Friday, December 28, 2007

What Are Your 2008 Activist Resolutions?

"[S]top thinking about how crazy the times are, and start thinking about what the crazy times demand."--Seth Godin

A couple weeks ago blogger Latoya Peterson posted her 2008 Activist Resolutions on Racialicious. Some of her resolutions were to reconnect with her city council members, get more involved with youth outreach through the arts, and "stop saying 'Africa.' Africa is not a country. It is a continent."

Many of Latoya's readers shared their activist resolutions in the post's comments. Atlasien of Upside-Down Adoption said she was going to become involved in a local organization for immigrant rights. Elizabeth said she would like to write her representatives and local newspaper more, like Vegankid does.

B! of A Daughter's Geography was inspired by Latoya's post and wrote her own Sunday Shine * {Activist Resolutions}. Her resolutions include eating local organic food, teaching her students about healthier eating options, and volunteering at a community garden.

I really liked this idea so thought I'd post my own:

1. Continue reading and learning about why genocide happens and what I can do to encourage the United States to be a part of the solution. I recently finished reading A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. It was probably one of the best books I've read and definitely helped me to better understand the issue, and America's policies and history around it. Power is on my Big Vision Podcast dream interview wish list, if anyone knows her and can provide me with an introduction.

2. Interview more activists/visionaries of color for the Big Vision Podcast. Last year I interviewed 12 people for the Big Vision Podcast and 4 of them were people of color. I'd like to up that number to 6. Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women International is also on my dream interview wish list, if you know her.

3. Carry at least one cloth shopping bag with me at all times. My aunt gave me an Envirosax for Christmas that should make keeping that resolution easy. The same company also sells a shower timer that I'd like to start using too.

4. Write to Jacinta Onoro, the woman I am sponsoring through Women for Women International, each month.

5. Donate 5 % of my income. (Check out this interesting Giving Calculator).

6. Have more fun while doing good. I worked a little too hard and did a little too much this year (evidenced by the fact that I am in bed with a cold right now). I need to be a bit more balanced in the fun department in 2008, spend more time with my family and friends, read silly as well as serious stuff, and take time to enjoy all the things that are going well in my life and in our world.

What are your 2008 Activist Resolutions?

Photo of sign from 2003 Iraq war protest by me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reader Spotlight: Robyn Fehrman is an Engine of Change

Update January 17, 2008: She won first prize!

I get LOTS of emails and press release from people asking me to write about the good work their doing. I really wish I could post about all of them, but a girl's gotta work!

Most of the emails I receive are from companies or organizations, but this week I received an email from a reader who, along with her sister, is a triathlete "tri-ing" to end homelessness by raising awareness and funds for Genesis Home, a transitional shelter for homeless families in Durham, NC.

Their campaign is one of 10 finalists in Toyota's Engines of Change Power of Sport contest. and she needs your vote to win.

Here is her email:
Hi Britt,

Thank you for writing Have Fun*Do Good! As a community volunteer and program officer at a local community foundation, I am continually inspired by the folks you profile and by the concrete tips you regularly offer! In the spirit of one of your recent posts, I'm writing to ask you to help spread the word about my Tri to End Homelessness campaign.

Throughout 2007, my sister Rachel and I have worked to raise awareness about homelessness in North Carolin and raise funds for Genesis Home - a local housing and supportive services program for homeless families - all while training for our first Olympic distance triathlon. Along the way we documented our journey on our blog:

The campaign has been a great success! We raised nearly $6,000 to support Genesis Home's programs and successfully completed a full season of races. Now, Toyota has selected Tri to End Homelessness one of their 10 finalists in the Engines of Change Power of Spot contest! Your vote - and the vote of your readers - can help determine the winner.

Voting information is available at:

Of course, winning any of the contest's prizes would be wonderful -- BUT the opportunity to highlight the issue of homelessness and lives Genesis Home is changing every day would be even more valuable.

Thank you for considering this request to highlight our work on Have Fun*Do Good. Throughout 2007, we've done just that!

Take care,
Robyn Fehrman
Durham, NC
If you are an individual reader who is having fun and doing good, email me your story with a photo to britt AT Please include "Reader Spotlight" in the subject line. I can't promise I will highlight your work, like a said, a girl's gotta work, but I'll try.

"A World of Good" on FRONTLINE/World Dec 25

December 25th, 9 PM EST, Frontline/World will be re-broadcasting four "do good" stories about Kiva in Uganda, PlayPumps in South Africa, the Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition in Poland, and Juan Quezada and Mata Ortiz pottery in Mexico.

If you won't be home to watch, or can't record it, all of the stories are available for viewing online on the Frontline/World site.

Full disclosure: Our friend, David Ritsher, is Production Coordinator/Editor for FRONTLINE/World.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have Fun * Do Good Named One of Echoing Green's Top 7 Social Entrepreneurship Blogs

Echoing Green recently posted their list of Top Seven Social Entrepreneurship Blogs, and I am thrilled that Have Fun * Do Good was included on the list along with:
Guy Kawasaki's How to Change the World, Nedra Weinreich’s Spare Change, Social ROI, The NonProfit Times, Audeamus and Social Edge

Echoing Green supports emerging social entrepreneurs through a two-year fellowship program. Fellows receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and technical support to turn their ideas into organizations.

Fellows include changemaker luminaries like Van Jones, Priya Haji and Katie Redford.

If you want to support Echoing Green's work, make a donation to help fund a Fellowship through the ChipIn widget (below), check out their Fellows' wish list for advice, connections and other resources you can contribute, and order a copy of Be Bold for the aspiring changemakers in your life.

Thanks Echoing Green!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Support Women Survivors of War with $27/month

"The program 'has dared me to hope-of having a house, of living in peace, of reclaiming my dynamism, my dignity. If not director of a school, I would like to be someone of importance, someone of value again.'"--Honorata (pictured left) about her experience with Women for Women International.

A month ago I listened to Christine Karumba, the Country Director for Women for Women International in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tell Honorata's story on the Voices on Genocide Prevention podcast. The show ended, and I immediately signed up to be a Women for Women International sponsor.

Here is a small excerpt from Honorata's story from the Women for Women International site:
"It was in 2002 that the world turned upside down and Honorata lost the signs of a "true and nice life" that she and her husband had built. She was captured and tortured by the armed militias. She was gang raped, sexually abused, forced to endure unimaginable humilities. Honorata's days blended into one another until the moment another marauding band stormed the camp. In the confusion, she escaped.

With nowhere to go, no food, nothing but the torn cloth she wore, Honorata walked. And walked. And walked. Through the blistering heat and through rain storms, she walked over 150 miles to Bukavu, a village that had become a haven for people fleeing the war. There she found her five children who had survived by the kindness of strangers. Reunited, she began to rebuild their life."
Honorata joined Women for Women International in August 2004.
"Honorata joined a small group of women who also suffered in war. Each had their own stories of horror, of lives lost, and of struggling to regain their dignity. Together they shared their lives, their hopes and dreams. They sat side by side to discuss the role of women in rebuilding society, women's rights and the new Constitution, and family law. They learned about reproductive health issues, such as their anatomy, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and child birth.

In small groups, the women learned basic business and marketing skills. They enrolled in special job skills classes designed to meet the market needs of their community. They talked about the economic value of housework, and the importance of education and literacy in gaining economic independence."
In the Voices of Genocide Prevention interview, Christine Karumba said that Honorata now works for Women for Women International training other women to, "understand their role in participating in rebuilding of their community. And one of their roles is to bring their voice."

Women for Women is a nonprofit that pairs women survivors of war with women sponsors all over the world. Sponsors give $27/month to fund a survivor's basic needs, as well as seed money to start income generating projects.
Survivors can also participate in rights awareness and leadership education training, job skills training, and business development support. The program works in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sudan. In addition to supplying financial support, sponsors are asked to exchange letters each month with the woman they are helping.

Sissel of the Sissel Byington Photography blog sponsors a women each year.

Denise of the Denise in Africa blog visited one of the program's facilities in Kigali.

Ellee Seymour of the ProActive blog signed up to be a sponsor after meeting Women for Women International's founder,
Zainab Salbi, at a Conservative Women’s Organization conference.

Zainab Salbi is the author of
Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing up in the Shadow of Saddam, and The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope. She received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award in 2007. In a recent post on The Huffington Post, she wrote about Women for Women International's work in Kosovo:
"For long-term peace and stability to succeed in Kosovo, women's priorities and recommendations must be part of Kosovo's national agenda. However, most of the people engaged in this conversation are men acting in their professional capacities as diplomats, government officials and advisors, with very few women speaking on behalf of anyone or anything. Women are simply not at the negotiating table.

In an attempt to amplify the voices of the women, Women for Women International surveyed more than 1,600 Kosovar women on subjects that extended beyond 'women's rights' or 'women's issues,' delving more broadly into the economic, social and political issues that affect all of Kosovo."
If you want to help women survivors of war to get their lives back, and to have their voices heard, consider becoming a Women for Women International sponsor. I did.

Photo of Honorata used with permission from Women for Women International.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Training Social Changemakers: An Interview with Andre Carothers of the Rockwood Leadership Program

"These skills, which one sees in action around the country with certain key individuals who seem to be able to bridge gaps between organizations and issue areas, we can teach them. They are teachable. And I think teaching them is probably the most important thing we can do right now."
The Rockwood Leadership Program specializes in delivering the best practices and methodologies in leadership development to the nonprofit community. In my most recent interview for the Big Vision Podcast, I talked with Andre Carothers, the Executive Director and Co-founder of the Rockwood Leadership Program about the Program's work, and nonprofit leadership trends. You can read a transcript of the interview below.

Andre Carothers: Hi, I am Andre Carothers, I am the Executive Director of the Rockwood Leadership Program. We are a national nonprofit that trains advocacy professionals, people working for nonprofits full-time, in the fine arts of collaboration, leadership, listening, speaking, conflict resolution, and collaboration across organizational boundaries. We teach all those skills and practices that one associates with getting a job done, and also in a political setting, joining forces with allies to generate a political goal that we are all looking for.

We have been doing this work for six years now, and we started with an open training for 20 friends of mine from Washington D.C., where I used to work, and one trainer. The training was so well received that we launched an organization in 2000, and since then have recruited and trained more than 1700 people.

We've got four programs going simultaneously, and we have a four-day workshop called The Art of Leadership. We have Fellowships in issue areas where we bring together leaders working on specific issues, such as media policy and justice, LGBT policy and justice, electoral reform and racial justice, and we convene them over a year or more, and build a learning community that serves their work. It has been a terrific run and we are growing rapidly.

I think the need that we are responding to with Rockwood is that people really want to learn how to get along professionally. They want to learn how to build strong partnerships with people, and we have got literally hundreds of thousands of small nonprofits, many of whom are trying to do the same thing. I think the key for us to create real social change is aligning groups and individuals in a common direction.

Britt Bravo: What are the skills and qualities a social change leader needs today, and how do they learn those skills from Rockwood?

AC: Statistics and studies show that the greatest source of project failure, I define project failure as any initiative that falls flat, is the lack of ability of the leader or leaders to align and inspire their team in a common direction. We often associate that leadership quality, the ability to create a team and attract and maintain very good people in an organization, as some sort of magic. You know, you are born a leader, or "they've just got what it takes," etc. It turns out, that most of these skills are teachable.

A lot of the curriculum that we have created over the last few years is drawn from programs in the private sector, senior leaders in Fortune 500 companies, and it's drawn from grassroots organizing traditions and, in some cases, from personal transformation and contemplative discipline.

We tried to create a new definition of leadership on the progressive end of the spectrum, one that focuses on people's humanity, connecting with people on a personal level, and being very focused on very specific goals and objectives. These skills, which one sees in action around the country with certain key individuals who seem to be able to bridge gaps between organizations and issue areas, we can teach them. They are teachable. And I think teaching them is probably the most important thing we can do right now.

BB: What is an example of a piece of Rockwood curriculum that would teach one of those skills?

AC: We have developed about 20 days of curriculum now, and we can mix and match those 20 days in a variety of ways. In the basic four-day workshop, which most of our alumni (roughly 1400 people around the country) have been through, the second afternoon and the second evening and the third morning, are devoted to a section we call Partnership.

Partnership is about, first of all, learning how you show up for other people. Everyone that comes to the workshop comes with what is called a 360 Degree Survey, which is filled out anonymously by 10 or more of their colleagues, and basically describes how you are showing up across 15 parameters of leadership: "This person communicates well with the mission and purpose of the organization internally and externally," "This person moves toward and resolves conflict in the workplace successfully." Fifteen questions like that form the basis of the 360. The fifth thing we do in our four-day workshop is we present people with the survey and we give them time to integrate the information and build a leadership development plan based on it.

In the same Partnership section of the training, we do conflict resolution skills, we do negotiation skills, we teach people how to look at an issue from the other person's perspective, and we teach people how to manage difficult conversations so that they can get the outcome they need out of them. The feedback has been very positive.

BB: You have been doing this work for about seven years now, how have the leaders who participate in the program, the challenges that they face, and the skills that they need changed over time?

AC: Well it is interesting, one of the graduates emailed us the other day and said, "I thought that leadership was about cranking out my agenda, and what Rockwood did for me was pull back the other seven veils of what is required for me to get my social change aspirations made real in the world."

I think what he meant by that is that if we are to win some of the policy issues we are challenged by currently here in the beginning of the 21st century, there needs to be a new way of organizing ourselves. That new way is based significantly on what used to be called "people skills", or "soft skills." And what I say when people say, "Soft skills?" I say, "Yes, the hardest stuff you can do is the soft skills."

I think a lot of people listening to this will know that when they are trying to produce a result, and the partnerships they have with the people around them are strong, and people are clear, and they know how to manage themselves and others, the results are better.

When we started, we were really the only organization of this kind. Part of my motivation for getting this going was that I did a survey of the various programs out there for progressive advocacy leaders. There was nothing that focused on personal leadership skills. There was nothing that drew together that interesting combination of high-level private sector management skills with some of the key traditions of community organizing and contemplative discipline, and produced it in a package that allowed busy social change leaders to come get a complete experience over the course of four days, and get back to work.

What I have noticed in the intervening seven years is that there has been a lot more interest in this. Other organizations are coming up and producing programs that are great. The conversation on the progressive side of the aisle is much more about how do we build teams, how do we collaborate, how do we bridge the gaps between gradations of issue focus, and background, race and ethnicity.

The interesting thing about progressive people is that they are very interested in getting all voices to the table, they are comfortable with nuance, and they understand the complexity of issues, and that is a wonderful platform for governance. The second you are uncomfortable with nuance, like simple answers, and prefer the one note over the many notes, then you probably are a conservative Republican. Governance from this perspective is wonderful. Organizing is tougher.

It turns out that those characteristics that we value so much on the progressive end of the spectrum make organizing complicated. It is slower, it is more complex, it requires what we sometimes call "three-dimensional thinking," the willingness to focus your energy on the right point at the right time, and then make sure that you leave nothing out in your pursuit of a goal.

The skills we teach really allow this type of three-dimensional thinking. They allow people to remain true to the progressive ideal, which is thoughtful, nuanced and inclusive, and also organized toward results. I think that is the game. That is the 21st century organizing game.

BB: There are a number of reports that suggest that a whole generation of nonprofit leaders will be retiring soon and there aren't enough new leaders to replace them; what do you think nonprofits need to do to attract and keep more nonprofit leaders?

AC: It is a perfect example of where one has to think three dimensionally. There are actually three or four things going on simultaneously in the generational change. One is that young people are more interested in humane and collaborative workplaces, and so there is a stylistic difference between the baby-boomer activist generation, I am not sure what letter we are up to, X or Y, and the demand that the workplace be thoughtful and collaborative, that voices get on the table, and that people work well together. It is different than it used to be.

Secondly, there are a lot of people who have devoted their lives to social change for whom there is no social safety net. There is no organized way to support them in their 60s and 70s, and also to glean, and harvest, and make good on the lessons that they learn. That's a whole other piece of this puzzle.

Finally, I think the terrain around us has changed. There is a very different sensibility among the younger folks around where we need to focus our energy. I think there is a natural collaborative bent in younger folks for whom issues that used to divide people are no longer on the table for them. I think there are subtle differences, but important differences. And again, what I am noticing is that if we provide all the people who are focusing on this challenge, the generational leadership challenge, the personal and collaborative leadership skills to tackle it, anything is possible.

BB: What is one of your favorite Rockwood success stories?

AC: What is most satisfying about this work is to get, which we do very often, this random email over the transom from someone saying, "By the way, I just want you to know I did your workshop two years ago and since then..." and they list the things that have happened. That's a steady drumbeat from alumni.

We also did a survey of 40 alumni, from the last three years, and asked them what they wanted from us next, and the response was 100%, which is interesting for a survey. Those of you who do surveys know that anything above 30% or 40% is a good response. Universally the people said that the Rockwood Leadership Program, whichever one they happened to be in, was a pivotal moment in their professional lives. It made a difference for them.

At the nitty-gritty end of the spectrum, there have been collaborations, there have been specific projects, there have been gains in policy arenas that people credit to Rockwood. And the way they do that is they say, "I built a team around me, they were trained, we had a project to do, and I honestly believe that because of the training we had, we were able to produce the result quickly, and more effectively than we otherwise would have."

Some of your listeners may have gone to the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, and the steering committee for the Social Forum in Atlanta were the leaders of, I think, less than 12 organizations, maybe 10 organizations. As the organizing took place over the years, about seven of those 10 leaders did the Rockwood training, and the Chair of the Board said that it made a huge difference in their ability to pull off the Forum, the fact that these people were trained. Stories like that are the ones that keep us coming in in the morning.

BB: What are Rockwood's future goals and challenges?

AC: Well the interesting thing now is to take advantage of the fact of having 1700 alumni. People talk about network effects. What is the minimum requirement for creating a self-sustaining community? The number varies widely, depending on what you are up to, but we honestly believe that 1700 alumni, and adding 300 per year, is the tipping point at which we can start to build a self-sustaining network.

What that will require from us, of course, is a sophisticated web platform. We are really interested in building that in 2008. We have, and these numbers are rough, 250 alumni in Seattle, 500 in the Bay Area, 200 in Los Angeles, 300 or 400 in Washington D.C., and another 300 or so in New York City, and then the rest scattered around the country in Denver and Vancouver. In Boston, we probably have a couple of hundred.

These numbers mean that if we provide the right incentives for people, they will start to organize each other. What I mean by that is that we are, for many people, the go-to group for moving organizational agendas forward: how do I lead my team, how do I create a process where we can get aligned in the right direction, how do I resolve a difference between me and the members in my coalition. Once laid onto the Web, in terms of downloads, conversations, and all of the technologies that are available now, we know, based on our surveys of our alumni, that they will start to use it. They will start to share skills with each other, they will search for alumni within 20 miles of their zip code, etc. and they will begin to build a community around performance and results that doesn't exist yet; that is the one of the many things we are very interested in in 2008.

BB: What is the path that brought you to this work?

AC: I got my first job in nonprofits in 1984 in Washington D.C., and I got hired fresh out of college and worked for Greenpeace. In 1984, Greenpeace was a $400,000 company in the US, and over the course of my 13 years there, grew to, at its peak, we grossed $90 million in donations in the United States.

That growth curve was very interesting for a progressive nonprofit. We saw a lot of people get hired. We saw a lot of projects get birthed. We grew very quickly, and as many of you obviously know, Greenpeace has been historically one of the most effective environmental organizations in history. What I really saw while I was there, and I had a strong interest in, was, how does this happen? How does the team get built that produces these results? What are the minimum obligations of leadership that can create the results that the donors and the public want from us? How do we deliver that in a very effective, manageable package that people will come to, go back Monday morning, and feel like they have benefited greatly?

That was my original motivation. Being a slow learner, it took me 15 years from thinking about it, to actually starting a nonprofit. We roughly launched in 2000, and since then have grown from one trainer to 10 trainers, our training team is half people of color, our Board of Directors are a terrific bunch of people, and we are doing 10 to 20 events each year, and graduating close to 300 people annually.

BB: If people who are listening would like to get involved with Rockwood, what should they do?

AC: They should visit our website which is, and there is a little widget on there that you can click, and get our newsletter and our training announcements. We have a Facebook group called Rockwood that people talk to. We have a subgroup on LinkedIn called Rockwood that alumni have tagged themselves. There are a lot of ways in, and we do trainings all over the country, sliding scale based on your organization's income, so that the financial barriers are not great. And of course, we love talking to people, so if there are questions, comments and emails, we try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Friday, December 14, 2007

10 Tips for Asking Bloggers to Write About Your Cause

A friend recently asked me, "How can I get the word out about a court case surrounding the harmful effects of uranium mining in the Lakota (Sioux) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation?" There are a lot of answers to that question, but if you want to do outreach to bloggers about an issue you care about, here are a few tips:

1. Search for bloggers who write about topics related to your cause on Technorati, Google Blog Search and's blog search engine.

2. Search for blog posts tagged with words related to your topic.

3. Read blogs. Just like you would read a magazine or newspaper to decide if it was an appropriate place to pitch a story, you need to read the blogs you are considering too.

4. Find the name and contact information for the blogger. A personal email is more effective.

5. Think about who you are pitching to. Most bloggers aren't paid to blog. They post whenever they can. They write in coffee shops, during lunch breaks, at kitchen tables and in bed. They are a person, not a corporation. Keep that in mind when you email them.

6. If you have lead time up until you'd like them to write about your story, comment on their blog. Bloggers can sniff out a fake commenter a mile away so steer clear of comments like, "Great stuff. Check out my site:"

7. Start your email with a compliment, or some indication that you have read and enjoyed their blog. I'm telling you, they'll know if you are faking, so be real.

8. Make it easy for them to post about your story. Send them all of the information they would need to write a post without ever having to contact you again, but not in a press release form. Remember, you are one person asking another person to spread the word about something you presumably both care about. Be sure to include:
  • The who, what, where, when, why, and how of the issue, campaign, event or product.
  • The date, if any, that it should be posted by.
  • The action you want their readers to take, if any.
  • An image they can illustrate the post with.
  • Your web site's URL.
  • A short "about" paragraph for the lead organization, person or business.
  • Where they can find more in-depth background information, if they have time.
9. Choose a subject line that tells them that your email contains possible blog post content. Steer clear of vague subject lines like,"Interesting event," or "Fair trade business." Here are a few I've received that I opened because I knew what to expect:
  • Story of Stuff Live with New Youtube Teasers
  • 100K Prize for Social Innovation
  • Annie's Homegrown/Scholarship Program Launch
10. One follow up email is helpful, more than one is annoying.

Bonus tip: If they write about your cause, thank them and link back to them!

For more ideas, check out Reaching Bloggers on Spare Change and a cute little video Blogger Outreach 101 on the Common Craft blog.

Also, check out what 10,000 Villages did. They contacted bloggers and asked them if they would like to join their blog press list.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How to Raise Money for Your Favorite Cause with America's Giving Challenge and the Causes Giving Challenge

Everyone's buzzing about the Case Foundation's America's Giving Challenge and the Causes Giving Challenge. Want to help out your favorite cause? Here's how:

How to Join America's Giving Challenge (December 13, 2007-January 31, 2008)

1. Go to the America's Giving Challenge page in Parade Magazine.

2. Click on "Get Started."

3. Choose a cause you care about in the U.S. or Abroad.

4. Click the button that says "U.S. Based Charity" or "Select a Global Cause."

5a. If you choose a U.S. Based Charity, you'll be asked to register to build a Network for Good digital charity badge. It's not hard, don't worry. You just have to fill in some blanks.

5b. If you choose a Global Cause, you can b
rowse charities by topic, or region via Global Giving, and then select the charity that you would like to support. For example, there are 10 projects to choose from under the topic of "Technology." One cool sounding project in Brazil is, Technology Training for Women Radio Communicators. Once you choose a project, you will build a Global Giving Badge.

6. You can use your Network for Good or Global Giving charity badge via your email, blog, website, or social network to encourage your friends, family and colleagues to donate to your cause.

7. The eight individuals whose charity badges attract the most unique donors, through the America’s Giving Challenge, will get $50,000 for their cause.

8. The 100 nonprofits with the greatest number of unique donations made to them, through America’s Giving Challenge, will each get $1,000.

How to Join the Causes Giving Challenge (December 13-February 1, 2008)

1. Sign up for a Facebook account, or sign in if you already have one.

2. Go to the Causes Giving Challenge page.

3. Create a Cause. It won't take long. The Pronet Advertising blog has a good explanation for how to set one up. As of this writing, the leading Cause in the Cause Giving Challenge today was created by Bryan Campen. His Cause is called, "End Extremism: Promote Pluralism." He has gotten 38 people to join his cause and 17 of them donated a total of $410. The donations will go to the 501(c)3 nonprofit he chose, Interfaith Youth Core. If by December 14, 2007 12:00PM PST, Bryan's Cause has the most unique donors, the Interfaith Youth Core will receive $1,000 from the Case Foundation.

4. Every 24 hours, $1,000 will be given to the cause with the most unique donors.

Pretty cool, huh? For more information, go the Case Foundation's site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Every Human Has Rights: Sign the Pledge for the Elders

Do you believe we all have human rights?

Do you believe:
• You have the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.
• Nobody has the right to treat you as his/her slave and you should not make anyone your slave.
• Nobody has the right to torture you.
• You should be legally protected in the same way everywhere, and like everyone else.
• The law is the same for everyone; it should be applied in the same way to all.
These are 5 of the 30 points listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. December 10, 2008 will mark the 60th anniversary of the General Assembly of the United Nations' adoption of the Declaration.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary, The Elders (Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Ela Bhatt, Gro Brundtland, Fernando H Cardoso, Mary Robinson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Graça Machel, Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing and Muhammad Yunus) have launched the Every Human Has Rights campaign. In the past, only governments have signed the Declaration. The campaign's goal is to have 1 billion individuals from all over the world sign it. I did.

In her post, Happy Human Rights Day on Global Voices, Solana Larsen writes about a conference call six Global Voices bloggers had with Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, and Graça Machel. According to Larsen, The Elders are asking, "the world's bloggers and citizen media activists to help them in their campaign to make human rights more relevant to individuals around the world."

Larsen also writes about the second part of the campaign, getting people to upload videos about human rights violations to WITNESS' The Hub. The Hub is a place to find, upload and take action on human rights-related media. From the site:
"The WITNESS Hub and Google Earth are working with the Every Human Has Rights campaign to build a global digital databank of human rights stories, in text, audio and video."
In her post, Start Designing Human Rights on Anamorphosis, Kate Andrews writes about some of the design behind the campaign noting that, "The campaign identity puts the emphasis on the main subject, human rights, and is hand-cut and screened printed, with typography by illustrator Rose Stallard."

What difference will a beautifully designed web campaign have on the lives of people whose rights are being violated? It's hard to know, but the "Take Action" section of the Every Human Has Rights site says that ActionAid International, Amnesty International, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, International PEN, Realizing Rights, Save the Children, and UNICEF will be participating in the campaign as well.

With a powerhouse group like the Elders behind it, hopefully global awareness of our shared humanity and rights will be raised, and progress will be made in how governments treat their citizens, and how we treat each other.

Logo from The Elders: Every Human Has Rights.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Carfree Ciclovia in Colombia

Earlier this year I posted about how Ode Magazine reported that The Happy Planet Index, a project of the New Economics Foundation, ranked Colombia as the 2nd happiest place for the planet.

Because my hubs is from Colombia, I like to keep up with the positive Colombia stories, so I wanted to share this 9-minute online video, Ciclovia: Bogotá, Colombia by StreetFilms. On Sundays and major holidays, the main streets in Bogotá are closed down from 7AM-2 PM for cyclists, runners, skaters and walkers to enjoy.

If you are reading this through a feed reader and don't see the video, click through to the original post.

Hat tip to Carfree USA Blog for the story.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Darfur Documentary on HBO December 6

Thursday, December 6, from 8:00 – 9:45 pm ET/PT, HBO will screen a documentary by Paul Freedman about Darfur, Sand and Sorrow. If you don't have HBO, like me, you can watch a live stream of the full film on the HBO web site December 7-9. George Clooney is the film's narrator and Executive Producer.

Campus Progress and the ENOUGH Project have teamed up to facilitate the organizing of house parties to view and discuss the film. You can find more information about hosting a house party on Campus Progress' web site.

After the film's screening, you can discuss the film, and learn what you can do to help, on a conference call with Darfur activists John Prendergast, Samantha Power, and Nicholas Kristof. You can sign up for the call on the ENOUGH site.

To follow what is going on in Darfur, and how you can help, check out these blogs:

Save Darfur Blog
Genocide Intervention Network (Darfur news feed)
Darfur: An Unforgivable Hell on Earth
Sudan: The Passion of the Present

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No One Has Ever Died From a Blog Comment

I thought I'd share this post that I wrote for the Stanford Social Innovation Review Opinion Blog:

"What is the worst thing that can happen?” I asked a nonprofit the other day when they expressed concern about receiving critical comments on their blog. I mean, really. Has anyone ever died from a blog comment? Has a nonprofit been brought down because they were too transparent and authentic online? Don’t most scandals happen because something is being hidden, rather than because it was revealed?

If your organization has so many skeletons in its closet, or is doing such a terrible job that you don’t want people to criticize it, maybe you need to look at how your organization works, or your staff, or whatever it is you are worried about, and make some changes. If someone has something bad to say about your nonprofit, they are probably not the only one, and they are probably already saying it to other people. Wouldn’t you rather that they tell you about it publicly, so you have an opportunity to address it?

I also hear a lot of fears that there will be too many comments. As if a staff of 50 will be needed to handle it. I say, 1. Let’s wait to see if you get any comments, and 2. If your supporters and potential supporters have so much to say about your organization, isn’t it important to fund a staff person to listen to them?

Finally, when talking to nonprofits about using blogs, I often hear fears around pointing to other organizations doing similar work. The best nonprofit blogs are ones that use a blog as a marketing and communication tool for their organization, and to establish themselves as a thought leader in their field. Being a thought leader means you feel comfortable pointing to other organizations doing similar work effectively (maybe even more effectively than you, gasp!). It also means sharing your own resources and tools for creating change, even if that means another organization (like your competitor) might use them to become a better changemaker (would that really be so terrible?).

Blogging is a very confident medium that by providing links to other sites says, “I believe you’ll be back.” It is also a generous medium that exists on the belief that if I share something with you, you’ll share something with me, and together we’ll have more than we did by ourselves.

If being authentic, truthful and generous while listening, sharing and collaborating are things nonprofits want to avoid, then, we’ve taken a wrong turn. Don’t be afraid of blog comments. We’ve got bigger things to worry about.