Community Blog

In the coming months, we will be aggregating some of the best posts from North America’s social tech leaders.

Web of Change: A Video Snapshot

What is Web of Change?

Find out from some of the leaders in this growing community of innovators working at the intersection of technology and social change.

Be a part of it. Learn more at

Pecha Kucha: Ian Rhett's Stay in the Game

Last week during Web of Change, several folks entertained and engaged the crowd with short "pecha kucha" presentations -- 20 slides running non stop for 20 seconds each.

People shared personal stories and perspectives about what is most compelling in their world -- topics like art, politics, online organizing, immigration, environmental education, and yes -- why the hell any of us are in this field in the first place.

Broadcast Organizing to End-User Leadership: 6 Principles to Begin

Alissa Hauser and Marianne Manilov are Co-Directors and Founders of The Engage Network, a nonprofit social venture that creates, designs and implements distributive offline networks of social change leaders.

We are in the midst of a shift in citizen power from a broadcast (one to many) paradigm to a network (many to many) paradigm, and this shift opens profound new possibilities for organizing and leadership development. Digital activism has created many breakthroughs in our ability to fundraise, communicate and to come together offline. Once people come face to face, however, we need to understand which tools and skills support their continued development to build a movement that is far more inclusive than digital activism has been to date.

How to Succeed at #Fail

Why failing frequently and openly in online campaigns will lead to greater social impact

Michael Silberman is a senior online campaigns strategist. He is a partner and co-founder of EchoDitto, a leading digital strategy and technology team supporting the social change sector. More via @silbatron



Jonathan Warnow works to harness new media and social technology to catalyze large-scale change. He is a co-founder of, an innovative global climate campaign that has used a model of open-source activism to coordinate 10,000 offline events in 181 countries.


Ever get a sinking feeling after you’ve launched a great email, set up a great online action, built a thriving online community or implemented a perfect graphic? You know the one: a nagging sense that you’ve failed to truly move the needle forward on your issue--that maybe you’re just re-arranging the deck chairs?

Your New Promotion: Fearless Champion of Member Experience

Tim Walker is co-founder of Biro Creative, a pioneering provider of marketing advice exclusively for movement-building organizations. Biro's small tribe of long-term clients includes Avaaz, 350, Greenpeace UK, 100-Mile Diet and Global Zero. Tim is co-author of the Web Thinking Manifesto. He once ran the marketing department at Adbusters. And he believes that the best organizations build their movements by word-of-mouth, which they earn by creating a remarkable member experience.

Give yourself a promotion today. I mean it. Don't ask your boss. Don't make an announcement. Just decide that tomorrow is going to be different. It doesn't matter if you're an Executive Director, CTO, Field Organizer, or PHP/Drupal/Apache code ninja. This new job will be perfect. Oh, and it comes with a very cool title, ready? Fearless Champion of Member Experience.

Mobile Organizing, Your Organization…And The Future

Cheryl Contee, Partner at Fission Strategy, specializes in helping non-profit organizations and foundations use social media to create social good. She is also the co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics writing as “Jill Tubman” on one of the top 10 black blogs online. Cheryl is included in The Root 100 list of established and emerging African-American leaders. Fast Company has named her one of their 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech. She has over 13 years of award-winning interactive expertise and previously served as Vice President and lead digital strategist for Fleishman-Hillard’s West Coast region in San Francisco.

 In just under 10 years, the world has experienced a massive leap forward in our ability to communicate with each other and connect around the issues that matter most to us. Social networking has revolutionized how people dialogue with each other. The ways in which institutions and individuals negotiate power & influence has shifted dramatically. It’s hard to believe that it was only in 2002 that we saw the first blogs as we know them today. Yet there’s an even more powerful set of innovations on the horizon and too few nonprofit organizations are prepared for the next quantum leap.

We Must Be Scientists for Change

Steve Andersen is Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Foundation where he helps nonprofits use to change the world. He believes we are at a point in time where agents of social change can get access to the same quality technology systems that large corporations can.

"We know very little, and yet it is astonishing that we know so much, and still more astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power." - Charles Franklin Kettering (1876-1958) Engineer, inventor, and co-founder of the Sloan-Kettering Institute

Raising the Bar: Technology Infrastructure and Capacity in Progressive Community Organizing Groups

Arif Mamdani, the Executive Director of the Progressive Technology Project (PTP), has worked with community organizing groups for over a decade to help them gain the skills and vision to use technology more effectively to advance their goals.

With Arif's partnership, this year Web of Change launched the New Networks Fund, an initiative aimed at connecting the existing Web of Change community with senior movment leaders of color from organizatons including Color of Change, Puente Movement and the Florida Immigrant Coalition among others.

The central idea that I’m bringing to Web of Change this year is more a question than an idea, and the question is: what do we need to do to raise the bar for technology capacity and infrastructure for progressive community organizing groups? 

Race and ethnicity matter online

Jocelyn Harmon is Director of Nonprofit Services at Care2 where she connects progressive nonprofits with Care2 members so that together they can build a better world. She is a noted speaker and blogger on the fast-evolving role the Internet is playing on marketing and communications. 

This spring, the Urban Institute and the Racial Diversity Collaborative released a study called Measuring Racial-Ethnic Diversity in the Baltimore-Washington Region's Nonprofit Sector. The study found, like others, that “nonprofit sector leadership lags population diversity.” Specifically, while people of color comprise 49% of the population in the region, they make up only 22% of nonprofit leaders. In addition, the study found that Executive Directors of Color mostly lead local or regional, not national organizations. “Nearly all (92 percent) national organizations are led by white executive directors.”*

We Are The Movement We Are Waiting For

Apollo Gonzales is the Netroots Campaign Manager for the Natural  Resources Defense Council. Apollo provides campaign strategy to over a dozen programs, on campaigns ranging from Mountaintop Removal Mining to Toxics  Reform.
He is tasked with the mission of  moving online advocates from  one click activism to super activism, and bringing traditionally siloed  institutional experts’ voices to the blogosphere.

Of the 300 plus people currently employed by my organization, well over half are Facebook users and there are 456 people who list my organization as an employer. That means that there are about 100 people who continue to associate themselves with the work they once did here. With the average Facebook user having 130 friends (I topped 500 sometime last year), the 1st degree network of my colleagues is about 20,000 people.

Connecting Advocacy to Change

From her roots in Colorado as an organizer for Colorado NARAL, to her role as Fundraising Practice Manager at Mindshare Interactive Campaigns (now Verilion), to her leadership as Program and Political Director at the Women’s Campaign Forum, Shayna Englin has been on the cutting edge in producing innovative and effective plans, programs, and materials that yield results.

We can do some really cool stuff.

We can inspire people around the world to send us their ideas, and we can tag and organize those ideas and print them as post cards and turn them into video and add some kick-ass audio.

We can say something pithy in 140 characters, reduce it to 110 characters, then get people around the world to repeat it to a bunch of other people interested in 110-character pith.

Six Questions with our Anchor Team: David Averill & Karen Uffelman

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing our Web of Change Six Questions series, which is designed to give you quick insight into the minds of our Anchor team. Today, we talk with David Averill and Karen Uffelman, both of Groundwire, who have brought their extraordinary fundraising leadership to the Web of Change team.

(1) Tell us a few things about you that aren’t widely known.
Dave: I have a really deep desire to build a cob house with others but no time to do it and whenever I need to distill change in my life I listen to Steve Winwood’s High Life or Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes. 

Shakespeare, the printing press and how we can invest humanity into online communications

Mark is one of the pioneers of using the Internet for fundraising, organizing and strategic communications. Over the past ten years, he has led online efforts on behalf of a host of organizations, including World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International USA, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and the International Campaign for Tibet. With a background in polling, focus groups, and communications strategy, Mark led the first-ever nationwide study of socially-engaged Internet users in 1999 -- a work still viewed as a benchmark in the field.

Maybe it’s the way the Internet has evolved in the social change and non-profit space, or maybe it has always happened this way when new tools (such as moveable type, printing presses) emerge. The line between tool builders and communicators gets fuzzy. And priorities get fuzzy.
William Shakespeare probably had no idea how to run a printing press. And the printing press guy had no idea how to write a sonnet. The writers wrote, and the printers printed.

Story, Strategy & Imagination

Idelisse Malavé is an organizational consultant and coach committed to supporting social justice leaders, groups and networks.  She has worked on a range of organizational effectiveness projects, including crafting strategic thinking processes, planning, change management, team-building, mediation, meeting design and facilitation, leadership transitions and governance.  She ran the Tides Foundation for many years, served as Vice President of the Ms. Foundation and was a civil rights litigator. She is also co-author of the book Mother Daughter Revolution.

The modern story of social change is unfolding within complex and unpredictable economic, political, social and cultural realities. Globalization, new media and technologies and the Great Recession are getting to be “old” news, yet the changes they bring still manage to evoke the “shock of the new.”

The power and roles of government and corporations, racial and ethnic demographics, financial systems, social and economic structures and relations, popular culture and much more are evolving rapidly and sometimes abruptly. Our ideas and strategies for achieving social change aren’t keeping pace.

Six Questions with our Anchor Team: Nicholas Klassen

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing our Web of Change Six Questions series, which is designed to give you quick insight into the minds of our Anchor team. Today, we talk with Nicholas Klassen, co-founder of Biro Creative, a pioneering online creative firm that advises movement-leading organizations from around the world working for sustainability and social change.

Tell us three things about you that aren’t widely known.

  • I brew my own beer
  • I once crossed back into Canada using a Toronto Maple Leafs hat and a hockey card in my wallet as proof of citizenship... no joke. (But that was pre-9-11. Don't try that now!)
  • My favourite part of Web of Change is the oysters

Will you share your take on technology and social change? What specific trends are you paying attention to?

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