Friday, October 30, 2009

Turn Your Book Club Into a Social Action Club with Kristof and WuDunn's Half the Sky

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, "lays out an agenda for the world's women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute."

Even though Kristof and WuDunn focus on solutions as well as problems around these issues, reading about them might feel overwhelming. Why not transform that overwhelm into action by registering your book club with the Mercy Corps Half the Sky Book Club?

You'll receive discussion questions from Kristof and WuDunn, handmade bookmarks from India, and updates on Half the Sky news and events. Plus, the book club that, "compiles the most impressive record of activism by June 15, 2010 will receive a visit and discussion session with Kristof and WuDunn."

Here's how it works:
  • Go to One Table, a Mercy Corps campaign to fight hunger by investing in women.
  • Fill out the registration form for your book club.
  • Read the book!
  • Host an event to discuss the book and raise funds and awareness for Mercy Corps programs that help women around the world.
Even if you don't belong to a book club, you can still get together a group of 6-10 friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, or online pals to read the book and take some kind of action together.

Update: Here's a resource I learned about after the post was published, EngenderHealth’s online Reader’s Companion for Half The Sky.

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Cross-posted from

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Have Fun Do Good Link Love: Echoing Green, Jobs for Change, Julia Cameron and 29 Gifts


This week, Echoing Green partnered with Jobs for Change on a new Be Bold Podcast. In the first edition of this partnership, I interviewed Erin O'Connor Jones, the Director of Candidate Services and Managing Associate at Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group.

I talked with Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, this month for the Arts and Healing Network's podcast:

I have 3 new posts up on the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship blog:
And 2 interviews on The Extraordinaries blog:

And 6 news posts on the WE Volunteer blog:
Whew! It's been a been a busy few weeks!


Bay Area folks, join me November 15th for Jennifer Lee's Right-Brain Business Plan Workshop in Oakland. Early registration deadline is Nov. 1st.

Green Blogger Convention To Kick Off In Los Angeles Next Month on Ecorazzi.

Interesting WorldChanging post, Just Launched: Journal of Participatory Medicine.

We Inspire Grant: One year of creative services to one U.S. nonprofit (valued up to $75,000).

If you missed my friend Cami Walker of 29 Gifts on the Today Show, you can watch it online. Bay Area folks can go to the 29 Gifts book launch party in San Francisco November 14th.

19 Free Webinars for Nonprofits - November 2009 on Wild Apricot Blog.

10 Tips for an Effective Nonprofit or Do-Good Facebook Fan Page by Beth Kanter on BlogHer.

7 Tips for Measuring the Success of Your Blog on Beth's Blog

Create a Listening Dashboard for your Organization on NetSquared.

20 Twitter Hashtags for Social Entrepreneurs, Nonprofits and Activists on SocialEarth.

THE BIG LIST of social entrepreneurs on Twitter.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Connecting Creative Women Entrepreneurs

Jennifer Lee, Kimberly Wilson, Lisa Sonora Beam and I were on a call the other day talking about how fun it would be to put together an event for creative women entrepreneurs to connect, create, and learn together. We came up with our own description of what an event like that would look like, but we want to hear your thoughts and opinions, too.

We put together a six-question survey to find out what your ideal creative women entrepreneur event would look like. By providing your feedback, you can enter in a raffle to be one of four winners to receive either a half hour of social media consulting with me, a copy of the Right Brain Business Plan e-Book by Jennifer, a copy of The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa, or a copy of Hip Tranquil Chick by Kimberly.

Click here to take the survey by November 16.

Thanks so much for your input! We’ll be designing an experience that caters to you, and is what we wish we had along our journeys. That’s why we’re excited to create it!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Love Animals? 9 Animal Rights Organization Blogs for Your Weekend Reading

Maybe it's the fact that I've been spending a lot of time with our cat this week, or because I've been trying out a bunch of recipes from my Veganomicon cookbook, but I've been thinking a lot about animals lately.

Do we want a second pet? Would I enjoy being a vegetarian, or vegan again? How long will polar bears be around?

While mulling these questions, I surfed through a variety of animal rights organizations' blogs thanks to Stephanie Ernst's post, Major Players in Animal Rights: Organizations, on the's Animal Rights Blog.

Thought I'd share some of the blogs that caught my eye with all of you fellow animal lovers (:

Born Free USA Blog
Gene Baur's Bloggings, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary's blog
Lib Now!, the Institute for Critical Animal Studies blog
MFA Blog, Mercy for Animals blog
The PETA Files
Sanctuary Trails, the Farm Sanctuary blog
The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog
Wayne Pacelle: A Humane Nation, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States' blog

Photos by me. Cross-posted from

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

5 Tips for Finding Time to Cook

One of my favorite parts of The New York Times Magazine article last weekend about Jamie Oliver, Putting America's Diet on a Diet, was when after Oliver made Mini Shell Pasta With a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce for his two daughters and the article's author, Alex Witchel observed:
"He [Oliver] is not a diet cop; he’s about scratch cooking, which to him means avoiding processed and fast food, learning pride of ownership, encouraging sparks of creativity and finding a reason to gather family and friends in one place."
I just love that sentiment, that eating "healthy" is less about what you are eating (i.e. organic, carbs, no carbs, meat, no meat, fat, no fat, etc.), but about eating "scratch cooking" with other people.

I love to cook. If I have time to cook dinner, I know that my day is just the right amount of busy. Today was one of those days. Although neither my husband and I are vegans (I was one a long time ago), I still like vegan cookbooks. Inspired by a Joy Behar interview last week with Alicia Silverstone about her book, The Kind Diet (Behar's face while tasting the vegan food Alicia brought was hilarious), and by this month being VeganMoFo's Vegan Month of Food, I thought I'd try a few new recipes from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, a birthday gift from my in-laws this year.

I made three dishes (pictured above) A Hummus Recipe, Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad, and Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. The cookies were of course my favorite because I have a crazy sweet tooth.

Finding time to go grocery shopping and cook can be tough. Some weeks are easier than others. A few things I do to find time and motivation to cook are:

1. Plan when I am going to shop and cook. Just like you have to plan when you're going to make time to exercise, you have to do the same with shopping and cooking. I try to go shopping twice a week, once on the weekend and once mid-week.

2. Pick recipes, or foods that sound fun to make. I'm a recipe person myself and part of the reason I like making new recipes is that it feels like you get a surprise at the end--How will it taste? What will it look like? Will this be my newest favorite dish? I own a lot of cookbooks, but I also get them out from the library, ask friends for recipes, and search for new recipes on epicurious and Food Network.

If you aren't a recipe person, pick a food (Epicurious has a Peak-Season Map where you can see what foods are in season near you) that sounds fun to build a dish around.

3. Keep my grocery list in my phone. My favorite iPhone application right now is Grocery iQ. Every time I notice we need something I just add it to my list on Grocery iQ, that way if I find myself unexpectedly near a store I can grab a few things.

4. Always have the fixings on hand for one dish that doesn't use perishable ingredients. I found the recipe for Midnight Pasta with Tuna, Pancetta and Spinach in a Food & Wine Magazine stuffed in the front pocket of a plane seat over five years ago. It has become one of my standbys because it's easy to keep the ingredients for it on hand: spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, pancetta or bacon (I use Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips, which keep in the freezer for a long time), crushed red pepper, frozen chopped spinach, oil-packed tuna, white wine, and salt.

5. Make food for friends. When it's just my husband and me, or just one of us at home, we sometimes get lazy with cooking, but if we have people over it motivates us to cook. You can organize a meal swap with friends if you don't like to eat the same leftovers for days afterwards, and sites like MealBaby make it easy to organize meals for a sick friend, and might motivate you to make dinner for them, and you at the same time.

Below are links to some of the cookbooks I turn to again and again. What are some of your favs?

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World, and How to Reach Them: Interview with The She Spot co-author, Lisa Witter

If you are in charge of communications for your nonprofit or NGO, I recommend you read The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World, and How to Reach Them by Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen. In the edited transcript of my September 1st interview with co-author Lisa Witter for the Big Vision Podcast, she discusses how nonprofits can use four principles from the book, Care, Connect, Control, and Cultivate to get the word out about their cause.

Lisa is the Chief Operating Officer of Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country. She heads the firm’s practice in women’s issues and global affairs for clients including Women for Women International, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai,, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Global Fund for Women, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, David and Lucille Packard Foundation and many others. She is a co-founder of the award-winning, an online brain trust of women experts designed to close the gender gap among commentators in the news media.

Our conversation began with Lisa talking about why she and co-author Lisa Chen wrote The She Spot: Why Women are the Market for Changing the World, and How to Reach Them.

Lisa Witter: Over the years, Lisa and I, we've been working together for more than nine years, really have had an opportunity to look at how philanthropy is changing and the role that women are playing in society. And we've done that through working with a lot of "women's issues" clients. I'm not really sure what women's issues are, besides breast cancer and ovarian cancer, but you know what I mean when I say it. And we found out that a lot of organizations would come in and they would talk about their target audience as a monolithic gender. We knew that the trends were showing that women give more, women are engaged more, women vote more, women are twice as likely to pass on information, and women make 83 percent of the consumer decisions. So,we just knew that if you wanted to make social change, you had to understand how to connect with women and how to motivate women.

Yet, the NGOs that we were working with didn't understand that at all. They thought, men and women, sort of the same. We would see them do things like put pink marketing campaigns together, but we knew that that wouldn't work for a certain amount of women. So we decided to look at what the private sector had learned, and layer that on top of the social-change sector.

Britt Bravo: In the book you advise nonprofits and political campaigns to use the rule of the four Cs to reach women. I'd love to talk about each of those Cs. The first C is care. Can you talk about what you mean by care, and some examples of organizations that have used this concept of care effectively?

Yes. The four Cs are the critical piece to the book. The first part of what we were trying to talk about in the book is making the case for why women should be your target audience. Like I said, we have more money, we vote more, we are engaged more in volunteerism. In fact, the prototype of what a volunteer is, is a working mother, right? Women are engaged in their community. They're giving, they're voting, they're super-powerful, and they're making consumer decisions. Now that we've made the argument that you should pay attention to women, how do you reach them? How do you move them?

The four Cs are Care, Connect, Control, and Cultivate. Care is pretty easy. Care is the first, easiest one. I think it's the one that organizations get most instinctively.

The first part of care is to put a face on your organization. Just don't have it be some organization online where you see graphics of bar charts and research reports, but not real human beings. was one of the first organizations that really pioneered this with technology. When you get an email from, it's from a human being. So, it would be from Joan, Wes, and Eli, or from Adam and Ilyse. Real people were behind the organization. And that's really important. Women want to be engaged in something where real people are at.

The next is to keep it simple, but keep it real. They want to cut to the chase. They're busy. Use real examples of real people. That's critical with women. They want to hear stories of people that look just like them. Women are more skeptical of advertising than men are because they feel like someone's trying to get one up on them, and so they want to know that real people are engaged in an organization, and that they're hearing real-life stories.

The next is sort of counter intuitive. I think a lot of people think that if you talk to women, all you have to do is show the cute little fuzzy puppy in the corner and they'll give money. That's not true, actually. Women really want the details of an organization. They want to be able to go online and find out what the organization is doing, how their budgets are run, who's involved in the background, and what legislation they're passing. They're really the tougher customer than when it comes to men.

With women, you want to appeal to people's sense of group affiliation. It may be a mom group affiliation. It may be an environmentalist group affiliation. It may be animal rights. But this sense of creating a collective community is more important to women than it is men. It's just natural in our brains, if you look at the brain science and everything around that, women want to build community.

And the last thing with care is something that people forget a lot about with women. When we wrote the book, Borat was out, the movie that sort of typifies schadenfreude. People were saying to me, "Lisa, did you see Borat?" And I said, "No, I didn't. I don't find it funny." And they'd said, "Well, lighten up! It's really funny." And I would say, "I don't think it's funny."

Well, that's because women have a different sense of what humor is. Women don't think making fun of other people is funny. That's not what we think is funny. What we do think is funny is making fun of ourselves, or finding things tongue-in-cheeky, or just other types of humor.

I think it's important, even though we're working on really serious issues, to use humor as much as possible. Not many groups do it. A while ago, a video came out online called The Meatrix which used flying animals to defend mass production of meat and promote vegetarianism. That sort of humor is really important to women.

Now, the second C is connect. Can you talk about what you mean by that? And is that connecting online? Offline? What's an organization that's using it well to get their message across?

Connect is really the advantage of what women bring. Women do connect. They want to connect. They're using social networking more than men and they instinctually connect more. Again, it goes back to our brain science. The reason why we were able to write this book in a new way is because for the first time we actually have brain science that tells us the difference between men and women.

We know for a fact that there are major differences, and what the ramifications are in our marketing. Women truly value community connection, and so if you can connect women to one another you deepen their brand loyalty to you. That's super important.

When you connect people by harnessing their collective creativity, that's really important. So, how do you get ideas from people, and how do people share information? That's really important.

One organization that does this I think better than any organization I've seen is Women For Women International. Women for Women International is an organization that helps survivors of war rebuild their lives, and more than just rebuild their own lives, they rebuild countries by rebuilding their own lives.

They have a sponsorship program where I'm a sister. Britt, I believe you're a sister, too.

I am.

We write letters back and forth to one another. I sponsor her for a low monthly fee, and we write letters back and forth to one another. We build deep connections. I learn about women in Rwanda, and they learn about my life. I ask parenting advice, and she asks me what it's like to go into an office every day. That sort of deep connection not only creates more satisfaction for the donor, but it creates deep brand loyalty to the organization, and that's one of the reasons why Women for Women has been so successful.

Everyone's so excited about social networking. Is there a [nonprofit] organization you've seen that uses online social networking effectively in connecting women online? Or is it just that everyone thinks that you can connect women online effectively, and it's not happening?

To be honest with you, I don't think people have figured it out quite yet. I think there are pieces here and there that people are using, things that pop up like MomsRising; for example, is an organization that does a lot of online organizing. But I don't think anyone's been able to really create a social networking experience, from an NGO perspective, that's really working, beyond the Obama campaign. The Obama campaign did it, but without calling out women as their target audience. They appealed to women in what they did, but they didn't call it a woman-to-woman campaign, and that's fine too.

I think that's important for marketers, that if you're going to reach women you don't necessarily need to run campaigns to say, "I'm going to reach women." Women will automatically be drawn to campaigns that connect people to one another.

That leads us to the third C, cultivate. What does that mean, cultivate, and what's an example of using cultivate for an effective campaign?

Well, cultivate is another C that is really distinct to women. One of the background stories in doing the research for the book was I was asking a political fundraiser friend of mine, "What's the experience like for you as a fundraiser in cultivating women donors versus men donors for political donations?" My woman fundraiser, who's a strong feminist, said to me, "Oh, I don't bother with women donors."


I said, "Why?" She said, "It takes too long to cultivate them. For them to give that big check, they want to know too many details. They ask too many questions, and they want too much engagement. As a political fundraiser, I just want their money, and to get out."

Which is a really interesting observation if you think back on Hillary Clinton's fund-raising and Barack Obama's fund-raising. Hillary had a go-after-the-big-donor approach, and Obama had the build-the-big-donors-by-getting-lots-of-little-donors approach. That's really key for women.

When you're thinking about cultivating with women, you need to think long-term. You can't think small: three-month, four-month, six-month. You need to think in a four-year period, how do I take a woman who is going to ask more questions, who is maybe going to want to volunteer before they make an investment, who doesn't see fundraising as transactional, who sees fundraising as actually an investment in an organization?

You need to think long-term and create fundraising and activation programs for women that are deeper and meaningful. You just can't ask for her money. She wants her advice to be asked. She wants for her creativity to be tapped.

Again, it's more labor-intensive, but the thing is that once you get women on board, they're much more likely to be loyal to the organization. Again, that's where this long-term cultivation approach is really important.

Women actually care even more deeply where the money goes. They're looking at the details of what's being spent on program versus administration. We can go into a whole conversation about what's healthy or not healthy about that from a not-for-profit perspective, but you should know that that's what donors are looking for.

An organization called Room to Read is a great organization. You go to the front page of their website, and they show exactly how they're spending their money. That's what women donors are looking for.

You also want to be able to demonstrate your impact right away. That's where an organization like is a wonderful spot for women and really gets women marketing without saying. "We're pink, and we market to women."

You can go on and be a loan partner with another community, and give to a woman or a man that you can see who they are. You can see your impact with your donation, and your engagement right away. Kiva's a great example.

The next thing is you want to make her feel part of a group or a movement, again, something bigger than herself. The Innocence Project, again, very different, not an online organization at all. They're an organization that helps exonerate wrongly convicted people who are up for the death penalty through new DNA evidence.

They have a simple ticker on the top of their website that says, over the course of their existence how many people they have removed from death row. As a supporter of the Innocence Project, that makes me feel part of something bigger. That makes me feel like, "Wow. Through my engagement, through other people's engagement, we've really brought justice and saved these people's lives."

They can be little things, like putting a ticker on your website, to much bigger things, like developing an entire organization around some of these cultivation principles.

The fourth C is actually the one I found the most interesting, because it doesn't surprise me that women care, that they like to connect, that maybe they take a little while to cultivate. But this idea of control I thought was very interesting, and I just never would have thought of it. Can you talk about that last C, and this idea of control, and an example or two of some organizations or campaigns that have used it well?

Well, Britt, I love the control piece. Every time I talk about it, Lisa Chen and I start having Janet Jackson in our head. We can't help but want to sing the song. Maybe that dates us a little bit. But it's really true. This idea of control for women is so important in their lives. Why is that so? Well, lots of women don't feel like they have control, whether it be because they're a working mother, or a single mom, or they feel wage discrimination, or they're torn in so many directions because they're taking care of their parents.

Also, they care deeply about the planet. When they make a purchase, they're much more likely than men to be a consumer that looks for a beneficial product not only for their family, but for the world too. The notion is that they go through life feeling a bit out of control, and they want to know that what they're doing is having an impact.

What does that mean for a nonprofit? Well, I have two small children; two and five months. I read children's books a lot. One is The Little Engine That Could and the other is Chicken Little. What women are looking for is the Little Engine That Could message; the, "I think I can. I think I can. I have control. If I do these things, if I am engaged, I can see impact in my community."

It can't be so big like, "Save the Oceans." I can't even get my head around how to save the oceans, but I can save the swordfish and I want positive messaging. One of the things we know with the psychology of women, in my experience too, being the coach of little girls, is you coach girls and boys differently. Girls want that positive reinforcement. It's really critical to them. "The sky is falling. Oh, my God. The world is gonna end." That reminds women of the lack of control they have in their lives.

This positive approach to messaging is really important. CARE, an international development and relief organization, has an, "I Am Powerful" campaign, and it shows women being powerful and it shows them in control. That's what women donors are looking for.

Another piece that women, not just donors, but activists, and people engaged in social change, are looking for is a two-for-one. How can they incorporate making the world a better place into their day to day lives?

The Environmental Defense Fund came up with the two-for-one of a Seafood Selector card. We know that women do the majority of the shopping. We know that women care about food. And we also know that when they make a purchase, they want it to impact their family as well as the environment.

They put out these seafood cards, which you carry in your wallet, and you can pick which fish isn't being over fished, which fish has the lower mercury content, etc. That's the two-for-one engagement.

Another example of that is Heifer International. They provide people opportunities to buy a llama and give it as a gift to someone. Now, I'm in my mid 30's, and I swear I'm a professional wedding goer. I cannot get another one of my 30-year-old girlfriends a toaster. They don't need it.

What I do buy them is a flock of sheep, a swarm of bees, or a llama because it makes me feel good, it makes them feel good, and it makes the world a better place. Women in particular are looking for these two-for-one ways to have an impact.

You're the COO of Fenton Communications. I don't know if you know, but I also do career coaching and I can't tell you how many people want to use their business, marketing, and advertising skills for good, and you get to do that, which seems pretty special and amazing. Can you talk a little bit about the path that brought you to this work that I think so many people would love to have?

It is a privilege and an honor to do work that motivates me every day when I get up and work with extraordinary people both as clients and as colleagues. My path was a little untraditional. Not to go to far back, but when I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to help people. I was also a deeply competitive athlete. My nickname was "animal." I like to win. I went to church as a little girl and I was taught that you should give back. Service was key. I was a candy striper in an ER room. I helped sick people, and I realized that it was too painful for me to watch individuals suffering. I just wasn't tough enough, to be honest.

Then, I wanted to be a lawyer and I realized the legal system wasn't a place where I felt like I could have a lot of impact on individual people's lives. I interned for a public defender.

I thought, "Wow. Where can I have impact?" Well, if you put winning and helping people together, you get to politics pretty quickly. I spent the first five or six years of my career running political campaigns, being involved in ballot measures, and doing all sort of things.

Then, leading up to the Bush/Gore first election, I got recruited away from - I was Chief of Staff for a City Council member in Seattle. I really thought I was going to run for office, that my path would be to be an elected official.

I got recruited to run a campaign against the privatization of social security for 140 women's organizations, and I moved to Washington, I did grassroots organizing, I did television, and I did media. I did policy reports, and analysis and research.

I realized in my year internship in the political mecca that there were great researchers, there were great grassroots organizers, there were great fundraisers, but there weren't great communications people.

I decided that that's what I wanted to contribute was to try to make myself a great communications person so I could have impact.

When I moved to Washington, I was the only person I knew with a PalmPilot. I grew up in Seattle, so technology wasn't a new thing to me. Through the years, it's been really fun to grow my communication skills and see the role that communications play be even more front and center in the work that we do.

I'm an accidental person. I don't like PR, I don't like media relations - "Ugh, who wants to do that?" But then, I fell in love with the power of communications to make social changes.

What advice do you have for people who are listening, or who read about this on the blog if they are a communications and marketing person? I think you're right that in the past that's been relegated to not important, and not worth spending money on, within the nonprofit arena particularly. Now, it's gaining more and more importance. What advice do you have for folks who want to use those skills for good?

I think there are a number of things that you can do. I think that if they want to work in the field, meaning the NGO field, on your resume you have to show some sort of commitment; some deeper, personal commitment, not just a professional commitment to it. If that's joining a board, if that's volunteering, there are lots of different ways to show that. I think that they should follow the NGO trends and follow people like you who are doing really good work in the space. I think they may want to consider blogging about some of their experiences from the private sector to the nonprofit sector.

There's so much that we have to learn from the innovations that the private sector has been doing in marketing. I think there's great transitions to be made for those people.

The She Spot came out in the summer of '08. So, it would've been written before that, really before we hit the super seriousness of this economic climate. Has the advice that you give in the book changed? How would you tell nonprofits, in terms of marketing, how they can reach women and men to raise money in this kind of climate? How should they be framing their marketing and their outreach?

Well, it's a great question, Britt. A good example is Women Moving Millions which is an initiative by the Women's Funding Network to bring forth million dollar donors to invest in women and girls. They set out a goal to raise, I believe it was $135 million dollars, through million dollar, or more women's gifts.

They, even through the recession, beat their fundraising goals by nearly more than, I believe $40 million dollars. What that says to me is, "We see that women are deeply committed to philanthropy".

Women in particular, like to give to those who need it most. If you are at an organization serving the basic needs of people, this is your time to do cultivation of women donors, and to work with women donors, because that is what appeals to them, the critical needs of people.

There is a real opportunity for you to cultivate new donors and to dig deeper with donors, even if their pocketbooks have been hit. They understand the need to give to people when they need it most.

In general, using these principles is going to help anyone at anytime. I really do not see NGO's being as sophisticated about understanding women donors, or even identifying women as key to their membership and advocacy drives as they should. I think part of that is people just not recognizing the power that women have in society right now.

I think part of that is people being scared about the power that women may have in society, and fears that it will sort of backlash in the other direction. And I think that there is this deeper down thing in us a that if we recognize women as different, somehow that means that women aren't equal.

That's not at all what we're saying with The She Spot. What we're saying is that men and women are different. We celebrate that. Not every woman is different in the same way. We have our cultural differences. We have our sexual preference differences. We have our sexual identities. We have our ages. There are lots of things, even within the women bubble.

For example, there are lots of things about me that people would consider male traits. Anyone named "Animal" is a pretty tough competitor. There are things that are different between us, and I want us to celebrate that. I want us to know the differences, and really take advantage of that for the issues we care about.

Twenty percent of the profits from The She Spot go to two organizations that you mentioned earlier, Women for Women International and So, that's a good motivation for folks to pick up a copy of the book. There are so many great organizations out there. How come you chose these two?

Well, there are so many reasons why. One, we felt that giving some of our money back was just appropriate and we wanted to lead by example of giving. It is an honor to give to both of them. Women for Women, one, because I think the work that they do is so ground-breaking and smart, and in the spirit of The She Spot. Als,o Zainab Salbi, their founder and president, cares about me. We're friends and she has taken an interest in the work that I do, and even invited me to travel with her in Rwanda and experience the program there.

So much about life is about relationships and authenticity, and the authenticity of how she goes through the world is so important to me. I wanted to give back to her, and do in other ways.

MomsRising, the same thing. I think what Joan Blades has done with, and then understanding the importance of marketing to women during life cycles. One of the things we talk about is the importance of reaching women in different life cycle changes.

Motherhood is one of the biggest life cycle changes that we go through, if we decide to have children. Eighty percent of women do. It's not something that I say, that every women should be a mom, but if you are going to be a mom, it's an important opportunity for us to engage mothers in social change.

They are doing great innovative work and great online organizing, and I have deep respect. Joan Blades has been a personal friend, and supporter, and caretaker of my dreams. I like to support people who are authentic like that.

Finally, is there just anything else that you didn't get to talk about? About your work, The She Spot, the power of women to change the world?

Well, Britt, I know that you have a special interest and expertise and secret sauce in technology. One of my passions is, "How do you utilize technology to improve the world, and really bring out the best in human beings?" Allison Fine, who is a great author and speaker on social innovation and technology, gave us a quote for the book about how email doesn't have a burka, and how computers aren't feminist. A computer doesn't discriminate against you if you're a women.

My point is, now is women's time to use technology. More women are online. More women are blogging. More women are doing online gaming. More women are doing social networking. It's really our time as people who are trying to ignite and develop social change campaigns to realize and break that old barrier in our mind that technology is a man's tool. It's not.

When we unleash new types of thinking for engaging people in authentic ways that are not top down, that are really wisdom of crowds, I really believe we'll see breakthroughs in the social change that we want to see. I appreciate your being one of the leaders in the field.

Awww, thanks. Well thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. The book is fantastic. You are doing great work with Fenton, and so I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom with the Big Vision podcast listeners and the people who will read the transcript.

I encourage people to go to and engage. If you see examples of organizations that are doing this well, who are using a principle or some of the principles, let us know. We want to work with the community to call out people who are doing well. We have some plans coming up for a potential SheSpotter Conference and perhaps even some SheSpotter awards in 2010.

Cross-posted from

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Blog Action Day Post: Climate Change and Poverty

Even though tomorrow, October 15th, is Blog Action Day, an annual event when bloggers write about the same issue on the same day, today is the best day for me to put up my post, so here it goes! I figure it's already October 15th in some parts of the world, so it's ok (:

This year's Blog Action Day issue is climate change. Personally, I'm interested in the connection between climate change and poverty.

According to the post, Report Shows Poverty Linked to Climate Change:
"A study, published in an August issue of Environmental Research Letters, has shown that climate change will have a disproportionate impact on the world’s poor, pushing them further into poverty. The study examined the potential economic impact of adverse climate events, such as heat waves, drought and heavy rains on households in developing countries."
The humanitarian organization, CARE, has a whole Climate Change Information Center microsite at According to the site, the people CARE works with are telling them that climate change is already causing:
  • More people to suffer from hunger;
  • More people to live without access to adequate water;
  • An increase in health threats;
  • A decline in the productivity of natural resource based livelihoods; and
  • An increase in the frequency, scale and intensity of conflicts over natural resources.
Oxfam International also has a climate change campaign, and a Climate Change blog.

Oxfam America wants supporters to send an email to President Obama asking him to, "make the US a leader [
during the United Nations Climate Change Conference] in crafting an equitable global treaty that provides substantial financing for poor and vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change." Oxfam UK is asking its supporters to send similar emails to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

I have to tell you that reading about this stuff makes me feel a bit discouraged, but
I was heartened to find the post, The next urban crisis: poverty and climate change on the World Bank's Development in a Changing Climate blog, that mentions the launch of the Rockefeller Foundation's Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network.

The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, "aims to catalyze attention, funding, and action on building climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable people by creating robust models and methodologies for assessing and addressing risk through active engagement and analysis of various cities."

What other projects and innovations have you heard about that are being developed to help poor people who will be, and are affected by climate change?

You can still sign up to participate in Blog Action Day on, and follow their latest news on the Blog Action Day blog.

Cross-posted from

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 Elements of an Effective Nonprofit or Do-Good Blog

If after asking yourself the 10 Questions to Get You Started Using Social Media for Your Nonprofit or Do-Good Project, you've decided that a blog is good tool for you, consider incorporating the following 10 elements of an effective nonprofit, or do-good blog into your blogging strategy:

1. Make it easy to subscribe
  • Have an rss feed.
  • Allow email subscription (Feedburner or Feedblitz will help you do this).
  • Put a prompt to subscribe by rss and email at the top of your blog.
2. Make it easy to share
  • Use an AddThis or ShareThis button on the bottom of each post.
  • Place an AddThis or ShareThis button on the top of the blog.
  • If you are using Facebook, share your blog's feed in your Facebook news feed with the Notes application.
  • If you are using Twitter, share links to new blog posts (you can shorten the urls with
3. Make it easy to put faces and names to blog posts
  • Posts should say, by your name, not by admin, or by the name of your organization.
  • Provide a link to a page with bios for bloggers. If your blogging platform doesn't allow you to do that, have bloggers include a one-line bio at the end of their posts.
4. Make it easy to find out more information about your organization, or project
  • If your blog has its own website, separate from you organization or project's website, create an "About Us" page for your blog that describes the mission of your organization or project, and links back to its home page.
  • If your blog is integrated into your main website, make sure it is easy to navigate back and forth between the blog and your home page.
5. Make it easy to skim, but irresistible read
  • Use images with every post.
  • Write titles that tell the reader whether or not the post has information that is relevant to them.
  • Use bold, italics, bullets and numbered lists to break up the page.
  • Don't be afraid of white space.
  • Keep it short. People read between 250-300 words per minute.
6. Link to other bloggers
  • Use Google Blog Search, Alltop and Technorati to find blogs that write about similar topics to yours.
  • Have a "blogroll," a list of blogs that write about your issue.
  • Link to other blogs' posts within your posts, even if they have a different opinion to yours, it could start a great discussion.
  • Post weekly roundups of blog posts about your issue. You'll build community and provide a useful information filtering service for your readers.
7. Facilitate commenting
  • Allow commenting.
  • Moderate your comments if you are concerned about inappropriate remarks, or spam.
  • If they are civil, allow comments that are critical of your organization. If the conversation becomes too heated, you can always take it over to email.
  • If you receive a comment, acknowledge it, even if your reply is brief.
8. Post about a range topics (i.e. it's not just about you)

You could write about:
  • Breaking news in your field.
  • Interviews (written, audio, video).
  • Notes, photos and presentations from events.
  • Staff and supporters' opinions.
  • The story behind your organization/project.
  • Notes and photos from your work in the field.
  • Press mentions.
  • Requests for feedback and ideas.
  • Calls to action.
  • Guest blog posts.
  • How to lists.
  • Organizational/project news.
9. Engage your community and participate in other online communities
  • Read other blogs. Use Google Blog Search, Alltop and Technorati to find blogs that write about similar topics to yours.
  • Respond to comments.
  • Comment on other blogs that write about your topic and link to your posts. You can track who is linking to you and writing about your issue by using services like Google Analytics or SiteMeter. Set up a Google Alert for your blog's URL, the name of your blog, the name of your organization, and your issue too.
  • Hold and participate in online contests, challenges, blog carnivals and memes.
  • Ask readers to share opinions, resources, and content (blog posts, photos, audio, video).
10. Track your impact

Possible ways to measure impact are (just pick a few):
  • Subscribers (you can see this by burning your feed with Feedburner).
  • Visits, page views, links and referrals (you can see these with Google Analytics or SiteMeter).
  • Number of comments.
  • Content contributed by readers (i.e. posts, photos, video).
  • New donors, volunteers, or members who found you through your blog.
  • Donations made from a link to your donation page from your blog.
  • Press that found you through your blog.
  • Relationships that were formed through your blog.
Next week, Beth Kanter will be continuing this BlogHer series about getting started using social media for your nonprofit, or do-good project with posts about social networking, connecting offline and online action, and raising money on social networks. You can follow her BlogHer blog at

Related posts:
Related posts by me:
Cross-posted from

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Friday, October 09, 2009

The Joy Diet: My Cat is My Teacher

Last month I posted about how I was joining Jamie Ridler Studios' blogging book club, The Next Chapter, while they read The Joy Diet. Each week, participants read one chapter of the book and post on Fridays about their experience.

I have to admit, I feel a bit shy writing about this as I don't often write about feelings, or a lot of personal stuff here, but it's always good to try new things.

I've read three chapters of The Joy Diet over the past 3 weeks: Nothing, Truth & Desire. My takeaways:

Nothing: I need to go to bed earlier. By the end of my daily 15 minutes of sitting and doing nothing I'm almost asleep.

Truth: I need to be more compassionate with myself; consquently, I think I will be more compassionate with others.

Desire: I need to make more time to have fun. I have no trouble making time to "do good," but I think a part of me thinks having fun isn't a priority--that is going to change!

Finally, as I sit each day for my 15 minutes and contemplate the book's questions about truth and desire, our cat, Dora, is my constant companion. I've decided that she is already on The Joy Diet. She does nothing 95% of the time, has no trouble being truthful (she meows with us a lot about what she wants), and she does whatever she desires (playing, sleeping, eating, cuddling, gazing out the window, etc.).

I'm looking forward to seeing what she can teach me this week as I read the fourth chapter, Creativity.

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Image: Our cat, Dora.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Have Fun Do Good Link Love: Volunteerism on TV, Theatres Using Social Media & Tons of Contests


I'll be speaking about podcasting at the Community Technology Network Meetup in San Francisco on October 22nd.

I have 3 new posts up on WE tv's WE Volunteer blog:

And 1 new post on the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship blog:
5 Ways Theatres Can Use Social Media


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Staycation Notes: Pick a Theme. Howabout Tea Tasting?

The past two weekends the hubs and I have been celebrating our anniversary with an extended staycation. Staycations are not only affordable, they're also a great way to support your local businesses.

One of the themes of our staycation was tea tasting. It started with a trip to Crown and Crumpet in San Francisco, a tea salon in Ghiradelli Square. Yes, the hubs is a good sport to go with me to such a cute, pink place (:

He had the Crown & Crumpet Private Blend, and I had their Paris tea (bergamot and vanilla) which was so good we had to buy a little bag of it to take home. We also had our first crumpets, which were freakalicious.

Our second tea tasting stop was the Numi Tea Garden in Oakland. Regular readers and Big Vision Podcast listeners might remember that I interviewed Numi Tea Co-Founder, Reem Rahim, for the Big Vision Podcast in January 2007. Numi Tea is an environmentally and socially responsible tea company based in Oakland (but you can buy their tea nationally).

The hubs had a super yummy darjeeling tea. I had the Jasmine Lovers flowering tea. Mine was the prettiest. His was the tastiest. They serve the tea on little wooden boxes and do a whole ceremony as they prepare it. Our tea hostess also told us about Numi's newest product line of organic puerh tea, and gave us some free samples to take home.

Our last stop was the Imperial Tea Garden Court in Berkeley where we were able to have a tasty lunch with our tea. I tried their Rose Garden Dragon Well tea in a Gaiwan (covered cup). The hubs had an iced Morrocan Mint.

I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to drink the tea with the cover slightly ajar, but eventually got the hang of it. The best part was the tea's yummy rose fragrance.

Our two weekends of tea tasting adventures were fun, and got me excited to find other local tea houses locally, and when we travel.

The next time you want to take a staycation, why not pick a theme for your adventures like bakery sampling, or a bookstore tour, or picnics in public green spaces, or city landmark exploration?

Happy stacationing!

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Monday, October 05, 2009

10 Questions to Get You Started Using Social Media for Your Nonprofit or Do-Good Project

One of the most common questions I'm asked as a social media consultant is, "Which tool is the best?" Unfortunately, there isn't an easy answer to that question. If you have a do-good project, or a small nonprofit that you want to promote, fundraise for, or build an online community around using social media, your first step is to create a plan.

If the idea of creating a
social media plan sounds scary to you, just think of it as: 10 Questions to Get You Started Using Social Media for Your Nonprofit or Do-Good Project.

1. What is the goal I'm trying to achieve by using social media? Raise awareness? Build web traffic? Attract new donors? Raise money for a specific campaign or initiative? Increase membership?

2. Who is my audience? Who are you trying to reach? Are they new members, or your tried and true supporters? Are they already tech savvy, or will they need training to use the tools? What are their interests?
How old are they? (Be careful making assumptions about age. Did you know that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is people who are 35 years old and older?).

3. What are people already saying about my cause, or organization?
Search on Google, Google Blog Search, Technorati, Twitter Search, and Social Mention for your cause, the name of your organization (if you have one), and the URL of your website (if you have one). Search on Facebook too to see if anyone has already created a Facebook Page for your cause or organization. You might find that the online community you want to create already exists. You may be able to achieve your goal, and reach your audience simply by commenting and participating on social networks that already exist.

4. How much time do I have to spend on social media? Check out Beth Kanter's post, How Much Time Does It Take to Do Social Media? to help you estimate how much time you might need, and compare it with the time you have to give. Also, what is the time line for the project? Is it for a short-term campaign, or part of your organization's long-term strategic, communications, or development plan?

5. How much money do I have to spend on social media? Many social media tools are free, or low cost to use. Basically, the more features, functions and customization you want, the more you'll pay. Your biggest cost will be your time, or a staff person's time.

6. What skills do I have? Are you, or the staff person who will be in charge of social media, using social media already, or will training be needed? Are you a natural writer? A blog may be a place to start. Do you love connecting people? A social network like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Ning might be a tool to leverage your talents. If you are a visual person, check out photo or video sharing.

7. What social media tool(s) should I use? Given your goal, the audience you want to reach, what is being said about your cause or organization online, and your time, money, and skills, what social media tools are the best fit for you?:
Using more tools isn't necessarily better. Putting limited resources towards building community around one tool will be more effective than barely engaging on multiple platforms. That said, many tools work well together. For example, videos can be embedded in blog posts, which can be fed into your Facebook newsfeed.

8. How will you measure success?
Based on your goal for using social media, how will you measure your impact? How will you know if the tools you chose are working for you? Below is a sampler of ways you could measure success. Pick 2-3 to track on a regular basis:
  • Subscribers
  • Page views
  • Page visits
  • Downloads
  • Referrals/links
  • Comments
  • Bookmarks
  • Actions taken
  • Money raised
  • Number of donors
  • Campaigns created by supporters
  • Content created by supporters
  • Community growth and strength
  • Individual relationship growth and strength
9. What is your exit, or growth plan? There are no guarantees that using social media will help you achieve your goals, so when choose your tools, think about how you could stop using them gracefully if they don't work for you. Do you know how to delete your Facebook Page? If your blog is integrated into your website, can it easily be removed? Where will people be redirected to if they come to a site that no longer exists?

On the other hand, what if you are wildly successful and build a bustling online community, or an avid group of subscribers to your Youtube channel? Will the tools you've chosen allow you to grow?

10. How can I have fun using social media? This might seem like a silly question, but the number of clients I work with who come to me and sigh, "So, I guess I have to start a blog," is astonishing. No one wants to read a gloomy blogger, or interact with a reluctant Facebook friend, or subscribe to a YouTube channel that is never updated. Social media tools are social. They require your interacting with other people so pick a tool, or tools that sound interesting to you, and have fun!

For more information about creating a social media plan for your nonprofit or do-good project, check out:
Cross-posted from

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