Archive for CauseWired

CauseWired on Leading Podcast: How Nonprofits Can Use the Web to Create Real Causes

Corey Pudhorodsky has been producing the excellent 501c3cast, which deals with a wide range of issues in philanthropy and nonprofit management, since 2005 – and this week, I was honored to be his special guest on the 107th in this eminently NPR-worthy program. You can listen via the player below, but be sure to click through to Corey’s show notes and to sample the vast archive of essential programming – the 501c3cast really is a vital channel for any nonprofit leader.

I was also pleased to participate in a terrific panel on “Government by the People 2.0” hosted by the New York Software Industry Association last night in New York. Chaired by Howard Greenstein, my fellow panelists included Micah Sifry of the Personal Democracy Forum, Rachel Stern of, and Josh Levy of Over at his excellent Political Gastronomica blog, wired political consultant Sanford Dickert has a terrific live-blog of the panel (and includes his own observations).


Our New Venture: The Story Behind CauseWired Communications

Note: Many readers here have followed the progress of my book and reporting on online social activism over the past year. You’ve probably noticed that the blog has evolved into a company over the past few weeks. Here’s the story behind that, cross-posted from my personal blog:

Each of the last two years, I’ve found that the inevitable slow-down of business at end of the year has kick-started personal projects: two years ago, I launched the pop culture group blog over the break, and last year I signed a contract with John Wiley & Sons to write CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World and began work on the book, which is now in its third printing.

This year, it’s something bigger: a new company.

Starting January 1, CauseWired Communications LLC is open for business. Susan Carey Dempsey, my longtime partner in publishing, is joining me in launching the new firm, which will assist organizations and campaigns in creating inspiring messages for causes that change the world. Read the rest of this entry »

A CauseWired Vlog: Online Social Activism

OK, here’s my quickie CauseWired vlog – with a bit about the book and some of the bigger themes. The content won’t surprise (or particularly enlighten) anyone who follows this sector, but it’s a bit of an experiment in answering a lot of the broader questions I get asked by journalists and nonprofit folks. And yeah, it’s got a little sales pitch for the book too. See what you think.

Free Blogger Copies – Last Chance to Get ‘Em!

We’re closing out our program to provide free advance/review copies to bloggers – so get your requests in asap for a copy of CauseWired.

Thanks to my friends at Wiley, the program to get as many review copies of CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World into the hands of bloggers as we can before publication has been a tremendous success and there’s only a couple of dozen copies left. If you’re interested in writing about CauseWired – and it covers online social activism across charities, NGOs, politics, cause marketing and more – we want to rush you an advance copy of the book.

Just drop a note with your name, blog, and snail mail address to Wiley’s extraordinary book marketer/guru/blogger, Andrew Wheeler, at and we’ll make sure you get one.

And please feel free to pass this on to other bloggers or writers who think might like an advance copy. But do it asap! When these copies are gone, that’s it.

Blog Action Day: Focus on Poverty

Today is the appropriately-named Blog Action Day, an effort to unite thousands of bloggers behind a single issue and create some momentum for policy change and citizen involvement. With partners like Kiva and the effort is decidedly CauseWired; this year’s focus is on poverty and the idea is to create a vast conversation with thousands of voices.

According to the organizers, Blog Action Day came together as a non-profit activity by a group of volunteer bloggers and the staff of Envato who donate their time and resources. It started as a “what would happen if” question and simply took on a life of its own. Big-time blogs involved include EU Minister Elena Valenciano, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, LifeHacker, Mashable, Smashing, VentureBeat, ProBlogger, Inhabitat, ZenHabits, Stepcase LifeHack, MentalFloss, DailyBlogTips, TorrentFreak, SEOMoz, GetRichSlowly, WiseBread,, GigaOm, and DumbLittleMan – altogether, more than 12,000 sites reaching more than 13 million readers.

My thoughts today relate to the global economic crisis and what I think may well be growing poverty in the industrialized world. Market wealth in the world’s biggest markets has declined by about 40 percent since last year. The credit abyss still beckons, as super-leveraged assets based on bad mortgages still need to find their (close to zero) levels. Unemployment will rise. Energy costs as a percentage of total wealth will grow. And we may even face challenges with food production.

Meanwhile, the private charitable sector – which provides much of the social safety net in the United States – is already over-taxed and now faces an expected decline in philanthropic contributions.

So, given what this blog is about, I have one “big thought” for Blog Action Day: that the growing cadre of online social activism platforms can and should focus some of their energy on domestic relief in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in the developed world. There is something at the core of CauseWired movement that thrives around aiding the poorest of the poor; many of our greatest social entrepreneurs were inspired by trips to Africa or parts of Asia. Yet, poverty lurks everywhere in our developed world.

In this country, we failed to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The next administration must change the way we focus on poverty and our social safety net. I believe strongly that our CauseWired social entrepreneurs can be leaders in this effort, connecting millions of citizens to neighbors in need.

Hope everyone has a great Blog Action Day – it’s a fine effort.

Big News: Jean Case Writes CauseWired Foreward

Thought I’d pass along a bit of great news on the book front. Jean Case, the co-founder and CEP of the Case Foundation, has contributed an insightful foreward to CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World.

Jean is quoted elsewhere in the book, and she’s one of major foundation leaders who really understands the promise of online social activism. The Case Foundation, founded by Jean and her husband Steve in 1997, invests in individuals, nonprofits, and social enterprises that aim to connect people, increase giving, and catalyze civic action. A growing portion of that commitment is aimed at connecting people with causes online. Here’s an excerpt from the foreward:

Today, in the worlds of philanthropy, social activism, business, and even politics and policy making, this question is especially ripe for  asking. We are at a juncture where new forms of civic engagement and business activity — supported and spurred by new social web technologies — are being used by both individuals and organizations to create and expand a rising culture of giving and a coming together of ingredients that can create powerful opportunities for positive change.

CauseWired  is so timely in its arrival and spot – on in its focus. A new generation of givers — the  Net – native millennials  — is emerging, and a fresh generation of nonprofit, foundation, and business leaders is already taking the helm. But do we understand what these changes will mean? Do we know as donors, foundations, nonprofi t and business leaders, policymakers, and volunteers how we should participate in this change? What more do we need to know in order to capture this opportunity to motivate and engage more people and increase giving of every kind, everywhere?

My thanks to Jean for a terrific foreward – it really sets the stage. For more on the Case Foundation’s involvement in the CauseWired world, I highly recommend participation in it Social CitizensBETA project – great research and an interesting conversation.

CauseWired: Legions of Community Organizers

I’ve been thinking about this since the Republican convention a month ago: isn’t the CauseWired movement the virtual empowerment of thousands – and potentially millions – of community organizers, that class of do-gooders so derided by the GOP nominees in Minneapolis? Sure, I know their derision was about knocking down a portion of Barack Obama’s biography, but I think the focus also revealed a stunning disconnect between a major political party and a major movement in American democracy that is unfolding in public.

I’m going to be putting up some excerpts from CauseWired over the next month as we get closer to publication, and in the spirit of community organizing, I thought I’d share a bit about Joe Green, one of the co-founders of Causes on Facebook:

Joe Green recalls working on the Kerry campaign in New Hampshire during the summer of 2003 and thinking social networks and organizing activists. “That’s when I first saw Friendster and I thought, here is this map of how everyone knows each other.” Friendster is a social networking service founded in 2002 that eventually grew to 50 million users, but peaked in the United States well before sites like MySpace and Facebook became household names. The service had much of what drives online social networks – profiles, photos, and lists of friends and contacts. Green was intrigued at its application on political and social activism campaigns: “That fall I thinking about it a a lot. I asked my roommate about creating social network for politics, but he was more interested in a social network for college students.” [Note: his roommate was Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.]

Green went off to work for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in the general election, canvassing neighborhoods in rural Arizona for the unsuccessful Democratic ticket, but he continued to think about combing old-school organizing and new media social tools. set out to build one on his own. After the election, he founded, a non-partisan political social networking website that would let connect with one another based on political opinions. The site was deliberately small in scale and by invitation of other members, and it was designed to try and force intelligent discourse while discouraging flame wars and personal attacks. Its design around small groups of dedicated voices – using political statements called “resolves” to start discussions – hearkened back to Green’s personal experience as an organizer – which began in high school in Santa Monica, California. Green described the formative experience on the progressive political blog MyDD: “I first got active as a senior in high school. Santa Monica had a living wage campaign – one of the first that covered not just city employees, but everyone in our tourist zone. The campaign barely lost but we got a lot of students at our high school involved, many of whom had parents who cleaned hotel rooms in beach hotels for like seven bucks an hour.”

At Harvard, he studied under Marshall Ganz, a professor of public policy and a well-known organizer who spent 16 years working with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. The lesson was an important one: “Here was Cesar Chavez trying to take pretty much the most powerless people in the country, the people who are closer to serfs than we’ve had for a long time, with almost no legal rights, and organizing them. But first you had to convince them that it was even possible for them to have any impact on all-powerful forces. And once you did, there were no shortcuts. You start with a small number of people, just speaking one on one in a meeting, and you share your personal story, then you convince them to have a meeting, and it’s through these existing social connections of family and friends and church that you grow these movements. Basically you’re organizing yourself out of a job.”

In thinking about modern media technology and old school activists, Green was struck by the potential of online social networking in organizing support for causes. “One hardest parts of organizing is sitting down with the address book and figuring out who everybody knows – the transparency of connections struck me – if we had one of these networks where you knew how everyone was connected, it would be very powerful.”

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