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

July 14, 2011

Nonprofit strategies for getting more out of LinkedIn

Smart ways to tap into the fast-growing business network

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, companies, brands, start-ups, citizen publications. This is part two of a series on how nonprofits, businesses and other organizations can take advantage of LinkedIn. Also see part one:

Highlights of LinkedIn’s new program for nonprofits

Debra AskanaseLast month I presented a webinar to the Darim Online community about how to use LinkedIn for Nonprofits. The program is so new — it just launched on May 9 — that most nonprofits don’t even know it exists.

When I was preparing for the webinar, two things struck me: why cause-focused groups may not work well on LinkedIn (more on that below), and how much LinkedIn offers. The presentation focuses on five ways to best utilize LinkedIn professionally: be goal-oriented, optimize both your personal and company profiles, utilize groups, and use LinkedIn Answers.

With more than 100 million users, 44 million of them in the United States, LinkedIn is a social network you can’t afford to ignore. If I had to offer three tips about using LinkedIn effectively, they would be:

  • Think about why you and your organization want to be one LinkedIn, and how you use it will follow.
  • Identify a combination of 10 keywords and keyword phrases that best describe you, and 10 others that best describe the organization. Integrate these keywords and keyword phrases into your personal and organization profiles.
  • Complete all employee personal LinkedIn profiles to 100%, as well as the organizational profile.

Start with your goals

The key to using any social media platform effectively is to use it to meet your goals. Decide first why you (or your organization) would want to use LinkedIn (such as finding collaborators, funders, or colleagues). Once you know why you want to use LinkedIn, how you will use LinkedIn follows. For example, if you want to use LinkedIn to connect with foundations then you might:

  • Search for people who work at those foundations.
  • Join groups that they have joined and participate.
  • Ask for introductions through mutual LinkedIn connections.
  • Use LinkedIn Answers to ask a question about contacting foundations.

Identifying your goals will dictate your LinkedIn strategy.

Optimize your personal profile

One aspect of optimizing your profile is completing it fully. Be sure to include your photo, a summary of who you are, keywords and interests, and a summary of what you’ve accomplished in every position. It’s also important to have at least five recommendations, since you can search LinkedIn by number of recommendations.

Use the “advanced search” option to understand how you can be found, and include those in your profile. Some of the search parameters are by industry, geographic location, number of recommendations, and position titles. Continue reading

June 1, 2011

How your nonprofit can make the most of Facebook groups


Mass notifications remain a key selling point of Facebook groups

Debra AskanaseIlove Facebook groups. Really. They can be the center of great community engagement and a campaign if used correctly and strategically. Facebook groups serve a different purpose than Facebook pages; groups are great for encouraging niche topic discussions and action, while pages are generally more focused on general agency communication and general community engagement.

One Israeli organization, NATAL, so effectively used Facebook groups that Facebook featured it on its own Nonprofits page. NATAL, the leading trauma center for victims of terror and violence in Israel, created a highly successful Israeli blood donor awareness and registry campaign that successfully leveraged Facebook groups.

One of the most urgent needs in case of emergency is quickly locating blood donors, and NATAL wanted to find a way to both convey that need for blood donors and solve it at the same time. They created a website, bloodgroups.co.il, to publicize the campaign and offer information about who should give blood and why it is needed and launched the campaign in April 2010. The most prominent feature on the site is a call to action to identify your specific blood type by clicking on a blood donor type on the left side of the page (screenshot below).


Once you click on your blood type, the Facebook Group for your blood type opens in your browser. NATAL created eight Facebook groups, each one with the name of the blood group. In marketing terms, this is brilliant, because NATAL is now closely linked to the marketing keywords “blood donor.” According to the  video that NATAL created about the campaign, “we used groups and not pages because of message-all-members function is only available in groups.” (I have been saying for years that this is the unique selling proposition of Facebook groups.)

About 4,000 people, mostly Israelis, have joined the groups. Whenever the Israeli Red Cross sent NATAL a message with an urgent request for blood, NATAL used the message-all-members function to ask for donations from group members.


It didn’t hurt that the campaign received a lot of exposure in the Israeli press, or that they were awarded free coasters to distribute to pubs throughout Israel with information about the campaign. However, the most interesting thing about the campaign is how they took advantage of Facebook groups and how the groups are being used.

How NATAL rocked Facebook groups

One thing that NATAL understood at the time was Facebook groups’ message-all-members feature, which Facebook pages does not offer. Facebook no longer offers the message-all-members option. However, groups launched a similar feature, which shows new group postings as notifications and sends emails to members with links to new postings. (Of course, members can choose to turn off the email notifications through their settings.) Continue reading

October 23, 2009

Using nonprofit tech to benefit society

Amy Sample Ward on nonprofit technology from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaJust before we launched Socialbrite.org, I met Amy Sample Ward in person for the first time. Amy’s a whirlwind of energy and passion about all things np tech (nonprofit technology), and I was so impressed that I immediately asked her to join the Socialbrite team.

But not before I got her to sit still for a few minutes to talk about nonprofit tech, Net Tuesdays — Amy is the global community builder for NetSquared — and being a catalyst for social change.

NP tech is social change work, whether you’re a nonprofit or an individual who wants to change her community or you’re a corporation that’s working on social benefit through a corporate social responsibility campaign, she says.

More than 36 cities around the world now hold monthly events as part of Net Tuesday, the offline component of NetSquared, and if you’re within driving distance, you should stop by and meet other change agents in your community. (Sarah Kennon does an outstanding job of organizing the Net Tuesdays in San Francisco.) Continue reading

June 29, 2009

NPtech + causes + open source + social media

JD LasicaAs part of our silo-busting effort at Socialbrite, we’ll be showcasing cool technologies that haven’t received enough attention in the nonprofit and social change worlds. So here’s a one-minute video, announcing the launch of Socialbrite, that I created last night on Animoto:

Introducing Socialbrite.org. Nonprofit tech + Causes + Open source + Social media.

We’re using it at the top of our Media Center.

Check out Animoto: They’re doing amazing things with a very small staff. You can try out a few remixes for free, and choose from music and images on their site; after that, it’s 3 bucks a video or $30 a year.

Continue reading

May 22, 2009

Helping nonprofits grapple with technology

Nonprofits + technology = NTEN from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHolly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), talks about the organization’s mission in helping nonprofits learning how to effectively use technology and social media.

She talks about three new reports that should be of interest to nonprofits — including the just-released 2009 Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report and Small is the New Big: 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study — as well as We Are Media: Social Media Starter Kit for Nonprofits, a workshop/training series led by Beth Kanter.

All of the conference’s sessions are available as free audio downloads (plus PowerPoint presentations). In addition, several webinars are available as well, such as Using Facebook Pages for Social Good, $30 for members, $60 for nonmembers.

Continue reading