February 13, 2013

How to raise $1 million on Kickstarter

Kickstarter - Brazil
Image courtesy of Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung via Wikimedia Commons

5 tips on how to stand out in crowdfunding world

Guest post by Christopher Wallace
Amsterdam Printing

Christopher-WallaceLet’s go back in time five years to 2007. You’ve got a great idea to build a watch with built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to control and access your phone or tablet from your wrist. Unfortunately, you’re a relatively broke hobby designer working a 9 to 5 technology job.

How do you proceed? Call up your rich uncle and ask him to back you? Go to the bank and apply for a loan?

Five years ago, any method of raising capital for a project would generally require a substantial profit share once the product came to fruition. Continue reading

August 29, 2012

How crowdsourcing can help your nonprofit


Best practices to help you leverage the power of the crowd

Guest post by Soha El Borno

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, general public.

Crowdsourcing can help you harness the crowd to increase awareness, cultivate new volunteers, gather information and even get work done — all for a minimal investment. How can you put it to work for your nonprofit or organization?

Since the earliest days of the Internet, people have used it to solicit and organize groups of people to participate in projects in small ways. Called crowdsourcing, this process can be done in a number of ways and used for a variety of goals.

In an early example of the practice, nonprofits would post questions to a Usenet discussion board to seek answers from the community — for instance, asking how to write a particular policy, or for recommendations about recognizing and rewarding volunteers. That “open call” approach is what distinguishes crowdsourcing from outsourcing, in which you’d send a task to a specific person or organization for help.

Crowdsourcing can be done at an organizational or individual level, and nonprofits have used it for everything from marketing and fundraising to volunteerism and activism. It’s a great way to enlist help from a wider community knowledge base, and to engage people in your work.

In the last few years, the rise of social media and new technologies made it easier to reach and engage a broader audience. But how can your organization harness the power of the crowd to help achieve your mission? We asked nonprofit experts and professionals for crowdsourcing best practices and techniques that have worked for them.

Continue reading

October 25, 2011

Crowdsourcing industry gathers at CrowdConf 2011



Learn about real-world applications — & get a discount

Guest post by Mollie Allick
Director of PR & events, CrowdFlower

On Nov. 1, CrowdFlower will be kicking off the second annual CrowdConf, the world’s largest crowdsourcing conference, at Mission Bay Conference Center in downtown San Francisco. This year’s conference will bring together more than 600 attendees to discuss innovations in crowdsourcing technology and trends taking place in the growing industry.

The main conference will be all day Wednesday, Nov 2. The agenda will focus on practical tips and tools for understanding crowdsourcing through a range of lenses including investing, philanthropy, community building, and creativity. The day includes keynotes, debates, and interactive breakout sessions, and will conclude with a networking poster reception.

Speakers include: Jeff Howe, author who coined the term “crowdsourcing”; Philip Rosedale, Founder of Second Life; Mark Gerson, Chairman of Gerson Lehrman Group; Charlie Cheever, Founder of Quora, Sharon Chiarella, vice president of Amazon Mechanical Turk; and more than 50 other incredible speakers representing the most influential and fastest-growing crowdsourcing companies. Check out the full list of speakers.

Additional learning opportunities

For those looking to learn more, be sure to join us one day prior to the main event on Nov. 1 for two great workshops that will focus more on research and industry-specific tutorials. Workshops offer conference attendees a head start as they engage in a more intimate exchange with other thought leaders and crowdsourcing experts. Workshops will be taught by: Omar Alonso, Technical lead on the Bing team at Microsoft; Matt Lease, assistant professor at the University of Texas; and David Alan Grier, columnist at IEEE Computer. Space is limited, so register now.

Discount for Socialbrite readers

Socialbrite readers can get a $75 discount by entering the code SCLBRTORG when registering.
Register at Eventbrite.

Event details:
What: CrowdConf 2011 – www.crowdconf.com
When: Workshops: Tuesday, Nov. 1 (10am-3pm); Conference: Wednesday, Nov. 2 (8:30am-6:30pm)
Where: Mission Bay Conference Center, 1675 Owens St., San Francisco
Cost: $75 for workshops, $450 for conference
Register: http://crowdconf2011.eventbrite.com/

Mollie Alllick is the Conference Director for CrowdConf and the Events & PR Director for CrowdFlower. She can be reached at [email protected]
October 18, 2011

Media Cause: Crowdsourced online marketing for nonprofits

Image by arenacreative for Big Stock

Platform sources online volunteers to help nonprofits get the most out of the social Web

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, online media professionals, social media managers, marketing professionals, individuals.

Guest post by Jennifer Helfrich
Communications Manager, Media Cause

Having a social media strategy is an essential component for effective nonprofits and the causes they represent. However, creating a strong Web presence requires funding, technical skill and time – three things many nonprofits never have enough of. Case in point: James Schaffer, executive director of the Tiba Foundation, says finding time for the social Web is a frequent challenge. “Most of our time and effort goes to our actual project work, so when it comes to Web outreach, it can be a little overwhelming trying to gain a foothold out there.”

Media Cause allows volunteers from around the world to connect with nonprofits and offer their expertise on focused project needs.

Enter Media Cause. Eric Facas founded the nonprofit Media Cause in April to connect admirable organizations like the Tiba Foundation with Internet outreach professionals interested in volunteering. Facas found that social media experts capable of giving advice want to support good causes, but many don’t have the time to take on a pro bono client. For a flexible and relatively small time commitment, Media Cause allows volunteers from around the world to connect with nonprofits and offer their expertise on focused project needs. Most projects posted on Media Cause are hourlong commitments, can be sorted by cause and can be completed entirely online. Volunteers can offer expertise in three areas: search engine optimization, social media marketing and Google Grants support. Continue reading

June 30, 2011

How CrowdFlower powers crowdsourced labor

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part two of a two-part series on crowdsourcing. Also see:

• How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

JD LasicaOne of the most fascinating phenomena in the Web 2.0 world the past couple of years has been the rise of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing comes in a few different flavors (which part 1 covered yesterday). For nonprofits, social enterprises and businesses, the real potential for disruption comes when a global labor force applies itself to a crowdsourced project.

That’s where CrowdFlower comes in. Since my interview with founder-CEO Lukas Biewald at SXSW 15 months ago, the start-up has grown from 15 to 60 employees and is now headquartered in a spiffy second-floor space in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Mollie Allick, director of PR and events for CrowdFlower, talks about what crowdsourcing is and how nonprofits and other organizations can use the power of the crowd to advance their mission in this 4 1/2-minute interview at their offices. “We take large datasets and break them down into small tasks and distribute them to a labor force across the Internet,” she says.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

It’s not just about reducing costs. CrowdFlower was one of the partners in the collaborative mobile relief effort Mission 4636, which we wrote about following the Haiti earthquake last year. The short code emergency response communication system enabled earthquake victims in Haiti to get life-saving aid by sending a free mobile text message, which local volunteers translated as needed.

One important thing CrowdFlower brings to the party today is that they’re the organizers behind the biggest crowdsourcing gathering around: CrowdConf, to be held Nov. 1-2 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, geared to both industry and the academic sector. Last year’s event drew almost 500 people. Continue reading

June 29, 2011

How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

Greenfunder funds socially responsible projects and businesses.

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part one of a two-part series on crowdsourcing.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstHigh-quality work at a low cost. That’s what crowdsourcing can achieve for nonprofts that wish to save money while pursuing their mission.

Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content or skills and solving problems, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. An offshoot, crowd funding, describes the collective efforts to pool their money together on behalf of a cause, project or business. Kiva (loans to entrepreneurs), Crowdrise and Kickstarter (raise funds for creative projects) and Greenfunder, which launched in May as a site to raise funds for socially responsible projects and businesses, are among the burgeoning number of crowd funding sites. (See a few others in our roundup of 24 tools for fundraising with social media.)

Crowdsourcing, a bit of a catch-all term, can be used to gather information, solicit advice, save money or get stuff done. It can also help to inform decisions, demonstrate inclusiveness and bring a whole new meaning to collaboration.

We’ve seen the rise of community crowdsourcing with the advent of social media, but it’s always been part of the way society works. And nonprofits have always been at the forefront of crowdsourcing long before the term was coined in 2006. The idea simply fits in with the way small organizations work.

Here are a few quick, low-key ways crowdsourcing works

Say you’re a nonprofit looking to improve your services. You ask your Facebook fans and Twitter followers — people who have chosen to connect with you — how they think you can become better. They feel included in the process and want to answer, and then your organization has a solution to its problem. That’s what crowdsourcing can do — it can get a job done.

Or take blog posts. Studies show that people respond better to posts with images, so your organization seeks to include a photo along with the information you provide on your website. Where can you find images? Two good starts are Socialbrite’s Free Photos Directory and Flickr’s directory of Creative Commons photos, with 160 million photos available under various licenses. Both can be used to find free photos that you can use for your website, blog posts, reports, presentations and more — just give the photographers proper attribution. Continue reading