I was back at the main campus today, the Austin Convention Center, for two panel discussions focused on social change. Level Three of the Austin Convention Center has been home to the Better Tomorrow program sessions and workshops. Non-profit leaders, brand marketers, web techs and all other do-gooders have gathered here to discuss how technology can be used to make positive, real world change.
This session focused on the “donors of the future.” Leaders from top social networking sites shared the latest trends in social philanthropy and discussed how non-profit organizations can use social media to engage supporters.
A majority of young people learn about social causes through social media. And if they see their friends supporting a cause, then they are likely to support that cause as well.
Robert Wolfe of Crowdrise designed his website to make online fundraising fun for young adults and those young at heart. Donors receive badges and reward points for making donations and raising money for charities. These badges are for others to see, and the points are redeemable for cool Crowdrise merchandise. Wolfe’s humor is written all over the site, and I couldn’t help but laugh when he talked about the “anonymous donor” option. Donors have the option to donate anonymously, but somehow their donation is leaked for all their friends to see!
The popularity of YouTube makes it easy for non-profit organizations to reach young donors who love to share content with their friends. Videos can be effective as long as they’re engaging. Plus, humor helps but only if appropriate. Ramya Raghavan of YouTube suggests using that staff member or volunteer that has a TV personality to star in your organization’s video. Rather than go with the organization’s CEO, go for that “star in the making.”
This session focused on celebrity activism. Celebrities have the power to highlight a cause, but there are also pitfalls to using celebrities in cause marketing campaigns. This session analyzed the pros and cons of several recent cause campaigns involving celebrities.
There will always be risks and repercussions when a celebrity becomes the megaphone for a cause, but campaigns are most effective when celebrities are genuinely passionate about the cause. They’re clear about the issues that matter most to them and aren’t afraid to turn down causes that don’t fall outside of their guidelines. This helps build a celebrity’s legitimacy.
Dewey Winburne was one of the original co-founders of the SXSW Interactive Festival. He was many things but mostly remembered as a teacher who spent much of his energy training at-risk youth to make use of digital technology. Dewey believed that the new media revolution could help level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots in our society.
Dewey passed away in 1999, but his legacy lives on. Each year, SXSW Interactive honors his vision with the Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. This year’s honorees included Judy Brewer of Cambridge, MA, Laura Deutch of Philadelphia, PA, Brian Elliot of New York, NY, Jacquie Jones of Washington D.C., Izzy Johnston of New York, NY, Becci Manson of New York, NY, Jose Gomez Marquez of Cambridge, MA, Aleph Molinari of Toluca, Mexico, Josh Nesbit of San Francisco, CA and Humberto Perez of Pflugerville, TX.