Getting Thirsty [Blog Action Day]

Recently I had a unique experience. I woke up, used restroom, turned on the water to wash my hands the only problem, no water. It turned out they were just doing some work in my building and the water was only out for about 30 min. I will say trying to get ready for work in the morning without water is not an easy task and really got me thinking about those less fortunate than me.

Today marks the 4th Annual Blog Action Day (and my third participating in.) Blog Action Day is a day where a theme is chosen and the blogosphere is encouraged to reflect, write, and educate others about what we can do to change the world. This year that theme is water.

So what can we do as a community to help the almost 1 billion people without clean water?

The simplest thing we can do is give. After my experience without water I donated $20 to Charity: Water. According to the organization $20 is enough money to provide one person clean water for 20 years. A small donation can make a huge difference. If you’re low on dough you could fundraise or get friends/family together to each pitch in a few dollars to make a difference. Perhaps give up drinking bottled water and use the money to provide others with water.

Don’t want to give, then conserve. A recent TriplePundit report states Americans drink on average of 200 bottles of water each, per year. That’s a lot of water! It takes over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 80 percent of which will never be recycled. By giving up bottled for the tap water you’d be doing something good for the environment as well as saving money.

I encourage you to think about water today. What would you do if you didn’t have clean water? What other things can you do to help those without it? Leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments.

Conan O’Brian and Earthquakes

NBC Photo: Timothy White

I wanted to take a moment and deviate from the normal format of this blog and talk about a few recent events. I’ll start by expressing my thoughts on Conan O’Brian’s resignation from the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show. I might be bias as Conan has always been my favorite late night talk show host, growing up I remember waiting for David Letterman to end over so I could switch over to NBC and watch Conan. For the record: I am not, never was, and never will be a Jay Leno fan.

It saddens me to watch Conan walk away as host, however, I’m very proud that he was able to take a stand for what he believed in and walk away with such thankfulness and pride for all he’s been given over the last 20 years. One thing that really inspired me was night after night, after the jokes about his future, late night, and us current events he would have a serious moment and say something along the lines of “Look what I do is silly, it’s Hollywood, I’m a talk show host,  there are real people dying in Haiti right now who need our help.”

The two organizations Mr. Brian announced on air were Ben Stiller’s StillerStrong.org and George Clooney’s HopeForHaitiNow.org (which is also supported by Tom Hanks and Robin Williams and I’m sure a slew of other stars.)  Sure you can argue that a lot of stars are doing what they can to help in this time of need for Haiti, which is true, yet to me it the way a man who just lost his job (sure there was a 40 million settlement in it for him and his staff) to still be supportive and care about people just spoke to me. His letter to the Press and Farewell speech both spoke to me in a way in which lends him my support for years to come. To put it in a way that you, the internet will understand: I’m on Team COCO.

© Matthew McDermott / Polaris / eyevine

I also wanted to personally urge you to do something to help out the people of Haiti. I have to admit that I’m often guilty of turning the TV off or avoiding the news for a few days waiting for the whole thing to “blow over” but with tens of thousands dead and missing. According to sources ((http://www.nowpublic.com/world/haiti-earthquake-death-statistics-update-eu-says-200-000-dead-2559557.html)) over 1.5 million are homeless.  Even if all you can do is give a few dollars every bit helps. You may also want to read the The DOs and DON’Ts of Disaster Donations. I  truly believe it is our duty as one of the richest nations to help out.

There are many organizations you can support here are just a few:

World Vision – http://www.worldvision.org

Red Cross (Text HAITI at 90999 to donate $10) – http://www.redcross.org

Hope For Haiti Now – http://hopeforhaitinow.org

Stiller Strong – http://stillerstrong.org

Clinton-Bush Haiti Relief Fund— http://clintonbushhaitifund.org

Supporting an organization you wish to share or have something to say? Leave it in the comments.

Heating Up [Blog Action Day]

If you’re anything like me I’m sure you’ve noticed that each year we are having colder winters and hotter summers. Why is this? Well I’m not a meteorologist, environmentalist, or scientist but the ones I know all say it has to do with climate change. Climate change just happens to be the topic of Blog Action Day 2009 (http://blogactionday.org.)

I don’t know a lot on the subject of climate change, I do however, know that it’s not a good thing. I have decided maybe the best approach would be to list five (5) count them 5 things you can do in your to help stop climate change.

  1. Change your light bulbs to energy star (energy effective) bulbs. Even though this is just a small step if everyone does it we can save a ton of energy in the years to come.

  2. Reduce, reuse, and recycle, the three R’s that I know you’ve heard before. By collectively taking these steps we make the planet a brighter place.

  3. Take the bus, I know the bus is a pain but by taking it you are helping reduce the amount of carbon emissions in the are and creating cleaner air. For those of you who refuse carpooling is also an option.

  4. Look for “ENERGY STAR” certified products. These products have been certified to reduce the amount of energy they use.

  5. Conserve water, it takes a lot of energy to purify then get the water to you, heating the water is also an issue. Reducing the amount of water you use is just another way to help save energy.

Source: for more information on ways you can reduce energy and help prevent climate change http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd

Most importantly make sure you spread the word about climate change, by telling your friends and family you can make a difference in their lives as well.

$23 for Twenty Three

Well it’s that time of the year again where I’ll be having another birthday. September 8th to be exact. I’m gonna be 23 this year, time seems to be something that as much as we want to, try to, dream about we can’t change. This year I’ve decided to focus on an issue that I feel that I can help change. Although, birthdays aren’t about gifts and presents I’ve decided that I can use my birthday to give the present of clean water to people across the globe.

I’ve created a page at mycharity:water which is part of the parent organization Charity:Water a non-profit, tax deductible, organization with the simple goal to provide clean water to people everywhere. My goal is to give $529 by getting 23 people to all give $23. If you would like to join me in this endeavorer please visit http://mycharitywater.org/BandonRandon.

Well it’s that time of the year again where I’ll be having another birthday. September 8th to be exact. I’m gonna be 23 this year, time seems to be something that as much as we want to, try to, dream about we can’t change. This year I’ve decided to focus on an issue that I feel that I can help change. Although, birthdays aren’t about gifts and presents I’ve decided that I can use my birthday to give the present of clean water to people across the globe.

I’ve created a page at mycharity:water which is part of the parent organization Charity:Water a non-profit, tax deductible, organization with the simple goal to provide clean water to people everywhere. My goal is to give $529 by getting 23 people to all give $23. If you would like to join me in this endeavorer please visit http://mycharitywater.org/BandonRandon.

10 Ways to Support Charity Through Social Media

This post is a collaboration between Mashable’s Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell‘s “10 Ways” series. The post is being simultaneously published across more than 100 blogs.

summerofsocialgoodnew

Social media is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues. That’s one of the reasons charities can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite charity or causes you are passionate about through social media.

Below is a list of 10 ways you can use social media to show your support for issues that are important to you. If you can think of any other ways to help charities via social web tools, please add them in the comments. If you’d like to retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Write a Blog Post

Blogging is one of the easiest ways you can help a charity or cause you feel passionate about. Almost everyone has an outlet for blogging these days — whether that means a site running WordPress, an account at LiveJournal, or a blog on MySpace or Facebook. By writing about issues you’re passionate about, you’re helping to spread awareness among your social circle. Because your friends or readers already trust you, what you say is influential.

Recently, a group of green bloggers banded together to raise individual $1 donations from their readers. The beneficiaries included Sustainable Harvest, Kiva, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and Water for People. The blog-driven campaign included voting to determine how the funds would be distributed between the charities. You can read about the results here.

You should also consider taking part in Blog Action Day, a once a year event in which thousands of blogs pledge to write at least one post about a specific social cause (last year it was fighting poverty). Blog Action Day will be on October 15 this year.

2. Share Stories with Friends

twitter-links

Another way to spread awareness among your social graph is to share links to blog posts and news articles via sites like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, and even through email. Your network of friends is likely interested in what you have to say, so you have influence wherever you’ve gathered a social network.

You’ll be doing charities you support a great service when you share links to their campaigns, or to articles about causes you care about.

3. Follow Charities on Social Networks

In addition to sharing links to articles about issues you come across, you should also follow charities you support on the social networks where they are active. By increasing the size of their social graph, you’re increasing the size of their reach. When your charities tweet or post information about a campaign or a cause, statistics or a link to a good article, consider retweeting that post on Twitter, liking it on Facebook, or blogging about it.

Following charities on social media sites is a great way to keep in the loop and get updates, and it’s a great way to help the charity increase its reach by spreading information to your friends and followers.

You can follow the Summer of Social Good Charities:

Oxfam America (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube)

The Humane Society (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr)

LIVESTRONG (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr)

WWF (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr)

4. Support Causes on Awareness Hubs

change-wwf

Another way you can show your support for the charities you care about is to rally around them on awareness hubs like Change.org, Care2, or the Facebook Causes application. These are social networks or applications specifically built with non-profits in mind. They offer special tools and opportunities for charities to spread awareness of issues, take action, and raise money.

It’s important to follow and support organizations on these sites because they’re another point of access for you to gather information about a charity or cause, and because by supporting your charity you’ll be increasing their overall reach. The more people they have following them and receiving their updates, the greater the chance that information they put out will spread virally.

5. Find Volunteer Opportunities

Using social media online can help connect you with volunteer opportunities offline, and according to web analytics firm Compete, traffic to volunteering sites is actually up sharply in 2009. Two of the biggest sites for locating volunteer opportunities are VolunteerMatch, which has almost 60,000 opportunities listed, and Idealist.org, which also lists paying jobs in the non-profit sector, in addition to maintaining databases of both volunteer jobs and willing volunteers.

For those who are interested in helping out when volunteers are urgently needed in crisis situations, check out HelpInDisaster.org, a site which helps register and educate those who want to help during disasters so that local resources are not tied up directing the calls of eager volunteers. Teenagers, meanwhile, should check out DoSomething.org, a site targeted at young adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their communities.

6. Embed a Widget on Your Site

Many charities offer embeddable widgets or badges that you can use on your social networking profiles or blogs to show your support. These badges generally serve one of two purposes (or both). They raise awareness of an issue and offer up a link or links to additional information. And very often they are used to raise money.

Mashable’s Summer of Social Good campaign, for example, has a widget that does both. The embeddable widget, which was custom built using Sprout (the creators of ChipIn), can both collect funds and offer information about the four charities the campaign supports.

http://farm.sproutbuilder.com/load/dwCmTBkoFmZJ1xZP.swf

7. Organize a Tweetup

You can use online social media tools to organize offline events, which are a great way to gather together like-minded people to raise awareness, raise money, or just discuss an issue that’s important to you. Getting people together offline to learn about an important issue can really kick start the conversation and make supporting the cause seem more real.

Be sure to check out Mashable’s guide to organizing a tweetup to make sure yours goes off without a hitch, or check to see if there are any tweetups in your area to attend that are already organized.

8. Express Yourself Using Video

As mentioned, blog posts are great, but a picture really says a thousand words. The web has become a lot more visual in recent years and there are now a large number of social tools to help you express yourself using video. When you record a video plea or call to action about your issue or charity, you can make your message sound more authentic and real. You can use sites like 12seconds.tv, Vimeo, and YouTube to easily record and spread your video message.

Last week, the Summer of Social Good campaign encouraged people to use video to show support for charity. The #12forGood campaign challenged people to submit a 12 second video of themselves doing something for the Summer of Social Good. That could be anything, from singing a song to reciting a poem to just dancing around like a maniac — the idea was to use the power of video to spread awareness about the campaign and the charities it supports.

If you’re more into watching videos than recording them, Givzy.com enables you to raise funds for charities like Unicef and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital by sharing viral videos by e-mail.

9. Sign or Start a Petition

twitition

There aren’t many more powerful ways to support a cause than to sign your name to a petition. Petitions spread awareness and, when successfully carried out, can demonstrate massive support for an issue. By making petitions viral, the social web has arguably made them even more powerful tools for social change. There are a large number of petition creation and hosting web sites out there. One of the biggest is The Petition Site, which is operated by the social awareness network Care2, or PetitionOnline.com, which has collected more than 79 million signatures over the years.

Petitions are extremely powerful, because they can strike a chord, spread virally, and serve as a visual demonstration of the support that an issue has gathered. Social media fans will want to check out a fairly new option for creating and spreading petitions: Twitition, an application that allows people to create, spread, and sign petitions via Twitter.

10. Organize an Online Event

Social media is a great way to organize offline, but you can also use online tools to organize effective online events. That can mean free form fund raising drives, like the Twitter-and-blog-powered campaign to raise money for a crisis center in Illinois last month that took in over $130,000 in just two weeks. Or it could mean an organized “tweet-a-thon” like the ones run by the 12for12k group, which aims to raise $12,000 each month for a different charity.

In March, 12for12k ran a 12-hour tweet-a-thon, in which any donation of at least $12 over a 12 hour period gained the person donating an entry into a drawing for prizes like an iPod Touch or a Nintendo Wii Fit. Last month, 12for12k took a different approach to an online event by holding a more ambitious 24-hour live video-a-thon, which included video interviews, music and sketch comedy performances, call-ins, and drawings for a large number of prizes given out to anyone who donated $12 or more.

Bonus: Think Outside the Box

blamedrewscancerSocial media provides almost limitless opportunity for being creative. You can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of innovative ways to raise money or awareness for a charity or cause. When Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he created Blame Drew’s Cancer, a campaign that encourages people to blow off steam by blaming his cancer for bad things in their lives using the Twitter hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. Over 16,000 things have been blamed on Drew’s cancer, and he intends to find sponsors to turn those tweets into donations to LIVESTRONG once he beats the disease.

Or check out Nathan Winters, who is biking across the United States and documenting the entire trip using social media tools, in order to raise money and awareness for The Nature Conservancy.

The number of innovative things you can do using social media to support a charity or spread information about an issue is nearly endless. Can you think of any others? Please share them in the comments.

Special thanks to VPS.net

vpsnet logoA special thanks to VPS.net, who are donating $100 to the Summer of Social Good for every signup they receive this week.

Sign up at VPS.net and use the coupon code “SOSG”to receive 3 Months of FREE hosting on top of your purchased term. VPS.net honors a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee so there’s no risk.

About the “10 Ways” Series

The “10 Ways” Series was originated by Max Gladwell. This is the second simultaneous blog post in the series. The first ran on more than 80 blogs, including Mashable. Among other things, it is a social media experiment and the exploration of a new content distribution model. You can follow Max Gladwell on Twitter.

This content was originally written by Mashable’s Josh Catone.

Take Action

Well as I’m sure some of you know today is Blog Action Day. Blog Action day is a day where bloggers around the world can come together and blog about a social cause, need, or event(s). This year’s theme is Poverty. A little over a year ago I wrote a blog on causes I support titled “support the cause”. Well those are all still great causes I support but I would like to challenge you a bit further.

This October The Hope Project will be launching the Christmas Initiative. The idea behind this is to get over 1,100 people to each give $35. This is a project that I am very close to and I think it would be great to see this accomplished. The project focuses on provide food, schooling and medical aid to children in need. Why 1,100 people? Why $35? The project currently has 92 unsponsored children in East Africa, Tanzania to be exact. It cost $35 to sponsor a child for a month. This means if 1,100 people all get together and give $35 all the children will be sponsored through 2009!

This doesn’t tickle your fancy? Another organization I’m in support of is Invisible Children. The Invisible Children have the goal of ending war in Uganda. They focus on the children who seem to be invisible to the world. Many who spend hours each day walking to and from displacement camps so they can sleep safely without getting swept up by the rebel forces.
Oh you don’t want to support that either? I’ll bring the problems a little closer to home (pun intended) Habitat for Humanity is an origination with the goal of building homes for people in need. They have built thousands of homes for families. One thing I like about this organization is that they allow individuals to volunteer and help build homes as well as accepting donations.

Well back to the global cause. Charity Water is an organization building wells around the word so individuals can have clean drinking water nearby. They have currently dug 223 wells. This year on September 7th they dug a well live in Ethiopia. It’s pretty amazing to watch.

Wow, there are a lot of causes that are worthy to support.My challenge to you, pick one, pick all 4 but don’t just sit there and do nothing. All of these organizations will benefit from any amount. Even $5 will help make a difference. Please join me as part of Blog action day and TAKE ACTION!