Reflections from Mashable Summer of Social Good Conference

9 years ago

I was honored to speak at the Summer of Social Good conference hosted by Mashable, a popular social media and technology blog and a big geek favorite.
This was the culmination of the summer long initiative to help raise
money for four charities, Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, and LIVESTRONG.

The event was hosted by the amazing Shira Lazar who currently hosts
Mahalo’s This Week In YouTube and is the Editor-At-Large for
CondeNast’s travel blogging from around the globe. I didn't realize this, but she is
also the founder of the The Society For Geek Advancement, which aims to bring together geek culture for social good.

The most dramatic moment of the conference had nothing to do with charity fundraising.  It was the surprise marriage proposal on the stage from Mashable's COO Adam Hirsch to Managing Editor Sharon Feder (she said yes)!   (You can read more about that here).   And while Pete Cashmore announced that he would be doing a charity event in September around his 24th birthday, I'm wondering what charity wedding registry Sharon and Adam will register with?  (Kiva?)

Randi Zuckerberg of Facebook delivered the opening keynote.  It covered many examples of how people were using Facebook for online activism as well as how nonprofits were using it for fundraising.  She also included some practical advice.  I've heard Randi speak a couple of times, including this informative webinar hosted by NTEN.  The big news for me was news about virtual gifts for charities.   Facebook is piloting virtual charity gifts to users, the
proceeds will support micro-lender Kiva, Project
Red, the World Wildlife Fund and Toms Shoes.  The feature may also open up more broadly after tested.

The Wall Street Journal covered her keynote, as did the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  They picked up on these practical points:

  • Don't rely on groups in Facebook, have a Fan page to take advantage of Facebook's viralness.  (You can do a lot with the look and feel of your Fan page - see the example of my landing page (or look at the welcome tab if you've already joined).  This custom landing page was created by the good folks at Sprout.)
  • Be a little less "formal" and try a few fun updates and other content that sparks conversations.  Randi suggests that having a personality is an asset.
  • Use video. Groups that post video on their fan pages are
    typically able to create more personal messages. And those messages are
    more likely to be shared with others.
  • Tag
    liberally.  Take pictures at
    events and post them to their Facebook pages. When they post the
    images, they should tag the people in the photos — a process that
    notifies those who are friends of the people that they have been tagged
    in a photo on a charity’s page. Those notifications draw more traffic
    and, in turn, more supporters, to a charity’s page.
  • Incorporate
    Facebook into your events. If you have a special event, make sure you
    invite your Facebook fans to the party, too. You’ll probably attract
    more people — and Facebook will tell all of their friends that they are
    coming to an organization’s event.

    Skeptics in the audience tweeted about the limitations of tool-centric campaigns or wondered if, at the end of day, there was any on the ground social change.  Was it all hype?
    The morning included a speech by Kari Dunn Saratovsky who talked about offline/online connections as well as some of the challenges that charities face such as cause fatigue and slacktivism.   

    She also mentioned that the Case Foundation will be doing the giving challenge for a second time, so stay tuned.   She asked the big question: Is all this making us smarter philanthropists (and organizers and leaders)?  Folks like Brian Reich are skeptical. 



    Photo by Peter Clayton

    Toby Daniels, from Think Social, who was called in at the last minute, did a fantastic talk.   Best of all, I got to finally meet him and Scott Harrison from charity:water face-to-face.  (Check out this post by Toby over at Think Social about storytelling using charity:water as an example.)  There were also presentations about Global Giving and Causecast.

    The nonprofits Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, and LIVESTRONG each gave excellent presentations on how their organizations are using social media.  I enjoyed hearing the latest update from Carie Lewis about her organization's experience in social media crisis mode and the recent controversy with Michael Vick. She was able to clearly demonstrate the value of listening and engaging.  More details about the nonprofit presentations at the Nonprofit Bridge and Chronicle of Philanthropy.

    Photo by David Parmet
    (In the green room waiting to go on the stage, in between Pete Cashmore and Geoff Livingston)
    See more of David's conference photos here.

    Next was the "Social Media for Social Good" segment. I kicked it off with a talk titled "Be a Generous Geek" which was about the many ways small actions (online and offline) can make a difference (for example what Maria Niles shared in in her most recent post), I sprinkled with a few stories that were featured in Shel Israel's Twitterville and Chris Brogan's Trust Agents

    Next up was colleague Geoff Livingston who talked about building movements (see his slides below and read more here).  Next was Scott Henderson who presented a case study about his PledgeforHunger project. Our segment ended with an amazing talk by Drew Olanoff (you can read about his work here).  I'm definitely in on the blameathon on September 9th.

    The closing keynote was by Scott Goldstein who talked about "All for Good" which has been described as a "Craig's List for Service."  (I'm live blogging a panel that he is on next week at the SoCap09 Conference)

    The event ended with a marriage proposal and a lot of geek excitement over social media for social good.  There were also some voices of skeptics asking the big question on how to channel this energy and excitement at the awareness level to bring about real change both online and offline. 

    What I saw at this conference, was a youthful enthusiasm
    for generosity, and the desire to do something, but perhaps there is a need for
    sharing of best practices and techniques beyond the tools.  There is a great opportunity for generations of philanthropists, organizers, and community leaders to enrich each others learning.

    Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE for Nonprofits, writes Beth's Blog.

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