September 15, 2010

Catchafire: Connecting nonprofits & professionals

Jane Slusser: Connecting nonprofits & volunteers from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaAt the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp held Aug. 21 in Berkeley, Calif., I met tons of cool people, but none were more interesting than Jane Slusser, chief service officer of Catchafire.

catchafireCatchafire is a new online marketplace that connects professionals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits and social enterprises that need their help. Nonprofits and social businesses register on the site and tell which projects they need help with.

“People expect a lot more of the volunteer experience now,” says Jane, who came to Catchafire by way of the Obama campaign, where she mobilized volunteers to travel to key states during the primaries.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Catchafire helps professionals offer their talents for worthy organizations they find an affinity with. Social enterprises can register on the site through the same portal as nonprofits. To prevent against volunteers spinning their wheels, Catchafire makes sure that both nonprofits and social enterprises have skin in the game by having internal resources and staff members dedicated to work on the project.

The start-up held a big event in New York on June 28 for the 50 Project Kickoff with speakers from charity:water, Drop.io, Pepsi Refresh and other organizations.

While a number of promising Web 2.0 start-ups have launched in the social good space in the past year, Catchafire is one to watch. Continue reading

August 13, 2010

The Hoop Fund makes its debut

The debut of The Hoop Fund from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

 

Social enterprise offers virtuous circle around loans, production, connections in a ‘fair trade ecosystem’

JD LasicaLast night I got a first-hand look at the debut of The Hoop Fund, a new social enterprise (tagline: Lend. Produce. Enjoy.) with a terrific pedigree and promising future.

In short, The Hoop Fund enables participants to meet the makers of products we buy, invest in their businesses and become part of the prosperity of their communities.

More than 150 people packed into The Hub San Francisco last night for the “friends and family” debut of The Hoop Fund, founded by entrepreneur (and former journalist) Kevin Doyle Jones, the impresario behind the Social Capital Markets conference coming up Oct. 4-6 in San Francisco. Lots of familiar faces there — Gary Bolles, Sarah Kennon, Shannon Clark, Arabella Santiago — and I got to meet two of the principals behind The Hoop Fund: CEO Patrick Donohue and operations chief Maia Hirschbein.

The Hoop Fund is one of those ideas that you have to see in action to really appreciate. A slide presentation showing how it’s already making a difference in villages in Peru really drove home its message of entrepreneurial opportunities in the developing world. With the Hoop, you can support producers through a loan (I just made a $50 loan to Indigenous Designs), purchasing their fair trade products through a partnering brand, and then spreading the word to your own networks and community. Jones calls it a “fair trade ecosystem.”

Here’s a quick 2-minute video with Maia taken at the event — incidentally, my first-ever video taken with my new iPhone 4:

Watch, download, embed or share the video on Vimeo
Follow JoinTheHoop on Twitter (44 followers so far); hashtag is #thehoop
Like The Hoop on Facebook (91 fans so far)

The Hoop Continue reading

December 16, 2008

Activism and the social enterprise

JD LasicaOne of the extraordinary things about the Bay Area is the relative ease with which you can bring a large number of bright, passionate, committed people under the same roof. When it’s a bar (and not just a barcamp but the real thing), so much the better.

And so it was earlier this evening when Sundeep Ahuja — a born connector and former marketing chief for Kiva who’s now on the executive team at RichRelevance.com — organized the second  awareness2action event at the Dragonbar in San Francisco’s North Beach. The event, attended by about 60 people involved with various social causes, featured an hour of socializing and an hour of panelists discussing social enterprises.

On the panel:

• Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org (here’s the video interview with Premal I published last week)

• Kevin Jones, Principal at Good Capital

• Steve Newcomb, serial entrepreneur & founder of Virgance.

No one videotaped the event, but here are a few snippets:

Continue reading

October 16, 2008

SoCap: Advancing the social good


Advancing the social good from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHere’s a 4-minute interview I did with Kevin Jones, founder of a new conference called Social Capital Markets. The three-day gathering in San Francisco, with 650 attendees, focused on social enterprises, the blurring line between nonprofits and socially conscious for-profits, and the tidal wave of interest in organizations that promote the common good (especially in the wake of the stock market’s meltdown). VCs, entrepreneurs, foundations, aid agencies and journalists all attended.

Watch the video in Flash on Vimeo

Watch the video in H.264 QuickTime on Ourmedia
Download the original video from Archive.org

Cross-posted to Socialmedia.biz

October 14, 2008

How to pitch your social enterprise

JD LasicaI‘m handicapped by not having my MacBook Air, which was stolen yesterday, but here are some notes from Day 2 of the first Social Capital Markets conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

At the Pitching in Action session, four organizations gave presentations on social enterprises they’re planning to launch. Each had a compelling story.

Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation said investors look at four things in deciding whether to invest in a social enterprise startup:

  • What is the compelling problem you want to solve?
  • Do you have a solution to connect the dots on a path to impact?
  • Do you have a plausible path to go to scale?
  • Do you have the right organization to deliver on your vision? 

BAVC

Ken Ikeda, executive director of the Bay Area Video Coalition here in SF, outlined the prospects for a new venture called FUSE, an online platform and portal to provide digital media training online.

The appeal of FUSE, Ikeda said, is that its short, intense classes last two to three days rather than the weeks or months in schools or other programs. "Most of us don’t want to go back to school," Ikeda said.

Continue reading

October 13, 2008

How to attract funding for a social enterprise

JD LasicaToday I attended the first Social Capital Markets conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The overflowng crowd of 600 attendees filled the four conference rooms on hand. So far, this is one of the best-run first-time conferences I’ve ever attended.

I’m here mostly to get the lay of the land. Ourmedia.org wants to support nonprofits and social change organizations by offering a suite of social media tools for cause campaigns. And SoCap is turning out to be a gathering where both the wealth of sessions and the hallway connections are equally valuable.

During today’s session on Pitching Your Organization, panelists offered tips on attracting seed funding for your social enterprise venture:

• "open with an eye-catching stat," not just a generic statistic about the size of the marketplace

• very high up in your pitch: what problem are you solving?

• who’s involved in your effort who’s impressive in this space?

Continue reading