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 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

December 8, 2010

Using social networks to spread change

Editor’s note: Nick Cooney is author of the new book Change of Heart: what Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change. Below is an introduction he wrote for Socialbrite and a chapter from his book:

The non-profit world is filled with competing theories about how to create change, with many of those theories revolving around one key question: what motivates people to change their behavior? Whether you’re trying to increase donations, recruit new volunteers, or get members of the public to make a specific change in their lifestyle like eating healthy, whether you will succeed or fail depends in large part on your understanding of human psychology. As a non-profit director myself, I decided that I wanted facts and not just theories on how to more effectively influence others. I spent a year combing through the scientific record to learn proven techniques for how non-profits can more effectively persuade the public and succeed in their mission. The result: my new book, Change Of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change. The following excerpt shares research on the role that social networks (and social networking sites) can play in helping non-profits succeed.

Excerpt: ‘Using social networks to spread change’

nick-cooneyIn taking a hypothetical look at the spread of vegetarianism, we made an assumption that the average person has about ten friends, each of those people has about ten friends, and so on. But in the real world, the number of friends a person has varies significantly from individual to individual. People who are particularly social might have many dozens of friends. Someone who is shy and reserved may have only one or two. Malcolm Gladwell uses the term connectors to describe people who have large numbers of friends and acquaintances. Other authors call these people hubs. Either way, these highly connected individuals sit at the center of vast social circles.

It’s because of connectors that the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game actually works. For those not familiar, this is a pop culture game where you try to connect actor Kevin Bacon to any other actor or actress based on the movies they’ve been in. For example if Kevin Bacon was in a movie with Danny DeVito, and Danny DeVito was in a movie with Jim Carrey, then Bacon would be two degrees away from Jim Carrey. In fact, Bacon can be connected to almost any other American actor or actress in only 3 to 4 links. This reason for this is connectors—the small number of actors who have been in a large number of movies (Barabasi). Continue reading

December 1, 2010

Jumo holds promise for social good sector


Note from Beth Kanter: Jumo, the long anticipated social network site for social change, launched this week. Many of us have been up early playing with Jumo, setting up our individual profiles and finding issues and organizations or setting up profiles for organizations. It is still clearly in beta, with the usual tech glitches and 500 errors, which will smooth out as more people play with it and give them feedback. As the platform matures,  we’ll get a better sense of the power and potential of this network that lets people find, connect, and support social change organizations and issues. 

The platform was seeded with some initial organization profiles and a focused set of issues. The organizations are  a combination of  smaller, progressive organizations like Ushahidi and the Sunlight Foundation and large venerable institutions like NPR and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Anyone can set up a profile for an organization (it prompts for an  EIN number (but not required) and Facebook account url) and you can opt to be the administrator. Charities outside the US can set up a profile. To generate a robust profile, your organization should be able to plug in existing social media presences (Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, blog RSS feed, etc.) so it seems to favor organizations that have already established a social media content strategy.

My colleague Steve MacLaughlin offers his  first take on Jumo. If you have had a change to play with Jumo and have some insights, please share in the comments.

Guest post by Steve MacLaughlin

What is Jumo?

Jumo means “together in concert” in Yoruba, a West African language. But it’s also the latest online creation of Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and director of online organizing for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Details about the project have been hard to come by over the past few months, but here’s what we know:

Connecting individuals and organizations

Since the beginning, Hughes has said that Jumo is “an online platform to connect individuals and organizations working to change the world.” GuideStar does have Jumo International listed as a nonprofit organization but very little information is shown and likely won’t be until they file their first 990 with the IRS.

Chris Hughes: “We’ll be matching people based on their skills and interests with organizations around the world that need their input. It’s a discovery process that first matches, then helps people build relationships, then let’s people share their resources.” Continue reading

November 15, 2010

Twitter as a force for social good

How Twitter helps the social good from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaMost nonprofits and cause organizations look at Twitter as a key ingredient of their social media strategy. But Twitter offers a number of other opportunities for collaboration to advance the social good — many of which you may not know about.

Claire Williams Diaz-Ortiz, who heads up Corporate Social Innovation & Philanthropy at Twitter (and who just got married), has long been a member of Socialbrite’s Do Gooders List, so I was jazzed to sit down with her last month at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Some highlights from our chat:

• Twitter’s main hub for social good efforts is Hope140.org. At the site, people can learn about causes to follow on Twitter and organizations can learn how to use Twitter more effectively. Current campaigns focus on literacy, Haiti relief and malaria prevention.

Cause marketing is part of Twitter’s philanthropic strategy. When Twitter launched its Promoted Products platform earlier this year, it started with six businesses and two nonprofits (“tweets for good“). “Every month we give a month’s worth of free promoted tweets for a nonprofit,” she says.

• Twitter works closely with Room to Read, a nonprofit that partners with local communities throughout the developing world to establish libraries, create local language children’s literature and improving children’s reading skills with an emphasis on educating girls. Twitter has conducted an International Literacy Day promotion and a couple of fund-raising campaigns for them, Claire says.

• Claire, an avid runner, also is co-founder of HopeRuns — check it out — and she blogs at Claire.us.com (see her latest: What are the roots of happiness?).

• At BlogWorld, Claire spelled out some tactics on how nonprofits can excel at Twitter, namely, T.W.E.E.T. — that is, target, write, engage, explore and track.

If your nonprofit has a particularly worthy social cause, get in contact with Claire and see how Twitter might be able to get your message out to tens of millions of users.

October 4, 2010

9 Web platforms to help you change the world

MicroPlace: Invest wisely to help alleviate poverty.


SocialVest, MicroPlace, Vittana can help you make a difference

Target audience: Social change organizations, nonprofits, NGOs, students, educators, individuals.

Guest post by Shira Lazar

While there might be more noise in the social good space, there are also more tools to make giving easier and more accessible than ever. Many are also calling this a trend toward “democratizing social good.” The fact is, you don’t have to be a billionaire philanthropist to contribute to positive change in the world.

Whether you want to start a movement, do something to give back or just share your story, here are some great platforms that are enabling different ways for people to participate and make a difference.

SocialVest: Support causes through shopping

1Founded by Adam Ross, Socialvest marries shopping and giving together to make it easy for people to support their favorite causes by creating a fundraising channel out of everyday shopping. Then you can choose to donate the money you’ve accumulated to the charities or causes you care about and give the money you’ve earned through your SocialVest “Giving Account.” SocialVest also allows users to promote your cause via social networking and set up give groups and fundraising projects through social tools.


Causes: Mobilize your Facebook friends

2Co-founded by Joe Green and Facebook’s Sean Parker, Causes is the app inside Facebook that lets people choose specific causes to mobilize their friends for collective action, spread the word and/or raise money. Since 2007, the app has been used by a community of 125 million people and has had more than $22 million donated through the application.

DonorsChoose: Help students in public schools

3DonorsChoose is a platform that connects donors with classrooms in need. Go on the site, choose the project that interests you and donate to a worthy project. The site delivers the materials to the class and in turn the students will send you thank you notes and photos of the impact made.


MicroPlace: Invest wisely to alleviate poverty

4With MicroPlace, for as little as $20, you can open an investment account, use their search tools to find an investment on their site, pay with PayPal or your bank account and then receive interest payments to make your money back. These socially responsible investments in microfinance can help alleviate global poverty, helping the billion people who live on less than $1 per day.


Kiva: Micro-loans to entrepreneurs

5Kiva has been a prime of example of online microfinancing, enabling people to give “loans that change lives.” As of Sept. 19, Kiva has distributed $160,822,200 in loans from 757,183 lenders. A total of 220,977 loans have been funded. Make a loan for as little as $25 to one of their deserving entrepreneurs, follow their progress and get your money back over time.

Vittana: Send someone to college for $25

6Vittana co-founder Vishal Cakrabarti was named one of The Huffington Post’s 2009 Gamechangers. With its motto “Students in school, one loan at a time,” Vittana uses person-to-person micro-lending of $1,000 or less to enable students to pay for their college education, highlighting “high-achieving, deserving” students in developing countries on its website in the hope that visitors might be inspired to help out. Continue reading