June 22, 2009

YouTube calls for video volunteers to help nonprofits

Amy Sample WardVolunteerism in the 21st century can take a different form than traditional charity work, like YouTube’s Video Volunteers.

The mission of YouTube’s Video Volunteers platform is to connect nonprofit organizations with skilled video makers who can help them broadcast their causes through video, reaching new audiences online and driving action around issues and projects that matter to them. In partnership with allforgood.org, the new platform that connects volunteers with volunteer opportunities, “Video Volunteers” pools video-related volunteer postings and connects YouTubers with these opportunities.

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June 3, 2009

The promise of open source video

JD LasicaOn June 19-20, 2009, I’ll be at New York University’s School of Law attending the Open Video Conference. To my surprise and delight, this is turning out to be quite a big event.

Socialbrite readers get 15 percent the registration fee (regularly $75 for individuals and nonprofits and $200 for companies). The event will be held June 19-20 at NYU.

Shay David of Kaltura

Shay David of Kaltura

The open source landscape has come quite a long way in the past few years, and its importance to the media landscape can hardly be overestimated, said Shay David — co-founder and CTO of Kaltura and a fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project — by phone as he sped to the airport for yet another trip abroad.

“If you want an open structure of media to guarantee that the future of media is not proprietary and locked down, then open is the only way to go,” he said. “If we care about democratized media, where citizens in their living rooms can access programming from more than just three or four media conglomerates, then we should care about open video.”

But David’s warning is not a call to arms against entrenched corporate interests. “Millions of lines of code have been written in the open video world without a lot of success,” he acknowledged.

Rather, it’s a call for reasoned partnerships: public and private, new and old, for-profit and nonprofit. We need to think beyond licenses and consider how to build real businesses that are built on open and democratic principles — and translate that into real economic value. In short, he argues that open video is not just about serving the interests of users. Open video is good for business, too.

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June 3, 2009

Foundation Center: a deep resource for philanthropy

Foundation Center: philanthropy info galore from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

• See a more recent interview with Sarah Jo Neubauer: Helping nonprofits master the art of grant writing (2011)

JD LasicaIf you’ve spent some time in the world of nonprofit philanthropy, you’ve no doubt heard of the Foundation Center. The venerable organization, which has been around for more than 50 years, is a nonprofit library and learning center that provides information about U.S. philanthropy and helps organizations and individuals learn how to apply for grants through a rich foundation database.

Best of all, it’s free — just like a public library.

At the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), I ran into Sarah Jo Neubauer, assistant librarian at the center’s San Francisco Library, who provided a brief overview of the center’s offerings.

edumonthYou can find out how to write a grant proposal to any of the 92,000 profiled foundations. If you’re a student, you can learn how and where to apply for financial aid. (This is, after all, Education Month.)

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May 28, 2009

Change.org: Turning concern into action

Change.org: Helping you take action online from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaOne of the most impressive and influential sites in the causes space, Change.org, has really come into its own in the past six to eight months. The social enterprise is helping raise awareness about important social causes and empowering people to take action, chiefly through the efforts of leading nonprofits.

Here’s an interview I conduced with Ben Rattray, founder and CEO of Change.org, after a meetup at TechSoup’s offices in San Francisco. Ben describes the organization this way: “We’re an online community and media network for social issues, focused on engaging and informing people about the most important issues of our time — global warming, homelessness, fair trade — and compelling them to take action.”

Actions might range from joining an organization and making a personal pledge to signing an online petition or calling a congressperson’s office about an issue. “This is one of the things we’re most interested in innovating on and partnering with other organizations on — finding the most powerful actions possible for people to advance issues they care about.”

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May 22, 2009

Helping nonprofits grapple with technology

Nonprofits + technology = NTEN from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHolly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), talks about the organization’s mission in helping nonprofits learning how to effectively use technology and social media.

She talks about three new reports that should be of interest to nonprofits — including the just-released 2009 Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report and Small is the New Big: 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study — as well as We Are Media: Social Media Starter Kit for Nonprofits, a workshop/training series led by Beth Kanter.

All of the conference’s sessions are available as free audio downloads (plus PowerPoint presentations). In addition, several webinars are available as well, such as Using Facebook Pages for Social Good, $30 for members, $60 for nonmembers.

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May 20, 2009

Mexican arts center ‘saves lives’

Mexican Arts Center ‘saves lives’ from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaSocialbrite isn’t just about social tools, it’s about stories — stories of people and organizations that are making a real difference in people’s lives.

One of the best ones I’ve come across in the past year is the story of Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center. Instructors there teach young people — chiefly in the Richmond/San Pablo area east of San Francisco — to connect with their heritage through music, dance, arts and crafts and more.

This six-minute testimonial I put together includes a clip of Los Lobos performing a benefit concert at the center and my interview with Los Lobos lead singer David Hidalgo, who talks passionately about how the center “saves lives” by giving kids an alternative to drugs and violence.

The people connected with the center — founder/executive director Eugene Rodriguez, Claire Bellecci, dance and music instructor Lucina Rodriguez — are an amazing group: dedicated, passionate and fun to hang with. (By the way, it took me a few weeks to learn how to pronounce Los Cenzontles! it’s from the Aztec for the mockingbirds.)

But what’s especially striking is their musicality. Los Cenzontles is not just a 501(c)(3) nonprofit but a kick-ass band that has toured with Los Lobos: Lucina is lead singer and Eugene plays bass guitar. The group’s Songs of Wood and Steel is a masterwork — I’ve worn it out in my car CD player. Love the fact that you can support the group buy buying one of its CDs, DVDs or T-shits at its online store.

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