Resolutions of a Nerd

Hey, it’s that time of year where people are making resolutions for 2015. I have resolutions year-
round, especially since, long term, I want to figure out how to give a voice, using the internet, to everyone on the planet. I’m a nerd, and I figure things should be fair.nerd-4

My resolution for 2015 is to:

      • Learn to throw my weight around, on behalf of the good guys

That includes:

      • Treating others how they want to be treated
      • Helping nonprofits who really have their boots on the ground raise awareness about their issues
      • Finding ways to encourage trustworthy news outlets
      • Continuing as Nerd-in-Residence (and that means helping out with veterans and milfam efforts)
      • Reminding people why it’s important to give back

You’ll see more over the next few months. What are your resolutions?

Big News: $2M+ Raised for Nonprofits in CrowdRise Holiday Challenge

Folks, I just got an update from Ed Norton, one of the co-founders of CrowdRise, about the #GivingTower Holiday Challenge I’m sponsoring with MacAndrews & Forbes, Fred & Joanne Wilson, and Isaac S. Gindi. This year I’m giving $50k to support nonprofits.

A total of $250k is being given away in prize money, but an impressive $2 million+ has already been raised by the nonprofits participating. Last year, at this point in the Challenge, the total raised was: $609,835. That’s $1,561,954 more raised right now than was raised at this same time last year. This is the real deal.Capture

Each time a donation’s made, a brick is added to the #GivingTower. What does this mean?

  • There are 16,757 bricks in the Tower.
  • It’s over 2,514 ft tall.
  • It’s taller than 2 Bank of America Towers stacked on top of each other.
  • In 208 more feet, the Giving Tower will be taller than the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

It’s inspiring to see the organizations putting in lots of effort and  taking the lead. They’re orgs that aren’t household names, but instead charities like the Cure JM Foundation – which works on an extremely rare disease affecting children, and small but mighty animal reserves.

The Bonus Challenge winners so far are…

Bonus Challenge #1: Cure JM Foundation

Bonus Challenge #2: Wildlife SOS

And there was a Surprise Bonus Challenge: Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation

Bonus Challenge # 3 is happening now. Every org that gets 10 donations will be entered to win $10k. You’ve got til December 16th to get the donations. And there’s still time to sign your org up to participate in the Challenge.

Sign up here (by Friday December 19th) to join the Holiday Challenge…! More to come.

How #GivingTuesday Raised Over $45million

Folks, I support #GivingTuesday each year because it’s the real deal. I got an update from Henry Timms… More data and stories are still coming in, but here are the highlights as they stand right now (more soon!):

  • Indiana University is estimating an overall 63% increase this year in online donations.
  • Early results from Blackbaud show a 159% increase in online donations from the first #GivingTuesday in 2012.
  • Network for Good processed more than double the donation total from last year.
  • 20,000 partners participated in all US states – partners included nonprofits, local business and corporations working to benefit causes they care about, student groups, etc.
  • There were over 40 local communities across the US (states, cities and counties) joined together in the spirit of civic pride. The Maryland Gives More statewide #GivingTuesday campaign, alone, raised $8.3 million for local causes.
  • There were over 6,700 global partners participating, with #GivingTuesday activities taking place in 68 countries from Armenia to Mongolia to Wales. There were 7 countries and 2 regions leading localized #GivingTuesday movements including Australia, Brazil (#diadedoar), Canada, Ireland, Israel, Latin America (#undiaparadar), New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
  • There were over 32 million Twitter impressions with 700,000 hashtag mentions. #GivingTuesday was trending no. 1 in both the US and UK.
  • President Barack Obama released a special #GivingTuesday message and Prime Minister David Cameron voiced his support. Other notable names who gave their support of #GivingTuesday range from Malala to Melinda Gates to Matthew McConaughey.
  • H.Res. 761 recognizing #GivingTuesday was introduced in congress this November. The #GivingTuesday resolution recognizes that philanthropy and charitable giving knows no party divide, as giving has the ability to transcend any differences of political ideologies and has the power to unite people across boundaries.
  • Every major religion participated with people of all backgrounds, religions, and ethnic groups celebrating #GivingTuesday.

And here’s an infographic from the Case Foundation about the successes of #GivingTuesday:

GivingTuesdayInfographic

Did you give this year? (You can still give over on CrowdRise’s #GivingTower Holiday Challenge…)

 

Tis the Season to Give Back

crowdrise

Folks, I believe that it’s really important to give back to our communities. One way to do that is to participate in CrowdRise’s #GivingTuesday Holiday Challenge for nonprofits. I’m giving $50K to go toward the winner of the Challenge, and together, with the other donors, there will be $250K in prize money.

CrowdRise has been working hard to make this Challenge and #GivingTuesday bigger then past years. One way they’re doing that is by creating a Giving Tower. It’s going to be a hologram tower. Each time someone donates, a brick is added to the tower. You can actually download an app and point it at a dollar bill to see how the tower’s growing. Here’s a little more about it:

The Giving Tower Holiday Challenge is a great way for organizations to rally their supporters, raise money for their cause, drive engagement, get lots of exposure and, most importantly, raise money for their cause (note intentional repetition). The Challenge is friendly fundraising competition launched by craigconnects, Fred and Joanne Wilson, and MacAndrews & Forbes. It’s designed to help you raise awareness and lots of money for your year end fundraising.

Here’s more about the Challenge this year:

  • The Challenge starts on November 25th and there are going to be huge grand prizes, plus lots of Bonus Challenges. The campaign is always amazing and last year, charities rallied to raise over $2.3m for their causes.
  • There will be $250,000 in prizes this year. The organization that raises the most will receive a $100,000 donation to their cause. Second place will win $50,000, third $25,000, fourth $10,000 and fifth place will receive a $5,000 donation to their cause.
  • There will also be multiple opportunities along the way to get extra cash donations in the form of Bonus Challenges. Folks, we’re talking an extra $60,000 in Bonus Challenges.
  • The good folks over at CrowdRise are hosting a webinar on November 20th at 3pm ET to walk you through everything about the Challenge, please Click Here to register.
  • So far, there’s more than 500 charities signed up, and plenty of time for you to sign up, too.
  • The Toolkit will tell you everything else you need to know that I may have forgotten.
  • Use the hashtag #GivingTower to continue the conversation.

Looking forward to getting this Challenge started, more to come…

“Saving the World” DIY Style

People ask me how I go about figuring out what causes I really believe in and what’s the most effective way to support those efforts. You can find a list of what I support specifically here. My general philosophy is to do some real good in the short run, while learning how to scale that up in the long run – to the entire planet in maybe twenty years. I’m also very committed to helping people from the bottom up, to give people a break that rarely get one, and to help give a voice to the voiceless.

When it comes to business success and money, know when enough is enough, which translates to a business model of doing well by doing good. I guess I’ve been real successful at that, and I’ve been told by a lot of startup people that this approach has influenced them.

So, in the short run, I’ve been doing what I can to help US veterans and military families, figuring that if someone will risk a bullet protecting me, I need to give back. Recently, people helped me understand that the family of an active service member serves the country while that service member is deployed, particularly in a war zone.

I’ve chosen groups to support, in government and in the nonprofit world, guided by considerations including:

  • Do they impact something I believe in?
  • Are they good at it?
  • Can I help them via serious social media consulting and engagement?
  • Can I learn from the experience how to use social media on a very large scale?
  • Just in case, does the nonprofit tell a really slick, heart-wrenching story? Have they been seriously vetted? (If not, substantial chance it’s a scam.)

So, the themes here have to do with “social impact,” probably mediated by social media, while watching out for compelling scams. (Sorry, but this is currently a huge problem in the nonprofit world.) For that reason, I engage with Charity Navigator,GuideStar, and GreatNonProfits.org. In particular, Charity Nav is making real progress measuring social impact, which is about how good an org is at serving its clients. Social media provides the tools that effective people use to work together to get stuff done. We’re talking not only Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, but also tools like spreadsheets used to rank “employee innovation” efforts.

Human history suggests that change begins from the networks of individuals who work together through the social media of their times, from Caesar and Cicero, to St Paul and Martin Luther, and John Locke and Tom Paine. Consider the UK Glorious Revolution which resulted in modern representative democracy, which I frequently call the Twitter Revolution of 1688. (A great history of pre-Internet social media isThe Writing on the Wall, by Tom Standage, who reminds us that “history retweets itself.”) That history tells us that social media provides a set of tools which can effect real change. That history is one of democratization; the costs of those tools restricted them to the wealthy at first, but now the cost of entry is close to zero.

In the short term, my focus is normally on small orgs, since they can be more effective. However, I’m now working with a huge org, the Department of Veterans Affairs, around 360,000 people, and from that, I’m learning how to run large organizations – and large governments – effectively.

For the long term, I’m supporting efforts in the here and now that are fundamental to universal fairness; the intent is to give everyone a break, to treat everyone how you’d like to be treated.

One such effort involves figuring out how to get news that I can trust. I’m a news consumer, but for the past decade I’ve been getting training in media ethics and trust issues, as well as being shown how the news sausage is made. (It ain’t pretty, particularly with all the disinfo being flung around.) The theme is that “the press is the immune system of democracy” and that a good ethical framework might lead some part of the press back to trustworthy behavior.

Another effort involves voting rights in the US. While the Declaration of Independence reminds us that we’re all equal under the law, bad actors in politics can only survive if they stop certain groups of people from voting, and that ain’t right.

It might occur to you that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” and that is another articulation of what my stuff’s all about. You’d be right.

Photo: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by USDAgov

La Vida Craigbert

Craigbert colorCraigbert, or a really accurate portrait

During my IBM and Charles Schwab years (1976-95) I lived La Vida Dilbert [dilbert.com], seriously hardcore.

Dilbert really captures the truth of much corporate life, and does so perfectly from the software worker’s perspective. It’s also a brilliant commentary on organizational behavior.

Personally, I have to always commit to the Dilbert attitude, that things can be better, and that can be very trying when I spend time in Washington or in the nonprofit world.

It’d be too easy to lose hope, and then to work the system much like Wally, or many of the lobbyists of K Street. (There are genuine public service lobbyists, but not a lot.)

Anyway, Scott Adams lives in the Bay Area, not far away, and I tremendously appreciate what he does. I read Dilbert each and every day, not only new strips, online, but on paper.

Scott, thanks!

Are You Ready to Vote?

Folks, we’re only 2 weeks away from National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), on September 23. In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. In 2014, Your Vote!NVRD’s continuing their efforts to make sure everyone has a fair chance to vote.

And please remember that the Declaration of Independence reminds us that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and that includes voting rights.

You may wonder what NVRD will actually accomplish, and according to their site, the purpose of this day is to:

      • Register Voters: A network of a thousand orgs operating on the ground and through social media will register tens of thousands of voters in the field and tens of thousands more online while also receiving pledges to vote from those already registered.
      • Mobilize Volunteers: By partnering with nonprofits not usually engaged in voter registration drives, and amplifying existing drives through event-based recruitment and cultural outreach, National Voter Registration Day will bring together thousands of volunteers across the nation to register voters.
      • Educate Eligible Voters: Millions of voters need to register and re-register every year. By utilizing new technology and leveraging partners, we’ll educate more Americans than ever before, bringing new voters into the fold.
      • Change the Conversation: National Voter Registration Day will be an opportunity to put our differences aside and celebrate the rights that unite us as Americans; democracy.

celebrating democracy

I also want to acknowledge all the folks who really have their boots on the ground. National Voter Registration Day has been made possible in part by a working group of orgs providing coordination and support. These organizations include, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Education Fund, Bus Federation Civic Fund, Fair Elections Legal Network, League of Women Voters, Nonprofit VOTE, Rock the Vote, and Voto Latino.

They’ve also created a Partner Toolkit, which is a collection of resources for you to use in an effort to organize events and activities leading up to National Voter Registration Day 2014.

The Toolkit includes a field guide, communications guide, graphics, and legal guides by state, please check that out. Make sure to share this stuff, and use the hashtag, #CelebrateNVRD.

And, if you’re planning an event, make sure to add it to NVRD’s event directory so others in your community can be aware and get involved.

In the past, I created a list of reasons I think it’s important to vote. Check it out, and let me know if you have anything to add.

Are you registered to vote?

The Road to Hell’s Paved With Good Intentions

Hey, recently I wrote a blog post outlining some of my philosophies, and mentioned that there was more to come. I figure I should follow through.

On Time Management and Effectiveness – 

When I think about effective orgs, I ask, do they have the ability to actually get things done? Because that’s not true of a lot of nonprofits or other well intentioned people or groups.

A lot have good intentions, but there’s a saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s important to mean well, but also have the ability to get stuff done.

Cole Valley update, by the wife...
Cole Valley update, by the wife…

Let’s say if an org smells good, in that direction, then I turn to the people who actually know stuff, the team around me. I may have some inclination that a group can get stuff done, but I’m not a nonprofit expert.

When looking for effectiveness, I look for people’s ability to conduct themselves briefly and well. If you can articulate what you’re about in 45 seconds or less, then I’m more generous time-wise and I try to be a nicer person. But anyone you want resources from will be judging you based on how well you can articulate yourself.

On Passion and My Sunset Years- 

I’m kind of tired of passion, especially as I enter my sunset years. But the deal is, you really want commitment from people. You want the excitement, but then they need to follow through. Following through is the hard part, and that’s what I look for.

In addition to passion or excitement, I’m looking for commitment. People can get excited about something, realize it’s hard, then that passion might not count for anything.

By the way, when I talk about the sunset years, I’m not far from claiming my AARP discount. I’m not kidding as much as you think I am.

The Philosophies of a Nerd


Hey, I recently spoke at Nonprofit 2.0’s Unconference in Washington, and it turns out, I really am a nerd.

In high school, and this is 50s/60s, I really did grow up wearing a plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses taped together, and I had the requisite social skills to go with that. And even now, I can simulate social skills for an hour, maybe 2, then I get pretty cranky. You may wonder if I’m joking or serious, and the answer is both.

I figure a few of the things I talked about at the Unconference could be considered the life philosophies of a nerd…

Pictured is the #20 nephew, aka The Kumquat. He's the one (visibly) drooling.
Pictured is the #20 nephew, aka The Kumquat. He’s the one (visibly) drooling.

On Money –

We put a lot of money into feeding people, and a lot of people are still hungry. We put a lot of money into education, and that doesn’t seem to work so well. Which I don’t get. We put a lot of money into housing, and yet there’s still people without houses.

At some point in 1999, after I’d founded some site called craigslist, I’d go to parties in Silicon Valley and they suggest I do the easy Silicon Valley path of monetizing like crazy, then cashing out for huge amounts of money.

I decided I don’t need that. I just want to be comfortable and share that with friends and family. Since I got married recently my niece/nephew count went from 2 to 20 – my wife’s side of the family is terribly fertile.

(At the risk of a tangent, I haven’t been in craigslist management in about 14 years, don’t speak for the company, and haven’t done so for a long time.)

On Social Change – 

Long term I want to figure out how to give a voice, using the internet, to everyone on the planet. A lot of people who are doing good work, like Mark, and Sergio, and Larry. They want to do work to change the world.

You can’t make change from the top down. The president’s the most powerful person in the world, but not that powerful. What’s powerful is when people in the trenches work together to get things done, and that’s what makes a difference.

caesar

My ambitions are to get people in the world to work together. To get stuff done. That’s what changes things. There are opportunities of power to emerge from people who work together effectively. I don’t know how that works.

I look at the social media leaders in the past who were good at doing things. An early blogger was Julius Caesar, he blogged, even though it was very low tech.

It got a little better with Martin Luther, who decided to use an evolved form of the same network. He got pretty good, blogging on a church blog. Of course Luther was assisted by this printing press thing – and this evolved in the Twitter revolution of 1688. John Locke, the one who lived in 1688, not the John Locke in Lost. Good show, but you could only understand it if you knew a lot about quantum physics. I know a lot of you want to hear it more about quantum physics, but more later… Just be glad I’m not going on a Game of Thrones rant.

On Vets, Milfams, and Getting Stuff Done – 

My biggest priority area’s to support vets and military families. Ultimately, if a person’s going to maybe go out there and risk taking a bullet protecting me, I could do something, like help them get a job.

I support a bunch of groups and efforts, typically supporting people who are doing good work. There’s a lot of veterans’ services orgs, like IAVA and Blue Star Families, and the National Military Family Association.

The group hardest to support getting something done is the Department of Veterans Affairs. They’re actually doing a lot of good work, but they have some real problems. The whole org of 360K people are being demonized by a very small group of people who started those efforts a while back, and now the whole org is demoralized.

And, mostly, I’m doing all of this quietly because I’ve learned that in this town you can get a lot of credit or you can get stuff done. But not both.

 Folks, I’ve got lots more, but brevity is the soul of wit. Maybe just get the word out and stop talking. More to come…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑