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

June 6, 2011

A reality check on social media

Social Media for Social Good


It only works when it’s connected to the real world

JD LasicaAt the National Conference on Volunteering and Service — which some folks call “the Super Bowl of nonprofit conferences” — George Weiner and I teamed up on one of the most successful Social Media for Social Good Bootcamps that Socialbrite has put on to date. (Socialbrite has put on camps in New York, San Francisco, Miami, London and elsewhere.)

For those of us who live and breathe tech and social media — me in Silicon Valley and George, CTO of DoSomething.org, in New York and Washington, DC — it’s always a good reality check to come to gatherings like this and see how the non-early adopters are faring.

The three-hour session we led yesterday offered a range of tips on how to use social media strategically for campaigns, for collaboration, for building community, and I invite you to browse through the presentation above, since the attendees found it useful: “AMAZING session” (thanks, Volunteer Centre) … “awesome, fantastic session” (thanks, NCVS) … “Great session!” (thanks, Groupon).

But there were more beginners in the crowd than I expected. For instance, only about five out of 50 particpants were using Google Analytics (the free tool every website and blog ought to have). None had heard of the Grassrootsmapping.org effort to document the Gulf oil spill, even though we’re right here in New Orleans. And only one out of 80 people (not counting me) at today’s session on data had ever used Tumblr, an easy way to post blog entries and photos.

These are good, smart, motivated people — we need to break through the barriers and connect the tools and strategies with the organizations and causes that need them, starting with the basics.

So let’s take a deep breath and remember: We still have a lot of work before us, and there’s a lot of education yet to be done.

April 19, 2011

Help enhance sustainability in the world


The e Pack spotlights organizations & initiatives making a difference

sustainatopia-logoJD LasicaAlot of us have a hard time keeping up with organizations and initiatives that are advancing the social good. The e Pack makes it easier.

I met the impressive founder and director of The e Pack (the “e” stands for enlightenment and Earth), Alejandra Torres of Venezuela, two weeks ago at Sustainatopia in Miami.

The e Pack is a Web portal that promotes organizations and individuals who are helping to improve our world from the inside out. It offers information and resources that “help people engage take action for a more sustainable, peaceful world,” she says.

Importantly, the site lets you create a list of My Contributions outlining the actions that you’ve taken, such as attending an event, volunteering or signing a petition.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo


Some of the spotlighted organizations on the site include Ashoka, The Story of Stuff, Carrotmob, the Global Oneness Project, Repower America, Cooler Planet, Green Energy, Suzlon, Green Exchange and Green Jobs — some of which I’ll bet you’re not familiar with. There’s a lot here beneath the surface.

Alejandra says she’s looking for other organizations in the areas of sustainability and corporate social responsibililty to get involved.

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 8, 2010

‘The Cove’: Will movies usher in a new era of social change?

Moving movie audiences to take action from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI‘ll confess: I was excited to see The Cove take home the Academy Award for best feature documentary last night. While all the entrants were worthy, “The Cove” is among the handful of movies pushing the idea of Hollywood productions as the fulcrum for social change.

A few weeks ago I caught up with Christopher Gebhardt, general manager and executive vice president of TakePart, the Beverly Hills-based digital arm of Participant Media, which marketed and helped bring “The Cove” to theaters nationwide. Participant Media (formerly Participant Productions) — Jeff Skoll’s social entrepreneurial film production company — has an incredible track record in bringing socially relevant films to screens nationwide, including “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Soloist,” “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Visitor,” “Food, Inc.,” “North Country” and now “The Cove.”

A breath-taking string of success.

dolphins“The Cove” is remarkable for its guerrilla filmmaking tactics in chronicling the grisly business of dolphin hunting in rural fishing villages in Japan, where as many as 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered annually. It won the Audience Award at Sundance last year. Participant didn’t fund the film but funded its marketing.

“We’ve spent the last five years at Participant figuring out how to take the film and really use it to … really get people involved with an issue,” said Gebhardt, speaking after a conversation on stage at Social Capital Markets 2009.

You may have noticed one fellow on stage at the Oscars — film subject and animal activist Ric O’Barry — holding up a sign that said, “Text DOLPHIN to 44144.” (The camera cut away after only one second — the academy has a long tradition of not acknowledging or encouraging overly activist sentiments.)

What’s cool about “The Cove” is that, just as the movie ends, theatergoers are met with the same message: Text DOLPHIN to 44144. When you text the short code, Gebhardt explains, you’re given ways to connect, including the option to sign online petitions to protest the brutal practice, send letters to President Obama, the US ambassador to Japan or Japan’s ambassador to the United States, or you can take other actions.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo. (I’ve started producing these in a higher resolution 3800 kbps bitrate at 720 pixels wide.)

I should mention that I was in the first group of bloggers in 2005 who signed on to guest-post on Participant’s first such effort: the “Good Night and Good Luck” site to discuss press reform and how changes in corporate ownership of the media have affected our democracy since the days of Edward R. Murrow. Continue reading

February 1, 2010

Transcript of podcast on corporate social responsibility

universal giving masthead

Following is a transcript of the inaugural podcast of the new Social Causes Show on BlogTalkRadio with host JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz and Socialbrite.org, and guest Pamela Hawley, founder and CEO of UniversalGiving. See JD’s blog post on Socialbrite.

JD: Today we have Pamela Hawley, founder of UniversalGiving to talk about some of the corporations making a big splash, a big impact through their CSR efforts.  But first we’ll begin by talking about the situation in Haiti. … Pamela, thanks for joining us.

PH: Good morning, JD. Thanks for having me.

JD: Why don’t we start with your background? I believe you co-founded VolunteerMatch in 1996 and more recently UniversalGiving, is that right?

Pamela Hawley

Pamela Hawley

PH: Yes that is. Right out of college, I had the opportunity to be involved in the web and using the web to help make it easier for people to get involved in our communities. And so, that’s the whole point. How can we create these websites and marketplaces that help people know where are the most effective ways to get involved. And I think particularly if you noted what’s going on in Haiti – it’s just absolutely devastating with the 7.1 earthquake on Tuesday – and what we’re really striving to do, just for people who want to be aware, there are some very key ways to help the earthquake victims in Haiti that are noted on the UniversalGiving homepage, on our website underneath the spotlight.

One that I really like to point to is there’s an emergency response team with an international corps that provides supplies to the earthquake survivors that need that immediate relief. And second, there’s another one that provides educational resources and aid. So a lot of people need to know how to actually get their kids eventually back to school. And so that’s something that you know we don’t think about immediately, that we have first of all the immediate needs of people needing to watch out for their lives and to take care of themselves. And then there’s the other side when people start to normalize, they need to know how to start to get their lives back in order: where they can live; where they can get clothes; where they can send their kids to school. So we want to think in a crisis like this about both short and long-term needs. So if you’re interested in helping out that way, we have both short-term and long-term development projects that are on the UniversalGiving.org homepage. Continue reading