Monday, December 22, 2008

Reddit's Pairs Volunteers with Nonprofits, a social news site, is pairing volunteers with nonprofits between now and February 14, 2009 as part of its Feed a Need project.

Nonprofits can submit their organization's name to be considered for volunteer time through the Feed a Need site. The organizations that receive the most votes from the community before December 23, 2008 at 7 PM ET will be the winners of volunteer time.

Individuals who would like to volunteer can fill out a short form on the Feed a Need site to be entered into their, "Database of Awesome." If the volunteer works at least 2 hours on a Feed A Need project before February 14th, 2009, their name will be entered into a drawing to win prizes like an Xbox 360, or a new Dell computer.

I've never seen an online contest where the prize for the nonprofit is volunteer time. I'll be interested to see how reddit coordinates the actual doing of the volunteer work, and what the results are. Kudos to them for finding a way to use our "cognitive surplus" when people have less of a financial surplus to share with nonprofits.

You can find out more about the Feed a Need Project at, and read more about it on the Reddit blog post, - Volunteer to help nonprofits get important things done.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite Do-Good Books of 2008

Below is my 4th annual list of Favorite Do-Good Books (in alphabetical order). You can also check out my lists from past years:

Favorite Do-Good Books of 2007
Favorite Do-Good Books of 2006
Favorite Do-Good Books of 2005

1. Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power

I know she shouldn't have said what she said about Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, but as a writer, Samantha Power is amazing. Her, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide was on my Favorite Do-Good Book of 2007 list. Her newest book, the story of a Brazilian diplomat who worked for the United Nations for 34 years, has inspired an upcoming documentary and feature film. Check out the Chasing the Flame blog for more details.

2. Grassroots Philanthropy by Bill Somerville and Fred Setterberg

As I wrote in my review, I Want to Be a Grassroots Philanthropist!, Bill Somerville makes the search for innovative funding opportunities sound like an Indiana Jones adventure. PhilanTopic included the book on its list of Best Philanthropy-Related Books of 2008.

3. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

What I loved about Shirky's book was that it wasn't about Web 2.0 tools, it was about how Web 2.0 tools can, and are changing our world. I've been opening a lot of talks about how nonprofits can use the social web with a line from his book, "Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies -- it happens when society adopts new behaviors." Check out Billy Matheson's review of Here Comes Everybody on WorldChanging.

4. Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist by Mike Farrell

Farrell's keynote at the Writing for Change Conference this year floored me, and everyone else in the room. The conference organizers had so many requests for copies of his speech that Farrell was nice enough to let them post it online. I immediately bought his book and relished every page. Who knew that the actor who played BJ Hunnicutt on M*A*S*H was such an incredible human rights activist? This was probably the book that moved me the most in 2008. Check out his website at

5. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela

What's not to love about the autobiography of Nelson Mandela? Come on. One of the projects he is involved with these days is The Elders. The Elders is, "a group of eminent global leaders, convened by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel to bring their experience and independent voices to the resolution of conflict and to innovative, cooperative efforts to address the great global challenges of our time."

6. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

I liked this book so much that I gave away three copies to readers for Have Fun * Do Good Reader Appreciation Day. It's the do-good adventure story of a former mountain climber who has spent almost 15 years building schools in remote mountain villages of northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. If you're going to purchase a copy on Amazon, buy it though the Three Cups of Tea site so that Mortenson's organization will get up to 7% of the proceeds. They'll be publishing a young readers' version of the book in late January 2009.

7. What Is the What by Dave Eggers

This is the only fiction book on my list, but it reads like a nonfiction book, probably because it a "novelized autobiography" of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee of the Sudanese civil war. Proceeds from every copy of What is the What goes to The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation.

What are some your favorite do-good books from 2008?

All book cover images are from Powell's Books.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Please Vote for My Idea on

Hey Have Fun * Do Gooders!

There are only 2 weeks left in the first round of the Ideas for Change in America competition, and my idea, Make Things That Are "Public" Cool, is in 14th place in the Civic Engagement category.

The top 3 rated ideas for each category will make it to the second round, which will be held in early January. will announce the winners of the competition just before the Presidential Inauguration.

I need 192 votes to move up to 3rd place in Civic Engagement.

To vote, create a user account on, and go to to vote for your favorite ideas (you can vote for more than one).

You can vote for my idea at


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What is Your Favorite Social Action of 2008?

The short, dark, last days of the year are a great time to reflect on your 2008 Activist Resolutions, and your favorite "social actions" of 2008. What did you do this year that you feel made a real impact?

My favorite social action was being a sponsor for Jacinta Onoro, a Nigerian woman participating in Women for Women International.

Women for Women International supports women survivors of war in conflict and post-conflict areas (Afghanistan, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Sudan). Each woman is paired with a sponsor whose donation helps to cover some of their basic necessities (food, water, medicine). They also participate in a Renewing Women’s Life Skills (ReneWLS) Program, a job skills program, and have access to business services to help them start microenterprises.

As a sponsor, in addition to the $27/month that I donated towards supporting Ms. Onoro, I also wrote a letter to her each month. It took a while for her to write back, but she did eventually, and told me about her experiences in the program.

Gina Trapani of Lifehacker is also a Women for Women International sponsor. She signed up to sponsor two women after seeing a 60 Minutes segment on rape in Congo, where Women for Women was featured. She posted a scan of one of the letters she received on her post, Two Great Charities at Work to Beat Poverty.

Ms. Onoro graduated from her program in November, and I've decided to sponsor another woman from Sudan in 2009. It would be nice to connect with other sponsors, like the woman who started a book club for Women for Women International sponsors, described in the post, Guest Post: Congo Conflict - What You Can Do. The group writes letters to the women they sponsor when they meet each month.

A Women for Women International sponsorship can also be given as a gift. Nancy Northrop created a special program to facilitate her customers supporting Women for Women International, which she describes in her post, Face-to-Face: How Women Can Make a Difference. Her company underwrites the cost of each survivor for one year, if the customer agrees to write them a letter each month.

What was your favorite social action of 2008? It can be anything: a volunteer opportunity, a donation, a petition, a protest, using less paper bags, or educating yourself about an issue. Tell us about it.

Cross-posted from

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creating a Career with Impact: Share Your Story with Echoing Green

Echoing Green is looking for stories about creating a career with impact for their second book. Their first book, Be Bold: Create a Career with Impact, profiled the work of Echoing Green Fellows. Now they want to hear your story, or the story of someone you know:
"The focus of the book, and therefore the focus of the stories, is a suggestion that the practice of listening to your heart and harnessing those messages to the messages of your head (where patterns are discerned, options are evaluated, and strategies are formed) leads to a special form of action (hustle) that drives a life of meaningful impact. We want stories that illustrate specific, relatable examples of making sense of confusing signals in order to find clarity and direction in the early stages of career formation – particularly in unexpected ways."
You can find more information about the project, and how to apply at

You can also listen to Lara Galinsky, Echoing Green's Vice President of Strategy & Communications, on the Be Bold Podcast (which I host) talking about why they wrote the first book, why they are writing the second book, and what kind of stories they are looking for.

Don't be shy. Send in your story!

Encouraging Volunteerism: An Interview with Ruthanne Feinberg

Cross-posted from The Extraordinaries, on-demand volunteering by mobile phone.

Ruthanne Feinberg is a busy woman. In addition to being Managing Director, Head of Internal Recruiting and Co-Head of Human Resources Practice for Glocap Search, she also volunteers. She is on the National Advisory Council of DonorsChoose, teaches interview and resume skills to low income individuals with StreetWise and The Opportunity Network, knocked on doors during Hillary Clinton's campaign, and is an Advisor to The Extraordinaries.

Yet, in a recent phone interview, Feinberg said that she doesn't feel like she, or other people, are volunteering enough. "I'm embarrassed for how little I've done since I've moved to New York, "I think, especially now, there is so much talent out there that is sitting idle. . . . There is plenty of work that needs to be done in society. Somebody who is a laid off banker has a few hours a week to do something while they're doing a job search."

We discussed a few ways to encourage more volunteerism.

1. Volunteer opportunities need to be easier to find

"I'm a really big believer that more people would volunteer if we made it easy for them to do it. A hundred percent of the time if I call one of my friends and say, 'I'm going to do this, will you do it with me?" if they are available people love to do it.

I don't think many people know how to find volunteer opportunities. If I said to myself, 'Sometime in the next three months I want to do a resume workshop for somebody,' I wouldn't even know where to start."

2. Volunteering opportunities need to engage volunteers' skills

"I knew I wanted to work for Hillary Clinton, and it took me some time to figure out what I could do. At the end of the day I think what I did was satisfying, but I would have done a lot more had there had been a channel where I could have done that. I would have done much higher level work. I would have done more work. I just didn't know who to call, and tell them, 'I'm a resource.'"

3. Volunteer opportunities need to be shorter term, and more flexible to fit busy schedules

"I could never sign up for something like to be a Big Sister, or to tutor a child. My schedule is too unpredictable. I travel. I get called into meetings at the last minute. It's very hard for people to do something like that. However, if someone said, 'Ruthanne, come on Saturday and paint a school, or do a workshop. I'm much more inclined to do that.'

Some of Feinberg's ideas for 20-minute volunteer opportunities that people could do through The Extraordinaries were:
  • Give feedback on a resume and cover letter
  • Give advice to low income youth about their college applications
  • Help with a grant application
  • Assist with a PowerPoint presentation
  • Talk to seniors who need companionship on the phone
  • Proofread
In addition to making volunteer opportunities easier to find, more engaging of the volunteer's skill set, and suitable for a busy schedule, Feinberg thinks people are particularly attracted to opportunities that make then feel connected to the people they are helping. "That's one of the reasons I really like DonorsChoose. You see exactly where your money is going."

Feinberg's most fulfilling volunteer experience was delivering food to people with AIDS through Elipse in San Mateo, CA. She has difficulty talking about the death of one of the people she delivered food to, "I was with him right before he died. It was a very meaningful, intimate volunteer experience."

When asked how she made time to volunteer for Elipse, Feinberg explains that she was younger then, but quickly adds, "If something is important you make the time."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Have Fun * Do Good Press Mention RoundUp

I'm putting an application together today for The Women's Media Center's Progressive Women's Voices program (fingers crossed). Part of the application process is to submit links to places you've been quoted, interviewed, or mentioned in the media.

I thought I'd post the list here, to give a little "link love" to the folks who quoted, or interviewed me, and 'cause some of the pieces might interest you.


“Soul in the City,” by Summer Bowen. Common Ground. December 2008.

“Maverick 101” by E.B. Boyd Common Ground. October 2008.

“The Carbon Report” by Mike Rosen-Molina. The Monthly. August 2007.

2007 Best Podcaster: Blogger Most Dedicated to Social Change. East Bay Express

“Women's Voices Boom in the Blogosphere,” by Rose Aguilar. Bay Area Businesswoman. July 2006.

“Call Them Equal Opportunity Bloggers,” by Jessica Guynn. Contra Costa Times. May 21, 2006. Link available with archive subscription.


“Have Fun * Do Good: An Interview with Britt Bravo,” by Beth Terry on Fake Plastic Fish. May 14, 2008.

“Britt Bravo's Expert Tips,” by Celeste Fraser Delgado for the Worthy Causes section of MOLI. March 5, 2008.

“Britt Bravo - Having Fun & Doing Good,” by Anna Gordon on Women Who Work Out Loud.


“Meet Britt Bravo” Interview by David Collin. November 5, 2008

“Is the Internet Good for Humanity?” Interview by JD Lasica. May 27, 2007

Friday, December 12, 2008

Don't Let Your Holiday Donations Be Like Buying Gum in the Checkout Line

Do you know why they put gum, keychains and other small, low-cost items at the checkout counter? So that you'll throw them in your cart at the last minute as an impulse buy. Even though you didn't go into the store planning on buying a 3-pack of ChapStick, it seems like a good idea in the moment, so you do.

Holiday giving can be like that. You receive dozens of letters and emails asking you to support all kinds of causes, and the folks sending out the letters and email are hoping that when you open their message, even though you weren't planning on it, something will tug at your heartstrings in that moment, and you will write a check, or click a PayPal button.

Just like you should bring a list to the grocery store to avoid overspending, you should go into the holiday season, and the New Year, with a giving plan so that at the year's end you'll feel satisfied with your philanthropic "purchases."

In her article, Straight from the Heart: A Plan to Organize Your Giving in Crosswalk, Beth Huber offers six steps for creating a giving plan:

1. Establish your giving goal.
2. Select the recipients of your giving.
3. Create a giving plan chart.
4. Create a file for your giving records.
5. Review your giving plan on a monthly basis.
6. Finalize your giving plan in December and revise it for the New Year.

Tired But Happy posted Our Giving Plan on their blog a couple years ago. To create their plan, they decided how much they would give to each cause by how important it is to them. For example, they planned on giving $200 out of their annual budget to an organization, or organizations that work on women's health, and violence against women issues, and $50 to an organization, or organizations that work on economic justice and labor issues. You can read more about how they came up with their plan in the post, Tithing: Creating a Giving Plan.

In her article, Create a Giving Plan in the North County Times, Candace Bahr and her husband use 4 criteria to create a giving plan every six-months:

1. Find your passion.
2. Focus your gifts, rather than scattering them.
3. Share your time and skills.
4. Give money to causes you are passionate about.

Finally, in their post, Establish a Giving Plan, Free Money Finance outlines how they create their annual giving plan:

1. They divide their giving into three categories: tithe (10% of their gross income), offerings (donations that go beyond their tithe), and gifts that are not tax deductible.
2. The tithe goes to their church each week.
3. Each month, they decide which organization(s) to give their offering. They determine the offering amount by taking their annual budget and dividing it by 12.
4. The non-tax deductible donations happen at random.
5. They do Quicken reports on occasion to make sure they are on track with their giving.

I haven't read it, but Inspired Philanthropy: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan by Tracy Gary and Melissa Kohner looks like it might be a good resource to help you create your giving plan too.

This post was written in response to Nathaniel Whittemore's post, The One Thing You Need to Know Before You Donate to Charity this Holiday Season on Check it out for more holiday giving tips from Nathaniel, and other bloggers.

Cross-posted from BlogHer
Flick photo credit: $5700 by Andrew Magill

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Does Human Rights Mean to You?

Today is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' 60th anniversary. As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, is holding an Online Rally for Human Rights. You can participate in several ways:

1. Sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. Send the message below to your network of friends and family via text, Twitter and/or email:
Today is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' 60th anniversary.

I believe that Every Human Has Rights:

3. Change your profile photo on your social networks to a photo of you with the message, "Every Human Has Rights," or to the campaign badge above which can be downloaded here.

4. Join the Every Human Has Rights Cause on Facebook.

5. Blog about what human rights means to you, and your commitment to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Send Every Human Has Rights the link to your blog so they can link back to you.


What does human rights mean to me? That's a tough question isn't it? One of the articles I feel the most strongly about is Article 5, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Torture isn't exactly the easiest thing to talk about, or to get people excited about working against. It's the dark side of our human natures that we don't like to acknowledge because, as the Stanford Prison Experiment showed, under certain circumstances we are all capable of it.

Amazingly, a couple years ago Amnesty International made a funny (yes, funny) 1:36 min video to raise awareness about extraordinary rendition (moving prisoners to other countries to be tortured). You can watch Is It Okay To Torture? on YouTube.

As part of my commitment to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I looked for an action I could take against torture on Amnesty International's site. There are three campaigns that need support. I'm going to pick one to get involved with:

Protect Three Victims of Police Brutality in Mexico (UA 330/08)
Protect Syrian Prisoner From Torture (UA 328/08)

Why do you believe every human has rights? Which Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights do you feel the most strongly about?


Related blog posts:
Happy Human Rights Day: Live and Do So Peacefully by Sarah Kuck on Worldchanging
What image opened your eyes to human rights? by Chris Michael on WITNESS' The Hub blog.
The Balkans: Human Rights and LGBT by Sinisa Boljanovic on Global Voices Online
Human Rights Day, 2008: U.S. Workers Still Lack the Freedom to Form Unions by Seth Michaels on the AFL-CIO Now Blog
Happy Birthday, Human Rights by Michael Byers on The Tyee.
Today is Human Rights Day by Michael DeJong on The Huffington Post

Cross-posted from

Monday, December 08, 2008

2009 Career Coaching Discount for Have Fun * Do Good Readers

Happy Monday Have Fun * Do Gooders!

I'm offering Have Fun * Do Good readers a special discount if they would like to give themselves, or a friend the gift of career coaching in 2009.

Some of you know that in addition to the blogging, podcasting and other nonprofit technology stuff I do, I am also a career consultant. For a long time I taught workshops based on Carol Lloyd's book, Creating a Life Worth Living. Now I mainly do one-on-one work with people via phone, and teach classes on occasion. You can read Green LA Girl's post about the work we did together this fall: My Life, Directed by Big Vision Career and Project Consulting.

I also host Echoing Green's Be Bold Podcast about creating a career with impact.

Most people who work with me fall into 1 of 3 categories. Which one sounds like you, or someone you know?

-You’re trying to figure out what kind of work would make you happy.
-You know the kind of work you want to do, but aren’t sure how to achieve it.
-You know the work you want to do, you know how to get there, but aren’t taking action.

I usually charge $85/hour phone session, or $75/hour phone session if you pre-pay for 4 sessions ($300 total). I'm offering Have Fun * Do Good readers and their friends a special discount. $75/hour phone session, or $65/hour phone session if you pre-pay for 4 sessions ($260 total). Payment must be received by December 31, 2008.

For more info, email me at and let me know you are a Have Fun * Do Good reader. You can learn more about my work at

Friday, December 05, 2008

Give the Gift of Time Together for the Holidays

When you're on your death bed looking back on your life, what will you remember most, the stuff you received as gifts, or the time you spent with the people you care about?

On Wednesday I posted 10 Lists of Holiday Gifts That Give Back. Although many of the ideas on the lists help people in need, or have a light impact on the planet, most of the ideas are objects to purchase. I want to share with you a story about a friend of mine's mom who for the last few years has only given gifts of time for birthdays and holidays.

Last Christmas at breakfast, rather than under the tree, she presented her two daughters, son in-law and three grandchildren with a set of different colored nesting boxes, the kind that, when empty, fit inside each other. Each had a sand dollar glued on the top for decoration.

The family opened the boxes in order, by size. The smallest box was for the youngest grandchild. When she opened the tiny little box, glued inside the lid was a piece of paper that unfolded, like a fortune cookie fortune. It said, "A trip to the zoo!" Inside the box was a brochure for the Oakland Zoo.

The next largest box was opened by the 2nd oldest grandchild. Glued inside was the same kind of folded paper that said, "An overnight with tennis and swimming!" The next box was opened by the eldest grandchild who received, "An overnight with Stanford baseball!"

The eldest daughter's box contained ""Tickets to a show!" The son in-law received "Stanford football tickets!" and his wife, the youngest daughter and my friend, got, "A lunch and shopping date (with paid babysitter included)!"

My friend said that not only did everyone love their gifts of time to spend with grandma/mom/mom in-law, but that the gifts have changed how the children give their grandma gifts:
"One thing that has come out of it, that is really special, is that my kids really want to give her gifts of time now, too. They do things like, "A hike in the woods!" or "A picnic at the pool!" Of course, I have to be involved in it, but they get to pick what they want to do, and then they gift it to her. They draw a picture and write what they want to do with her."
It's important to give back to your local and global community, but it is also important to "give back" to your friends and family. Give them the gift of time together.

Related blog posts:
Give the Gift of Time Together This Holiday Season on Treehugging Family.
Christmas and Other Holidays: Gifts of Time on Jeri's Organizing & Decluttering News
Green Giving: Experiential and the Gift of Time on Eco - Action

Flickr photo credit: Sand Dollar uploaded by Bart Everson.
Cross-posted from

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mindapple: What's Your 5-A-Day?

Super duper nonprofit tech blogger Amy Sample Ward has tagged me in a new meme started by Mindapples: What's Your 5-A-Day?

I'm supposed to share the five things I do each day that keep my mind healthy (kinda like how five servings of fruits and veggies keep your body healthy), and then tag 5 more bloggers to share their 5-A-Day.

My 5-A-Day:

1. Yoga. If I have time, I like to do Rodney Yee's 25 minute Power Yoga - Flexibility DVD. If I'm short on time, I do a few of the routines from Kimberly Wilson's Hip Tranquil Chick book.

2. Journal. I'm not really a narrative journal writer. More of a brain dumper. I like to start each day describing my "ideal day" to help me focus on what I want to do that day.

3. Read. I **love** to read. I find that even if I only get to read a few pages in the morning, I write better and think more creatively that day. Plus, I like learning new things. Right now I am reading How Did I Get So Busy?, as a result of my recent 29-Day Giving Challenge reflections, and CauseWired as part of my ongoing "professional development."

If you connect with me on Facebook (let me know you are a Have Fun * Do Good reader), you can see my reading lists on GoodReads and Visual Bookshelf.

4. Cook. I also love cooking. If I have time to cook a proper dinner (Annie's mac n' cheese doesn't count) I know my life is in balance. Right now I'm having fun trying recipes from Nigella Express 'cause they are yummy, but quick. I recommend the Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Mushrooms and the Flash-fried Steak with White Bean Mash. I'm going to try the Pea and Pesto Soup tonight.

5. Spend time with my hubs. What can I say? He's my favorite person. Life is more fun when he's around. Check out his new website:

6. (Bonus) Laugh at our cat (pictured above). Not a day goes by when she doesn't crack me up and help me take life less seriously.

To continue the meme, I tag:

Into the Studio
Jen Lemen
Life Unfolds
Vale of Evening Fog

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

10 Lists of Holiday Gifts That Give Back

According to the recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article, Americans Rate Charity Gifts a Priority This Holiday Season, a study conducted for World Vision by Harris Interactive found that 84% percent of people surveyed, "would prefer to receive a gift that would benefit someone else rather than a traditional present, such as clothing or electronics."

When I posted my list of 10 Holiday Gifts That Give Back last year, there weren't many lists like it, but now there are tons! Instead of creating my own 2008 list, I thought I'd do a roundup of some of the lists I've found. Please include links in the comments to any lists I've missed, as well as your own gifts that give back ideas.
  1. 2008 Charitable Holiday Shopping Guide, Part 1 on The Vibe.
    (There will be a Part 2 & 3).
  2. Holiday Gift Guide on Echoing Green's Spark blog.
  3. Gifts That Give Back from posted on
  4. Christmas Gifts That Give Back on An Untraditional Home.
  5. Beautiful Gifts That Give Back on The Coveted.
  6. Gifts That Give Back - Charitable Gifts in Marie Claire.
  7. Let Charity Begin at Home This Holiday Season on Cafe Mom
  8. Giving Gifts That Give Back in Conscience Choice
  9. Charity Christmas Gifts That Give Back on Quick and Simple.
  10. Lucky's Favorite Holiday Gifts That Give Back in the TODAY holiday guide.
One more list to check out is the Give List. The Give List, started by Allison Fine of the Social Citizens Blog and Marnie Web of ext337, is a site that aggregates ways you can contribute to nonprofit organizations without writing a check, or buying anything. Anyone can add to the Give List by tagging an idea with #givelist on Twitter, or with "givelist" (without the quotation marks) on de.licio.ous. Some of the ideas that have already been contributed are Recycle for United Cerebal Palsy, Holiday Mail for Heroes, and GoodSearch.

Image Credit: Screenshot from Heifer International Online Gift Catalog.
Cross-posted from

Top 10 NPTech Blogs: Thanks Beth Kanter!

Find the best blogs at

Beth Kanter, the nonprofits and social media guru, recently posted her list of Top 10 Nonprofit Technology (NPTech) and Social Media for Social Change Blogs on, and I'm one of them!

The list includes:

Amy Sample Ward's Version of NPTech
Have Fun * Do Good
Katya Andresen: Nonprofit Marketing Blog
Laura's Notebook
Qui Diaz - Evange.list
Social Actions
Social Citizens Blog

I'm honored to be included (:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Volunteering 2.0: Community Building

When I do presentations about nonprofits and the social web, I often explain Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0 like this:

Web 1.0 is a one way conversation.

Web 2.0 is a two way conversation.

Web 1.0 is about listening to me. Web 2.0 is about listening to each other.

In her recent article, From Organizing Charity to Community Building, Susan Ellis of Energize Inc. uses a similar framework to talk about the future of volunteering. Ellis reflects,
"The problem, for me, is that the charity model is one-way. It centers on givers, 'those who have so much,' providing aid to recipients, 'those who have so little.' . . .

What would happen if we stopped asking 'what new people can we find out there to give us help?' and instead talked to our members, audience, visitors, clients – whomever our focus is – and found out what they wanted and were willing to help create?"
Ellis recommends that volunteer managers focus on building community among the populations they serve, and describes the best volunteering as an "exchange." She writes about a program that connects elementary school children and seniors as an example of a beneficial volunteer exchange:
"A nursing home near an elementary school was asked to open its dining room from 3:00 to 5:00 as a safe place for 'latchkey' children who otherwise had no adult supervision in the late afternoon to do homework. Older residents who were able were encouraged to greet the youngsters, give milk and cookies, and help with the homework. As you can imagine, the kids responded and pretty soon it was very hard to tell who was giving or receiving more. The seniors suddenly had young visitors and the students suddenly had tutors."
Most people want to contribute to making the world a better place, in one way or another. Whether they are creating a YouTube video for a cause, or helping to create an urban garden, it's not just the giving that makes them feel good, it's also the feeling that they are part of a community that is working together for a better world.

The next time your organization creates a program, or campaign to recruit more volunteers don't just ask yourself, "How can I facilitate them doing something for us?" Also ask yourself, "How can I facilitate our doing something together?"

Cross-posted from The Extraordinaries.
Flickr photo credit: One Way uploaded by Jef Poskanzer. Elephants uploaded by wwarby.