Archive for Campaigns

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 right now.


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 »

Tweetsgiving Gratitude

Last year, we loved the work of the folks who put together the first Tweetsgiving – an online fundraising and advocacy campaign for the children of Tanzania, through the work of the excellent This year, they’re back again with ambitious plans to raise more money, engage more supporters, and bring people together in events across the country. The donor stewardship – an old school term, to be sure – was particularly cool after the Tweetsgiving campaign last November. The EpicChange team had video (like the one above) and photos ready of the classroom that the Tweetsgiving donors paid for with more than $10,000 in gifts – complete with donors’ Twitter handles hand-painted on the walls by students. That pretty much assured repeat donations, at least for this click jockey. Check out the campaign and volunteers in your city by following this link.

And watch this video:

TweetsGiving 2009 from LittlePurpleCow Productions on Vimeo.

How Can You ‘Change the Web?’

changethewebGot an idea for how to use a massive database of opportunities to help make the world a better place – a widget, a feed, an application, a new website? Then it’s time to plug into Social Actions’ just-launched Change the Web Challenge for a chance to win part of a $10,000 prize – and quite literally, change the web for the better.

Social Actions, a nonprofit online initiative, has created an open database of 60,000+ actions from 40+ sites – including GlobalGiving,,,, Nabuur, TakingITGlobal,, and VolunteerMatch.  “Now we want to get these actions out there – onto the websites, blogs and social networks that millions of people visit everyday,” says the organization in a blog post announcing the contest. “Next time inspiration strikes you to make a difference, the opportunities to take action will be but one click away.”

CauseWired Communications is proud to be a media sponsor of Change the Web, so look for continued updates here! [Social Actions’ work  will be familiar to readers of this blog and CauseWired.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Not So Fast! Election Day Monitoring Goes Mobile

Just three weeks ago, social networking gurus Nancy Scola and Allison Fine of techPresident and the Personal Democracy Forum tossed out a big idea: why not use mobile technology and the kind of short-messaging techniques capturing hearts and minds among the digerati to help keep track of irregularities on Election Day. Here’s how they put it:

We know. It sounds ridiculous at first. But it might not be as crazy as you think.

Why not? Well, here’s what we’re thinking. We all know that American elections can be messy affairs. As longtime online organizer Jon Pincus recently noted, “voter suppression relies to a large extent on information asymmetry.” That imbalance, if not corrected for, can create just enough hoops that discourage all but the most motivated among us from jumping through them on our way to voting. From voter caging to misleading fliers to faulty machinery to the long waits exacerbated by poorly trained poll workers, it’s often a lack of knowing that jams up the process.

And for far too long, the job of election protection has fallen largely to lawyers schooled in election law. But there’s an opportunity before us right now and through Election Day for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of citizens to identify and rectify voting problems in real time.

Not so crazy, as it turns out. The idea had wings and with some intense work and creative organizing (I’ve been watching some of this unfold, not so ironically, on Twitter) the duo has a network in place to track problems at the polls around the country via cell phones and Twitter. it’s really great work, a real “flash cause” that came together because of the energy and vision of a couple of people and the power of the network. So without further ado, here’s the public service announcement portion of this post – and by all means, reblog it, Twitter it, spread it around:

A large number of groups working on voter outreach and protection efforts have joined this effort.  They include: the 866-OUR-VOTE (The Election Protection Coalition), Rock the Vote, Credo Mobile, Common Cause,, YouTube,, NPR’s Social Media Desk, Independence Year Foundation, Center for Community Change, Student PIRGs, PBS, Women Donors Network, and Demos.

And now we need everyone’s help to get the word out — this effort will only work if lots of people are using the system.  So, here’s how it works:

If you currently use Twitter, send a message after you vote that begins with #votereport (this is critically important for ensuring that your message gets to the right place.)  Then write some or all of the following:

#[zip code] to indicate where you’re voting; ex., “#12345″
#machine for machine problems; ex., “#machine broken, using prov. ballot”
#reg for registration troubles; ex., “#reg I wasn’t on the rolls”
#wait:minutes for long lines; ex., “#wait:120 and I’m coming back later”
#good or #bad to give a quick sense of your overall experience
#EP+your state if you have a serious problem and need help from the Election Protection coalition; ex., #EPOH
If you don’t use Twitter and want to go to, sign up then follow the directions above.

If you want to participate by cellphone but don’t want to use Twitter, you can:

Send a text message to 66937 that begins with “#votereport”
Key in a report by calling (567) 258-VOTE/8683
Download and use the iPhone app (coming soon)
Please participate — we need lots and lots of voices heard on Election Day!

That’s it — let’s go and “tweet” this election!

A Heartland Political Campaign

So much of the focus this political season is on the horse-race – endless analysis of the daily trackers, swing state polls, trends, and demographic groups. In terms of issues, the economy and American security tend to drown out specific concerns in the national din of election coverage. But there are signs out there that the long-awaited micro-targeting of local – or sub-section demographic and economic issues – is well under way, particularly on the left.

Here’s a perfect example: RuralVotes is a 501c4 advocacy organization focused on progressive initiatives to revitalize rural America. Based in Massachusetts, RuralVotes pushes a progressive agenda that’s in the economic interest of both U.S. farmers and the millions of who live in rural America – issues that, in the organization’s words, include "alternative and renewable energy, sustainable food and agriculture,
bridging the ‘digital divide’ in telecommunications, protecting natural
resources and the quality of life that makes rural America a special
place and other noteworthy endeavors."

Taken as a whole, it’s part of an attempted reinvention of the heartland – away from despoiling agribusiness monopolies and toward self-sufficient rural communities. A lofty goal indeed, but the work is often a combination of statehouse trench warfare and guerrilla communications. Outside of the big yearly Farm Bill, rural issues don’t general find widespread debate on the American political stage.

So I was pleased to see RuralVotes run a highly-targeted rural issues radio campaign against John McCain in New Hampshire, a swing state where Barack Obama is somewhat vulnerable. And then, in spirited of CauseWired activism (yes, that’s a book plug – get used to ’em!) they kicked it up a notch with a viral YouTube campaign, simply taking the radio feed and connecting it to compelling images from rural New Hampshire and a link back to and its terrific BackForty blog. Well done, indeed:

The Reblog Button

Fred’s post on reblogging – and me testing this out.
clipped from

Newcritics is a year old this week and Tom asked us all to do an anniversary post about the one media moment that moved us the most. When I think back over the past twelve months, the first year of newcritics, I can think of many photographs, paintings, books, movies, songs, albums, and TV shows that moved me.

But the thing that had the most powerful effect on me and may be fundamental to the future of media is the reblog button on Tumblr.

It’s a simple idea really. And it’s been done before. But I don’t think its been done as well and as powerfully as it has been done in Tumblr.

You have to have a tumblog on Tumblr to be able to use the reblog button. Which limits its ubiquity and I think that should change. I hope it will.

  blog it