After an unbelievelable amount of time either a) driving b) churning out digital content while our brains were half-sleeping or c) driving, the SXSWAngels made it to Austin in one piece, ready to take on SXSWi. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, read my blog post HERE to get you up to speed with what I’ve done with my life these past two weeks.
For those unfamiliar with SXSWi, it’s the mackdaddy of all digital conferences. The girls and I could “get our geek on” and it was the norm. Yes, a teammate even tweeted about breathing the same air as the founders of mint.com and somehow walked out of the Austin Convention Center without being arrested for creeping.
After loads of time dedicated to sorting through all the different discussions offered during the five days of geekdom, I naturally gravitated to social good topics. From a panel on the Pepsi Refresh Project to a keynote with Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes, one prevalent trend during the course of the week was for-profit organizations’ innovation in the social good world. Blake made a case for incorporating strong social awareness and cause-related business practices into a for-profit endeavor (and apparently is the perfect case study with Toms). Essentially, giving is easier if it’s already incorporated into your business model. Amen.
Other interesting takeaways from the weekend:
- During a panel on being a free agent in the nonprofit world, Mark of InvisiblePeople.tv pointed out some agencies suffer from executive director disease, which is a breeding ground of micromanagement and control from fear of letting the brand get in the hands of free agents (aka outside help). At the end of the day, look to work toward the cause, not for the people running the show.
- On the topic of good business, Blake spoke about the enriching environment TOMS Shoes invests in. This includes working with genuinely good and passionate people and giving back as a team. This also is my dream job situation (so hire me?)
- While sitting in on a panel on a social hackathon for donorschoose.org, the group of for-profits businesspeople took two days to focus their energies on applying business practices to a need in the nonprofit world. I haven’t completely absorbed it yet, but they produced a free e-book from their hours locked up for the greater good and want other NPOs and social good orgs to put the digital practices to good use.
- I’m sure many of you have either applied for or fell victim to the constant badgering for votes from a grantee hopeful in the Pepsi Refresh Project. The project continues to evolve, including the expansion to European countries and alterations to the application process and second chances. Two grantees were also on the panel, providing a decent inside look to the work put in on a nonprofit’s end (check out Selfless Tees – a grant recipient preparing to launch – if you want to see a project funded on Pespi’s dime).
- A final awesome note: TOMS Shoes unveiled that the business is evolving from a shoe company to a one-for-one company. There’s a need for more than shoes in the communities being helped, so the company is expanding their line. I’m OBSESSED with one-for-one and socially-conscious consumerism, so I’m stoked to see what is unveiled on June 7. Speculation is behind a blue button-up polo, but I’m stuck on the idea of a backpack or satchel of sorts. Think about it – how many people in undeserved areas need to transport basic supplies for miles without any means of carrying? What do you think TOMS will unveil or what would you hope to see another organization provide in the one-for-one sphere?
While scouring the online world, I found some very in-depth notes from other panel attendees I thought were worth sharing. This includes the notes on “A Global Conversation: Free Agents & Nonprofits in a Networked World” (hashtag: #netnon) by @askdebra and tweets curated and translated from the same panel, the full video from the Pepsi Refresh Project panel and some graphic whiteboards and videos from the inside of the social hackathon (aka #goodengine).