January 2, 2013

Calendar of 2013 nonprofit & social change conferences

The graphic recording created during Socialbrite’s “You Need a Strategy” session at the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference.

SuperGuide to events for nonprofits & social good organizations

JD LasicaHere’s our roundup of conferences in the nonprofit and social change sectors coming up in 2013. This has become an annual tradition here at Socialbrite, and we hope you’ll bookmark this page and return to it throughout the year — we’ll be updating it throughout 2013 as more conference details firm up.

We’ll be reporting on many of these events and invite you to share your coverage or observations on Socialbrite, or let us know and we’ll tweet it or Facebook it. Throughout the year we’ll publish monthly calendars on the first of the month. Continue reading

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 18, 2011

Sustainability starts at the local level


How the Office Sustainability is helping Miami go green

sustainatopia-logo JD LasicaAt Sustainatopia the other day, Angela Sager, an Energy Management Specialist in the Office of Sustainability at Miami-Dade County, describes how her office works with companies devoted to energy efficiency, renewable energy and community energy campaigns.

green-bicyclingWhile the federal government may be at the forefront of funding innovative programs that will take us to our shared energy future, it’s the programs at the local level that will get us there. Miami’s Office of Sustainability, for example, is administering a $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and is welcoming enterprises that are demonstrating innovative approaches to energy.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Miami-Dade recently unveiled a very cool site, green.miamidade.gov, which highlights green businesses, showcases best-of-breed projects and offers sustainability tips and rebates for some simple high-efficiency changes in the home.

Angela describes how her office is working on private-public partnerships to develop relationships to grow the market in south Florida for renewable energy or renewable fuels.


Outtakes from Sustainatopia (Socialbrite)

Fighting poverty by enhancing social entrepreneurship (Socialbrite)

April 15, 2011

Fighting poverty by enhancing social entrepreneurship


Agora Partnerships expanding its impact beyond Central America roots

sustainatopia-logo JD LasicaOne of the coolest people I met at Sustainatopia in Miami last week was Daniela Hammeken, director of strategic partnerships for Agora Partnerships, a nonprofit that works with small companies in Central America to provide access to knowledge, capital and networks.

Based in Washington, D.C., and Managua, Nicaragua, Agora (tagline: “fighting poverty by enhancing entrepreneurship”) is a 6-year-old nonprofit that’s creating an entrepreneurial community, helping small to mid-size companies connect with each other and gain access to the financing they need from national and international investors.

“It’s really about using creativity and innovation to not only sell your main product but thinking about sustainability and the values in how they’re produced.”
— Daniela Hammeken

Each of the nine companies Agora works with has an interesting story to tell. One makes toy blocks, similar to Legos, derived from woods in the Honduras rainforest; with every toy sold, the buyer has the choice of supporting reforestation or an educational program in Honduras. Another small enterprise is run by a Guatemalan woman who increases the supply chain of women artisans in Guatemala to make their products more widely available.

“It’s really about using creativity and innovation to not only sell your main product but thinking about sustainability and the values in how they’re produced,” she says.

Impact investing is just beginning to come to the region, Daniela said. Applicants that come to Agora should be profitable businesses based in Central America, their business plan must incorporate social or environmental sustainability, they need to have fewer than 100 employees and generate between $50,000 and $1 million a year in revenue, with a goal of targeting that same amount in growth capital. A second crop of companies will encompass those in Mexico as well with other Latin American countries to follow.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo Continue reading

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

April 7, 2011

Outtakes from Sustainatopia

Barbara Guillaume


And an interesting debate: Should journalism offer calls to action?

sustainatopia-logo JD LasicaThis week I spent four days at Sustainatopia, the Caribbean-flavored conference in Miami that brought social entrepreneurs, VCs, artisans, celebrities, media activists and a fair number of Miami’s beautiful people together for a celebration of sustainability — and a call to arms over what needs to be done next to help the planet.

Above you’ll see a few of the photos from the Sustainability Honors program at Miami’s just-opened New World Center, but it will be another day before I can upload the entire set. I also conducted several interviews that I hope to share soon.

Meantime, here are a few outtakes from Sustainatopia’s Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise conference:

• I loved this Haitian aphorism that a speaker shared: “A little lamp can fill the whole house with light.”

• I’ll admit that it escaped my attention that Donna Karan — one of the key award winners — has been doing some wonderful things in Haiti with her Urban Zen Foundation, including a Hope, Health & Relief Haiti project captured by the photographer Marc Baptiste.

Tom Hudson• Greatly admired the work and artistry of Barbara Guillaume (pictured at top), the woman behind A Million Hearts for Haiti, who enlisted local artists and designers to create wonderful little carved stone ornaments with elegant stylings. She and her teenage choir were the hit of the night.

• Enjoyed meeting Frank Sesno, the former CNN correspondent who now runs Planet Forward, and Tom Hudson of PBS’s Nightly Business Report. A number of the conference-goers and I questioned why public broadcasting and traditional media don’t do more to offer citizens a series of action items around issues that their newscasts cover — a set of options that lets viewers connect with organizations offering possible solutions rather than letting them feel frustrated and powerless.

“Under the very strict set of PBS rules, you’re not going to hear a call to action,” Hudson said flatly. “There’s a fundamental difference between an advocate message and a media message.”

“The average American thinks 27% of the federal budget goes to foreign and humanitarian aid, when the true number is less than 1%.”
— Frank Sesno

But there’s a difference between advocacy and giving citizens the tools to participate in the democratic process. I sense that this is part of the ongoing cultural shift in values about the news media’s role and responsibilities. Young people in the room seemed to think it should be a natural outgrowth of a story to be able to connect with sources or forces at play, while Hudson and Sesno — who admitted they came of age during a different media era — largely averred, saying that journalists shouldn’t cross the line into anything that even resembles advocacy, even if that amounted to just offering a selection of vetted options for viewers to pursue on their own without the journalists taking sides. PBS’s News Hour and the Huffington Post offer a list of resources in a limited way, but few other news organizations do — and, yes, I consider it a shortcoming in the way modern journalism is conducted. The end of the story should not be the end of the story. If newsrooms don’t have the bandwidth to do this, use a deputized, crowdsourced pool of community advisers.

• On the other hand, Sesno — who was thoroughly engaging and forward-thinking throughout — heaped praise on the model being blazed by 350.org, the climate change advocacy organization. “It’s a great idea — access to technology and the ability to reach young people and engage them with a call to action. That’s a magical mix. It’s the model of democratic media in many ways.”

• More Sesno: “Studies show that the average American thinks 27% of the federal budget goes to foreign and humanitarian aid, when the true number is less than 1%. Of course, that kind of misinformation skews and distorts the debate in this country.”

• His take on changes in the mediasphere: “I’m utterly dispirited and totally excited by what’s happening in today’s media environment.” The tough part, he said, is getting an audience — because everybody can be his or her own newspaper and TV station. “Look at partnerships — it’s the only way this works.”

• Interesting tidbit from Tom Hudson: “‘Shareholder’ is a word that doesn’t exist in Mandarin [in China]. They interpret it as stakeholder, having a much broader meaning.”

• I wasn’t aware that Clean Skies Sunday, aka “The Energy Report,” is in fact an “infomercial funded by the natural gas industry,” as Sesno put it. “It troubles me that people don’t know what’s behind that program,” which airs Sunday mornings on ABC.

• Rick Allen, CEO of Snag Films, during the Media2Movements conference: “A significant part of the public will run if they see you coming at them with an issues message.” He held up Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” as a superb example of a documentary that explored a serious subject with an engaging, lighthearted touch.

• I got to meet (briefly) tennis star Venus Williams, who attended the awards show but didn’t have a speaking slot.