Bradley may be new to Weber Shandwick, but at least in terms of online strategy, he’s been around the block. A refugee of the Democratic National Committee and the Presidential Transition Team, Bradley has worked on sites as varied as WhiteHouse.gov and BarackObama.com. During the 2008 Presidential Election, he wrote for Obama for America’s national blog and controlled the campaign’s social networking presence for much of the Northeast, while still managing to keep a full schedule as a student at Brown University. Bradley loves to get involved with all aspects of online strategy to create truly integrated campaigns, bringing together social networking, e-mail, and user experience, as well as coordinating with offline efforts, to make sure that clients get the biggest bang possible. An avid photographer, Bradley can be found snapping pictures of the young and outgoing at parties, pools, and picnics around Washington, D.C.
Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyAtWork
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The outpouring of support for Japan in the wake of the recent disaster there has been incredible, whether through social media, SMS donations, or simply general statements of support. But is it possible that technology has made it too easy to donate funds in the wake of a disaster?
The effective-giving experts at the GiveWell Blog posted over a week ago that aid being offered to Japan has far exceeded the aid requested, and likely exceeds Japan's final need. With millions being pledged to the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, we must question whether today's tools has made it too easy for well-meaning citizens to donate in the face of a disaster.
I know that in recent days my own Facebook newsfeed has been full of friends donating through LivingSocial's donation match, which raised $2.3 million. Almost immediately after the disaster, the Red Cross announced it had raised $8 million, surely assisted by their excellent SMS (text) message program, which allows people to easily donate $10 simply by texting their short code. Global Giving's Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund page has over 33,000 likes, indicating a tremendous viral spread. And I personally made a donation to Direct Relief International, and appealed to friends on Facebook and Twitter to do the same. Now I think that that may have been too easy.
The unintended consequences of an excess of funding can be both surprising and frustrating. Annie Lowrey wrote for Slate that after the 2004 Asian tsunami, Indonesian groups found themselves with an excess of funding for orphanages. When parents decided they could no longer reliably feed and clothe their children, they abandoned them. If the organizations had been able to spend the money freely, perhaps more would have been allocated to food and clothing than to orphanages.
Luckily, there is a solution. Organizations such as the Red Cross can easily raise money after a disaster, but are chronically underfunded in normal times, despite continuing critical work. If you donate during a disaster, don't earmark your funds. Relief organizations can then distribute the money across issues as needed - including to disaster relief, if warranted. And these organizations can do their part to increase donation efficiency by more prominently requesting that donors not earmark their funds.
The tragedy in Japan is ongoing, but there is no reason to compound it by misallocating aid dollars that are needed around the world. I know that when the next disaster strikes, I'll make sure to think twice about where my money can best be used before opening my wallet.
Last week I had the privilege of attending the annual conference for the Military Child Education Coalition (a Weber Shandwick client) and was surprised at the enthusiasm of some attendees over Foursquare, the location-based social networking service.
If you don’t know much about Foursquare, here’s a good rundown on the service.
While I was talking about Foursquare at the conference, many attendees pulled out their smartphones to download the free mobile app and sign up on the spot.
Although not every nonprofit needs to use Foursquare, it could be a useful engagement tool for those that have physical locations for people to visit – such as a museum – or for special events.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- The History Channel created a profile that you can follow to receive history-related tips when you check in at various venues. Depending on your nonprofit’s mission, this can be a good method of educating people about your cause when they’re on-site and more likely to form an emotional connection.
- If you have a public venue, make sure to claim it. You’ll get access to a wealth of data about your visitors.
- Once you’ve claimed your venue, you can offer a special that rewards freuent visitors. Perhaps a museum could offer a free scoop of ice cream to visitors every fifth check-in, or free entry to special exhibitions for the “mayor,” which is the person who has visited the most times using Foursquare.
As geolocation apps become more widespread, Foursquare seems poised to take advantage of the next big trend in digital living.
Particularly if your nonprofit has a physical location open to the public, it makes sense to investigate how Foursquare can take your visitor interaction to the next level.
Our time at South by Southwest may be over, but the Social Impact team is still sorting through all of the incredible innovations that we saw in Austin. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working to develop some of the ideas we came across into new strategies that can help our clients. Until then, here are some of the more exciting new things that we encountered in Texas:
Stickybits – This iPhone and Android based app lets you scan any barcode and attach photos, video, comments, or hyperlinks.
Barcodes for your favorite products are standard: the code on every box of Wheaties is the same. So if you attach something to one box of Wheaties, you attach it to all of them. And there’s a lot of potential for creative marketing in that technology. PS - scan the barcode in this post.
Venmo – It’s your best friend’s birthday, and you’ve got twelve people who want to split dinner onto twelve credit cards. The waiter gives you the look of death; he’s not going to split the check twelve ways. This is where Venmo comes in. You put the dinner on your card, and each friend uses Venmo to send you their share via text message. It’s charged to their card, and when you get home, you deposit it into your bank account. I can’t wait till all my friends use this.
Razoo – This has got me really excited for our nonprofit partners. Network for Good is a trusted way to process donations, but they take a small transaction fee – and no matter what online payment system you use, there’s some fee involved. If you give through Razoo, Network for Good still charges their fee. But Razoo issues an equal grant, replacing the transaction fee and allowing the nonprofit to receive the full amount of your gift.
With all the talent and brainpower at SxSW, there are scores of great ideas out there that we haven’t touched on – which were your favorites?
What We're reading
- A. Fine Blog
- Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media
- Bits Blog (New York Times)
- BSR - The Business of a Better World
- Charity Navigator Blog
- David Coethica's Blog
- Dot Earth
- Foreign Policy Blogs
- Give & Take (Chronicle of Philanthropy - General)
- Global Health Policy
- Global Health Report
- Global Voices
- Huffington Post (Media)
- Inside Philanthropy (Philanthropy Journal)
- Passport (Foreign Policy)
- PhilanTopic (Philanthropy News Digest)
- Prospecting (Chronicle of Philanthropy) - Fundraising
- Realizing Your Worth
- Selfish Gving
- Tactical Philanthropy
- TechCrunch (Washington Post)
- The White House Blog
- @afine (A. Fine Blog)
- @cpreston (Chronicle of Philanthropy, Give & Take Blog)
- @eclawson (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
- @ianwilhelm (Chronicle of Philanthropy, Give & Take Blog)
- @phijo (Philanthropy Journal)
- @philanthropy (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
- @pndblog (Philanthropy News Digest)
- @tactphil (Tactical Philanthropy Blog)
Daily E-mail Digests
- Breaking News (Council on Foundations) – To subscribe, send an e-mail to email@example.com
- Philanthropy Today (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
- Nonprofit Times
- Philanthropy Journal
- Philanthropy News Digest
- Real Clear World
- Standford Social Innovation Review