links for 2010-09-29

  • Peter Daou on a handful of lefty bloggers' influence over President Obama's sagging mojo: "When Robert Gibbs attacked the professional left he didn’t specify anyone by name, but the assumption was that it was cable personalities, disaffected interest groups, bloggers and online commenters. With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher*."
  • Zeynep Tufekci in response to Gladwell: "One, the key issue facing activists who wish for real social change is the mismatch between the scale of our problems (global) and the natural scale of our sociality (local). This is a profound problem and more, not less, social media is almost certainly a key element of any solution. Second, the relationship between weak and strong ties is one of complementarity and support, not one of opposition."
  • Anil Dash on Gladwell – "I don't come to refute Gladwell's strawman argument. His point is that today's social networks are fundamentally unable to drive the sort of social change that fueled upheavals like the civil rights movement. I agree….The traditional method sit-in and picket-in-the-streets form of protest is clearly a failure online." But he adds: "it can empower a smaller group of coordinated activists to hone their message, cultivate their strategy, and then reach out to larger groups of potential followers."
  • Gladwell: "Boycotts and sit-ins and nonviolent confrontations—which were the weapons of choice for the civil-rights movement—are high-risk strategies." Well yeah, but he's setting up a false analogy – yeah, tons of slactivism about. But also movements that use the social tools well.
  • For some, Twitter is a social network and for others it is just a broadcast medium. Judging from the latest data from social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos, for the majority of users, Twitter is indeed mostly a broadcast medium.
    (tags: Twitter)
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The CauseWired Roundup

CauseWired’s Laptop/Printer Contest

Some lucky nonprofit or social entrepreneur is going to win a free free laptop and printer bundle courtesy of HP and CauseWired Communications!

But you’ll have to answer a key question first, in order to win: “How we’re going to use social media and web technology to change the world.” Drop your ideas and thoughts into comments, no more than 500 words please – and include a link to your organization or website.

Here’s the skinny on this give-away. It’s part of the HP Create Change effort. For every purchase from the Create Change site that is part of the HP direct purchase website, HP will donate 4% to one of the following seven nonprofits that you can designate. The nonprofits are: American Red Cross, CARE, DonorsChoose.org, Junior Achievement, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, World Wildlife Fund.

You can download a widget for the HP Create Change effort form their site and follow their conversation on Facebook.

So what’s the deal with the contest? HP has asked me and a few social sector bloggers – Beth Kanter, Allison Fine, Katya Andresen’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog, Jolly Mom, and Amy Sample Ward – to ask our readers a question about social change. And then each of us bloggers will pick a winner from the comments on our blog.

Note: we’re not receiving anything. Only contest winners get the equipment. So let us know what you think!

Why Idealist Matters (And How You Can Help)

We all know about “too big to fail” and its repercussions for the economy. But what about “too important to fade away?” To me, that’s the story of Idealist, the pioneering online community for the social sector- and its current fight to survive.

A week ago, Idealist founder Ami Dar sent a warning note to friends and supporters. After 15 years, the site and its incredible range of listings and services, was in trouble. Here’s what Ami wrote – and Tweeted:

Very briefly, here’s what happened. Over the past ten years, most of our funding has come from the small fees we charge organizations for posting their jobs on Idealist. By September 2008, after years of steady growth, these little drops were covering 70% of our budget.

Then, in October of that year, the financial crisis exploded, many organizations understandably froze their hiring, and from one week to the next our earned income was cut almost in half, leaving us with a hole of more than $100,000 each month.

That was 16 months ago, and since then we’ve survived on faith and fumes, by cutting expenses, and by getting a few large gifts from new and old friends. But now we are about to hit a wall, and that’s why we decided to ask.

To may way of thinking, Ami and Idealist saw the good cause in the early Web and pursued a path of service to nonprofits and causes. Its decade and a half of service should not be ignored with a pat on the head and a retirement certificate; indeed, the rest of the ‘CauseWired’ web stands – in large part – on Idealist’s shoulders.

Sure, the business model may need tweaking in a classified world dominated by Craigslist and a device-centric landscape of iPhones and Droids. But let’s chip in to give the Idealist crew that time to explore and grow and survive. I’m fond of telling corporate leaders than the social web – and by that, I mean the philanthropy sector – is actually ahead of consumer brands in using social media and building and supporting communities. Let’s prove that right by helping Idealist.org right now.

The CauseWired Roundup

GlobalGiving Founder on Haiti: ‘When You’re Poor, Everything Becomes Harder to Recover From’

As the incredible depth of devastation in Haiti became apparent yesterday, the response online grew rapidly. Haiti and various related topics trended all day on Twitter,blogs and websites were filled with links to nonprofits working in Haiti, and ubiquitous calls for cell phone text-to-give campaigns flooded the RSS streams. Like others, I turned to an online-based organization whose work I know and whose promise to get aid to those in need quickly – and effectively – I trusted.

GlobalGiving has been a marketplace for charitable projects since 1997 and has a history of supporting programs on health, poverty, agriculture and the environment in Haiti – and the site swung into action yesterday, working with key on-the-ground partners to rush medical supplies and emergency aid to the stricken nation. As the GlobalGiving team raced to direct resources to Haiti, I spoke briefly with Mari Kuraishi, the co-founder and president.

What’s GlobalGiving’s perspective on what Haiti faces during these terrible days?

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and in 2009 ranked 149th out of 182 countries according to the UN’s human development report. That’s to say that one in five Haitian children is underweight for their age and GDP per capita is $1,155—2.5% of US GDP per capita ($45,592). This is a country that is least able to recover from a natural disaster like a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. On the one hand that seems obvious. When you’re poor, everything becomes harder to recover from, because you just don’t have any slack in the system.

What do you think philanthropy’s role will be?

We don’t know the scale of the losses yet in Haiti. While it’s impossible to compare, the cost of the 1995 Kobe earthquake (a 7.3 earthquake) has been estimated at $100b in property and infrastructure damage. Human losses in Japan were 6,400 killed and 15,000 injured. The cost of recovery in Kobe? As of 2006, $3b in insurance losses, and $9b in long-term private finance to rebuild.

Read the rest of this entry »

CauseWired Alaskans Pick, Click and Give to Charity

Socially-conscious social media is working up north: Alaskans have taken to the Pick. Click. Give. campaign, which is leveraging platforms from Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Causecast to draw attention to and explain the Permanent Fund Charitable Contributions Program. The program began officially in 2009 to allow Alaskans to donate a portion of their PFD to qualifying Alaska nonprofits of their choice while they filed online for their PFD. An underlying goal is to encourage individual philanthropy in Alaska. Here’s a Q&A on the program with my friend Aliza Sherman, a veteran digital guru and co-founder of the social media firm Conversify! in Alaska, and Jordan Marshall, initiatives & special projects manager for the Rasmuson Foundation and project manager for Pick. Click. Give.

1. Last year, Pick. Click. Give. raised more than half a million dollars for Alaskan nonprofits – how did it work and how was it unique to Alaska?

ALIZA: The entire Pick. Click. Give. awareness campaign is based on something inherently unique to Alaska: our Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) or the annual payment each Alaskan receives as part of a pay out to share in the state’s oil and gas profits. No other state provides a similar fund or payment to citizens of their state.

The overarching goal of the Pick. Click. Give. campaign is to draw attention to and explain the Permanent Fund Charitable Contributions Program. The program began officially in 2009 to allow Alaskans to donate a portion of their PFD to qualifying Alaska nonprofits of their choice while they filed online for their PFD. An underlying goal is to encourage individual philanthropy in Alaska.

Additionally, through social media, the Pick. Click. Give. campaign is working to give exposure to the program and motivate Alaskans to participate and to encourage their friends, family and followers to participate as well.

The previous year (2008) was spent assessing Alaska nonprofits based on a number of criteria to ensure that they qualify for the program as well as to set up the technical aspects of adding a list and way for Alaskans to check the organizations on that list they wished to support with an amount of their choice. Read the rest of this entry »