April 22, 2010

10 volunteering sites to help you do good

Guest post by Chris Noble
CEO, Causemedia Group

National-Volunteer-WeekThis week is National Volunteer Week in the US. The week is a signature event created by the Points of Light Institute to celebrate “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities across the nation.”

Chances are if you work or volunteer for a nonprofit you already know that. After all, volunteers are the lifeblood of most nonprofits, and with 64 million Americans taking the time to give back in 2009, National Volunteer Week is as much about thanking volunteers as encouraging them to come back.
Maybe you even have a favorite volunteer and you’re planning a special recognition of his or her efforts this week. If that’s the case, stop reading right now, go to the Hands On Network page devoted to Celebrating People in Action and nominate that person who made the biggest difference for your organization this year.

Still here? OK, then, here are 10 sites you can use to find the volunteer opportunity that suit you best. Try ‘em out, pitch in for a good cause and who knows? Maybe you’ll get nominated for something next year:

Hands On Network

With 250 action centers around the country, it’s easy to connect and get started with a volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule and location. Plus, they’ll occasionally partner with corporations like Disney to offer special incentives for volunteering.

Do Something

Focused more on teen activism and engagement with causes, their site offers “Virtual Volunteer” opportunities so you can take action without leaving your couch!

AARP Volunteers

On the other end of the spectrum, the American Association of Retired Persons has a great site that identifies volunteer opportunities for the over 60 set. Many of these encourage folks to work with kids and teens and share their life experiences! Continue reading

April 1, 2010

10 mobile apps for social good

GoodGuide on iTunes

GoodGuide, Find Green, Give Work make Socialbrite’s Top 10 list

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

droid-vs-iphoneMobile applications are flooding the market at a dizzying rate — more than 150,000 now for the iPhone and tens of thousands for Android and Blackberry. And it’s important to keep in mind that only 18 percent of the phones in the United States are smart phones, as reported at yesterday’s Where 2.0 conference, so text-only SMS plays an important part in many of the campaigns run by nonprofits, NGOs and anyone interested in doing good.

In the past few months, though, a host of very cool smart phone apps have been released, making it easier for people and volunteers to carry their top-of-mind social causes in their pockets. And, take note, all of the iPhone apps listed here also work on the iPod Touch and the new iPad.

Here are 10 of our favorite mobile apps, from nonprofits and social change organizations, that are contributing to a sustainable economy of social good. This is by no means a definitive list, so please add your own favorites in the comments below.

Download the handout here (also at bit.ly/10mobileapps)

GoodGuide

GoodGuide: Scan products for social responsibility

1Available in the iTunes App Store, the GoodGuide iPhone app allows you to scan the barcode of a product while you’re shopping and immediately receive ratings regarding health, environment and social responsibility. How cool is that? Other mobile users can text product information to 41411 to access ratings for more than 70,000 companies and toys, foods, health and beauty products — including an API that lets any website operator create a custom product directory that pulls from its database. GoodGuide on iTunes

Find-Green

Find Green: Locate nearby green businesses

2Locate green and sustainable businesses via the Find Green app for iPhone and Android from 3rd Whale. Looking for a farmer’s market within walking distance? Find Green will note your location and search their database of more than 60,000 businesses to help you find one. Submit your favorite locations, rate existing businesses and reap the benefits of sustainability living tips in the palm of your hand. Find Green on iTunes

Be-Extra

The Extraordinaries: A way to ‘micro-volunteer’

3The Extraordinaries app for the iPhone allows anyone to spend just a few minutes of spare time completing missions for causes they’re passionate about. They even coined a term for it: micro-volunteering. On your commute to work, or waiting in line at the DMV, rate tweets from SXSW or tag photos for the Brooklyn Museum instead of racking up points in Solitaire. (Disclosure: I recently worked for The Extraordinaries as community outreach specialist.) The Extraordinaries on iTunes

Give-Work

Give Work: Crowdsourcing for good

4Created by CrowdFlower and Samasource, the Give Work iPhone app asks users to complete simple tasks that check the work done by Samasource’s refugee workforce. It provides a sort of quality assurance while increasing the quality of life for Kenyan refugee workers. To date, Give Work has been downloaded in more than 76 countries. Give Work on iTunes

CauseWorld

Causeworld: Rack up donations through shopping

5Check in at your favorite stores via your iPhone or Android and rack up Karma points to spend on causes you’re passionate about. CauseWorld lets you offset carbon and donate to Chile earthquake relief without spending a dime, all while earning badges to represent your good deeds. Corporate sponsors provide the necessary funding that you give in the form of virtual Karma points to causes and organizations that matter to you. CauseWorld on iTunes

mGive

mGive: Donate to causes via SMS

6mGive puts the power to donate in the hands of anyone with an SMS plan. For a fee, nonprofits can register with mGive and then ask supporters to text donations in increments of $5 or $10 to a designated number. The donation is charged to the user’s cell phone bill and distributed to the organization. In just three weeks, mGive processed more than $37 million for Haiti, proving the costs associated with starting a campaign may be well worth it. mGive on iTunes

frontline-sms

Frontline SMS: Help & engagement through text

7Another text messaging option, FrontlineSMS makes it easy for nonprofits and NGOs to keep in touch and engage with their community. Available to anyone with a cell phone, the service helps organizations share information with their community via text message. Uses can include sending daily notes of encouragement to disseminating calls to action to anyone with a mobile signal.

SnapImpact

SnapImpact: Connecting volunteers with local opportunities

8SnapImpact is an app for the iPhone designed to connect potential volunteers with opportunities in their area. The app searches All For Good’s database of volunteer opportunities by location, providing users with a variety of options to give back to their local community. Applications for Android and Windows Mobile are in the works. SnapImpact on iTunes

Ushahidi

Ushahidi: A platform for collective action

9This platform for crowdsourced crisis information can now be accessed via Ushahidi’s Apps for Android, Java Phones and Windows Mobile. Users can view real-time maps for crisis areas around the world and contribute crucial information regarding disaster relief. An iPhone App is still in development, and other mobile users can send SMS reports with crisis information.

Mobile-Rice

MobileRice: Donate grains of rice to hungry

10The MobileRice app for the iPhone, powered by Free Rice, tests your vocabulary skills while donating grains of rice through the World Hunger Programme. Match words with their definitions or synonyms and help diminish hunger worldwide. The app is connected to the website, which has collected 77 billion grains in 2 1/2 years — enough rice to feed millions. MobileRice on iTunes

What are some of your favorite mobile apps for social good? Continue reading

March 18, 2010

Tap into the collective power of your community

Molena, Ga. - KaBOOM!

The Extraordinaries lets your organization create a crowdsourced ‘mission’

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

Recruiting friends and supporters to get real work done virtually on behalf of social-good projects is easy and fun with the help of The Extraordinaries. Based in San Francisco, the company has created a platform allowing anyone to create a micro-task and blast it to their community of friends and supporters to generate real, usable output when they spend a few minutes of their spare time on an iPhone or computer.

You can download the iPhone app at BeExtra.org and check out a wide array of simple tasks you can help with. Missions featured today on the Beextra home page include:

  • Build a collection of cute dog photos for GoodDogz.org.
  • Help build a searchable photo archive for the Smithsonian Institution (yes, that Smithsonian).
  • Create a list of job resources for youths on behalf of Goodwill.
  • Rate tweets from the SXSW conference.

banner-180x150The tools The Extraordinaries have created are available to nonprofits, for-profits, politicos, evangelists and passionate people alike. For example, Citizens Market, a company tracking corporate behavior, is using The Extraordinaries to research and rate company behavior. To map children’s recreational spaces, KaBOOM! is asking people to mark the GPS location of a playground, rate it up or down and snap a photo, such as the one at top.

Anyone can create a mission and harness the power of the crowd to achieve results while engaging and interacting with the broader community — the Extraordinaries has 29,000 registered users, more than 250 missions and 240,000 micro-tasks completed. The team vetts all apps submitted to the site.

Ways for nonprofits to use The Extraordinaries

How can you use The Extraordinaries?

1. Identify your needs. Many tasks, particularly administrative duties, are ripe for crowdsourcing. The Extraordinaries breaks these tasks into small bits of work with the potential for a big impact. Where could you use a few hundred extra hands? First identify your needs, then see how The Extraordinaries community can help meet them. Continue reading

October 12, 2009

The Extraordinaries: Building the ‘micro-volunteering’ movement

JD LasicaAt Net Tuesday last month and the recent gathering of social change organizations at Chronicle Books, both in San Francisco, participants heard from Jacob Colker, co-founder and CEO of The Extraordinaries about their ambitious effort to kick-start a “micro-volunteering” movement of people who help worthwhile causes in their spare time through the use of their mobile devices.

Who knew that “the power of spare energy” held such potential?

I continue to be impressed by the breadth of projects being supported by The Extraordinaries — whose name, co-founder Ben Rigby told me at NetSquared, is a bit tongue in cheek but also points out that each of us is capable of contributing to the greater good in extraordinary ways. Last month Time magazine, in a listing of New Ways to Make a Difference, cited the Extraordinaries as a prime example of using new technologies to advance the social good, “from using your smartphone to view and label photos (to help digitize museum archives) to snapping a picture of a local park (to help build a map of places where kids can play).”

It’s simple to participate: Download the free “The Extraordinaries” application to your iPhone (or to a similar smart phone) or use a Web browser to peruse the list of micro-volunteer opportunities. Follow them on Twitter at @extraordinaries. Sundeep, a principal in the organization, taught an online class about micro-volunteering last week on eduFire; look for others in the near future. Continue reading

September 10, 2009

10 new ways to take social actions

The Extraordinaries
Nathan Freitas, Jacob Colker and Ben Rigby of the Extraordinaries at NetSquared 2009.

JD LasicaThe Bay Area-based Extraordinaires are among the social causes highlighted in the current issue of Time magazine in an article titled New Ways to Make a Difference.

Time identified three new trends in doing good:

Put your time to work

1The Extraordinaries: The organization is helping to pioneer “micro-volunteering.” As co-founder Jacob Colker told us last week at Net Tuesday, only 26 percent of Americans volunteer — at all — in a given year. That’s partly because we lead super-busy lives. Beextra.org gives us a way to contribute bits and pieces of our spare time to do something worthy, from helping to add tags to museum archives to snapping water going to waste in San Diego. Got an iPhone? Look for an app called The Extraordinaries.

2IfWeRantheWorld.com, due to launch this fall, “encourages you to dream big — end poverty! cure cancer! — and then helps come up with small, specific ways you can help achieve progress in those areas.”

3Kinded.com promotes random acts of kindness. First, print a card at the Kindred site, then “do something nice for a stranger, like sharing an umbrella or helping carry luggage, and hand that person the card. The recipient can go online and note where the act of kindness took place and then pass the card along. It’s like Pay It Forward, with mapping features,” Time writes.

4AllforGood.org, a new aggregation site of volunteer opportunities that we wrote about three months ago, draws listings not only from traditional volunteer sites but also from Craigslist and Meetup. It also lets you share those opportunities with friends on social networks.

Put your money to work

5eBay’s WorldofGood.com is one of our favorite sites. Buy a fair-trade scarf or the work of an African artisan on the site, which vets every product to ensure that it’s eco-friendly and was produced in a worker-friendly environment. Continue reading

September 9, 2009

Socialbrite’s night at NetTuesday

Participants

JD LasicaLast night was the coming-out party for Socialbrite at the monthly NetTuesday gathering in San Francisco. About 40 people turned out for the event at PariSoMa, the coworking space at Howard and Tenth. Here are a half-dozen shots snapped by organizer Sarah Kennon and me.

And here is what the NetTuesday Meetup members had to say about the event.

A few notes from the evening:

• I kicked things off with a rundown of the Socialbrite team and the resources offered by Socialbrite, including the Sharing Center, Social Media Glossary, Web 2.0 productivity tools, directory of social media reports, guides to free photos, free music and free video footage, and directory of cause organizations.

• Jacob Colker, co-founder of the Extraordinaries, discussed the “micro-volunteer” opportunities using mobile devices in their spare time that people could sign up for. The Extraordinaries is now available as a free iPhone app. Socialbrite will publish a video interview with co-founder Ben Rigby soon.

• Schlomo Rabinowitz sketched out VideoCampSF, coming to BAVC Oct. 16-17. Two days of sessions can be had for just $65. (Register here.) The stellar lineup of instructors includes Melissa Rowley, Jen Myronuk, Katrina Heppler, Sukhjit, Markus Sandy, Adam Quirk and Bill Streeter (hey, I know all these folks!).

• Katrina Heppler outlined her promising new venture, envisionGood.tv. (She’s also begun contributing video dispatches to Socialbrite, like the one immediately below this post.)

• Michael Stoll and two of his staffers came by to fill us in on The Public Press (which will be getting a new domain name next month). The nonprofit publication provides noncommercial news for the Bay Area and has been raising funds for story pitches on Spot.us.

• I outlined the mission of the Public Media Collaborative, a group of Bay Area technologists, activists and bloggers who put on training workshops, chiefly for community organizations. Our next daylong workshop will be Oct. 23 in Oakland.

• Program manager Liberty Smith told us about the National Service Learning Clearinghouse. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Continue reading