Donation Connect: Text Some Good

The devastation in Haiti has struck a chord in individuals and organizations around the globe. I’m going to shamelessly plug this app since it’s a great way for our agency to contribute to the cause.  What started off as a project to showcase Rosetta‘s mobile team skills turned into something better – a useful app which allows people to look up charities that accept donations via SMS and click to donate.  It’s a simple directory service with buttons to send a text message right from your iPhone. Donation Connect also allows you to promote your donation and the app through Facebook and Twitter. The app is free; if you like it please use it and tell a friend about it. Let me know what you think. This was created on volunteer time after hours from our mobile and creative teams.

Donation Connect (iTunes App Store)

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The Power of Social Media: Support for Caroline

carolineCaroline Stitcher is home. Details of her disappearance from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening are still being determined, but she is with her family which is all that counts.

Given that outcome, I thought it would be helpful to highlight the power of social media.  I am both amazed and humbled by the outpouring of support on Twitter and other channels, and wanted to capture it here.  If anyone is still doubting the compelling viral nature of the technology, this should help convince them that it’s here to stay.

Starting on Facebook

On Saturday morning, Doug, a colleague from work, posted the following note in Facebook:

My god daughter has been missing now since yesterday afternoon. She went running by herself after school. Her friends saw her leave and she has not returned. We are all very frightened, as you can imagine. Please pray for her and her family. If you have friends at church who pray for people in trouble, please let them know about Caroline.

Several folks from work commented, and later in the day Doug posted that he was leaving Cleveland for Chicago with two of his sons to help with the search.  He also shared a link to the Chicago Sun Times article with the story (which has continued to be updated with the latest information). What transpired after that is nothing short of remarkable.

Outpouring of Twitter Support

Angela Moore, Jon Anhold, Chris Boggs (all folks who have worked with Doug) and I all started to share an article  from the Chicago Sun Times on Twitter and Facebook, outlining Caroline’s disappearance and information to reach the Deerfield, IL police department.  I reached out to several Chicago based contacts on Twitter, and the retweeting began.  David Armano [blog] added a hashtag #Caroline to be able to track on, and was kind enough to respond to his network asking for people to retweet as much as possible.  Some other notes:

  • Several others began appealing to those with large constituencies on Twitter to help in the retweet effort.  Amber Naslund [blog],  Chris Brogan [blog], Mack Collier [blog], Jessica Smith [blog] and Julia Roy [blog] were among the many to respond and share with their networks.
  • MCHammer, Kevin Pollak, Soleil Moon Frye and Wil Wheaton were among the celebrities that responded.
  • Several groups conversing on Twitter at the time also shared the news, including #typeamoms.
  • Services like HelpFindMyChild and the TrueCrimeReport picked up the news.
  • By 8:30PM ET, #Caroline hit #1 on twitter trends.
  • The Sun Times article showed up on Digg and started to get some momentum.
  • A Facebook group named, “Help Find Caroline Stitcher” approached 3000 members by late evening.
  • All in all I’m sure thousands were reached – I’m working on digging up a report on number of mentions and the likely reach of the viral effect and will share it when it’s ready.

At the end of the day on Saturday, the good news broke that Caroline had returned home via a text message Doug sent me.  A few minutes later Chicago Breaking News confirmed the details, and another round of “good news” retweets went out.

The Power of Social Media and Thank You

Take a look at for #Caroline and drop back a few pages to what transpired during the wave of the evening spike.  The support really speaks for itself.  Here’s to a speedy recovery, Caroline – there’s no harm in that happening as fast as the news spread.

A very sincere thank you to the broad Twitter community for helping out and responding with your thoughts and retweets.  Not this time, but I will not be surprised if community through social media tools one day is directly responsible for solving another situation like this one.  In terms of my involvement, I’d like to think friends at work would take a moment to do the same if the situation were reversed.


Doug has shared another note on Facebook at 1:30am Sunday morning which I figured I would post here too:

Caroline is alive and we have her now
We are all unbelievably relieved and happy. Caroline is alive and with her loved ones now. No details have been sorted out, yet. As you can imagine, there are lots of people caring for her and it will be a while before the complete their work.

I also wanted to recognize several other Twitter MVPs who helped spread the word with fervor last night.  Liz Strauss [blog] was already aware of Caroline’s situation and had engaged her network before I had contacted her.  Dave Kerpen [blog] made several appeals to parents – as a father of three boys perhaps that was part of my motivation to help Doug.  Senia Maymin [blog] also did a terrific job of asking celebrities and others with large networks to retweet the information.  Thanks again everyone.

Photo credit: Deerfield, IL Police Dept

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Blog Action Day 2008: A common goal

Blog Action Day

Yesterday at the New Marketing Summit, I had the opportunity to listen to Don Peppers present on customer empowerment.  He talked about self-organization of crowds and showed a great example of this by asking the crowd to achieve a goal of clapping in unison.  The crowd started, and within a few moments were clapping in tune.  The example was poignant: when there is a common goal, the crowd or social network can be very powerful.

I’m going to make a stretch here to tie this to Blog Action Day, a one day event where bloggers “unite to discuss a single issue – poverty. We aim to raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web!”  With a common purpose, today you will see thousands of bloggers unite around a common goal to address awareness of poverty as a significant global issue.  I’m glad to be a part of it.  Imagine a stadium of folks starting to clap in unison, then go visit and take a look at how bloggers from all industries, trades and backgrounds are speaking with a loud voice to millions of readers across the globe.

Poverty Awareness

I’m going to use my voice today to share some key statistics on poverty in Massachusetts, my home state, and to make a small action to contribute to the cause.  Without Blog Action Day I probably would not have taken the time to look up and share this information.

  • 320,000 people sought food assistance in Massachusetts in 2005, a 14% increase over 2001.
  • Of those, 45% had to choose between food and heat.
  • 39% had to choose between food and rent.
  • 30% had to choose between food and medical care.
  • Nearly a third say their children don’t eat enough because they can’t afford enough food.

All of these are long before the recent oil price spikes, stock market challenges and housing market problems.

A Quick Action

What can you do?  Here’s a simple suggestion – I just donated online to the Greater Boston Food Bank in honor of Blog Action Day.  You can donate online easily here or go to Feeding America to find a local one for you.

There you have it, blog and action together.  What can you do today to support Blog Action Day?

Social Media for Social Change Takes Off

A Great Event

Sm4sc This past Friday night I had the pleasure and honor of attending an event that represented what a small grass-roots movement can accomplish with some focus and a bunch of personal connections through social media.  At the Harvard Club in Boston, a gathering of folks initiated by the social media enthusiast community in both Boston and New York gathered for an evening to benefit JaneDoeInc., a non-profit organization focused on ending sexual assault and domestic violence.  With the help of sponsors and some passionate individuals the group sm4sc, Social Media for Social Change, kicked off it’s very first event by raising over $20,000.  Sweet.

Grass Takes Root

Back in late August I wrote, “I see this as a grass roots effort that can be spread to other cities as passionate people pick up the vibe.”  Just as any effort with social media, it requires commitment to make the first event a reality.  It will also take a long term push to make the movement into a continued success.  But if a start is an indication of the potential, Friday night’s kickoff of sm4sc can be just that.  The night had all the ingredients – A great turnout, an opportunity to meet some good people (many who I had previously only known through social media tools like Twitter), a beautiful location, some cocktails, and a series of genuine and passionate speeches about the purpose.  Not to mention some late night karaoke (which I avoided clearly to ensure no streaming video of yours truly got into the hands of my project teams at the office).


Of course, the effort ate it’s own dogfood – before, during and after the event.  See the respective blog, twitter account, Facebook group, Myspace group, and now the spread of the “sm4sc” tag in Flickr and elsewhere.  Great blog recaps and “Utterz” are popping up too.
Some Thank Yous

In the world of philanthropy there are many options to choose from – everything from donating personally to small causes to large, established organizations.  I am grateful to Rosetta (who recently acquired Brulant), the agency I work for, for participating as a silver sponsor.  I’m grateful to the other sponsors for everything from funds to great contributions for the raffle.  (I won a great messenger bag from Timbuktu and a pass to the New Marketing Summit, which I had Matt Knell draw another winner for since I was already attending).  While many individuals contributed to making the night a success, special recognition is deserved for four people:

Job well done.

The Sponsors
What’s Next?
See Gradon’s recap that says it all and sets the stage for future events.  If you are interested in planting some grass roots efforts in your city, take a look at for more info.
Photo credit: pictoscribe via Flickr

Connections with a Purpose

Web 2.0 and social media are changing the way we interact online.  Can it change how we interact offline too?  You bet it can.  I'm participating in two events coming up that are purposefully out to show how social media can affect change. 


Sm4sc Are you in the Boston area, interested in social media, and interested in social change?  A group of social media enthusiasts in the area have started Social Media for Social Change.  The background of the cause:

Social media has broken down walls and created conversations. IBM does product testing in Second Life. Old college classmates reunite on Facebook. Zappos does intra-office communication via Twitter. All great, paradigm shifting events.

But what about change for the greater good?

You don't have to be in Boston to be interested, and I see this as a grass roots effort that can be spread to other cities as passionate people pick up the vibe.  Here are some social media footprints around this group already:

  • A fundraiser has been planned for Friday, October 10th, at the Harvard Club in Boston, with all proceeds going to Jane Doe Inc:

    Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence brings together organizations and people committed to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. We create social change by addressing the root causes of this violence, and promote justice, safety and healing for survivors.

  • sm4sc is on Twitter
  • Join the sm4sc group on Facebook
  • Check out the sm4sc group on Myspace
  • Vote for a panel on sm4sc at SXSW

More to come as the date approaches.  If you are interested in becoming a corporate or personal sponsor, drop an email to sponsors (at) sm4sc (dot) com.

Blog Action Day 2008

Blog Action Day is a consolidated blog outreach program asking bloggers of all genres to talk about what they do best, but relate a post on October 15, 2008, to the topic of Poverty.  Register your blog and be part of the awareness campaign.  It's easy – they even have ideas to help come up with a post.  This is an easy way to get involved in a good cause.  Check out this video, a well done production to give an overview of what Blog Action Day is about.

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.


Join in – the energy of the people behind these events is contagious.- for a good reason.