SXSW Preview Day 1: Finding Your Voice & Creating Evangelists

At, we’re highlighting panels at SXSW Interactive from the five-day event. After looking through the schedule it was clear that many of the panels could be helpful for nonprofits. Since SXSW Interactive (aka Geek Spring Break) gets a little bigger every year, we decided to do something similar for at Each day this week, we’ll highlight a different day of panels at SXSW and provide an overview of the content.

Capturing Your Social Mission on Video

We know that video can play a powerful role in building support for a nonprofit’s mission. To that end, the Social Change, Social Media & Social Filmmaking session will outline practical strategies to help you and your organizations effect social change through videos. Presenters will include Dorothy Engelman (q media solutions), Meghan Warby (Ontario Province), Rob Dyer (Skate4Cancer), and Sherien Barsoum (TAZA Media).

Based on what I’ve learned of each individual, this session is likely to be packed with great information. For example, Engelman put together a series called Digital U to help people “focus on how social media is leading social changes.” The result was 20 podcasts and eight TV shorts. If you’re new to video or curious about other strategies for video, make room in your schedule for this session that starts at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Making the Moustache More than a Fashion Statement

For anyone who follows online movements, one that stands out has to be Movember. For those unfamiliar with it, Movember started seven years ago with the goal of raising awareness about men’s critical health issues. Created in Australia, Movember has become a global cause.

In the session Can Growing a Moustache Change the World? presenters Adam Garone (Movember) and Kory Kelm (Movember) will talk about how the turned supporters into ambassadors, a skill any nonprofit values. A big part of their success came from turning over the brand to the evangelists, a risk in the eyes of many organizers, but a logic that makes a lot of sense given the success:

“We spend a lot of time trying to make everyone’s life when they’re participating in Movember as simple as possible,” says Garone, who designed for easy integration with social media, lots of downloadable content, and, perhaps, most important, scripted letters to help participants ask for donations via email.

You can learn from the experts at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

You’re Not Superman

The mission of many nonprofits includes supporting an existing community or building a community around a cause. But if it was easy, everyone would do it. Whether you’re new to the nonprofit world or a tested veteran, the session Build. Community Is Easy, Saving the World Is Hard will offer insights on supporting community engagement.

Presenters come from a range of backgrounds and include Colin Wallis (LIVESTRONG), Dave Dobbins (Legacy), Kesah Schmitt (Beaconfire Consulting), Mark Himmelsbach (BBDO), and Scott Orn (Ben’s Friends). Since no one organization can play Superman, this group will help you gain a better understanding of how to bring together people both online and offline.

They’ve promised to present both the good and the bad as organizations try to highlight social issues that need attention.  The session begins at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Raise Your Voice

Finding your social media voice as nonprofit can be a challenge. You want to reach out to potential supporters, but sometimes you’re not sure where to start. Regardless of your cause, presenters Jessica Kirkwood (Points of Light) and Karen Bantuveris ( will help you find your voice in the session Sparking Real World Action with Social Media.

Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, this interactive session will adopt a team approach with the task of sparking real-world change at SXSW. If you’re looking for a hands-on opportunity to test strategies and find new ways to raise your voice, add this session to your schedule. Both of these ladies are energetic and fantastic resources for nonprofits.

Tomorrow I’ll review panels for SXSW Interactive on Saturday, March 10. And remember, any panels you can’t get to will be available to view online afterwards.

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