SXSW Preview Day 2: Getting Social Online and Offline

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 at Each day this week, we’ll highlight a different day of panels at SXSW and provide an overview of the content.

Starting Small, Thinking Big

We talk a lot about nonprofits using social media for cause marketing and fundraising. But sometimes hearing the stories firsthand and being able to ask direct questions can make a big difference. On Saturday at 11 a.m. Aimee Roundtree (University of Houston-Downtown) will present Big Social Media Results at Small Organizations.

Few organizations have the resources of the Red Cross or UNICEF, so don’t force yourself to implement a matching strategy. Roundtree will walk through success stories of different organizations and highlight how they adapted social media strategies to fit their individual needs and achieve success.

Given that many nonprofits are focused on something health related, it will be interesting to hear Roundtree’s perspective with her background in medical writing and work with the Texas Medical Center. If your organization is still testing the waters with social media, add this session to your list. It’s likely to offer practical tips that make sense for small organizations.

Crowdsourcing for Support

While I may have my doubts about crowdsourcing as a business, there is much to recommend it for surviving illness. In the session Crowdsourcing Cancer Support: A Love Story, husband and wife presenters, David Creekmore (Internews) and Trisha Creekmore (Tinkerhell Media), will share their experience of how they turned cancer support on its head.

And it’s hard not to admire the woman that inspired these words:

Cancer sucks.  Cancer the second time sucks a lot worse.  What’s a girl to do?

She throws parties, glams like a movie star, treats the kids to endless fun, and suffers through the horror with life-affirming verve and snarky indignance at the nasty disease.

She makes it – cancerpalooza.

Much of what nonprofits try to do is balance out the bad things that happen in life and make changes for good. To that end, I see the efforts of the Creekmores as excellent examples of how nonprofits can triumph over less than ideal circumstances by creating an environment that supports a community. For anyone who wants to play a role in stamping out cancer and supporting the people it strikes, find time for this session on Saturday at 5 p.m.

See People

I first learned about Mark Horvath ( and his goal to help the world see the homeless while attending Gnomedex five years ago. Since then, Horvath’s has gone global. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, Horvath will be joined by Matt Warren (Radar) for the session Let’s Talk Video for Social Change.

One of the reasons Horvath has had an impact comes from his ability to capture stories that resonate. On top of that he does it on small budgets and tight deadlines. In this discussion Horvath and Warren will take you through what it can mean to your organization to add videos to your tool chest.

Warren’s extensive experience producing and directing, combined with Horvath’s in-person storytelling, will make this open forum a place to share experiences both good and bad. Clearly nonprofits need video, and this session will help you better understand how to make it work for your organization.

Getting the RSVP

Until now, we’ve focused on how nonprofits can do more online, but in this last event we’ll highlight for Saturday, we’ll turn to what you can do offline. In the session How to Break Through the Noise with Great Events, Jason Preston (The Parnassus Group) and Sara Winge (O’Reilly Media) will walk through what it takes to create a successful event.

But there’s a catch: few events happen without competition. So you and your organization have got to figure out how to stand out and pull people in to your event. And not only that, you want your attendees to become evangelists. Both Jason and Sara will speak from direct experience. Preston worked on the team that brought you Tweet House and Blog Business Summit while Winge was a co-founder of the unconference format.

If you’ve given something to hosting an event, or not had much success in the past, both these presenters will offer practical tips for how to make your events stand out.

Tomorrow I’ll review panels for SXSW Interactive on Sunday, March 11. If you missed the Day 1 Preview, you can read Finding Your Voice & Creating Evangelists. Also, since we’ve recommended three panels at the same time, remember that any panels you can’t get to will be available to view online afterwards.

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