It is United Nations week in New York City which means a few things: First, don't take a cab anywhere near Midtown East and second Mashable kicked off the monumental week with the Social Good Summit at the 92Y. The Social Good Summit brings together people who are directly working on solving the world's most intractable problems through the frameworks of the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The eight MDGs form a blueprint agreed to by the global community and the world's leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world's poorest. The target date for the MDGs is 2015. The eight goals are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Global partnership for development
The speakers at the Social Good Summit included top innovators in the digital media and social change space, with each speaker specifically aligned with one of eight MDGs. With a diversified panel of speakers working across the eight verticals of MDGs, the Summit highlighted the most recent trends of digital media used for social good. Below are key takeaways from summit speakers and organizations:
Susan Ellis: CEO of (RED):
Believe in the consumer conscience
(RED) partners with influential companies such as American Express, Apple, Starbucks and Gap to create products and content that raise money and awareness for social good. If a consumer is already planning to buy a laptop cover, why not buy a (RED) laptop cover when they know 50% of the proceeds will go towards eliminating AIDS in Africa? The result "transforms our collective power as shoppers into a financial force."
Raymond Chambers: The Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria United Nations: Activate online influencers by creating cause ambassadors
Working closely with avid supporter Ashton Kutcher (or @aplusk as we know him on Twitter) and his company Katalyst, Ray Chambers, empowered 50 of the most influential Twitter users to become Twitter envoys to help end malaria. The Social Media Envoy group was a diversified mixed of influencers across sports, politics, music, media, tech and more. Activating varying personas like Anderson Cooper, Pete Wentz, Shaquille O'Neal, Bill Gates and Queen Rania of Jordan allowed the end malaria message to infiltrate a wide, global audience.
Each envoy was chartered with inspiring their online network throughout the year in support of malaria control to achieve the Secretary-General's goal of providing all endemic African countries with malaria control interventions by the end of 2010.
"The first round of social media mentions on World Malaria Day, April 25, 2010, reached over 28 million people, spreading awareness and calls to action farther than any traditional media campaign could without a tremendous upfront cost." -Mashable
Howard W. Buffett: Director of Agriculture Development, U.S. Department of Defense: Reconcile innovation with the human elements that drive technology
It was refreshing to hear a panelist challenge social media and technological innovations to reach their full potential for social good. With more platforms, free tools and online resources than ever before, sometimes we unknowingly pacify our true potential by taking for granted the power to act at any moment through new media and technology. Howard claims "our faith in technology has lead us to believe that all we need is mobile devices in our pockets to create massive change."
Many would argue that the last statement is true; take the successful Haiti "text to give" campaign example. But what Howard drives home is instantaneous, reactive giving is not the solution to combatting global poverty. Proactive passion and the genuine desire of the masses to work to fight global threats is the necessary tool, social media is simply the platform to spread humanity's compassion for one another.
Jessica, one of the top micro-finance social entrepreneurs of our time, spoke about how stories of poverty influence how we give. The typical model includes flashing a shocking photograph and then asking for a donation. The stories of poverty become stories of sadness. In turn, many of us eventually tune out those stories to avoid guilt and give a dollar here and there so we feel we have done something.
To truly tackle the MDGs and the global threats of poverty we must share the stories that inspire innovation and productive thought. By sharing these stories people realize that giving can be more than a just transaction at checkout, it can create a relationship with a person across the globe who with your micro-loan is financing their General Store in Cambodia and providing stability, shelter, and food for their family.
Doc Hendley: Founder and President, Wine to Water:
Share on-the-ground content with givers in real time
Doc, who skyped in from Port Au Prince, laughed about how as a rough around the edges guy who drives a pickup truck he initially had hesitations towards Facebook and Twitter. As founder of Wine to Water, a 501c3 that provides clean drinking water to those in need, he soon discovered the unprecedented power of new media as a communicative platform for Wine to Water's efforts. For the first time he was able to share on-the-ground updates in real time with the Wine to Water network. Instead of waiting for the monthly newsletter to send snapshots of the team building a water system for an orphanage in Sudan, Doc simply uploads a Twitpic to share the image with @wine_to_water followers instantaneously.
The ability for Doc to easily share the success of clean water projects is imperative as he battles the threat of contaminated water in developing countries; more children die each year from contaminated water than HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria combined.
Bonin Bough: Global Director of Digital and Social Media, PepsiCo:
Leading the next phase of Corporate Citizens
Last winter Pepsi announced that for the first time in 23 years they would not buy advertising during the Super Bowl. Instead, the $20 million dollars would go towards a social media campaign called The Pepsi Refresh Project, which launched last January. The campaign encouraged people to submit ideas large and small on ways to refresh their communities. More people voted on Pepsi Refresh projects than voted in the last U.S. presidential election (I find that both impressive and scary all at the same time).
The key is Pepsi understands the imperativeness of being a "corporate citizen" -- mingling your business's goals with a wider goal of social good. The evolution from cause-marketing to corporate social responsibility to corporate citizen proves that organizations and social consciences are interdependent elements. It is not enough to have a cause-marketing campaign to appease the trend of conscience consumers, rather overarching social responsibility should be part of your corporate DNA and every individual on your payroll.
Chris Hughes: Founder and Executive Director, Jumo:
Taking cues from traditional giving
As Director of Online Organizing for President Barack Obama's presidential campaign, Chris Hughes is well versed in successful tactics of using social media as a platform for fundraising. He has spent his career developing technologies to make social communication and political organizing easier and more efficient. Chris is embarking on a new initiative called Jumo to use the social web to foster long-term relationships of responsibility between individuals and organizations working to change the world.
A key takeaway from his presentation was the importance of replicating best practices from traditional fundraising. Socially we are used to flashy donate buttons and one-click actions dedicated to a cause. While these are valuable in their own right, often the one-click donation results in a one-time action. A sustainable giving model requires the donor taking time to research their options, find the cause that they define as their own, and then eventually deciding to give a monetary donation. Giving online should not be in one door and out another. To create solutions and social actions to achieve the MDGs we must create a long-lasting relationship between the online user and the cause at hand.
To track progress for the Millennium Development Goals through 2015 visit the Guardian's Global Development page.