Bookmarks: Q & A with Cindy Gallop, IfWeRanTheWorld.com

Editor’s Note: This weekend marks the return of Craigslist Foundation’s Bay Area Boot Camp, which takes place in Berkeley, CA. Now in its seventh year, the event features speakers, workshops, and strategy sessions designed to help emerging social change leaders build their capacity to make a difference.

While many of the speakers are known luminaries on the social change landscape, Cindy Gallop, founder of IfWeRanTheWorld.com, is new to the scene. This week I asked Cindy what her service — which promises to help transform good intentions into action — is all about.

Q: Where did the idea for IfWeRanTheWorld come from?

Gallop: It came from two places – the kind of person I am and the industry I work in. I’m naturally action-oriented and all about making things happen – with, ahem, a rather low tolerance level for people who complain about stuff and never do anything to change it. Which got me thinking that the single biggest pool of untapped natural resource in the world, is human good intentions that never translate into action – and that if you could just find a way to turn all those good intentions that all of us have every single day into action, then you would unleash a source of energy and power, that really could do extraordinary things in the world.

Based on 25 years of working in advertising, I know there is another equally large and untapped pool of corporate good intentions. Companies know they must be corporately socially responsible, but don’t see how to integrate social responsibility with business in a way that enables them to do good and make money simultaneously. I wanted to bring those two things together – human good intentions and corporate good intentions – and find a way to activate them collectively, into shared action against shared objectives, that would produce shared and mutually ownable results.

Q: How does IfWeRanTheWorld work?

Gallop: IfWeRanTheWorld is what I call “emotional software” – the synthesis of technology and psychology. It’s based around the concept of the microaction – its atomic unit, in the same way the tweet is the atomic unit of Twitter. A microaction is like the action equivalent of “140 characters or less” – an incredibly small, simple, easy to do action, so easy why wouldn’t you do it?

At its simplest, IfWeRanTheWorld enables you to start up or join an actionplatform to achieve any goal that is your answer to the question, “If you ran the world, what would you do?” You and the community break that down into microactions, which you can target as invitations to act, to anyone – friends, neighbors, colleagues, brands. businesses – who’s perfectly positioned to do it. Every microaction completed dynamically generates your profile so that you self-identify and self-express as literally, you are what you do – creating Action Branding for individuals and businesses.

Q: You write that you started IfWeRanTheWorld as a “quick, simple and easy way for people and businesses to turn good intentions into action.” Do you feel that other services weren’t quite doing it?

Gallop: Not at all – there are many, many wonderful people, brands, organizations and institutions all working on this – and given the scale of the task, you can’t have too many people trying! (I yearn for the day when someone corners the market in turning good intentions into action and the rest of us can pack up and go home!)

Q: A lot of new Web services talk about how they are helping people turn good intentions into action. Can you share how your IfWeRanTheWorld is different?

Gallop: I wanted to focus in on the one thing I felt could best help everyone – that exact point where the rubber hits the road: how do you turn intention into action, at the very moment of intention?

So IfWeRanTheWorld is different because it’s not actually intended to be a destination website, or an online social network in the conventional sense – it’s a utility: a web-meets-world collaborative tool designed to do one thing and one thing only, which is turn intention into action via microactions. We designed it to plug into anything and everything where someone wants to make something happen.

I believe the future of the world is about collaboration; I believe the future of business is about collaboration (in a way that we don’t see currently). IfWeRanTheWorld is designed to collaborate with and work for anyone who just wants to get shit done.

IfWeRanTheWorld’s business user proposition and business model is also different. We craft tailored, customized Action Programs for brands and businesses that are deliberately designed to do good and make money simultaneously, to demonstrate how social responsibility can be integrated into the way a company does business on a daily basis, to make it a key driver of future growth and profitability.

Q: You’ve said that “The old top-down model of making things happen through hierarchies and organisations and institutions is broken.” Where do you think nonprofits fit today in social change?

Gallop: I think that fact represents a huge opportunity for nonprofits – in the same way it represents a huge opportunity for businesses. The old world order way of doing business demanded specific structures and processes that nonprofits felt pressure to replicate. The new world order allows anyone to redesign how they do business around the model that works for them, and to do so in a far more collaborative, bottom-up way.

I would recommend all nonprofits read “Rework” by Jason Fried & David Hansson, just as I recommend all businesses do. It’s a great primer for operating a business in the new world order, and representative of many of my own philosophies and beliefs.

Q: Many corporations are looking carefully at how to raise the real-world impact of their CSR investments. Is there a place for microactions in this?

Gallop: Absolutely. We designed IfWeRanTheWorld to work in exactly the same way for individuals and businesses. We wanted to bring together individual passion, commitment and motivation, with business resource, funding and clout, through Action Programs where they could act together and be judged together by one thing and one thing only – “What are you DOING?”

Action is a great leveler – and it’s also a great unifier. Businesses set up their own action platforms and invite individuals to microact with them, and we also match them with individual or non-profit action platforms where, often, a business can come in and pick up a whole load of microactions in one fell swoop, and shortcut the process of getting to the goal. When a brand takes out full page print ads saying “Look how socially responsible we’re being,” people go, “I know why you’re doing that – so you can advertise it.” Whereas if you just do it, and invite people in to do it with you, you don’t have to say anything – it’s self-evident.

The new business reality is complete transparency. Everything a business does today is in the public domain, courtesy of the internet. Brands  are judged by their actions just as people are – so Action Branding is communication through demonstration: walking the talk.

Q: Any lessons learned from this first early year?

Gallop: First early six months, you mean! We are extremely new.  And we’ve been very much learning as we go – we deliberately launched with a demo at TED back in February as minimum viable product, so that we could real-world test alongside our development timeline.  So we are still building, with the benefit of ongoing user input, feedback and help – we are not just a crowdsourced platform, we are a crowdsourced venture.

And I cannot overstate the value of real-world testing, because we are surprised and fascinated every day by the way in which people use IfWeRanTheWorld. In fact, I would cite a key lesson to pass on to everyone coming out of this process as, the worst thing any entrepreneur (or brand marketer, for that matter) can say is ‘It’s going to work like this.’ Because it won’t. :)

Q: What’s on the road map at IfWeRanTheWorld? What can we expect to see in coming months?

Gallop: Well, if all goes well, very soon after this post goes live, you’ll be seeing an exciting new iteration of our homepage – and on Saturday, you’ll see us, live and in person, helping activate the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp!

We have a bunch more features and functionality in the pipeline, plus we’re experimenting with a way of enabling you to microact immediately when you encounter something online you want to do something about. You’ll also be seeing our first brand/business Action Programs, and communities using actionplatforms to self-organize, self-manage and self-sustain in different parts of the world.

People have reached out to us from different countries to say they want to help make IfWeRanTheWorld operational on the ground there – which is why I am writing this from Auckland, New Zealand, and why I will be in South Africa next month. But… as we make clear on our homepage, we are an experiment. So I guess the honest answer is, I really don’t know – but I hope it’ll be good!

Bookmarks: Share Your Volunteer Management Resources at IdeaEncore

For the last few years, I’ve noticed that many of our best resources on volunteer coordination, recruiting and volunteer trends just aren’t getting out as much as they should.

Years after the original marketing push to promote and distribute them, now our older research reports, how-to videos, and best practices guides are just sitting around like lumps on the couch. Loved, yes, but not exactly as fresh as they used to be.

Second Time Around

I’m hoping this will change. Recently I posted a bunch of VolunteerMatch’s older, best resources for the wider nonprofit community to discover at a new Web service from IdeaEncore Network.

You can see the link to our materials here.

IdeaEncore helps nonprofits share their documents with other nonprofits in a safe and easy-to-use environment. The idea is that there may be other organizations — heck, maybe even an entire sector — that can benefit from our materials if they only knew about it.

At IdeaEncore, nonprofits can post and “tag” Powerpoints, PDFs, Word docs, videos and other forms of documentation, and then IdeaEncore makes it easy for Web site visitors to search and find those documents.

You can also choose which licensing model to release your documents under, and your organization can even elect to collect fees for each download.

License Choices and Even Earned Income Options

IdeaEncore founders Scott Bechler-Levin and Florence Green presented to us a few months back and I agreed then that distributing our nonprofit-serving documents more widely made a lot of sense. But I was a little worried people might find our documents and just grab then and go — and maybe even repackage our stuff and sell it. (It’s ironic that this was a concern… we offer them all for free at VolunteerMatch.org!)

So for VolunteerMatch, I chose the Creative Commons option “Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives,” which is the most restrictive and protective of our rights. I way want to lessen restriction on some of these moving forward — but for now we are cautiously sharing – and this gives me a canopy to work under.

You can also see other materials that have been tagged with “volunteer” here.

Got Some Materials You’d Like to Share?

I hope you will take 15 minutes a month to “share it forward,” too.  Whether you use IdeaEncore or some other sharing platform, it may be that between all of us, we have all of the insight, research, and best practices we’ll ever need.

Bookmarks: Crowdrise.com Uses Star Power, Humor to Inspire Giving

It has to be said…  Crowdrise puts the “fun” back into fundraising.

In addition to a hefty dose of star power courtesy of co-founder Edward Norton and some of his famous friends, the newish Web service offers up an altogether different flavor of online cause engagement than the many similar sites that have popped up in recent years: laughs!

In a world where cause marketing and cause campaigning is all too somber, Crowdrise’s messaging is very, very clever. With online communities, branding and group identity is so important. By putting irony and a lighthearted approach at the center of its site, Crowdrise hopes to appeal to a young audience already familiar with social networking platforms, and taking advantage of their existing connections to spread awareness, raise money, and organize events for nonprofits.

“If you don’t give back, no one will like you.”

The focus is on supporters, and turning them from grassroots activists to grassroots fundraisers. They also give out points for everything- from signing up to receive emails, to following them on Facebook, and of course for starting projects and raising funds. Taking cues from Foursquare and recent Yelp changes, top point-earners at Crowdrise can win prizes and earn special status within the crowd, as “Doctors,” “Tsars,” “Sirs” or “Dames.”

It’s about making volunteering and fundraising fun, and using it as a form of self-expression. Crowdrise allows supporters to find creative ways to make your nonprofit a part of their personal narrative, and that’s what makes them stand out. From the crowd.

For nonprofits, raising money for your cause through Crowdrise is a snap, both for you and your supporters. As long as your nonprofit is a US-registered 501(c)3 that has been around for more than a month and a half, you’re already in their system (thanks to the GuideStar database). Just provide your basic info, and about two minutes later your nonprofit has an active profile.

Supporters can then create their profiles, start a project to benefit your cause, ask their existing connections to donate, and boom- the project is viral. Let the fundraising begin!

Like most similar sites, Crowdrise takes a cut — or as they call it, a “not wanting to go out of business trying to help you raise money in new ways” fee. It’s 5%, plus a transaction fee of $1 for gifts that are under $25, and $2.50 for those over $25. Donations are processed securely using Amazon Payments.

But the basic service is free to nonprofits, and everything is well-designed and very user friendly. (Please note: by “service,” we mean actual service — there are real people answering emails and having conversations via twitter and facebook.) In the 2 minutes it takes to register, with no need for I.T. or graphics professionals, you can create a compelling page for your organization. Your supporters do the rest!

LOL-ing About

The site is a delight to explore, there are LOL-worthy tidbits everywhere. Its page for anonymous donors, for example, refers to those folks as, “donors who are so honorable that they give anonymously yet they want everyone to know about it.” Wham.

They keep things active and interesting, using real time updates and calls to action like, “Next person to raise at least $14 and chime about it gets a free Crowdrise hoodie!”

See? Crowdrise is just more fun than competing sites (even those with “fun” names like Givezooks! and Razoo). This is a service that has been allowed to have personality — or the online fundraising equivalent of “the cool kids.” It’s something new, innovative, and definitely worth exploring for any nonprofit looking to engage supporters and raise awareness, particularly with a younger audience.

And doesn’t every nonprofit want to do that? We thought so…

Bookmarks: Razoo.com Puts an End to Online Donation Transaction Fees

Guest post by Lisa Brawer

Individual contributions, when combined effectively, can have a massive impact on the lives of others. That’s the mantra at Razoo, as well as the meaning behind the company’s unconventional name.

Founded in 2006 by a group of social innovators, this online giving marketplace allows nonprofits, donors, and fundraisers to engage with each other and combine their efforts to make a difference in the world. Sound like many other sites? Perhaps. Razoo definitely provides online tools that encourage giving, and make it easy to do. But here’ s what’s different: For what may be the first time ever, Razoo allows 100% of each donation to go directly where it was intended — to supporting the cause.

Transaction Fee-Free Zone

Social networks for social good are popping up all over the Web. But what makes Razoo so groundbreaking is that it provides a user-friendly platform for giving, without the 5-10% transaction fees that are standard in the world of philanthropic Web sites. While Razoo’s processing partner Network for Good still charges a fee for its trusted donation processing, Razoo actually matches that amount through grants subsidized by philanthropic partners — meaning that the full value of each contribution winds up in the hands of your organization.

Supporters of nonprofits can create events or fundraisers, and access practical advice on how to make the most of their experience on Razoo. The site makes it easy and efficient for nonprofits to tell their stories and engage a community of supporters. Razoo empowers donors to understand, manage, and embrace the impact of their own contributions. They can connect with their cause by creating events, fundraisers, and online groups of people sharing their interest.

Razoo in Action

The site recently raised $264,764 through its annual March Goodness tournament, where a select group of 96 nonprofits competed for a $10,000 grant through fundraising based on the Razoo network. The fact that this event alone engaged 5,962 unique donors proves that Razoo is a true success story. And any registered US nonprofit can share in that success.

On Razoo, anyone can be a philanthropist. All registered U.S. nonprofits are accessible through the site, which is connected to GuideStar, a sector-trusted source of information on nonprofits. Donors can find and research over 1.6 million nonprofit organizations, donate online with no transaction fees, stay informed about the world of giving and activism, and manage their charitable portfolios online. Nonprofits and their supporters also enjoy the benefits of easy-to-use fundraising pages, social media tools, and free donation processing.

Razoo stays true to the meaning behind their name. Individual contributions, when combined effectively, are having a massive impact on the lives of others.

Check it out at Razoo.com, and tell us what you think!

Lisa Brawer is a Los Angeles-based writer who cares about animals, ending poverty, and promoting peace and equality. She says her dream job “would involve doing something positive every day.”

Bookmarks: Causeworld and How to Turn Virtual Karma Points into Real World Donations

Guest post by Lisa Brawer

causeworldDonating money without spending a dime… Sounds good, doesn’t it? Mega corporations like Kraft and Proctor & Gamble footing the bill? Even better! Causeworld is a location-based mobile application that turns marketing dollars into charitable donations for your organization, and regular people get to choose where the money goes. Seems like it’s a win-win, not to mention a brilliant business strategy.

The Causeworld app (available for iPhone and Android devices) lets users earn “Karmas” by walking into stores and checking in over the phone. Choosing from a list of national, well-known nonprofits, people donate their Karmas, and corporate sponsors turn the Karmas into real money. This seems easy enough- and it engages users in a modern, mobile way. It also fits the economic times really well. It’s free.

A coveted spot on Causeworld’s list of charitable organizations brings a new opportunity to nonprofits. They can generate revenue from an unlikely source: people too broke to donate actual money. And it’s working. Since launching in December 2009, monthly donations have averaged over $200,000.

What Shopkick, the company behind Causeworld, is really aiming for is a way to bridge the gap between the mobile world and the physical retail world. Their status as innovators in mobile technology has been helpful in attracting the attention- and investments- of big companies looking for new ways to spend marketing dollars. And respected non-profits are reaping the benefits.

Similar apps like Gowalla and Foursquare have become wildly popular, even incorporating offers to benefit charitable organizations into their messaging — but only if users make a purchase. Causeworld users are able to donate without having to buy anything, making it the clear choice for people wanting to use their cell phones to save the world, one Karma at a time.

Causeworld opens up a world of new opportunity, and has the potential to revolutionize modern cause-marketing practices. Big corporations have a new (lucrative) incentive to donate to charity; and regular folks get to do a good deed, and be exposed to a whole lot of brand impressions along the way. Again, brilliant. And profitable for everyone.

Visit Causeworld.com to learn more.

Lisa Brawer is a Los Angeles-based writer who cares about animals, ending poverty, and promoting peace and equality. She says her dream job “would involve doing something positive every day.”