September 14, 2009

Use the Web to improve your community

Mozilla Service Week offers ideas to help you put technology to good use

mozillaJD LasicaSocialbrite is a partner in Mozilla Service Week, which runs today through next Monday. The initiative inspires tech companies across the globe to offer their talent and expertise to local organizations that need their assistance.

Here’s a quick overview from our friends at Mozilla:

“During the week of September 14-21, 2009, we’re asking individuals to step up and make a difference by using the Web to better their community. We’re looking for people who want to share, give, engage, create, and collaborate by offering their time and talent to local organizations and people who need their help. … By utilizing our community’s talents for writing, designing, programming, developing, and all-around technical know-how, we believe we can make the Web a better place for everyone.”

Some specific ideas that Mozilla offered:

  • Teach senior citizens how to use the Web.
  • Show a non-profit how to use social networking to grow its base of supporters.
  • Help install a wireless network at a school.
  • Create Web how-to materials for a library’s computer cluster.
  • Refurbish hardware for a local computer center.
  • Update a non-profit organization’s website.
  • Teach the values of the open Web to other public benefit organizations.

Today the Mozilla blog gave an update, saying: “we’re close to 10,000 volunteer hours and over 3,500 volunteer opportunities.”

Choose from a list of over 3,500 service opportunities on our partner sites (Idealist & There is a plethora of opportunities, including helping The Nature Conservancy of Chicago, IL with its photo archive, developing a LinkedIn group for Wardrobe for Opportunity in Oakland, CA, helping CARE, Germany’s largest NPO, and keeping Mexico’s Puente a la Salud Comunitaria’s website up-to-date.  Our partner OneWebDay also has a variety of service events taking place on and around Sept. 22nd, including a number of events in San Francisco.

You’ll also want to learn how you can take part in OneWebDay on Sept. 22 to make the Web better. Begin by following @owd on Twitter and donating your Facebook status on Sept. 22.

August 20, 2009

5 steps to a successful social media strategy

Amy Sample WardSocial media, as many have said time and again, is only part of your campaigning, part of your fundraising, and part of your communications. It isn’t something that lives in its own department, nor does it have staff that are separate from the rest of the organization. Just as the content distributed and conversations participated in are integrated into many different aspects of your organization’s work, so should the knowledge, access and responsibility to participate be integrated across your staff.

These 5 steps are intended to help you create a successful social media strategy, but as you will see, they focus on your organization’s overall strategy!

1. Goals & objectives

Evaluate your goals and objectives, as an organization. You will not be able to identify tools and engagement methods for your organization online without knowing the bigger picture and without knowing it in concrete goals that will let you build and work towards them. Hildy Gottlieb’s Pollyanna Principles are a great place to start if you want to learn more about how you can evaluate and identify your organizational goals (and larger view) in a way to successfully design projects, programs and even partnerships for real impact.

For more resources on goals & objectives:

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August 17, 2009

Vote for these awesome nonprofit panels at SXSW

sxsw2010Beth KanterThe SXSW Interactive Festival (scheduled March 12-16, 2010 in Austin, Texas) is a mega huge social media industry event. The final program is done through a combination of an open submission and community voting process. The panel picker process just opened — so you can vote yes or no for the panels you think are worthy of being on the program or not until Sept. 4.

The nonprofit presence at SXSW has been growing steadily over the past couple of years. In 2008, I was on one of the few nonprofit panels on the agenda. It was organized by Ed Schipul. At the end of that panel, we all hoped there would be a larger nonprofit presence on the agenda for this 2009. And yes, indeed, in 2009 there were many more panel proposals about or by folks who work with nonprofits and voting. Last year, many more nonprofit panels made it onto the agenda and there was even a nonprofit lounge hosted by BeaconFire.

So, let’s get out the nonprofit vote for panels at SXSW!

Last year, there was an event called “Social Media for Social Good” organized by Jeff Pulver that prompted quite a rich discussion on whether social media for fundraising and marketing can effect real on the ground change. There’s quite a buzz right now about whether or not “Slacktivism” doing activism online, all the time, can effect change. (There’s even a panel proposal for Slacktivism.)

These ideas inspired the SXSW panel proposal I submitted for 2010:

Crowdsourcing for Innovative Social Change
Social media builds buzz and raises money, but what about real, on-the-ground change? The Social Change Challenge will crowdsource innovative ideas from nonprofits to change the world. We’ll share big ideas for using social media for nonprofit program delivery and some good tips for crowdsourcing for social change.

The panelists include Holly Ross, NTEN; David Neff, American Cancer Society; Kari Dunn Saratovsky, Case Foundation; Amy Sample Ward, Netsquared; and Joe Solomon. And like last year’s ROI Poetry Slam, our session will be interactive, thought-provoking, and dare I say, fun! In addition, there’ll be lots of learning shared freely.

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August 12, 2009

Behind the scenes at Social Capital Markets

Guest post by Katrina Heppler

Last October, 630 people interested in advancing the social good through social entrepreurship flocked to San Francisco for the first Social Capital Markets conference (@socap09 on Twitter). caught up with Kevin Jones, co-founder of the conference (and @kevindoylejones on Twitter) at The Hub in Berkeley, Calif., to get the lowdown on this year’s SoCap, which will bring together leading catalysts of positive social change for a day of learning, knowledge exchange, and connecting in San Francisco on Sept. 1–3.

For more info or to register, visit

Visit for more interviews with thought leaders in the social causes space.

August 6, 2009

How the National Wildlife Federation uses social media

National Wildlife Federation from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaRecently I had the chance to sit down with Danielle Brigida, social media outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, the enormously important nonprofit organization that inspires Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. They do that by combating global warming, protecting wildlife and wildlife habitats and connecting people with nature.

NWF (which is not a government agency, as some think) has been a leader in the use of social media over the past year, and a major reason for that has been Danielle’s work within the organization as well as outside, interacting with supporters and putting a human face on the institution.

“We have a new wave of members and donors coming in — people who want to get their hands dirty,” Danielle says in this 6-minute video interview conducted along a busy street in Berkeley, Calif. “Social media is a great way to start the conversation — and then you have to take it offline. You’re not having a big giant brand tell you what to do anymore. All of our members have a say in what we do.” Many of NWF’s program managers are using Twitter to connect with people and to use it as a sort of instant focus group.

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June 30, 2009

SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site

Search Engine Optimization isn’t black magic, so get your site to shape up

Guest post by Dennis Yu
CEO, BlitzLocal

Dennis Yu, SEO expert

Dennis Yu, SEO expert

Most people treat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as black magic. While there are unethical methods to inflate your search engine rankings — cloaking, doorways pages, link farms, “google bombing,” dupe content poisoning, keyword stuffing, and so forth — these tactics are short-lived and can even get you banned. Folks who employ these tricks (also known as “black hat SEOs”) are in a cat-and-mouse war with search engines, as loopholes are being exploited, found and closed.

Most experts will tell you not to play this risky game — your long-term strategy is to write lots of good content. If it’s good for humans, it’s good for robots. And much of what SEOs charge for is good old-fashioned webmastering.

So ask yourself these questions:

1Is your code clean? Run it through and see. Search engines are finicky and fragile. Cut and paste whole content blocks and paste them into the search box to see if they’re being indexed.

2Does your site load fast? Check average load times with free external monitoring services, like and Could your images be reduced in size? Optimize your code to run faster and cache where possible. You want pages to load in under one second for an average connection.

3Are you using dynamic pages? Do your urls have question marks or equal signs in them ( , etc…)? You can typically have one or two variables in the url, but it’s best to have static pages where you can. Descriptive urls are better for the user and can result in portions of your url being bolded (a good thing) when they match terms in the user’s search. CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) and CMS (Content Management System) vendors such as GetActive/Convio and Joomla have issues with dynamic urls but are working to make their packages SEO-friendly.

4Do you have a Flash landing page? Or perhaps Flash navigation? Search engines cannot see beyond flash, as they look only at text. Do it in CSS. Use the Lynx browser or do a “view source” to get an idea of what search engines see. Don’t put up brick walls to search engines.

5Do you have multiple versions of your homepage? For example, and, which is also known as the “canonical” issue. To prevent diluting your rank, choose one version and permanently redirect all others to that one. See Matt Cutts’ advice.

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