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Sep 20

Social Good Summit Recap – Day One

I walked into the 92Y building just a few minutes before the program was scheduled to start. I was attending the Social Good Summit presented by Mashable, the UN Foundation, 92nd Street Y and sponsored by Ericsson, which is a four day event starting September 19th during UN week. I scanned the room looking for a seat and noticed the amount of people already busily typing away on their laptops. I also planned to connect with social media throughout the afternoon, but still the sight of so many computers and iPads was a little surprising. I wondered how it felt, as a presenter to speak to a room this large and have so few people actually looking at you? Whenever I have been speaking or training to a large audience such as this, I always enjoy the moment when you can catch someone’s eyes and gauge that they are on the same page, that what you are saying is making sense. It must be interesting to talk to the tops of heads and hear the clicking of keyboards and not know if anything you are saying is sinking in. That is until you see the twitter thread after your presentation with direct quotes, which confirms they heard you. Obviously, this is a group of multi-taskers.

The design of the Social Good Summit is simple. Several leaders in the fields of social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, development, along with nonprofit directors, government officials, a few celebrities and others who have made a name in social change, share/present for less than 30 minutes, some for as short as 8 minutes. It keeps the program moving but at times means that some presenters do little more than pat themselves and their programs on the back for a job well done at their method of addressing their target social issue. Several of the presenters presented great ideas that their organizations were implementing but there was not a takeaway as to how this could be duplicated or replicated by others trying to work on a similar issue. This is not to say that these presenters and moments are not engaging or inspiring, it just provides very little in a way of maximizing efforts or sharing of best practices.

Key Takeaway from the Day

Mobile Technology is the technology of choice for global and major social efforts

Though people often talk about social media and its impact in social efforts, it is really the mobile phone that is an instrumental tool for change. It is mobile that is global. Data and internet service are not always accessible but in high poverty and disaster areas it is the mobile phone that is key to connection.

  • Valerie Amos Under Secretary General and Relief Coordinator at the UN, explained how mobile technology has been used to connect to people during humanitarian efforts
  • Nancy Lublin CEO of Do Something provided statistics on text usage and youth. Texts have a 100% open rate and are over indexed by urban youth and minorities
  • Simon Mainwaring of We First shared the ways that corporate social responsibility can be connected to mobile technology with barcode apps that can scan a barcode to tell you a product’s social rating.

For those of us looking to create global social change we must look for ways to use our mobile phones and mobile technology as a vehicle for connecting and creating lasting change for major social problems.

Key Idea

Idealist is looking to push connection to a higher level. The SISGI Group has a core belief as an organization that the only way to truly address global social problems is through connected efforts, so we were excited to hear some of the suggestions made by Idealist Founder Ami Dar. Though I still am unsure exactly what he is proposing from his brief 10 minute speech, the key ideas of collaboration and connected efforts were right in line with the focus of our initiative work at the SISGI Group. We will be attending Idealist’s information session on Wednesday about this new initiative but invite you to also check out their site for information on their new push for collaboration in New York at idealistnyc.org

Quote of the Day –

Doing Good Does not Excuse Us From Doing Better. – Howard W. Buffett, Executive Director of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation

This quote could have easily been written from the NotEnoughGood blog, as we also believe that “Doing Good” requires a high level of responsibility and accountability. During his presentation, Mr. Buffett discussed the ways that traditional philanthropy has practiced a form of “Philanthropic Colonialism,” another quote I loved. This idea can be seen in the methods of building a home or fixing a problem in a community without engaging with the community members about the ways in which they would like their community improved. His ideas for Social Value Investing will hopefully move charitable and philanthropic efforts away from those types of practices, which isolate the community from participating in the changes that are occurring around them. He also discussed the Learning By Giving program that was launched with a $5 Million donation from his aunt to provide college courses that prepare students to understand all aspects of social change and philanthropy. Students in a select course at several universities will as a class receive $10,000 to invest in their communities, based upon the tools and techniques they have learned throughout the course. This is a great way to prepare young leaders to enter the social sector, something that has been overlooked in many curriculums.

Overall day one was interesting and it was great to connect with so many people in the room and on Twitter throughout the afternoon, even if it was a little surreal that I might be sitting right around a person that just retweeted my comment and not know it. I will provide a final analysis at the end of the event, but it does seem that the key thing that is missing from this summit is more voices from local people creating social change and diverse perspectives. Its only day one so hopefully that will change as the event progresses. I will keep you posted.

You can follow along as I tweet key points and comments throughout the summit on Twitter @Notenoughgood using the hashtag #socialgood. You also can see the livestream of the event at socialgoodsummit.com

Thenera Bailey is the President/CEO of the SISGI Group and Editor of this blog. To learn more about the SISGI Group visit www.sisgigroup.org

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