SXSW Preview Day 3: Telling Stories and Making a Difference
At ReveNews.com, 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 ReveNews.org. Each day this week, we’ll highlight a different day of panels at SXSW and provide an overview of the content.
Philanthropy Goes Social
Remember that a Sunday in Austin over SXSW Interactive marks the start of Daylight Savings Time. But you’re in luck; the first panel we recommend for nonprofits doesn’t start until 11 a.m. The session 21st Century Giving: Social Philanthropy’s Rise will focus on trends in social philanthropy and social change, specifically the successful ways to use technology to build support and raise money.
The panel includes Cheryl Contee (Fission Strategy), Claire Diaz Ortiz (Twitter), Michaelyn Elder (United Nations Foundation), Ramya Raghavan (Google/YouTube), and Robert Wolfe (Crowdwise). But while this group values what technology can do, they know there’s more to it. In an interview last fall about Occupy Wall Street, Wolfe noted that:
“A lot of times organizations talk about community,” he said. “This may sound silly, but it makes people even more anonymous. It’s really about individuals who affect change and build movements.”
It will be a great way to start your day. Just remember to set your clock ahead.
Supporters want to hear your stories, and becoming a master story teller can do much to raise your profile as a nonprofit. However, some nonprofits haven’t yet made the transition to translating these stories to a digital environment. If your organization is looking for a strategy to “think digital,” add the session No Brochures: Digital Storytelling for Nonprofits to your schedule.
One recent example of digital storytelling comes from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Called “Inspired,” the program looks to highlight the stories of state-based effort of North Carolina nonprofits and community.
One of the most exciting elements of Inspired is the opportunity for visitors to the site to support the work of those BCBSNC Foundation grantees featured in the stories. Each time an online user shares a story through Facebook, Twitter or email, the BCBSNC Foundation will contribute $1 to a fund that will be divided among the nonprofits highlighted on the site. The goal of the campaign is to have stories shared 100,000 times, resulting in $100,000 for these organizations.
Starting at 12:30 p.m. Joe Lambert (Center for Digital Storytelling), Michael Borum (Oxfam America), and Roger Black (Treesaver Company)will share their insights about moving from brochures to layered data presented in an easy-to-digest format. It’s critical for nonprofits to make room for digital in their storytelling strategies as the next generation of philanthropists will expect more than a brochure.
A Slacktivist Challenge
One of the biggest criticisms of online activism is the rise of the slacktivist, the supporter who make get involved online, but doesn’t take action offline. It’s a topic we’ve discussed at ReveNews.
Slacktivist—the derogatory term immediately casts a shadow of low expectations, which like any form of discrimination ends up becoming the dominant form of thinking until the truth rises to the surface. The common thinking is that “social champions” (a term Katya Andresen, chief strategy officer of Network for Good, is using to rebrand slacktivists) will devote only as much effort to a cause as it takes to click a mouse.
In his solo session, Turning Slacktivism into Online Activism, Boyd Neil (Hill & Knowlton Canada) will demonstrate that the problem isn’t the social web, but poor organization. If you’re looking to turn online interest into action, Boyd Neil will present a strategy to help at 12:30 p.m.
Technology to the Rescue
Nonprofits delivering humanitarian aid can often partner with corporate partners to implement technology that helps their causes. But how does that work? At 3:30 p.m. the session Adapting New Technologies for Humanitarian Aid will highlight how international aid organizations have worked with tech companies to identify ways to adapt technology for the field.
Ivan Gayton (Doctors Without Borders), Kate De Rivero (WAHA International), and Pablo Mayrgundter (Google) will discuss two situations where their organizations and other partners worked to make the best of difficult situations. One partnership included Doctors Without Borders, who were trying to combat the 2010 Haiti cholera epidemic, and Google to create spatial mapping of the outbreak.
In the second featured partnership, Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) worked with Expresso, a mobile phone carrier, and Microsoft’s HealthVault. The group implemented SMS support for electronic record systems in Senegal. In both instances, each organization needed to bridge cultural differences.
The panel will discuss how they were successful and the lessons that can benefit other organizations considering similar partnerships.
Do More Than Sell
Making a profit is only one way to measure the success of a company. There’s growing support for expecting more from the companies that we support with our dollars. The session Don’t Just Sell Things: Change the World will focus on the changing demands to do more as a key part of ongoing innovation.
Panelists come from a range of backgrounds and include Cindy Gallop (If We Ran The World), Leo Premutico (Johannes Leonardo), Margaret Keene (Saatchi & Saatchi LA), Matthew Bishop (The Economist), and Neil Powell (The Information Blanket). You may be surprised at how simple the innovation can be and still make a difference. Powell’s inspiration came from a desire to solve an information problem:
In creating The Information Blanket, then, I tried to answer two questions: what basic information isn’t being made accessible to mothers in countries like Uganda, where the infant mortality rate is shockingly high, and what product can I create that will have a practical use for those mothers? A baby blanket seemed like the obvious choice. Not only does it provide a basic necessity for the infant, but it’s a large surface on which we can communicate basic information about newborn health.
The session begins at 5 p.m. and marks a satisfying way to end day three at SXSW. In case you missed it here is SXSW Preview Day 2: Getting Social Online and Offline. Tomorrow I’ll preview sessions for Monday, March 12.