Showing posts with label Philanthropy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philanthropy. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 25

Taking Media Out Of Social Media: CitizenGulf

Citizen GulfIn Boston, it will take place at The Precinct Bar. In Houston, you can hook up at the Continental Club. In Santa Monica, it's the Sulkin Secant Gallery.

These locations and seventeen more across the United States have become the local connections for a national event to do one thing right. Hundreds of people are working together, online and offline, to raise funds for fishing families impacted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

While each event location varies in planned entertainment and environmental awareness, they all show solidarity in hosting gatherings loosely themed around a New Orleans-style event with live jazz, blues, or Zydeco music and speakers knowledgeable about the environmental impact. Most local events were coordinated by the Social Media Club chapters from coast to coast.

CitizenGulf National Day of Action

In addition to these 20 events, smaller unofficial fundraisers are taking place across the nation. And for people who are unable to attend, there are plenty of ways to help support area fishermen, including Bloggers Unite, where bloggers and other social media site owners can list their online contributions in building awareness.

You can help too. Check the event listings to find an event location near you and post a link on your Facebook page or send up a shout out on Twitter to let your friends know how they can make a difference. If they cannot attend, CitizenEffect is coordinating online donations for this nationwide effort.

There are more ways you can help. Take a look at the various Pepsi Refresh Gulf initiatives proposed by dozens of individuals and organizations. Vote for you favorites, including the Gulf Coast Benefit, which is directly tied to CitizenGulf National Day of Action. (Pepsi has pledged $1.3 million toward ideas that specifically benefit the Gulf Coast.) There are seven days left to vote as of Aug. 25.

CitizenGulf And Social Media.

CitizenGulf National Day of Action represents one of the best uses of social media, coordinating events online to host simultaneous activities across the country in an effect to raise funds for a tangible project that benefits people in need. You can learn more about the plight of fishermen's families at Liquid [Hip], an online review site that helped build early awareness after Geoff Livingston's inspired call for support.

Proceeds from online donations and event donations will be awarded to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. This benefactor was chosen because it is deeply entrenched in supporting afflicted communities and well-suited to developing educational programs that benefit fishing families.

CitizenEffect chose the benefactor after traveling to the area and surveying residents. It made sense to choose the nonprofit best equipped to provide support and one that area residents readily supported as opposed to creating a duplicate program.

Likewise, CitizenEffect, along with its partners, has done something few event organizations do. Rather than "own" the event and attempt to drive people to a singular location or one-time contribution, CitizenGulf National Day of Action allows people to help in whatever way they wish. No action is too small or contribution overlooked, easily making it a best practice in effecting social change. They should be commended.

How about you? Do you have an extra 30 seconds today to help build awareness for this worthwhile cause? If you do, please send up a tweet, post, or shout out to your friends and family. I am almost certain others would do it for you if the roles were reversed. Good night and good luck. And thank you.

Wednesday, May 19

Telling Stories: Why The WaterAid Video Works

"To understand a man, you've got to walk a mile in his shoes, whether they fit or not." — Proverb

Remember the proverb or any of its variations? The creative talents behind the WaterAid "White Collar Water Crisis" on YouTube did. Since the spot was first uploaded this morning, it gained 1,000 views in an hour. There is a better-than-average chance at viral success.

More importantly than exposure, the spot does something else. It pulls us along to learn more about the message and the international nonprofit behind it.

WaterAid's "White Collar Water Crisis" Relates To Its Audience.

The video works. It doesn't share the scores of tragic images WaterAid has collected over the years. It doesn't beat people over the head with an insurmountable challenge that leaves them feeling powerless. It doesn't rely on shock value like sex and vegetables to generate publicity. Instead, the spot simply helps us imagine a world where we don't have access to a single basic comfort that most of us take for granted.

While there are dozens of ways to communicate the WaterAid message, this spot is one of the best of them because it applies the art of metaphoric storytelling. Sure, it might make a few people uncomfortable, but it does so tastefully without laying blame or aiming to make anyone feel guilty like so many other causes attempt to do.

Right on. Sometimes guilt messages might be warranted for the short term. But if you hope to build a sustainable message, one that people will most likely share, it's critical to invite them to become part of the cause not drive them away in shame.

In the short span of 60 seconds, the WaterAid video become a great teaching tool. It demonstrates the difference between making a story fit a medium and writing a story for a medium. And when a story is made to fit a medium — whether it is a blog post, PowerPoint presentation, video, etc. — it tends to stick.

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Thursday, May 6

Saving Wildlife: Dawn Responds To Oil Spill Crisis

Although Procter & Gamble (P&G) has a Web site dedicated to the cause, it doesn't employ much push public relations to draw attention to its role in saving wildlife. Other people do it for them.

Brenda Swindle, a stylist at Hair Impressions salon in Alabama, is one of them. Bobbie Lowe, a patron at Harvey's Supermarkets in Georgia, is another. It was top of mind for rescuers from Delaware too.

Dawn Dish Soap Saves Wildlife.

The sudden surge of attention didn't start with a press release. It started with casual mentions by people who know. For 30 years, wildlife rescuers have used Dawn dishwashing liquid to gently remove oil and help save wildlife affected by oil spills.

It wasn't until the media began to draw upon Dawn dish soap as an example of how people can help that P&G responded. Since, it has communicated its increasing role as part of the solution in an oil spill that could eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster. Since, the company has released news that it is stepping up production, clarified its efforts to raise money for conservation projects targeted at cleaning wildlife hurt by oil spills since last July, and how the company donates Dawn dish soap to the Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), Marine Mammal Center, and other rehabilitation organizations.

In addition to its own fundraising efforts, P&G is asking fans of its program to make direct donations to the IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research center. They also direct would-be volunteers to contact the Unified Command Volunteer Request line at 1-866-448-5816 via its dedicated Dawn Save Wildlife Facebook page.

The description introducing the page says it all. "An Everyday Wildlife Champion views saving wildlife as an everyday thing."

You can find additional information about the company's efforts on its Dawn Save Wildlife Web site. Currently, the company has raised $385,091 of its $500,000 goal. The site also supports an interactive map, which identifies which states have contributed the most.

The $500,000 goal is in addition to all other fundraising efforts and direct support. The company has said it is just as happy (if not more than happy) for people to make direct donations.

What Public Relations Professionals Can Learn.

It is a good lesson for public relations practitioners. Sometimes the best public relations efforts are not what you can draw attention to or capitalize on, but rather a long-term investment of doing good and then being caught doing it.

In this case, Procter & Gamble demonstrates a perfect balance between being responsive to the attention without attention seeking as many companies did during the Haitian earthquake. The results speak for themselves. The effort is closely aligned to a product benefit and the company demonstrates what it means to be a good corporate citizen for others to emulate.

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Saturday, April 10

Spreading Hope: Ten Cards4Cancer Stories

For the last several months, Spirit Jump and Bloggers Unite, and thousands of bloggers have been making handmade cards. The medium doesn't matter. Some use glue. Some use photographs. Some put pen or paint to paper. Some made purchases.

The cards are special. Their purpose is to bring hope and comfort to the many men, women and children battling cancer. The idea was to deliver as many as 100,000 uplifting cards to people in hospitals, hospices, and treatment centers.

For one of my friend's fathers, the cards will arrive one day too late. She e-mailed me this morning. Her dad passed away last night. She did not make it home in time. I'd share more if it were my story to tell, but it isn't. So here are ten others for hope.

Ten Stories From Those Who Spread Hope And Awareness.

1. Cards for Cancer... Wrapping Up... by Darcie from Minnesota. She has been working hard to create and collect cards for as long we can remember. On March 31, she had already surpassed her goal to create and collect more than 300. Make sure you follow the back links for more examples.

2. Card-Making Parties Are Great Not all of the stories can be found on independent blogs. Some of them have been collected by the sponsors on a dedicated Cards4Cancer blog. You can also visit the Cards4Cancer Facebook page, where more than 7,800 people have connected.

3. Easter, Cards 4 Cancer, And A Goodbye by Nancy in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She shares her story that starts on Easter Sunday with potato salad. Make sure to check the sidebars. Nancy and her friends and family delivered 150 cards, some with tuck-ins.

4. Newest Batch of Cards 4 Cancer by Kim in Austin, Texas. She has been collecting cards long enough that an Etsy artist donated almost a dozen. She has several other posts that recognize contributors here, here, and here.

5. Only 10 days left until Cards4Cancer Day by Christine in Ottawa. In addition to her reminder after collecting 100 cards, Christine's entire blog is dedicated to creating more good news stories ... because there are not enough when you have advanced cancer.

6. Cards for Cancer by Tania. After sharing her plans with her S.M.A.C. students, they worked together to raise more than 500 cards for their local cancer center. She sumps up their contributions with recognizing their big hearts.

7. Paper Greeting Cards Designed for Patients And Survivors by Minny, an American romance novelist in the Netherlands. While found on Squidoo, the post still goes a long way in describing cards specifically for cancer fighters and survivors. But what makes this story really stand out are all the other ideas to support cancer patients.

8. New Cards for Cancer Update by Terica in North Carolina. Although Terica will deliver the cards on Monday, her post today goes a long way in sharing a striking collection of cards. Many of them include very creative use of pressed flowers.

9. A Huge Success by Mimi in Northport, Florida. To help, she hosted a card creation party at her studio from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in order to create more than 400 cards. She provided food and beverages all day long.

10. Cards4Cancer by Paula from Massachusetts. You might notice we included one of Paula's cards up top to accompany the post. Make sure you visit her blog to see several more made with a mixed medium approach. They are lovely additions.

A special thanks to all the team members at Spirit Jump and for Jason Teitelman at Bloggers Unite and BlogCatalog for spearheading this effort. It was an event well done.

Maybe one day I'll share a few of my own stories for those left behind. Just not today. Instead, I'll leave you with one parting photo from Geoff Livingston, who recently raised funds for cancer research with a new tattoo.

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Tuesday, March 2

Helping Others: Sustainability Is Critical

There seems to be a near frigid reaction toward new relief efforts in Chile. The quake killed 700 people, left two million people homeless, and caused widespread devastation across the country. Chile needs immediate assistance, but there seems to be a near tragic lack of empathy in the United States.

Fewer Americans are thinking about Haiti too, where yet another crisis looms. According to UPI, only 40 percent of the homeless population there has received tents, tarps or shelter tool kits. It's a significant issue as most temporary shelters are ill-equipped for the rainy season.

Are Action Plans Matching Attention Spans?

At first, I was inclined to join others in wondering when United States action plans started to match attention spans. But in doing the research, it became apparent that there is a different problem. By helping everyone, our country is struggling to help anyone.

When you consider approximately 16 percent of our population is employed by the local, state, and federal government; 8-13 percent employed by the nonprofit sector (depending on the state); 10 percent are unemployed; and 13-17 percent are falling below the poverty line; it becomes pretty clear that we're running low on people who can help. So what can we do?

The Gift Of Sustainability And Succession.

One of the best aspects of BloggersUnite is its ability to bring together diverse bloggers for a common cause and then direct them and their readers toward organizations already doing the work. Doing so helps maximize the impact with minimal means. It also doesn't compete for limited nonprofit resources.

Let's consider Haiti as an example. While I didn't have a hand in the Haitian campaign (Jason Teitelman organized it) beyond lending participatory support, he did a fine job in helping people help Haitians. There are hundreds of posts. Here are a few...

PSA: Superheroes Needed — Apply Here at Entrepod.
Atlanta Haitian Group Galvanizing Support at Execumama Online.
Action Summary at Pawcurious.
Have you moved on yet? Haiti hasn't by Berkman for BloggersUnite.
Lapli ap tonbe... at Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center.

All of those posts have specific calls to action and support existing and sustainable programs. It's also why I liked one story that went deeper than a post. It was created by Gylon Jackson of San Antonio, Texas.

We interviewed him several weeks ago for our business giving blog. And we learned for Jackson, a post wasn't enough.

He developed an online campaign, including a blog and two social networks, to provide action in an effort to collect 100,000 pairs of lightly used shoes — an idea that promises to last much longer than the dollar equivalent of the donation.

A week ago, Shoes for Haiti Now shipped 900 pairs. There is still more work to be done, but Jackson tells me they have 2,000 more pairs of shoes ready to ship in mid-April. Stay tuned. I'll revisit this story again.

The Measure Of Sustainability Exceeds The Investment.

Incidentally, the Haitian earthquake isn't my first experience helping people in Haiti. In 2001-02, I worked with Kenneth Westfield, M.D., in improving upon his longtime support for Friends of the Children of Lascahobas (Haiti) to develop a sustainable art fundraising event.

The program, while no doubt overshadowed by the earthquake, has thrived, expanded, and earned additional support. As a best practice, it demonstrates how short-term investments can lead to long-term sustainability.

It's also how we've been able to provide support to scores of nonprofit organizations since 1991. Our support is often a short-term investment with an emphasis on long-term sustainability. Without sustainability, programs have a propensity to unravel, especially as they become too reliant on a single donor.

Developing Sustainable Actions Takes Patience And Planning.

Nobody wins when contributions require too steep a sacrifice. Volunteers tend to become burned out. Donations dry up. And organizational objectives shift from long-term sustainability into jumping from the last crisis to the next crisis, degrading the ability to help anyone with every new commitment.

If you want to make sustainable investments, individual and organizational giving works best when it's planned.

Set aside a comfortable amount of time and/or money for giving every month, and save a small percentage of those funds for unplanned events such as Haiti or Chile. In choosing organizations, favor those that have long-term sustainability elements for individual empowerment or succession. (Keep in mind, some worthwhile organizations may not have an empowerment element, given the nature of their cause.)

This will allow you to maximize your contributions. And, for some, the lesson need not only apply to donations and volunteer work. The concept works on that micro or macro level. All that is required is your ability to balance selfish and selfless.

After all, working too many hours tends to diminish productivity. Engaging children in too many activities can jeopardize quality time as a family (especially among working parents). Allowing government to fund too many external programs limits its ability to fund local programs.

Reversed, with each level of our infrastructure investing at comfortable levels, then maybe companies, organizations, and government might be in a better position to help without confusing cause marketing and social responsibility. Or maybe nonprofit organizations would work harder to empower and not enable. Or maybe we can find alternative solutions that still allow our generosity to shine through, like sending shoes to Haiti.

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Monday, January 18

Helping Haiti: How To Respond Effectively

As the sheer scale of the destruction in Haiti caused by last week's 7.0 magnitude earthquake continues to reach people all over the world, the response has been overwhelming. So overwhelming that logistical logjams and the lack of an adequate supply chain may leave a majority of in-kind donations waiting for weeks before they can reach people in need.

"During these times of natural disaster, our first response is to donate food, clothing, and blankets to the disaster zone," said U.S. Congressman Kendrick B. Meek. "But this goodwill often causes delays in the supply chain providing recovery to those in danger."

In some cases, supplies are dropped and left on pallets for days before disaster relief organizations can move them to the most impacted areas. When supplies do arrive, some distribution points are disorganized enough that people in critical need are not the first to receive them. This is where communication becomes critical to any relief operation.

Timothy Ogden, writing for the Harvard Business Review, outlined four components that companies need to consider before making a pledge for support. They are important considerations in that Ogden recognizes that donations tend to spike in the immediate aftermath but fall short during reconstruction.

• Don't earmark donations for the short term.
• Research and choose experienced organizations.
• Consider monetary donations over in-kind contributions.
• Look ahead for potential long-term commitments that count.

For individuals, lending support can seem even more daunting. Every day, Haiti tops the conversations on social networks, but the call for support tends to be undirected. Bloggers Unite, which is a not-for-profit social network that helps direct bloggers to raise awareness and funds for causes in need, is attempting to direct some of the communication toward nonprofit organizations that meet the criteria.

The Bloggers Unite for Haiti home page includes three international organizations — Doctors Without Borders, Unicef, and Care — with direct donation information.

In addition to directing people toward those international organizations, all of which have experience in the area, the American Red Cross has developed a response page that helps individuals learn how to invest their donations, ranging from International Response and Haitian Relief and Development funds to broaden efforts such as service to the armed forces or wherever the need is the greatest.

For companies, specifically, choosing a broader approach to disaster relief might not amount to a timely news release, but will help organizations that are temporarily diverting funds to meet the immediate relief efforts. Without long-term or broad support, these organizations often find their ongoing programs challenged after an immediate crisis has abated and the media has moved on to cover the next story.

The takeaway is simple. Individuals and organizations do the most good when they respond to a crisis or disaster as opposed to reacting to it. You can help Haitian people the most by making direct donations to organizations like the American Red Cross or those listed at the Bloggers Unite page and by directing others who want to help to do the same.

Wednesday, November 11

Making Promises: Veterans Day

I met a boy on the ship coming over to Vietnam. He was a good guy from the state of Missouri. He was my friend. We lived in the same tent together, went into the An-Khe together, and spent most of our free time together. I got to know this boy well and he was my best friend. His name was Dan Davis.

On Monday morning, the 15th of November, he died in my arms of two bullet wounds in the chest. He said, "Ken, I can't breathe." There was nothing I could do." — excerpt from a letter from Kenneth Bagby, 1st Battalion, 7th Calvary, 1965

Forty-seven years prior, on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918, armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Rethondes, France. The promise of armistice was peace, after a different generation of veterans prayed that their sons and daughters would never have to see the horrors of war.

In Belgium it is known as a Day of Peace. In France, Jour de l'Armistice. In the United Kingdom, it remains a day of remembrance. In Australia and Canada, people still wear red poppies and pause for a moment of silence at the eleventh hour. In Germany, Volkstrauertag remains a national day of mourning. And in the United States it was renamed Veterans Day to recognize and honor all veterans who served.

And yet, despite such promises made every year on this day, armistice continues to be a promise the world cannot keep. And children become solders. And soldiers are sent away. And when they return, sometimes only their mothers, families, filmakers, and bloggers remember them.

This Veterans Day is different for me. It is different because I recently had the opportunity to meet Phil Valentine, director/producer, and Michael Bedik, director of photography, who created Who Will Stand, a documentary that examines the experience of a dozen physically and/or psychologically wounded American soldiers who have returned from war. After watching this film, it reminds us that not only was the promise of armistice broken, but so too is the promise of doing everything possible for the men and women who have served.

This promise is broken to such a degree that some people even suggested that the documentary not be seen because it was too political, uncomfortable, and reveals some shortfalls in the system meant to care for veterans. I disagree. While it might be easier for the current administration to not hear the needs of veterans, we can be thankful people like Valentine and Bedik have given them a forum to be heard. They need to be heard.

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” — Colin Powell

Are you listening? We're listening. Not only to filmmakers like Valentine, but people like Toby Nunn, Ron Portillo, and Dana F. Harbaugh, author of Pearls of Honor: Their Duty to Remember, who served two overseas deployments aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) and participated in Operations Earnest Will, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and the Defense of the Kurdish Peoples. People who have a great respect for servicemen and women.

• The Soldierʼs Project helps provide free counseling and support to military service members who have served or who expect to serve in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan conflicts and to veterans of those conflicts.
Defending Freedom raises awareness and support for servicemen and women with its Defending Freedom wristbands.
Blue Star Mothers provides support for active duty service personnel, assists veterans organizations, and is available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts.
The Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and enlists the aid of the public in meeting the needs of severely injured servicemen and women by providing direct services that honor and empower wounded warriors.
U.S. Vets provides housing, counseling, job assistance, and hope to thousands of homeless veterans each year.
Soldiers' Angels is an international, volunteer-led organization supporting America's men and women in uniform that supports more than 30 projects.

To that end, Veterans Day doesn't need to be confined to a single day of recognition or remembrance. Rather, it can be the day that you ask yourself if you are doing something, anything, for the men and women who have already done something for you, regardless of the country where you live. Good night and good luck.

Friday, October 9

Attracting Attention: Who Will Stand For Veterans

Veterans Day might be a little less than a month away, but I'm not always certain we need to wait for a national holiday to think about veterans. After all, our servicemen and women do not confine their sacrifices to once or twice a year. The various organizations that support them don't either.

It's one of the reasons I signed on to assist the producers of Who Will Stand to host an event at on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The online event, Veterans Day: Who Will Stand features five nonprofit organizations that could use some additional support this year. All of them were included in the film.

In addition to covering the plight of physically and/or psychologically wounded soldiers after they have returned from war, the independent documentary highlights why veterans' programs and nonprofit organizations are so vital to supporting the services provided by government. Having learned more about them, I can safely add U.S. Vets and Soldiers' Angels, which I've written about before, here and here.

Five Nonprofit Organizations Featured In Who Will Stand

The Soldierʼs Project helps provide free counseling and support to military service members who have served or who expect to serve in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan conflicts and to veterans of those conflicts. The services are completely confidential and are not reported to any government agencies.

Defending Freedom raises awareness and support for servicemen and women with their Defending Freedom wristbands. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to military charities to support the troops and their families. More than 673,000 wristbands have been sent overseas.

Canines for Combat Wounded provides service dogs for servicemen and women injured in combat. Beyond providing companionship, the dogs are specially trained to work with the soldiers according to their needs, helping them live longer, happier, more rewarding lives.

Blue Star Mothers provides support for active duty service personnel, assists veterans organizations, and is available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts. The organization consists of mothers who have or have had children honorably serving in the military.

Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and enlists the aid of the public in meeting the needs of severely injured servicemen and women by providing direct services that honor and empower wounded warriors. They also advocate for legislation to provide critically-needed services to family caregivers of severely wounded warriors.

At the helm of this event, which includes a special showing in Las Vegas, is director/producer Phil Valentine. Valentine, who began his career as a television scriptwriter in 2000, is a seasoned filmmaker, having produced films that include Gags, Siren, and The Las Vegas Abductions.

Wednesday, September 30

Encouraging For Nonprofits: Lee Aase & Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization and internationally renowned group medical practice headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota. And, according to U.S. News & World Report, it is ranked second only to Johns Hopkins.

As a leader in the medical community, it's no surprise that the Mayo Clinic has become a leader in social media. We even used its program as an example for hospitals in southern Nevada to consider, given Las Vegas-area hospitals' lack of presence online.

The Mayo Clinic is a fine example, especially since Lee Aase, manager of syndication and social media for Mayo Clinic, has accepted several interviews to share the benefits of developing social media programs for hospitals and nonprofit organizations. In addition to video, you can learn more about their program here and here.

According to Aase, the comparatively low cost and ease-of-use make social media an important communication component for every nonprofit communication plan. It is a sentiment recently shared by Seth Godin, who noted nonprofit organizations have been too slow to adopt social media and criticized them for placing too much emphasis on the "non" portion of nonprofit.

While Godin raises some good points, his logic is flawed. The lack of being among the top 100 anything online (Twitter or otherwise) is not an indication whether or not nonprofit organizations have effective social media programs. It only means that the potential target audience is less than everyone whereas Ashton Kutcher, Ellen DeGeneres, and Britney Spears have a larger slice of the potential to reach everyone.

Several nonprofit organizations do have fledgling social media programs in the works, including the March of Dimes, which will be partnering with this November for Bloggers Unite: Fight For Preemies. There is also an independent filmmaker that we will be working with over the next three months to support several important causes related to veterans. (Details on both of these efforts will be released next week.) They won't show in the lists, but they will meet objectives.

What I Learned Speaking At NANO

Still, the March of Dimes and the filmmakers seem to be the exception. After taking a cursory look at the online presence of the top 20 nonprofit organizations (by funding) in southern Nevada in preparation for speaking to a handful of nonprofit executives at the Nevada Association Of Nonprofit Organizations (NANO), we discovered that with exception to the Nevada Cancer Institute, most nonprofit organizations here are largely nonexistent online.

They either have no social media program or have what can best be described as small pond social media efforts. A small pond social media effort usually consists of 100 to 200 people on a popular social media platform (regardless of where their supporters are engaged). The organization has a dialogue with its small group. There is nothing wrong with that (although some greatly diminish their ROI).

The United Way of Southern Nevada, for example, has several social media accounts consisting of a relatively small collection of advocates on each. They engage participants on these accounts, but none of these participants seem to have become advocates or evangelists who actively share United Way content beyond the small pond. And, when measuring online presence, it creates the illusion that they have a non-existent program.

In contrast, the Mayo Clinic excels in maximizing the adaptive nature of social media. For example, one of the many proven points that Aase shares in the Ragan video is how the Mayo Clinic employs social media as a media relations outreach tool and/or uses it to refocus media exposure that the clinic receives. The concept is one of several excellent communication tactics that have opened up via social media.

This touches on something else I learned from NANO members. Many nonprofit organizations may not be ready to engage in social media. The reasons may be varied, but the reality is that many do not know how to develop or manage a communication plan let alone a social media program. Most are best served only when they have the help of a communication champion.

Specifically, the communication learning curve for someone like Aase and the learning curve for a nonprofit administrator or executive director are not the same. And what seems easy to me, Aase, or Valeria Maltoni, is a completely new skill set to non-communicators. The same holds true for businesses.

For me, it has changed the way I present social media content threefold. First, social media is best viewed as an environment where people congregate as opposed to a medium unto itself. Second, the experiences people have with individual communication online are significantly different from organizational communication. Third, "dive in" advice tends to leave organizations with the "now what?" dilemma, especially for non-communicators.

Monday, May 18

Sharing Quietly: Bloggers Unite For Hunger And Hope

In Fernley, Nevada, the Fernley High School National Honor Society hosted a spaghetti dinner that allowed families to enjoy a meal for free or with an optional donation. Sixty families were served, and $300 donated to Heifer International.

In Elizabethtown, Kentucky, 70 students hosted a “llama mama” picnic, which capped off a series of events to raise money for Heifer International. They raised $3,270, which was matched by an unnamed donor. It's enough money to benefit 25 families.

In Kearney, Nebraska, a local third grade elementary class became inspired by "Beatrice's Goat," which is based on a true story. They raised almost $900 to help families purchase farm animals, like goats, with Heifer International.

Small contributions add up to surprising results.

They might never know of each other's donations, but all they all understand a common cause with Heifer International and programs like it. The same can be said for approximately 10,000 bloggers who shared stories, contributed funds, and encouraged programs with Bloggers Unite: Hunger and Hope, a joint initiative to raise awareness about world hunger and the hope provided by various organizations.

First Place.Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope At Home by Sarah Andrews. Although she serves as communication director for Meals on Wheels, the story about her grandfather who was homeless between the ages 10 to 17, is personal.

Second PlaceBeyond Feeding The Hungry: SAME Cafe of Denver by Karen Degroot Carter. In addition to sharing an inspirational story about the SAME Cafe, she reminds her readers that world hunger is always closer than we think.

Third PlaceWhy Mia Farrow Isn't The Only Hungry One from the Share Yoga blog. The post provides some insights, and then goes on to define karma yoga and the purpose of selfless service.

These three and thousands of other blogs — So there we were, Tripletly Blessed And Loving It, Ben Spark, Caffeinated Traveller, A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye, Double Latte Mama's Blog, and Popview — were all among those that dedicated space to the issue of world hunger and means to make a difference. And while each shared their unique perspectives, thousands helped introduce hundreds of thousands to Heifer International.

Generosity has a surprising way of connecting people.

According to Nielsen, Heifer International received ten times the awareness on April 29 during its Pass On The Gift campaign. Does it make a difference? Watch the interview with Elizabeth Bintliff on "The Colbert Report."

Who's to say what contribution is too small or how far it might go? One post? One day? One dollar? One pig? If we all thought in "can't," then maybe goats would have never arrived in Zambia and pigs will still be needed in Tanzania. Fortunately, someone thought "can" and created the connections that make it happen.

For the students mentioned above, they've taken their first steps toward a lifelong legacy of giving. For the bloggers we've highlighted here, their stories can inspire for months. And for people like Lyell (pictured above) who can count on one time support, they have an opportunity to improve lives for generations. It just goes to show that generosity doesn't come in sizes as much as it comes in unseen connections.

"Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out." — Frank A. Clark

Friday, April 17

Walking Tall: Aid For AIDS of Nevada

If there is any good news to follow on the heels of Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, which calls U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS "insufficient," it is that some people are willing to do something about it. This Sunday, April 19, Aid For AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) will be hosting its 19th annual AIDS Walk in Las Vegas.

The event, which is supported by the entertainment industry in Las Vegas, including Penn & Teller and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Jake Walden, is anticipated to break fund-raising records for the local AIDS organization. It's needed.

The State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has terminated four Ryan White Part B Programs (RWPB), which totals more than $750,000 of funding. The cuts occurred on April 5 with less than 30 days notification. In addition to directly impacting AFAN, one of the most devastating cuts impacted the University of Nevada School of Medicine’s Nevada Care Program. What makes the cuts so significant is that this program is responsible for treating pregnant women who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS so their babies are not born with the HIV virus.

“For unborn children especially, this is a life and death decision that will have consequences far greater than the state has obviously considered,” said Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue, director of the University of Nevada School of Medicine’s Nevada Care Program. “These children, who would otherwise have a 98 percent chance to be born without the HIV virus, will more likely be born with the virus.”

Without this critical care, these unborn babies will certainly be born with HIV/AIDS. If they are, their average life expectancy will be a mere 24 years, with the cost of care averaging $25,200 per year. Considering this statistic is consistent across all HIV/AIDS diagnosed people, it represents one of the most short-sighted budget cuts in the history of Nevada. Each newly infected person will cost the state $600,000, which is almost as high as the budget cut.

Is it any wonder people are upset with taxes in the U.S.? It's not so much how much people pay as much as it's about what we're paying for. President Obama's stimulus package included $6.1 million for corporate jet hangars in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and $20 million for a minor league baseball museum in Durham, North Carolina, instead of administrating a program that prevents babies from being born HIV positive for a mere $350,000.

The problem isn't just local. It's national (and global). In the United States, the fastest-growing segment of HIV/AIDS diagnosed people is young adults. How young? Ages 13-24.

While some people might call the recent Tea Parties patrician politics, I can assure you that HIV/AIDS does not discriminate along party lines. The entire spending structure of the national, state, and local government needs to be re-evaluated and re-prioritized.

The solution is in our grasp and it starts with communication.

When people talk about politics, they tend to talk ideologies. I prefer to talk about people and fiscal mismanagement.

I'd rather see people keep more of their money and then invest it in local programs with a proven track record. AFAN qualifies. With almost 3,600 residents living with HIV and 3,000 more are diagnosed with AIDS in the Las Vegas area, AFAN serves a large percentage of those through direct client service programs, food programs, prevention and education programs, and community outreach. You can learn more about AFAN here and the AIDS Walk Las Vegas here.

You can learn more about the national epidemic from Anthony S. Fauci's opinion piece that recently ran in The Washington Post. In it, he points out that Washington, D.C. health officials estimate that 3 percent of city residents had full-blown AIDS or were infected with HIV. At 3 percent of any population, it seems painfully obvious that the virus can no longer be considered an epidemic confined to lifestyle choices. Everybody is at risk.

So this Sunday, I am joining (along with my family) the thousands of people walking in support of AFAN. I'm not big on asking for donations, but if you want to lend any direct contributions, you can find my donation page here. Or, if you want to have twice as much impact, consider adding your name to the Penn & Teller Challenge. They will double their team's contributions.

Since I will be waking for AIDS this Sunday, other than sending out a tweet or two, I probably won't be posting (my Sunday post is today). But you can post something about AIDS if you are so inclined. AIDS Walk Las Vegas has an event page at Bloggers Unite. You don't necessarily have to post about the local event. Write what you want.

Here's an idea. Write about how the U.S. is long overdue in virtually eradicating an infectious virus like smallpox or polio (although more work needs to be done there too). Or simply ask why is there no AIDS vaccine. Or, more specifically, ask why is $200 million in taxpayer money being used to rehabilitate a national mall when it could be used to develop an AIDS vaccine.

We don't need more taxes to do it. We need a Congress that is capable of realigning its fiscal policy to let taxpayers support programs at their discretion rather than allowing politicians to pad pork projects. At least I think so. What do you think?

Whatever you think, you can be certain all solutions start with communication. Unless people talk about it, nothing gets done.

Wednesday, April 8

Uniting People: Bloggers Unite For Hunger & Hope

With each passing second, one person will die of hunger. Every fourth second, that person will be a child. In fact, hunger accounts for almost 60 percent of all deaths in the world, making starvation the single greatest killer on the planet.

There is no need to discover a cure. There is no scientific breakthrough waiting to be discovered. And yet, they die.

On April 29, thousands of bloggers will call for change. Not only will they call for change, but they will call for change that provides long-term solutions that reduce starvation and lifts people out of extreme poverty. You too can be part of it.

Unite For Hunger & Hope on April 29

BlogCatalog, Bloggers Unite, Copywrite, Ink., and Heifer International have partnered to launch a social awareness campaign that asks everyone talk about world hunger on April 29 and point people toward solutions. While bloggers from around the world will provide the cornerstone of the campaign, a blog is not required to make a difference.

"With the new BloggersUnite platform, people don't need a blog to join or make a difference," says Antony Berkman, president of BlogCatalog. "They only have to want to make a difference. Do they want to? I don't know, but I sincerely hope so with all my heart."

Using as an event coordination page, Unite For Hunger & Hope provides bloggers and social network members an opportunity to join the campaign. Once they do, they can join the event, post about the event, talk about event, share the event with friends, add badges to their blogs or network pages, and find informational resources (that are currently in development). While any organization that provides solutions to solve world hunger is appropriate, Heifer International, currently celebrating its Pass On The Gift campaign, is one best practice example.

What makes Heifer International stand out as a best practice? It doesn't feed people for a day. It teaches them for life. Specifically, this global non-profit provides sustainable solutions to end hunger and poverty by providing livestock and agricultural training to improve lives.

"Heifer International is thrilled to be a part of Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope," said Tom Peterson, senior director of Heifer International. "Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope is a great way to harness the power of the Internet, and it coincides with our Pass on the Gift campaign.”

The Pass on the Gift campaign is a month-long celebration that allows participants to get involved and work together to end hunger. With an entire month of stories highlighted from around the world, Heifer International will share dozens of examples and ceremonies that anyone can write, post, or share on April 29 posts.

Already this month, Heifer International took Manhattan, brought attention to the plight of small farmers, and inspired people to host awareness-generating local events with something as simple as a pizza party. But all of this doesn't have to end with 30 days if enough people highlight any of these programs on April 29.

"BlogCatalog members have been responsible for generating hundreds of thousands of posts on topics that range from AIDS to human rights," says Berkman. "Now, when you combine that with social networks, it sends a very powerful message to the media and world leaders that hunger is not only something we can address, but it's something we can solve. There is no need to wait for a cure. With organizations like Heifer International, we only need to help them increase the number of people they touch every day."

Since 1944, Heifer International has helped communities learn to become self-sufficient by raising animals that provide direct benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, as well as indirect benefits that increase family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care, and schools. For more information, visit its site.

Since 2007, BlogCatalog’s Bloggers Unite initiative has evolved from the first blogger-driven social awareness campaign initiative into a self-sustaining social awareness network. More than 190,000 bloggers interact on every day and provide the foundation for But their efforts do not stop with two social networks for bloggers. Many of them work together with friends and family on social networks ranging from Twitter and Facebook to Digg and Bedo.

So what do you think? Is hunger worth writing, talking, and doing something about? You can start right here today.

Sunday, March 8

Hearing Voices: International Women's Day

While International Women's Day (IWD), March 8, is and has been observed as a global celebration since 1908, we'd like to draw attention to those women who still need to be heard. Here are just five from several million:

Malalai Kakar, Kandahar, Afghanistan

"We don't want our enemies to know where we live. We don't want to put our families in danger." — Heard on YouTube, and a chilling reminder why Hamid Karzai warned women today that many Taliban fighters are beyond reconciliation.

Ai Xiaoming, China

"There's a Chinese saying ... to remember the past is to understand the present. A documentary is a form to save that memory. If you don't have that form, lots of things will be purposely erased and you will make the same mistakes ..." — Heard On The Hub.

Martha Heinemann Bixby, Darfur, Sudan

"If you’re not already planning on attending one of the many local screenings of the film and panel discussion, you can download the film, then watch the live online panel discussion at home, and learn from Maria Bello, Niemat Ahmadi, Dr. Kelly Dawn Askin, John Hefferan and Reverend Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D." — Heard on Blog For Drafur.

Amie Kandeh, Sierra Leone

"Every year, around International Women’s Day, I think about women and girls all over the world who, like me, have the right to live with dignity, in freedom, and without fear. Working with women affected by violence is much more than just a job to me. I’ve personally experienced the pain these women face. Nearly twenty years ago, I was a victim of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my ex-husband." — Read on IRC Blog.

Cindy Pennington, Alaska, United States

"Alaska should say enough is enough … We can't be number one anymore in sexual assault and rape." — Heard at Amnesty International USA, after a report concluded that Native American and Alaska Natives are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted.

Some battles have been won to help women live with dignity, in freedom, and without fear. But violence against women and girls still leaves far too many physically broken, mentally abused, and at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. To learn more and take action, visit the International Rescue Committee.

Maybe one day, but not today, we'll have something more to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 4

Changing The World:

"How can we bring bloggers together to do good?" — Antony Berkman,

In early 2007, it seemed like a simple enough question posed to his business partner Angelica Alaniz, designer Oscar Tijerina, and programmer Daniel Tijerina. So, within a week, the BlogCatalog team created a landing page, encouraging bloggers to support classroom supplies for students though the Omidyar Network-supported

"We asked BlogCatalog members to take a day off from writing about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and focus their posts on doing good to support education," says Berkman. "The initial challenge didn't attract much attention at first. A few people were interested, and I was almost ready to give up until this one guy in Las Vegas asked me for a news release to include on his business giving blog."

There was only on problem with the request. Berkman didn't have a news release. So that one guy from Las Vegas volunteered to write it, rewrite it for the blog, and distribute it to several key publications and blogs with the hope it might gain some traction.

The coverage quickly helped propel what would become the first social network-driven social awareness campaign on the Internet. benefited from ten times the awareness online and more than 1,000 students directly benefited from the donations received.

"Coming together is a beginning." — Henry Ford

"It was really very overwhelming to see hundreds of bloggers come together and all write about how we could improve education and why people might support," says Berkman. "We also learned a lot from the first initiative, especially that BlogCatalog had become an international social network for bloggers so we had to think globally."

One year later, after Bloggers Unite continued to grow with each increasingly successful campaign, Bloggers Unite for Human Rights became the new benchmark for success. The campaign generated 1.2 million posts that raised awareness, provided varied calls to action, increased attention on Amnesty International, and caught the attention of Veronica De La Cruz, Internet correspondent for CNN's flagship morning news program.

"Keeping together is progress." — Henry Ford

"While every campaign had been increasingly successful, the two and half minute segment on CNN was defining moment," said Berkman. "When you asked members who would have posts ready in the morning for consideration on CNN, it was nothing less than extraordinary watching bloggers move from doubt to disbelief to exuberance."

The successes were not without some sour notes. Because Bloggers Unite was designed to raise awareness for underserved causes, some critics thought Bloggers Unite didn't do enough. They felt Bloggers Unite didn't go far enough in creating sustainable engagement with specific causes, never considering that many participants stayed on with the benefiting nonprofit organization.

"Sometimes it's challenging in that our goal has always been to make it about the bloggers and the organizations we benefit," said Berkman. "So if that means talking more about the cause than ourselves or the results we achieve, so be it."

"Working together is success." — Henry Ford

What the critics didn't know was that BlogCatalog was already working on the evolution of Bloggers Unite, taking the initiative and transforming it into a social network that all online and offline charitable events could benefit from. Since the network allows any member to submit local, national, and international events, Berkman says he never has to say "no" to organizations again.

“The new network changed the dynamic of Bloggers Unite,” said Berkman. ”While we’ll still coordinate three major underserved social awareness campaigns through BlogCatalog every year, BloggersUnite members can now submit and support their causes as well.”

The new network solves another challenges too. BlogCatalog members had been previously split on how many campaigns might be too few or too many. The new network allows bloggers and other social networks to promote as many events as they want while BlogCatalog, combined with Bloggers Unite will still be home base for three initiatives every year.

Can we change the world in 90 days?

As 90 days is the ideal amount of time to launch a fully integrated social awareness campaign, it became a question that I used to ask frequently up until last year. After what started as writing a simple release became developing communication plans that provided enough guidance and freedom for Bloggers Unite, the answer has become all too apparent. Yes, we can.

For me, one of the unique aspects of the new Bloggers Unite network is the ability for bloggers and non-bloggers to raise awareness globally online while taking action locally. It's also one of the reasons Copywrite, Ink. asked BlogCatalog members and a few friends on Twitter to offer six to 12 local events to serve as our initial examples. Here are ten events recently added to the 37 different events currently available (in chronological order) to serve as inspiration for other nonprofit organizations.

Ten Local Events Highlighted At

March 14. San Antonio, Texas | Be A Shavee
The world's largest volunteer-driven fundraising event for childhood cancer research invites thousands of volunteers to shave their heads in solidarity of children with cancer, while requesting donations of support from friends and family.

April 6. Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, Puerto Rico | Marcha Por Los Bebes
The Puerto Rico March of Dimes chapter will march for babies, an event that raises money to support programs in the community that will help moms have healthy full-term pregnancies.

April 11. Frederick, Maryland | Run For Congo Women
Run For Congo Women, hosted by Women For Women International, will provide direct assistance through sponsorships that will help women and children pay for food, medicine, and other lifesaving needs.

April 19. Las Vegas, Nevada | 2009 AIDS Walk Las Vegas
Aid for AIDS of Nevada will lead the AIDS Walk, which consists of individual walkers and walk teams to raise funds for critical services and elevate public awareness. The AIDS walk is supported by many organizations and celebrities, including Penn & Teller.

April 29. Portland, Oregon | The Pet Effect Fundraising Luncheon
The Delta Society will host a free fundraising luncheon (no minimum or maximum donation) to raise funds for therapy animal programs and their handlers, which makes a difference by providing a human-animal bond.

May 2. Twin Cities, Minnesota | Twin Cities Walk for Parkinson's Disease
The Parkinson Association of Minnesota (PAM) will walk to improve the lives of those affected by Parkinson's disease, through fundraising, community building, advocacy, and increasing public awareness.

May 2. Atlanta, Georgia | The Arthritis Walk Atlanta
The Atlanta chapter of the Arthritis Foundation will participate in the annual nationwide event to help improve the lives of the 46 million men, women and children doctor-diagnosed with arthritis.

May 3. Boston, Massachusetts | 2009 Walk For Hunger
More than 40,000 supporters will take part in Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger, where walkers of all ages participate in an event dedicated to feeding hungry people. Project Bread served 43.4 million meals last year.

June 19-21. Vancouver, Canada | The Ride To Conquer Cancer
Cyclists will bike for two days from Vancouver to Seattle. Funds will benefit BC Cancer Foundation to support breakthrough research and enhancements to care at BC Cancer Agency, throughout British Columbia.

June 24. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK | The Moon Walk Edinburgh
More than 12,000 women and men will walk the streets of Edinburgh in their decorated bras to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.

We'll be adding art, badges, and topic guides as each local event date nears as well as participating in several international event days throughout the year.

What can you do? Join and then choose as many or as few campaigns as you want to help. Once you're a member, you can also add and manage local events in your community, national events close to your heart, or designated international event days that touch lives all over the world. The network makes it easy to upload materials to help and a link to the specific event page. And naturally, we're always happy to answer questions.

All that remains to be asked is whether you really want to change the world? I know I have, and still do.

Monday, November 10

Communicating Need: Bloggers Unite For Refugees

In Iraq, it’s people like 29-year-old television producer Alaa, who covered the trial of Saddam Hussein and was then forced to flee his country and escape to Stockholm, Sweden. He is one of the more fortunate. More than 2 million Iraqis have left Iraq since 2003 and more than 1.6 million are still displaced in their own country with fears that the United States will pull out too soon.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s the tens of thousands of men, women, and children, some 50,000 of which were even forced to flee refugee camps before they were leveled. Almost none of them has basic needs like food, clean water, or blankets.

In Thailand and Laos, it’s Hmong and Laotian refugees who fled and hid from the government of Laos, which had previously captured them, sent them to jail, or sometimes killed them. Some still struggle after more than 20 years, even if they themselves survived.

All over the world, it’s the estimated 40 million who are not only living without a home, but without a country — many of whom live with the fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion.

“They beat me every time I made a mistake. They beat me with their hands and feet. They beat me with metal bars …” said Awng Seng, who ran away from the military in Myanmar and became a slave in Thailand. “They would throw pieces of chain at me ... there would be blood all over.”

And others — unlike Seng or Alaa or Lopez Lomong (a refugee who went on to make the U.S. Olympic team) — are people without homes, voices, or even hope. Their stories will never be told.

Bloggers Unite For Refugees: The Butterfly Effect

Almost every time Bloggers Unite encourages bloggers to take action and blog for good based upon input from 150,000 BlogCatalog members around the world, some people surface to question the validity of such calls for action — asking what good it does to ask people to post. Inevitably, a few even take it further and suggest that when people write about a cause, somehow that it endows bloggers with a false sense of making a contribution where more direct and tangible contributions are needed.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Awareness is always the first step toward change; the second is acceptance and the third is action. And often times, what starts as a simple post has an effect that eventually touches hundreds, thousands, or millions of lives in ways that can never be counted or imagined. But even if it only touches one, who are we to dismiss the impact?

“Who helps a cause they have never heard about?” asks Antony Berkman, president of “The measure isn’t about the length of a post or even the number of posts … it's in the ability to reach people who have never considered the subjects that bloggers want to write about. I say let them.”

Berkman is right. No single person can be asked to save the world any more than one person at a time. And as long as some cause marketers continue to communicate tasks that are devoid of choice, overcomplicated in execution, or seemingly uphill or impossible, they leave the people they touch not inspired but feeling defeated in that they can never give enough.

On the contrary, throughout history, it has always been when individuals move against the majority of complicity that action takes hold. We saw it last year in America when the Senate passed the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, a crucial first step in addressing the needs of millions of Iraqi refugees. We saw it earlier this year when Bloggers Unite and Amnesty International brought attention and inspired action across several Human Rights issues.

And, we see it now from those who write letters to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, asking him to assist the more than 70,000 refugees from Myanmar. Or, perhaps, we can see it now by making a small donation to Refugees International, which is currently focused on the DR Congo. Or perhaps, we can see it today as more than 12,000 bloggers (and counting) make the individual choice to lend their voice and bring awareness to the plight of refugees.

It is in these ways that individual volunteer awareness and action makes a difference. The alternative is silence. Does it work? It works, even if it only works one person at a time.


Friday, December 21

Twittering Peas: Frozen Pea Friday

The first time I wrote about Twitter, it was less than flattering. But like so much of social media, communities have a tendency to shape themselves. Twitter has since proven itself to me, and it is now proving itself again with peas.

I have to be honest and say that I have yet to have the pleasure of knowing Susan Reynolds, an artist and new media consultant battling a dominant magpie gene and cancer. But thanks to those I do know through Twitter, I know a little more about her today.

You can too by visiting the Frozen Pea Fund, which was inspired by Reynolds. There, you will learn about her experiences and perhaps consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society. For me, making a donation was second nature. Living with my grandparents was pretty enlightening.

My grandmother survived with cancer for more than decade. She was extremely courageous, raising myself and her youngest of five children, in-between hospital visits that were frequent enough to become second nature. In the process, she taught me a little bit more about life by confronting her death on a daily basis.

She did not have the Internet to share her experiences. But if she did, I suspect she might have been as brave as Reynolds and shared them for the benefit of others. You see, she knew how it worked: no one ever really understands cancer until they are touched by someone close to them. And for that, I'm grateful that Reynolds has chosen to touch so many. I hope you will touched too.

It's about time we found a cure. Don't you think?


Wednesday, December 12

Donating Nickels For Clicks: Les Scammell

When Les Scammell, a semi-retired educator and blogger living in the little town of Gympie, Australia, heard about a family struggling to keep a roof over their heads this Christmas, he and his family decided to do something about it.

They filled a couple of boxes with toys and sent them off. It was a small gesture, but enough to remind the struggling family and their children that there is still a lot to hope for in the world. The burden of a ruined Christmas for their children was lifted.

And as they often do, this simple gift of kindness by the Scammells inspired yet another. Since they had already made a small profit on their stock portfolio, they decided to donate it rather than roll it over. The proceeds have gone on to help more children through the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Society.

From this gift, it seems Scammell learned another lesson as people often do: generosity attracts more opportunities for generosity — something he wants to share with the blogging community and anyone else who has a spare minute of time.

When you visit any of his blogs, Just 4 Families, My Radical Blogs, and Coolayla, he will donate a nickel. Visit all three today, and he’ll donate 15 cents. Visit all three, every day through Dec. 19, and you will be responsible for more than $1 donated to charity. Send 100 friends to visit, and well, you get the idea.

“We set a target of $250, but actually hope to exceed it,” says Scammell. “At present, we have $120 from online advertising (that we’re adding in) and another $50 from visitors. I hope we can make it. Really, my wish target is more around $500.”

His pledge, one nickel for every visit, with no limit, will be donated to the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and several families in the area that he says could use a PMU this holiday season. PMU, he says, stands for “pick me up.” To me, it stands for lifting the spirits of others.

“I’ve found the blogging community to be rather apathetic to a lot of causes,” Scammell says. “My traffic had a tiny spike when I first started, but has since gone down a little. I was hoping someone would Digg or help push it in other venues. But I have met some new people through the promotion and they are loyally visiting each day.”

Undeterred, Scammell continues to promote his pledge and ask people to be part of it. Nothing would make him happier than to see people visit his three blogs and drive his next donation amounts to $500 or $1,000 or even $1,500. But even his original pledge of $250 would touch a lot of lives, including yours if you take just a minute of time to visit all three blogs today, tomorrow, and for the next seven days.

Just 4 Families provides tips and hints for helping families.
My Radical Blogs offers reviews and rants from the radical blogger.
Coolayla, his newest blog, paints a picture of the town he lives in.

All three of them make giving easy with a nickel a click for children this Christmas, or a nickel for hope this holiday season. Whatever you prefer, I can promise you this — generosity attracts more opportunities for generosity.


Thursday, September 27

Thanking Bloggers: Copywrite, Ink.

While there are thousands of bloggers who deserve a ton of thanks as the Bloggers Unite campaign unfolds today, I wanted to thank a few who took the time to help promote Bloggers Unite and Copywrite, Ink.’s “Blog For Hope Competition” in cooperation with BlogCatalog. Many are BC members; several are not.

Jim Stroud. Jim is a "searchologist" and presently serves Microsoft as a technical sourcing consultant and is a regular contributor to Microsoft’s Technical Careers blog.

Idea Grove. Idea Grove (and the Media Orchard blog) is led by Scott Baradell, a former Fortune 1000 media company executive and award-winning journalist. He often brings reality to the public relations industry by pointing out what so many forget.

Jericho Monster. Jane Sweat is one of the leading fan advocates for the return of the television show Jericho. Since she started, she has become an expert in consumer marketing.

National Business Community Blog. Sure, the National Business Community Blog is a Copywrite, Ink. program but Kim Becker has taken over the management of it. Frankly, I don’t thank her enough.

A Piece of Peace by RubyShooZ. At the end of her post, Ruby placed one of my favorite quotes from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

My Super Amazing Blog of Everything by TriblyKat. Tribly Kat is a personal blogger who writes about, well, everything she finds interesting. She not only joined Bloggers Unite but also created a Topix post for people to leave their links outside of BlogCatalog.

Ramblings From the Mermaid Tavern. Poseidon’s Muse is a personal blogger with a profound respect and fascination for world culture, art, literature and religion.

Blog Village News. Rosemary says she is retired, but she and her family maintain several antique and collectible shops that sell everything from advertising collectibles to sports memorabilia.

A Bunch Of Wordz, a personal blog/Ezine writer who picked up on the buzz “Saving The World One Blog At A Time.”

If It’s Not One Thing It’s Your Mother and The Crone’s Daily Groan and Living On The Edge of Madness. Bairbre Sine’s pre-post promotion across three blogs made me laugh with the suggestion that someone might consider posting about Republican abuse.

365 Dias. Fabio Santos is an online marketer from Brazil who promoted the event, and the “Blog For Hope Post” competition we’re sponsoring, yesterday.

Radio Free Jericho, Jericho Rally Point, and Nuts for Jericho are three Jericho fan forums that have dedicated some behind-the-scenes time to support this effort, as has the Jericho fans who frequent the CBS Jericho site.

Recruiting Bloggers. Recruiting Animal, who runs the site, has always been great to allow me to add the occasional Maybe It Pays To Blog For Good do-good post. Ditto for Jason Davis at RecruitingBlogs too.

Contest Girl is a directory of online sweepstakes, contests, and freebies. Linda’s is also one of several contest sites that have promoted the contest portion of Bloggers Unite.

I know I missed a ton of people, including all those who supported a Technorati WTF and Digg as well. Thank you all so very, very much for supporting this effort. And of course, Antony Berkman and the BlogCatalog team. You guys rock!

And if you haven’t posted about abuse today, don’t forget that there is still time to do so. Any blogger who participates has until Oct. 10 to collect some measurements and send their link to For details, visit our original contest post. We have more recognition to extend in the weeks ahead.


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