SXSW Do-gooding, Inspirations and Nonprofit Takeaways

Melanie Mathos - 03.19.2010

As companies are increasing their focus on doing good, it only makes sense that everywhere you looked at SXSW Interactive this year, people were talking about do-gooding. Twitter’s Evan Williams was expected to talk about a new ad platform during his keynote interview, but instead talked about his company’s values, with #1 being “Be a force for good.”

Social media rock star Gary Vaynerchuk crushed it for a cause when he championed Mark Horvath & Invisible People as part of the SXSW Pepsi Fresh Challenge resulting in a $50,000 donation to the organization.

Although it wasn’t as heavily promoted, many of us contributed to another campaign without even knowing it with our incessant and addictive “checking in” to sessions, lines, restaurants, you name it! Through the “Check in for Charity” campaign, PayPal and Microsoft donated $15,000 total, or 25 cents/piece for Austin Foursquare check-ins and #sxswHaiti tweets.

Outside of all of the sponsored philanthropic efforts, there were some really meaningful — and dare I say — “interactive” discussions going on throughout the event. One that I thought was particularly innovative was the Causelab – a 30-day campaign to create new ideas for ending hunger in America using technology and media. There’s still time to lend your idea at (Open until April 15.)

In addition, there were some great nonprofit-focused panels including Crowdsourcing for Innovative Social Change, and Debunking the Myth of Social Media Fundraising, among others.

Although there seemed to be a lot of do-gooding and networking going on, Chris Brogan made a good point – we could do so much more.

So, that brings me to my takeaway from SXSW Interactive: never before have we been so well positioned to use technology for social good. As social media and interactive technology continue to expand beyond the digerati and become more mainstream, there is an immense opportunity to harness its power to unite uncommon people with a common goal to create change.

I asked some fellow attendees to share their thoughts on SXSWi too:

Amy Sample Ward, Netsquared, @amyrsward
My ah-ha moment came not in one sudden flash but culminating after many discussions. It seems people are really embracing the message many of us have been advocating for a long time: it isn't about the tools but about how you use them. There seemed to be many more conversations this year that focused on the why and how instead of just the tools that were cool and popular (read: shiny). It was really inspiring and I'm excited for how much more innovation and impact organizations can make when they approach social media from a strategic direction.

Noland Hoshino, [B]cause Media, @nolandhoshino; @HeiferPortland
Crowdsourcing is the key to a nonprofit’s survival. Donors and volunteers want end-to-end feedback from the nonprofit organizations they support – transparency, trust, impact. Donors and volunteers want to know, “How am I making a difference?” “Where is the money going?” “What’s the impact of my service?” Nonprofits bear the responsibility of providing that feedback or else they will struggle to survive in a translucent world.

Holly Ross, NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network, @ntenhross
Every session I attended had some sort of "open" aspect to it. Open data, transparency, collaboration. It was all about sharing freely. Now we just have to start living that value more!

Chad Norman, Blackbaud, @chadnorman
Inspiration is everywhere! Whether it’s sitting in the most amazing session you’ve ever been too, talking to Pete Cashmore and @Ev within an hour, getting a peak from a random dude about his Canon 5D Mark II, or walking around the exhibit hall with your mouth on the floor, there is no better place to get inspired than SXSW. I mean, I probably wrote 25 blog posts in my head, came up with 5 book ideas, and thought of 10 things I needed to do as soon as I got back to work – all on the first day. It’s almost too much! My advice: Go to SXSW, get inspired, get active, repeat.

Beth Kanter, Beth’s Blog and Zoetica, @kanter
Crowdsourcing for innovative social change is in the early stages - we're experimenting, we're getting clearer with frameworks.

Allison Van Diest, Blackbaud, @allisonvandiest
When Scott Rosenberg gave me the freedom to use blog posts as a way to decide what I think (versus having to have every thought pre-baked before I write) – wow, what a rush!!! The moment I was able to truly understand why crowdsourcing is so much more than opinion gathering, survey taking, and voting. Eureka!

Donna Wilkins, Charity Dynamics, @charitydynamics
So often we’re at conferences that are purely focused on non-profit organizations. It was great to be at a conference with a broader audience and see so many people interest in non-profit and social entrepreneurship issues.

Did you attend SXSW? Add your comments (and Twitter handles) below.

What is the one “a-ha” moment or profound thought/trend that stood out from SXSWi that you would like to share with the nonprofit community?

Nonprofit Giving on the Rise [Online and Offline!]

Your Organization in Eight Words or Less – Go!

License and Registration, Please

Reach Out or Round Up: Which Social Networking Strategy Should Your Organization Pursue?

Social Media Strategy: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Is Facebook Right for your Nonprofit's Community?

5 Tips for Writing Effective Web Content

Content Inventory: Never Fun, Always Needed

Go Beyond the Typical To Reach Your Base

Continuing the Conversation with Custom Confirmations

A Guide to Facebook Social Plugins for Nonprofits

Get More Twitter Followers Today [Ethically]

Twitter Hits 15 Billion


Increasing Website Traffic with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

7 Tips for Successful Online Fundraising

Video Interview with Andre Blackman of Pulse + Signal

10 Volunteering Sites to Help You Do Some Good

OPEN CALL: Do Nonprofits Make Films? We Say Yes!

Stacey Monk talks Epic Change, Tweetsgiving and more …

When In Doubt, Hit Something!

American Idol’s Help Me Give Back Program Rocks Team Fundraising

Chris Brogan Talks Nonprofits and Trust Agents

Chris Noble on Check in for Charity, Pepsi Refresh and Social Media for Nonprofits

10 Steps to Building a Successful Social Media Strategy

Measuring Matters

Video Rules!

Do You Know Your Supporters?

Heading to NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference? Don’t miss these sessions!

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 3 – Adding Photos

Video Interview: NetSquared with Amy Sample Ward

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 2 – Configuring the Homepage

Video Interview: Facebook for Nonprofits by Randi Zuckerberg

SXSW Do-gooding, Inspirations and Nonprofit Takeaways

Spotlight on We Can End This with Scott Henderson

Turn Your Success into New Opportunities!

What to Watch For at SXSW 2010 - The Nonprofit Edition

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 1 – The Background Info

Blackbaud Announces March Web Seminars for Nonprofits

Learning is Everything!

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 0 – The prelude

Online Giving and Rapid Response Trends

Why Would I Use Social Media?

Independent Fundraising Event Trends

Connecting Advocacy to Fundraising: Free Nonprofit Webinar

It’s Kind to Give In Kind

Nothing But Net - Aid for Haiti Gets Webby

Make it Visible

Unlocking the Power of Online Forms in Sphere- Part I

Support Disaster Relief in Haiti

Getting Started with Twitter

Give your 2010 Strategy a Jumpstart with these Free Nonprofit Webinars – Starting Tomorrow!

The Power of One

Email Communication in 2010

The Science Behind the Art - Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS - Part II

Foursquare: 8 Ideas for Nonprofits

Using Social Media to Improve Your Nonprofit's Efforts

How to Choose a Website Vendor- The Solution

2009 in Review

How to Choose a Website Vendor- The Partnership

Use Your Year End Giving as a Starting Point

The Science Behind the Art - Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS - Part 1

The Science Behind the Art - Nonprofit Website Case Studies

Your Network Matters: Fatcyclist Raises Over 135K in 8 Days

Black December?

Obama, Then and Now: Lessons Learned in Online Advocacy and Fundraising (Part I)

Are Nonprofits Ready to Play Foursquare?

A Facebook Success Story: Charleston Animal Society

NetWits Know-How Event Fundraising Webinar Series

#Tweetsgiving Rocks

Watch for Roadblocks: The Road to More Successful Online Fundraising

13 Twitter Search Examples for Nonprofits

50 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits

10 Ways to Make Your Website Fundraising Friendly

10 Tips for Online Challenge Event Fundraising

Social Media Strategy: A Small Nonprofit's Experience

7 Webby Sessions Not to Miss at BBCon

2009 State of the Not-For-Profit Industry UK Survey Results

How to Leverage Your Newsletter Subscriber List to Solicit Online Donations

Cause Marketing and Social Media go Hand in Hand

How Independent Schools Can Embrace Online and Offline Worlds

Creating a Social Networking Strategy (Part 1)

Jumpstart Year-End Giving with eCards

NTEN Webinar - The State of Online Fundraising

Branding Your Nonprofit: Part 2 of 2

What is Google Search Doing for You?

Generation Thumb

Social Media Strategy: National Association of Dental Plans

4 Internet Competencies You Need for a Career in Nonprofit

Turning "Brochureware" into a Fun and Interactive Website

Help Inspire Your Fundraisers!

16 Starter Tips for Nonprofit Blogging

Dive into the Flickr Pool!

Supporting Independent Event Fundraisers Using Online Tools - LIVESTRONG Day 2009

Want More Constituents on Your Website? Don’t Annoy Them! Part 2

How “Intelligent” is Your Nonprofit?

Using the Social Web to Make Local Impact

Mixing Traditional Media with Social Media

New England Province of Jesuits Wins Award for Faith-Based Standard of Excellence

Index of National Fundraising Performance- Q2 2009

11 Quick Tips to Enhance Your Facebook Fan Page

The Answer to Nearly Every Online Fundraising Question Is...

How Blogging and Tweets Generate Support for a Family

Measuring Success Online- Is This Internet Thing Worth the Effort?

Nonprofits and Social Media: Seth Godin, Beth Kanter and The Chronicle of Philanthropy All Chime In

Inside a Website Redesign: Plan Canada

Want More Constituents on Your Website? Don’t Annoy Them!

Twitter 101 for Nonprofits

Branding Your Nonprofit: Part 1 of 2

Are you Ready for the Next Facebook?

What is Google Doing for You?

6 Characteristics of a Nonprofit Trust Agent


What Not to Do on a Fundraising Call

Tips to Strengthen Your Email Campaigns

Listening Dashboard via Email?

On-site and Online Fundraising Best Practices

The Power of a Thank You

Abundant Options & Opting In

Why Twitter Matters

5 Questions Nonprofits Should Ask Before Sending an Email

Help Your Nonprofit Listen Like Starbucks and Dell

5 Mistakes Nonprofit Websites Make

Peer to Peer Fundraising- Painting a Better Picture with Video

Networking at a Grassroots Level

Thank You for Your Permission

Sign Up for NetWits Summer Camp!

A Challenging Economy = More Donations

Have a Contest to Increase Web Traffic

I’m Listening, Now What? 5 Tips to Make Your Listening Worth It

Are Twitter and Facebook Important for Event Fundraising?

Start a Movement!

Set up Your Social Media Listening Dashboard in 30 Minutes or Less

An eCard Experience

Sink or Swim? Nonprofits in 2010

Social Media Strategy: ChildFund International

How to Boost Event Fundraising with Facebook

The Web 2.0 Rummage Sale!

Summer Festivals: Where Music & Philanthropy Collide

Can Social Media Help Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Efforts?

Design for Good: 4 (More) Nonprofit Design Principles - Part 2 of 2

A Recipe for Search Engine Visibility: Part II

Payment Processing- You Raised the Dollars, Keep Your Cents

Nonprofit Blogging: Goals, Strategy and Tactics to Crush it

Recurring Gifts: Are You Missing Out on Easy Money?

Members Only!

We Need Facebook (?)

The Healthcare Industry is Stuck – 5 Strategies to Overcome and Resources to Assist

4 Tips to Keep Your Recurring Gifts Recurring

Social Media Strategy: LIVESTRONG and the Summer of Social Good

Social Media Strategy: United Methodist Church and 10THOUSANDDOORS

Design for Good: 4 Nonprofit Design Principles - Part 1 of 2

Social Media Strategy: 12for12k Challenge with Danny Brown

Tangible Love

A Recipe for Search Engine Visibility

Social Media Strategy: Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

5 Email Sins to Avoid

Are Your Alumni Bored with You?

How One Multi-Chapter Organization is Succeeding with Virtual Accounts

6 Ways to Build Your Email Subscriber List through Social Media

Power to Your Peeps! Why Real-time Fundraising with Twitter Works

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due...

4 Facebook Tips for Nonprofit Success – See What Others are Doing

Reach Your Audience Where Your Audience Already Is!

Is Twitter Important for Thon Participants?

Mastering "The Google"

What's Really Going on with Events this Season?

Podcasting, Podcasting, Podcasting

Social Media Strategy: Athletes for a Cure

Does Your Website Further Your Mission?

Is Mobile Fundraising the Next Big Thing?

Help a Nonprofit This Mother's Day

4 Keys to Building a Successful Nonprofit Web Site

To Tweet or Not to Tweet is No Longer the Question

Expanded Functions in Sphere Connect API

Are Your Recipients Tired? Look No Further Than List Fatigue: Part II

15 Clay Shirky Quotes That Blew My Mind at NTC

Facebook Launches New API

Facebook to Open a World of Possibilities

Stewardship Isn’t Just a Thank You Letter

Connect Usage Goes BOOM!

4 Ways to Jump Into ‘Fundraising 2.0’

A Good Fundraising Appeal- By My Standards

Design for Good: The Hidden Potential of Footers

Website Omnipotence

When Social Networking Worlds Collide– The Facebook-Extended Personal Fundraising Page

2009 Target User Forum- Day 2

YouTube Video, $10,000 Dollars and Your Nonprofit

The Social Media Nonprofit Event Planner

Facebook & “Old People*”

Are Your Recipients Tired? Look No Further Than List Fatigue.

Don’t Fall Behind, Fundraising is Moving On!

SXSW Recap

Things I liked from SXSW Interactive

Five Things I Saw at SXSW

2008 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis

Why should you get your event participants to send more emails?

To Moderate or Not to Moderate? That is the Question.

Skittles and Your Nonprofit

Takeaways from the Run Walk Ride Conference

Taking Five Website Staples to the Next Level

Assigned Affinity

Don’t Dump – Learn to Listen

Twitter: Time Waster or Valuable Tool?

Using Twitter for the First Time

Bigfoot Sighting

RSS: Best thing since sliced bread

One Life is Enough!

Get free updates of the the blog articles sent to your inbox by entering your email address:

Make sure to check out our Social Media for Nonprofits resources section or browse by topic ...

Popular Posts

Recent Posts

Nonprofit Tech Featured Blog