Posts about NetSquared
NetSquared is an organization "remixing the web for social change" by bringing together nonprofits, activists, techies, social entrepreneurs and funders. These articles deal with using social technology for social change.
In this presentation from the Democracy in Action Community Conference 2008, I talk about some of the successful approaches for nonprofits in using social networks like Facebook and MySpace, and social media like Flickr and YouTube. I give detailed examples of how the Genocide Intervention Network, where I served as director of communications and Internet strategy coordinator for four years, used social networking to achieve its goals in membership development, advocacy and fundraising.
The NetSquared Year Three conference has gotten off to a great start: nonprofit staffers, activists, techies and funders gathering to talk about — and award some money to — using technology for social change.
Some nonprofits, older and more institutionalized, are wary of giving their members “control” of their “message” in the realm of social networks and social media. Mostly, I think that’s nothing more than a fear of losing power. When you think you know how to change the world, it can be hard for some people to want to involve others — or give anyone else the credit. What’s interesting here is that there’s a significant ability for activists to self-organize. The message to nonprofits from the past few years seems pretty clear: Stand in our way, and we’ll just go around you.
In return for NetSquaredNetSquared is an organization “remixing the web for social change” by bringing together nonprofits, activists, techies, social entrepreneurs and funders. These articles deal with using social technology for social change.’s generosity, I wanted to post some tips for nonprofits thinking about using DrupalDrupal is an open-source content management system (CMS) used for many complex nonprofit sites. Other examples of CMSes include WordPress, Joomla! and Plone. for their sites — when to use it and when not to use it, as well as a few useful tidbits from a recent workshop.
For the Genocide Intervention Network, involvement in the “social web” is really an outgrowth of our entire mission: To form the first anti-genocide constituency, and to empower our members with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. The words “constituency” and “empower” are key. We’re not simply looking for a mailing list or an ATM — we want an educated, active movement of people interested in preventing and stopping genocide. Our members need to be able to think for themselves on the issue, not to simply be another name on a list, but to be a hub in an ever-expanding network.
Offering concrete ideas for how to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem can give people a sense that they, as individuals, have a stake in an issue. The Genocide Intervention Network links to a list of “ten things you can do to stop genocide.” Ivan Boothe argues that these steps, broken down into easily digestible chunks, give people an easy way to participate. Although they also link to the Genocide Intervention Network’s main web site, that isn’t always the point. “A number of these steps aren’t even within our organization,” Boothe says. This sort of advocacy is similar to bottom-up, open-source collaborative projects like Wikipedia, in which no one group has proprietary ownership over an idea or a product; instead, the goal is a constant generation of awareness and ideas. A MySpaceMySpace is a social network that is not built around a single identity. Users can and do have multiple profiles, with no restrictions on the “names” they use. MySpace is used by many musical groups. page, says Boothe, isn’t simply an advertisement for an organization, “it’s a tool for mobilizing people for different kinds of action.”
It seems important to me to keep these different types of elites in mind as we think about the intersections of technology and social change. One way of achieving change is by appealing to the state’s powerholders — traditional power, that is. But throughout history, coalitions of people without this power have banded together to effect change. It may be that among the three other types of elites, a social movement can emerge that represents true democratic change.
The Genocide Intervention Network is a nonprofit based in DC that is a little more than two years old. We began as a student group at Swarthmore College with an idea: to change the way the world responds to genocide. As a result of our origins as a student group, we have a strong history in using online social networking and viral campaigns, and this continues even as we branch out into other constituencies. In our first year of existence, we raised a quarter-million dollars for peacekeepers in Darfur — the only NGO to raise money for protection rather than humanitarian aid — primarily through student networks, both actual and virtual.