeken

Each of the nine companies Agora works with has an interesting story to tell. One makes toy blocks, similar to Legos, derived from woods in the Honduras rainforest; with every toy sold, the buyer has the choice of supporting reforestation or an educational program in Honduras. Another small enterprise is run by a Guatemalan woman who increases the supply chain of women artisans in Guatemala to make their products more widely available.

“It’s really about using creativity and innovation to not only sell your main product but thinking about sustainability and the values in how they’re produced,” she says.

Impact investing is just beginning to come to the region, Daniela said. Applicants that come to Agora should be profitable businesses based in Central America, their business plan must incorporate social or environmental sustainability, they need to have fewer than 100 employees and generate between $50,000 and $1 million a year in revenue, with a goal of targeting that same amount in growth capital. A second crop of companies will encompass those in Mexico as well with other Latin American countries to follow.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo Continue reading

April 12, 2011

How to activate your organization’s supporters

JD LasicaAt the conclusion of Socialbrite’s 3-hour Move the Needle bootcamp at Sustainatopia in Miami to help organizations — social enterprises and nonprofits — use social media for social good, I chatted with my partner Sloane Berrent about some of the tips we discussed with participants, including how to find the influencers in your sector and Sloane’s suggestion to create real-world meet-ups from your organization’s online connections.

Couldn’t be in Miami? Today I’m giving a 90-minute version of the Move the Needle presentation at 1 pm ET in my first CharityHowTo webinar. (It’s not too late to sign up!)

“You can’t be everywhere all the time,” she says in our talk — especially when social media demands conversation and interaction. So organizations should identify evangelists, influencers and brand ambassadors and seek to enlist them in your cause or organization’s mission.

Make sure you identify metrics and tie them into goals so that you can tie it into larger programs or ongoing campaigns, Sloane adds in this 6-minute interview. You have to do the homework — the hard stuff — but it gets you to the great outcomes.

There isn’t one tool out there as the complete solution to identifying influencers, but Social Mention, Klout and other tools should be part of the mix. Sloane and I suggested setting up a shared Google doc where you track influencers and your interactions with them.

Real-world meetups are important as well. “People really want to be offline” and meet up in person, she said. “Create a program online but have an event offline that brings people together to talk about your organization.”

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo
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, 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,
• Matt Mahan and Susan Gordon of Causes
• Randy Paynter, Care2
• Tatiana Marshall, Oceana Continue reading