SocialVibe: A Social Media Platform That Helps Raise Money For Charities

I searched through my site and realized that I hadn’t yet covered SocialVibe. I consider this organization one of the more successful web based social enterprises. These guys are L.A. based, raised venture capital, and just announced that they’ve raised over $100k in donations since they launched six months ago.

The company said that in the six months since its February 2008 launch of public beta, its platform has helped its members raised more than $100,000 in donations for charities.

“Partnering with SocialVibe has been a great way for us to reach new and influential supporters as well as increase our online presence in social media,” said Laura Ziskin, Executive Producer, Stand Up To Cancer.

Link to venturedeal coverage.

Here’s a link to their press release.

I also found this interesting powerpoint on slideshare describing the value that they provide.

VisionSpring Launches A Blog: Business In A Bag

VisionSpring, an Acumen Fund portfolio company, uses a wholesale distribution and franchising model to administer vision tests and sell low-cost reading glasses to India’s poor who are suffering from reduced vision. They do this by recruiting local Vision Entrepreneurs who are trained to operate a mini franchise, and travel from village to village to conduct check eyesight and sell glasses. One pair, with case and cleaning cloth, costs from $2 to $4.

Check out their new blog at Business in a Bag.

Using “White Space” Airwaves To Address The Digital Divide

An article from Washington Post about a handful of tech companies, including Google, that want to use white space airwaves to provide broadband to rural areas.

Engineers from the technology heavyweights, including Motorola and Philips, lugged their laptops, antennas and other equipment to parks, homes and high-rises around the Washington area, hoping to prove to the Federal Communications Commission that the unlicensed airwaves between television stations, known as white spaces, could provide a new form of mobile Internet service.

Using white spaces “will provide a way to provide broadband across long distances at much faster speeds than cellphone networks and WiFi,” said Jake Ward, spokesman for the Wireless Innovation Alliance, which includes Google, Microsoft, HP and Dell. The group is trying to convince regulators that using the airwaves will provide broadband to rural schools, beam high-definition online video to low-income households and let consumers stream music while sitting in highway traffic.

Sundance Institute: Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship In Focus Through Documentary

Sundance Institute has initiated a Request for Proposals for STORIES OF CHANGE: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN FOCUS THROUGH DOCUMENTARY. The one-time funding initiative will provide $1.2 million in film project grants to enable the development and/or production of new feature-length independent documentary films that frame, examine and amplify social entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to the central questions of our time.

STORIES OF CHANGE is part of a $3 million, three-year partnership with the Skoll Foundation designed to explore the role of film in advancing knowledge about social entrepreneurship. The initiative builds on earlier work between the Skoll Foundation and Sundance Institute to combine the art of storytelling with the impact of social entrepreneurship. This partnership will help create new opportunities for leading social entrepreneurs and outstanding documentary filmmakers to collaborate and to create new projects that advance the innovative approaches found in both fields. The initiative anticipates funding up to 8 films in the range of $30,000-$150,000 per project, with editorial control being retained by the filmmaker(s).

“Documentary filmmakers and social entrepreneurs have much to contribute to the challenges we currently face as a global society,” said Cara Mertes, Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. “This initiative is the first of its kind to bring the two fields together to seek inspiration, innovation, and creative experimentation around our most urgent social concerns.”

Those with proposals for documentary films on topics in social entrepreneurship, including the work of specific social entrepreneurs, are encouraged to apply directly to Sundance online.

Deadline for Submissions: August 15, 2008

Awards Announced: December, 2008

A Very Interesting Freakanomics Article On Philanthropy

First, they confused charity with commerce: that is, they uncritically applied the language of outcome-oriented investment to efforts to change human behavior in social settings. Humans, alas, don’t operate neatly according to market logic, though incentives can shift behavior.

Second, donors seem reluctant to talk about their own self interest. Instead of admitting their personal desires, they speak of selfless charity. Of course, donors can do whatever they want with their money, but this attitude doesn’t help them grow.

The three donors asked for my help in crafting a strategy for alleviating urban poverty. I agreed to work with them for one year, but with conditions. Most important, they had to arrive at a “loss figure” — a sum of money that they would give away (to actual causes), but which would be entirely devoted to their own learning.


Doing Good Is Smart Business

From Business Week:

The qualities that make a product good for the developing world—sturdy, cheap, adaptable, modular, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, computer platform-neutral, and bandwidth-savvy—make it a good product, period. Suddenly “less is more” goes from abstract design ideal to the only viable option. This is why some of the most innovative ideas today are coming from efforts to address the needs of those most in need.

If you’re in this space, you know it’s talent that’s the bottleneck, not ideas. Link