September 27, 2010

How nonprofits can get started with mobile

How nonprofits can get started with mobile from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

 

Some tips about how to create an effective mobile campaign

This is part two of a two-part series on how organizations can use mobile tech for social good. See part one: A beginner’s guide to mobile fundraising.

JD LasicaWith the explosion of mobile giving in the wake of this year’s humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti and the Gulf Coast, nonprofits and social change organizations are now taking a new look at what mobile might be able to do for their own causes.

Nicola Wells, regional field director for the Center for Community Change’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement, offers nonprofits a half dozen tips about how to get started with mobile and create an effective mobile campaign, whether for fundraising, recruiting or other goals. The 11-minute interview was conducted just after we presented the Mobilize Your Cause bootcamp at City University of New York as part of Personal Democracy Forum.

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement is a national coalition of immigrants rights groups whose work in social media has three goals: to build a list of individuals who can be called upon when needed to press for immigration reform legislation; to communicate important news and information to those individuals as the campaign evolves, and to engage those supporters and build a relationship with them.

Mobile was a key component of the strategy. Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Nicola noted that immigrants and people of color tend to use mobile more than the general population, and a lot of FIRM’s supporters did not have computers and did not belong to Web-based communities like Care2 or Change.org. Thus, mobile was the perfect tool for keeping in touch with them.

Wading into the mobile space should not be done lightly, however. “It really takes a lot of staff time just to set up the mobile piece: to create the messaging, do the copy editing and to deal with the day-to-day functioning of the list,” she says.

When the mobile initiative got underway, the executive team had to make sure they had staffing in place and in alignment, including having a key manager of the social media team involved in the mobile campaign. Next, they dedicated to the team a tech expert who was familiar with mobile campaigns and brought in Mobile Commons — a text messaging platform for mobile marketing — to handle the back end.

They talked with partners before they began building the list so they could figure out the right positioning and managed to negotiate relationships to get their long-term buy-in, Nicola said. Finally, they began thinking deeply about the user experience, particularly:

  • calls to action, including urging them to attend rallies on behalf of the cause
  • alerts, so that when specific high-tension information came out, people would be in the loop
  • a feedback loop that gave members a sense of having access to the campaign

Key lessons learned along the way

Some key lessons they learned, Nicola said, were these:

  • You really have to put your short code and mobile information everywhere you put your url.
  • Person to person is the best way to sign people up, not through email.
  • Have people at your events walking through the crowd to recruit people for the mobile list. “Computers are not the best way to sign people up.”
  • Once you have a short code, try not to change it, because you’re building a brand around your code and number. For example, FIRM uses the short code JUSTICE (Justicia in Spanish) texted to 69866.
  • You really have to learn the art of communicating complex ideas in 160 characters. “Allow one or two people on your team to take ownership of that,” Nicola says. “I like to call them the gatekeepers.”

Continue reading

June 1, 2010

How nonprofits should be using storytelling

The importance of storytelling to nonprofits from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Expert gives tips on how to bring causes to life

JD LasicaWhen it comes right down to it, nonprofits and public-benefit organizations have a hard time telling their own stories. They assume that the public shares their passion for the cause, and so they move on to conveying dry stats and research reports to buttress their case instead.

Wrong approach.

Cave painting of a dun horse at Lascaux, France

Cave painting of a dun horse at Lascaux, France. At 17,000 years old, the oldest story?

They should be telling stories. Suzanne N. Smith, head of Social Impact Architects in Austin, Texas, discusses why storytelling is so important to nonprofits — and, indeed, any organization. She gave this 15-minute video interview at the recent Social Enterprise Alliance Summit atop the Hyatt in downtown San Francisco.

Says Suzanne: “I’ve seen nonprofits bury themselves in text and data, and we’ve forgotten the stories that are inherent in the work that we do.” Her stirring presentation was about how to surface those stories and balance them with the hard data that makes nonprofits effective and efficient.

Why do nonprofits have a hard time telling their own stories?

“You remember things when they’re in a storytelling format two to seven times more than you do than if you just get the text alone.”
— Suzanne N. Smith

“I think we drink our own Kool-Aid and think what we do is such a great idea — why wouldn’t people want to help the homeless or be a mentor? And we forget that … we have to use persuasion and influence … to get people to believe in those same things the way we do.”

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Stories are our universal currency, and they help us break through the clutter of the 3,000 messages we’re bombarded with each day, she says. But there’s hard science behind why storytelling is so important. In research on the brain, scientists have found that hearing a story rather than simply reading text fires up a richer set of connectors, it sparks emotions, it summons up connections with memories, and so “you remember things when they’re in a storytelling format two to seven times more than you do than if you just get the text alone.”

Suzanne recommended these books as providing effective communication strategies:

Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin
Continue reading

December 22, 2009

Mashable & our favorite posts of the year

social-good

JD LasicaWelcome to all the visitors from Mashable! We were thrilled to be featured in Melissa Rowley‘s article, 4 Social Good Trends of 2009.

For first-timers, we thought now would be a good time to highlight some of our favorite posts on Socialbrite since our launch earlier this year:

Some of our favorite causes

Tweet for a cure to end SMA

Global Voices: Lifting up the powerless & voiceless

An inventive cause campaign to fight malaria

Tim Ferriss’ method of supporting causes

Boxee and the promise of open media

All for Good: A Craigslist for service

California’s Secretary of State: Come and collaborate!

How the National Wildlife Federation uses social media

Socialbrite’s night at NetTuesday

UniversalGiving: Tailoring an impact just for you

Samasource enables socially responsible outsourcing

YouthNoise: Helping young people network a cause

Kiva: micro-loans to entrepreneurs abroad

Giving Challenge: Tap your networks to support a cause

Some favorite tools and tactics

How to make your website more accessible and 7 tips for communicating with people with disabilities

20 tips for mobile advocacy

A user’s guide to mobile activism

How mobile is empowering consumers

SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site — Search Engine Optimization isn’t black magic, so get your site to shape up

8 tips for raising funds online

The Extraordinaries: Building the ‘micro-volunteering’ movement

Twitter as a tool for activism

How to build a Facebook community — 14 levers you need to be pulling

How to add a Facebook Page Fanbox to your site

How to use Seesmic Desktop

Carbon footprints, nation by nation

Foundation Center: a deep resource for philanthropy

Guide to shooting photos in public

How to capture great photos on the road

Fair use in the digital age

Seven blogging tools reviewed

Socialbrite releases Creative Commons plug-in

Thanks to everyone for your support this year! (Don’t forget to follow @Socialbrite on Twitter!) We’re now working with a number of nonprofits and educational outfits — TechSoup Global and Scholastic, to name two — and looking forward to helping others with their social media needs in the months ahead. Continue reading

November 6, 2009

Why Twitter Lists are huge for your nonprofit

John HaydonTwitter Lists are guaranteed to be the next huge (and I mean huge!) game changer for Twitter.

When Twitter lists first came out, I thought: “OK, so users can now make lists of other users based on any criteria.” For example, a list of companies that are hiring, a list of Onion editorial staff or a list of food trucks in Los Angeles. Big deal, right?

Yes, a very big deal.

How Lists will completely change how we use Twitter

  • Users can follow a list without having to follow all the users on that list.
  • Third party applications will use lists in fun and interesting ways.
  • Sites likeListorious will feature a variety of content based on Lists.
  • Twitter Lists will give users additional ways to create value for their followers.
  • Lists will add an additional social proof element to all Twitter users.
  • Lists will change how we follow streams.

This short video covers how to use Lists and why

The short instructional video at top covers how to use Lists and why. Continue reading

October 14, 2009

Blogworld Expo’s Cause/Activism track

Blogworld

JD LasicaI‘m flying to Las Vegas early Thursday to moderate a panel on social media tools for nonprofits at Blogworld Expo. I know a lot of the keynoters: Laura Fitton, Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang, Brian Solis, Kara Swisher, Scott Monty, Jay Rosen, Leo Laporte, Guy Kawasaki — the list goes on.

This is the first year the Expo has added a Cause/Activism track geared toward nonprofits, and it’s a welcome addition. The track, organized by Casemedia Group and funded by eBay, aims to provide a forum for nonprofits and bloggers to learn more about how to use social media to spread awareness and raise funds.

eBay and PayPal are sponsoring a Charity Smackdown Arcade at the show, allowing 10 charities to attend the show for free and be featured in the Arcade. The top 10 voter getters were Alex’s Lemonade (2,817 votes), Best Friends Animal Society (2,652), Surfrider Foundation (2,189), Mothers Fighting For Others (2,063), Spirit Jump (1,658), LA’s Best (1,475), 3for5 Foundation (1,466), Stepwise (1,303 votes), Heifer International Portland (1,152) and Canine Companions for Independence (1,143).

Blogworld still hasn’t updated its (badly designed) schedule — even though the Expo starts tomorrow — so here are the latest details on the nonprofit track:

All cause sessions are on Thursday, Oct. 15, in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s eBay PayPal Pavilion, Room 219

Tools for Nonprofit Organizations

When: 11am to 12:15pm (time change)

Topic: What social tools are out there to help organizations raise awareness about social causes? How can we use those tools to generate support and raise money? What strategies should nonprofits use to recruit members, evangelize causes and advance their missions?

Panelists:

Judy Chang, Paypal
Justin Perkins, Care2
David Levy, SocialVibe
James Sutandyo, Causecast
Scott Henderson, Media Sauce
JD Lasica, Socialbrite.org, moderator 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