Archive for the 'socialmedia' Category

MIT IDEAS Global Challenge now on Pinterest

All IDEAS entrants, if you have visual content you would like to display to generate publicity for your team as public voting goes on, there is now a Pinterest board dedicated to showcasing all teams in the Global Challenge, MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Teams.  E-mail yangbodu@alum.mit.edu with your Pinterest username so that you can be added to the list of collaborators who can post to the IDEAS Board.  If you are not on Pinterest yet, you may request an invite via the site itself or by e-mailing the same address listed prior.  Happy pinning!

Good (Legal) News for Social Entrepreneurs

Good ideas are hard to come by; so, too, are funds for start-ups and investor-friendly regulations, especially in a struggling economy.

Luckily for budding entrepreneurs, two recent legislative developments might make it easier for you to get your innovative project off the ground.

Last month, the House passed the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act, enabling entrepreneurs to crowd source online up to $1 million per year (or $2 million with the provision of audited financial statements).  The bill, which is backed by the White House, would cap shareholder investments at $10,000 or 10% of annual income, whichever is less.

So how exactly would a new law, if enacted, shake things up for social entrepreneurs?

Scott Edward Walker offers several enlightening FAQs on the VentureBeat blog, pointing out some key opportunities and potential risks involved with crowd-funding.

While the finer details are yet to be resolved, one thing is certain: the Act would lift current federal securities laws that prohibit solicitation for investments through crowd-funding websites or social networks like Facebook and Twitter (note that in some cases, e.g. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, donations are allowed).

This is exciting news for projects that might benefit from local investing, or “locavesting” as coined by Amy Cortese in her popular book of the same name. In a recent interview, Cortese described her frustration with regulations that favor wealthy investors and hinder investments in local companies. The new legislation would effectively replace current SEC laws (which, believe it or not, have been in place since the 1930s), and may be the key to unlocking new funding possibilities for social innovators across the U.S. It will offer an alternative to venture capital and other sophisticated investment models, and may appeal particularly to those interested in empowering communities and building local businesses from the ground up.

Let’s hope that the companion legislation, now awaiting mark-up on the Senate floor, is promptly passed.

In a second interesting development, multiple bills have been introduced (and in some states, enacted) to authorize new legal structures that span across the spectrum from 501c3s to for-profit organizations. In a Wall Street Journal guest column, Kyle Westaway describes these models, including:

  • The low-profit limited liability company (L3C), which operates primarily to achieve a charitable purpose and secondarily for profit,
  • The benefit corporation, which creates a general benefit for society as well as its shareholders, and must report on its social and environmental performance, and
  • The flexible-purpose corporation, which strives to achieve a specifically-designated purpose in addition to profit.

For those mission-driven organizations that are also interested in creating sustainable value (as, we know, all in the MIT IDEAS community are!), these innovative legal structures could offer some great options.

And the winner is…

Congratulations to IDEAS 2010 team Sanergy for your winning entry into the IDEAS and Global Challenge video pitch contest! Judges voted Sanergy’s pitch the best for the clear connection between your team’s accomplishment and the resources offered through IDEAS and the Global Challenge. Most importantly, the video did a wonderful job emphasizing a multidisciplinary team drawn from across the MIT community and a deep connection to community and MIT resources on the ground, like FabLab. Here’s the vid:

Sanergy from Ani Vallabhaneni on Vimeo.

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Thanks so much to all of the teams that entered a video into the pitch contest – the range of projects represented is amazing, and I hope that through the MIT Public Service Center we’ll continue to find ways to support your work. View all of the entries here.

Deadline Extended to 10/15! Enter the MIT Global Challenge Video Pitch Contest

Deadline extended! What’s are you doing to change the world? How can resources like the IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge help?

Share your story in the Global Challenge Video Pitch Competition and be eligible to win $1500.

The contest is open to anyone, but teams must involve MIT students. The winning entry will receive $1500 and will be featured at the October 23 Alumni Leadership Conference launch of the MIT Global Challenge.

We’re launching the MIT Global Challenge to connect and reward teams of innovators and entrepreneurs that are tackling barriers to well-being through invention. We need the world-changing students who benefit from opportunities like IDEAS and the MIT Global Challenge to help us spread the word!

We want to tap student passion to make the world a better place by asking you to make a case for why the MIT community worldwide should care about the Global Challenge. To be successful we’ll need their support to fund awards, underwrite challenges, and support student projects as mentors, volunteers, and local promoters of the Global Challenge. Download contest details [word.doc].

Continue reading ‘Deadline Extended to 10/15! Enter the MIT Global Challenge Video Pitch Contest’

The fortress and the free agent

Non-profit tech experts Beth Kanter and Alison Fine have a great article in the June 13 edition of the online Chronicle of Philanthropy. In it, they profile a 29-year old Canadian who has spent the last couple of year traveling the world, doing good deeds, documenting his experiences, and sharing them online – inspiring millions to follow along and contribute to his work. Pretty cool stuff. Reminds me a little of the work of Gabriel Stauring, inspiring founder of stopgenocidenow.org.

In the article, they make a provocative claim: “Free agents do it when and how they please, making them distinct from and more powerful than traditional volunteers.”  ”He is inspiring other people to talk about the issue of global poverty and take action “’in a way that is different from the big nonprofit organizations,’” he says.

But he’s having a hard time earning credibility with the big guys – the more conventional aid organizations. Alison and Beth explain:

““The problem isn’t social media, the problem is that you are the fortress. Social media is not my problem: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter, 10,800 subscribers on YouTube, and 2.1 million views. Yet despite that, I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously. I get dismissed as ‘just a guy on YouTube.’”

Continue reading ‘The fortress and the free agent’

Tools to fund your project in the crowd

Crowdfunding is an excellent way to raise start-up cash the way most entrepreneurs do – from friends, fools and family. What is crowdfunding?  In a nutshell, raising sizable, useful sums of money in small amounts from many people. It’s an ancient tradition that has achieved some great results – its even gotten many Presidents elected.

What makes crowdfunding so relevant to today’s start-up environment is that the tools have never been so powerful. From simple donation buttons created through financial services sites like Paypal to robust “package” sites like Crowdrise that enable you to build a campaign, crowdfunding sites have exploded in the last decade. Many of them now have their own publicity machinery and are a great way for you to attract new eyes and hearts to your project. Here, we offer just a few to get you started.

Continue reading ‘Tools to fund your project in the crowd’

White House Issues Social Web RFP

The White House has sparked a very lively public debate around information privacy and the role of active government with the August release of its latest new media RFP. Since transition.gov site was established in late 2008, the Obama administration has proven its commitment to using the web in new ways to open up government – making it more transparent, participatory and – hopefully – accountable.

The latest RFP builds on this track record. In it, the White House spells out some core features for a system that will crawl social media websites to extract content from the White House and users and store it. Much of the effort is aimed at responding to the Presidential Records Act, but it offers interesting possibilities for extended use, and abuse.

One the positive side, such a feature will enable the White House to keep an ear to ground around hot public debates. Perhaps even more important, it could enable social media channels to become sources of informal, indirect policy input.

One the darker side, such a feature gives the President an edge on party politics, providing a wide snapshot of critics and criticism, giving his party an edge on messaging and broader strategic imperatives.

Nokia Enters Development Space with “Life Tools”

Kiwanja has a great post on Nokia’s latest move into the ICT for development (ICTD) space with the release of its mobile financial and payment service, Nokia Money.

Kiwanja writes,

“Last November, on the day Barack Obama won the US Presidential elections, Nokia quietly lay their cards on the table and entered the ‘international development’ arena. The launch of Nokia Life Tools - initially a suite of education and agriculture-based tools aimed at the Indian market – was a significant step forward for the handset maker, which had for some time been positioning itself not just as a manufacturer, but also as something of a services provider.

So, something else which shouldn’t have come as a big surprise was today’s news of Nokia’s big move into mobile financial services. There’s clearly a big market opportunity here, and Nokia have partnered withObopay to take it on (a company they had already invested around $70 million in earlier this year).”

Intersections with work happening here at MIT include – among others – Next Billion Network, NextLab, International Initiatives in Health (IIH), and D-Lab ICT course – among many others. I expect this to be an area of explosive growth here at MIT over the next few years that cuts across many disciplines.

Wildfire Combines Viral Power of Voting and Sweepstakes

Wildfire, the social competition application for Facebook, has recently landed a couple of big name gigs, including Gatorade and Britney Spears. I’m glad their sharing what they’re learning as they implement inducement prizes and social filtering within social spaces. While the aim is to move product, the lessons I think can be pulled into plans to engage communities in social benefit campaigns – like IDEAS!

Here’s what they’ve said about their recent work:

Gatorade is the first to use our latest and most powerful campaign format – a combination of voting and sweepstakes. This format will soon be available to everyone on our platform.

Different campaigns are viral for different reasons. Voting formats are often viral because they involve self-expression. Voters like to broadcast their opinion to their friends (in the case of Gatorade, for example, voters can express which moment in Michael Jordan’s career they think was the best) by publishing newsfeeds….which results in more people learning about the campaign….which leads to more newsfeeds being published.

Sweepstakes, on the other hand, are extremely powerful because they enable companies to gather information about their users (contact info, email address etc) and to encourage them to become fans of a company’s fan page and/or join a company’s newsletter. Sweepstakes that utilize our ’social’ prize format (see below) are also highly viral because they encourage entrants to invite their friends. A voting campaign combined with a sweepstakes (e.g. “Vote for your favorite Michael Jordan moment and then enter the sweepstakes for the chance to meet Michael Jordan”) offers the best of both worlds – a highly viral, newsfeed driven campaign plus a powerful way to generate leads and build fans.

 

By combining the viral strengths of these two campaign formats, we’ve created the most powerful Facebook marketing campaign format on the web.

Lessons from America’s Giving Challenge

America's Giving Challenge

Download the America's Giving Challenge report from www.casefoundation.org

In 2007 the Case Foundation sponsored two distinct charity drives across two very different platforms, in part I suspect to change the top-down charity model to one of partnership and engagement and also to stress-test the emerging socialweb as a platform for carrying out its philanthropic interests.

In June they released a report on what they learned, titled America’s Giving Challenge: Assessment and Reflection Report. Written by socialmedia guru Beth Kanter – also one of the Challenge’s winners – and tech expert Allison Fine of Demos.org, its a pretty straightforward head-to-head comparison of the performance of both approaches.

On the one hand, Case launched America’s Giving Challenge with PARADE Magazine and through parade.com, an example of a mainstream publishing giant adapting to a new Internet reality. The second challenge, the Causes Giving Challenge, was run through Facebook, one of the most popular social networks on the web.

Both Challenges performed incredibly well, though in very different ways. As the report states, “America’s Giving Challenge raised $1,193,024 from 46,044 donors for 2,482 causes. The Causes Giving Challenge raised a total of $571,686 from 25,795 unique donors for 3,936 causes.” Continue reading ‘Lessons from America’s Giving Challenge’