Beyond Facebook and Twitter

Photos by Chris Suspect

NonProfit 2.0 crystalized as a great event last Friday with incredible conversations, even amongst competitors. But perhaps what made it most special was the utter lack of Facebook and Twitter sessions. No one, from keynotes to 23 attendee generated “unsessions,” wanted to talk about how-to Facebook or Tweet. That was the first social media conference in memory that did not include at least one conversation centered around Facebook or Twitter.

For some, there will always be a need for the basics, particularly about Facebook, which seems to change its interface and features every month. But it seems that the need for this type of information was not needed, at least in the DC Nonprofit 2.0 community. Not last week.

This was refreshing. It marked a line in the sands of time. Maybe it was an anomaly. Or maybe it is finally time to start talking about the pragmatic use of these tools rather than the basics. As a blogger who has covered social media use for more than five years this feels really good, providing a sense of the sector’s arrival.

Beyond this simple epiphany, Epic Change’s Stacey Monk delivered a stirring keynote on re-instilling love and compassion into cause work. Crowdrise’s Robert Wolfe opened the kimono discussing Edward Norton Jr’s involvement, and how MooseJaw led him to create a fun social fundraising site. Social fundraisers Razoo (client), Crowdrise, CauseVox and Causes demonstrated a congenial affinity for each other that you rarely see amongst competitors. It was really cool.

But in the end, the big takeaway from Nonprofit 2.0 was the quiet yet obvious absence of Facebook and Twitter as topics. What do you think? Are communicators moving beyond the need for simple information about these social networks?

Why Launch the Inspiring Generosity Blog

Mariah's Promise, Dog Rescue, in Divide CO is being evicted...
Image by Beverly & Pack

Today on Razoo’s site, Zoetica helped launch the Inspiring Generosity blog. As the managing editor of the blog, it is an honor to be involved with this ambitious effort. Further, it is a privilege to work with great bloggers like Alex Bornkessel, John Haydon and Estrella Rosenberg, and videographer Chris Suspect.

Inspiring Generosity seeks to catalyze a critical industry breakthrough for nonprofits in online fundraising. Currently, the industry is stymied with past attempts for social fundraising not achieving significant scalable success. The exceptions garner excitement, but are not creating widespread industry best practices.

In large part, we believe that social fundraising has yet to break through because the technology has not been intuitive, and approaches towards donors have largely been transactional and not relational. If you think about the latter reason, this is a larger issue facing all companies and nonprofits: Trying to force traditional marketing approaches into social as opposed to using these tools for relationships.

Inspiring Generosity seeks to address this transaction/relationship context, disseminate best practices, and highlight great case studies. Razoo has empowered the blog team to report on larger social fundraising issues, including what other industry leaders Causes, Crowdrise, FirstGiving, Fundly, Network for Good and more are doing right. For example, tomorrow’s post will be analysis of Blackbaud’s infographic on fundraising.

To do more than simply market on a blog — even going so far as to give your competition hat tips –takes some guts. Razoo, under the guidance of new CEO Brian Fujito, is returning to its core values of inspiring generosity. Together as a sector, done right social fundraising is an act that can strengthen the entire social good ecosystem and society as a whole.

Please join us on our weekly journey.

Galvanizing Your Organization to Help in a Disaster

Pre-order Geoff Livingston’s Welcome to the Fifth Estate today!


There are times when a cause campaign is not about mutual reward for brand and beneficiary, rather responsible citizenship. Disasters are such times. There’s no greater example of this than the current triple crisis of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. Using online tools, it’s easy to participate in charitable activities, and help situations like the Japanese crisis.

When your cause or company’s employees and stakeholders want to act and participate on the frontlines of the relief effort, there are several things you can do. Whether it’s leveraging your online community, offering financial resources or volunteering, almost every person and organization has assets to offer.

Before going too far, please ensure that the organization is motivated by a clear desire to resolve or provide relief to a devastating event. If your goal is to market or strengthen the social responsibility factor of your brand, the disaster campaign could easily achieve the opposite and tarnish your brand with an opportunistic hue (consider Spirit Airlines oil spill faux paux). Disasters are a time for social responsibility and altruism.

When the Deep Horizon oil spill occurred and companies began stepping up their response, Dawn dish soap stood out. Dawn soap products were donated as a means to clean birds, and the effort was well received publicly. The company simply publicized it was donating the products. Further Dawn’s bird cleaning ads can be considered in good taste because they had been deployed prior to the oil spill accident. In fact, because life matched brand promise, the ads were strengthened.

Here are some tips if you are considering participating in disaster relief…

Spur of the Moment


If an event happens such as the Japanese earthquake that’s so compelling it inspires you to act, the best thing to do is to affiliate with an entity that is well prepared. For example, the America Red Cross literally exists for crisis situations and its business is preparedness. If you prefer a less organized effort, consider Crisis Commons and the fantastic job they do getting coders and other techies to help out in crisis like the Sendai earthquake.

The point is that there are dozens, even hundreds of causes and organizations that prepare for such events. Rather than reinventing the wheel on the fly, find and support them in the ways that they suggest.

Many of the more experienced players have grassroots systems for you to participate in and fundraise. Further, independent fundraising platforms like Crowdrise, Razoo, Causes and Jumo allow you to set up your own social fundraising campaign autonomous of a charity’s oversight.

One of the most powerful testimonial effects of the #SxSWCares effort last weekend was its use of grassroots word of mouth power to support Japan. But it did so as an independent fundraiser for the American Red Cross. Similarly, when Google founder Eric Schmidt wanted to donate $100,000 in matching funds to Japan, he sought experienced nonprofit Citizen Effect. Lady Gaga also decided to support the Schmidt/Citizen Effect effort.

Prepare for Unfortunate Events


One of the best things a communicator can do is create a crisis communications plan for missteps and disasters. Similarly, preparation to help in advance of disaster situations makes sense. This allows the organization to literally pull a book off the shelf and follow directions or adapt them to unique situations. Network for Good was able to send attendees to SxSW AND prepare its network for recovery efforts thanks to prior planning for crisis events. As of last evening, Network for Good had raised $4.3 million for its group of earthquake causes.

With a pre-determined crisis plan, you can deploy resources in a manner that better plays to your strengths. Further, the nonprofit or company can save funds and allocate other resources for that unfortunate day in advance, ensuring impact.

For example, Google has a crisis preparedness team for disasters. The team has been actively engaged in the Japan crisis since the earthquake, using tools like Person Finder, Checkout for direct donations the Japanese Red Cross, maps via Google Earth, and news aggregation. Google’s impact is significant and helpful, using its tools and networks to ease the situation as best as it can.

The questions you have to ask is how the organization can best assist in a time of need and how much is it willing to give. From there building a plan becomes easier.

Free Agent Experimentation

Taylor Anderson

Many organizations and people feel like they can do more than the current authorities and causes involved. Or they feel inspired to use tools in an unthought of way. Whether it’s an independent fundraiser or a new tool, this is the heart of innovation. If innovation can possibly make a difference it only makes sense to engage.

Two recent examples, include Kira Siddall deploying widespread Twitter networks to find Taylor Anderson in Japan, and the MIT Media Lab’s use of hot air balloons to document the oil spill. Further, technological innovation can seed breakthrough applications, including unique Uhsahidi map deployments, Google People Finder, and several tools developed by Crisis Commons. In times of crisis, inspiration can save lives and make a big impact.

The Gamification of Online Communities

[Online] Golfstar, game update
Image by com2us

The online gaming industry has experienced tremendous success, currently estimated at $10.5 billion by the entertainment software industry. This incredible market share of consumer interest and revenue and runaway hits like Zenga’s Farmville have caused gaming best practices to spread to the larger web, and in particular online communities. Online content and community creators have noticed, and are seeking to gamify their efforts.

This process consists of integrating game components like badges, leaderboards, levels of difficulty, etc. into online communities, web site functions, and other aspects of non-game activity online. By gamifying online properties, organizations like the Huffington Post seek to offer some of the fun, challenging passion that online entertainment brings, and in turn, make their sites more compelling.

Gamifying boosts on site minutes, increases strength of community, and inspires more tangible outcomes. With intelligent calls to actions weaved into game elements, organizations can deliver more return on investment as well as strengthen loyalty. This can range from sales to bettering professional education programs.


Two of 2010’s more compelling social web stories used gamification to strengthen their offering. Social fundraising hit Crowdrise has a leaderboard, contests, and point tabulations in addition to really funny copywriting on its site. The goal: Encourage more charitable acts. Influencer metric Klout uses gamification to make its badges and classification more fun, and encourage individuals to engage in better participatory tactics online.

Consider how the USA Network added gamification to its Psych TV network online. By adding game-like rewards to the program, NBCUniversal generated a 130 percent increase in page views for the network’s Psych show and a 40 percent increase in return visits.

Adam Singer recently wrote a great post about the need to balance social, email and SEO in a digital marketing program. Increasingly, bringing balance to a healthy online marketing program includes adding game elements to the mix.

Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, ” offered some advice to organizations considering adding game techniques at the Gamification Summit. She said, “If you’re trying to gamify something, you should be looking to turn [stakeholders] into super empowered helpful users. That’s what we become when we play a good game.”

Gamification is not easy, and requires knowledge of processes, research and best practices. There is a new boutique industry arising that serves organizations who want to add gamification elements and even games themselves to their online mix. For example, companies like Badgeville and Gamify can add game mechanics to a community.

Expect the continued trickle down effect of game elements into general online communications, and increased interest from online communicators about how to incorporate games and game technique into their repertoire. What do you think of gamification in online communities? Are you adding game elements to your online mix?

4 Netsquared Social Good Trends for 2010

This Ushahidi Crowdmap visualizes the Haitian earthquake aftermath

The folks over at TechSoup/NetSquared have an end-of-year Net2Think Challenge is coming to a close on Saturday. People are submitting their reflections about the hottest trends from the world of innovation and social benefit in 2010. Here are some reflections — big and small — from the year.

1) The big news was the use of mobile as a legitimate grassroots platform in 2010. We first saw this with texting and the American Red Cross’s incredible fundraising drive during the initial Haiti relief drive. Then it continued with the DNC’s canvassing app on the iPhone, a new way to organize grassroots volunteers. And finally, we saw the Apple iPhone app donation issue (led by Beth Kanter) come to the fore at the end of the year, a sure sign of the medium’s importance to the sector.

2) Mark Horvath took the homeless issue and made it a favorite on the social web. One video at a time, one tweet at a time, whether it was walking the parties at SxSW or driving across the country, Mark worked it. His latest initiative WeAreVisible gives the homeless an opportunity to experience networked communities and the opportunities they bring, too. A big hat tip to Mark!

3) Widgets, gadgets and platforms like Crowdrise continued to evolve with sector specific solutions. Often overlooked by the main online space as a secondary market, seeing innovation for social good has been awesome. Grassroots tools are getting better every month, well except when Jumo launeches.

4) Ushahidi flowered this year and became a hot tool for visualizing geographic data. Oil spill, Russian wild fires, earthquakes, etc., all saw Ushahidi used as a tool to better manage situational crisis. Further, it was another example of how mobile, traditional social and geolocation can mash-up, and do it for good.

What are some of the trends you enjoyed in 2010? Don’t forget to submit them for the Net2Think Tank!