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Call2Action Launched – now’s the time to fundraise with videos by sylvng

Back in July I had written about how Call2Action was looking for Beta testers – well now they’ve launched! I got the launch email on Sept 18th and meant to write about it then, but didn’t get to it until now. If you haven’t yet you should check the site out. It’s s a “viral action tool for nonprofits”, so if you’re a nonprofit looking for a way to run a viral campaign online, this is the site for you. The Call2Action video widget lets you bundle campaign videos with actions together, so that you don’t have to worry again about making a video that doesn’t tie direction with a call-to-action.

Videos are a powerful way to get the message across. Some of my favourites:

  1. Jennifer Connelly in Charity:Water’s campaign video
  2. Moving Windmills – William Kamkwamba’s of building windmills in Malawi, learning how to do it himself with a library book
  3. Cadbury’s bike campaign video – I first saw this on TV and it almost made me go buy chocolate immediately (not that I need much convincing)

The key? Keep it simple with a concise message, 1 minute or less is best. Doesn’t have to be fancy either – I’ve seen plenty of good videos with just sketches and voice-over.

What’s your favourite video that inspires you to make a difference?

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A bad day for Toronto city planners. by Kevin Wong
September 27, 2009, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s a bad day to be a person of Chinese person Toronto, particularly if you like to read, and run.  You had to choose between the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon, the Word on the Street book fair, and the celebration parade of China’s birthday.  If you are a person in Toronto who likes to be stuck in traffic all day downtown, it’s a fantastic day, but since there aren’t very many of those, it was a bad day for Toronto city planners.

In addition to running Charity CHAMPS, I’ve been fairly involved in running a national conference (CUTC) for the last 10 years, and we are very careful to try to time our event so that it doesn’t conflict with other events.

By contrast for the last 3 years, the Scotiabank Marathon and the Word on the Street festival are always scheduled on the same day in September.  And this year, perhaps thanks to the lunar calendar, there was also the Chinese parade.  I think our all-news radio station 680 News put it best saying “effectively all streets downtown are closed.”

Seriously, Yonge, Bay, and University were all brought to a halt, as were Queen and Dundas, Lakeshore and Queen’s Quay.  I think there were issues with Richmond and Adelaide too.  The resulting overflow onto College, Spadina, Bathurst, King and Wellington, were so gross that it was absolutely infuriating for anyone who had to do something downtown that couldn’t be done on foot or on the subway exclusively.  It would be excruciating just getting out of the downtown if you wanted to escape!  I carefully looked at the flyer I received about the Scotiabank marathon road closures so I could avoid them with my plans today, but was given no warning about Word on the Street, nor the Chinese parade.

While I think these events are great, is there no one in the municipal government who can someone bring about some coordination between these groups—particularly since they requested the closure of public road resources?

Why not have the book fair right along side the marathon route?  What better way for people to bide their time for their friends and family to run by than browsing through some books?  And what better way to get some extra eyeballs on your proud Chinese banners than by walking along the same path set aside for the marathon already?

Call me crazy for thinking groups can work together like this when everyone benefits, but it seems like we could do a lot better job than the disaster that was downtown today.  I heard one guy shout “I HATE downtown!” so loudly from his car I could hear him from across the street.  A little bit more planning could eliminate one more reason people flee to the suburbs, paving more nature for urban sprawl.

This is just the thing our city planners are probably trying to combat.  I think they are probably a pretty strategic group creating Green Belts, working with the TTC, and encouraging dense downtown development.  I encourage you to be a bit “tactical” as well, and think about day-to-day things like this as well—because days as frustrating as this would make anyone think about staying the heck out of downtown whenever possible.

I hope everything is cleared up by the time I have to get to St. Clair and Bathurst for to see my father’s Art Walk festival in mid-town…

Using charity donations to entice users by sylvng
September 22, 2009, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Nowadays every company is trying to be a good corporate citizen. There are several corporate charity campaigns that I’ve talked about on this blog or on the Charity CHAMPS twitter account (@charitychamps) – Cadbury’s campaign to send bicycles to Africa, Dawn giving $1 back per bottle of dish detergent sold to environmental causes, Moxie’s giving a $1 to Breakfast For Learning for every dessert trio ordered. But I’m seeing many more campaigns that I have not blogged about. In fact, I’m seeing these campaigns everywhere, which is a good thing, but the concept of giving back product revenues to charity is becoming slightly over-done in my mind.

So it refreshing when I found this email from SAS the other day:

Dear SAS User:
SAS is committed to your satisfaction! We are interested in learning about your opinions and experiences with SAS and SAS software. Your valuable feedback will be used to develop and improve SAS products and services we offer.

Please allow approximately 10 minutes to complete this survey. In appreciation of your time and effort, SAS will make a donation to your choice among three non-profit charitable organizations if you complete this survey ….

SAS Market Research

Of course, this email has been sitting in my inbox for some time now, so it’s not really new (my inbox is just really backlogged), but it’s definitely the first time I’ve been enticed to complete a survey for charity. And I get to choose out of 3 non-profits? Pretty good! Too bad I’m so late to the game – the survey’s now closed and now I’ll never know what the donation amount offered was.

I don’t necessarily think that this campaign is doing more good than other ones just because it’s different, but I do like seeing new ideas in action. Donor fatigue is a huge problem, and innovation never hurt anybody.

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Mozilla Service Week Has Arrived! by sylvng
September 15, 2009, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Charity CHAMPS is always on the look-out for technology professionals to join the team, so we’re very happy that Mozilla Service Week has finally come! It’s running from September 14-21, and it’s a call by Mozilla to individuals to step up and make a difference by using the Web to better their community.

So how can you step up? There’s a bunch of ways:

  • Take part in One Web Day on Sept 22 to raise awareness of Internet issues while helping to build a Web that works for everyone. You can  make a donation , participate in a local event, or perform an Internet Health Check.
  • Search the volunteer opportunities posted and volunteer some of your expertise.
  • Post a volunteer opportunity for a nonprofit or charity to help them complete a web project.
  • Spread the word – follow and Tweet about mozilla service week @mozservice09

When you’ve completed a project, tell the world how you helped out. As I write this post, 10652 hours have already been donated as part of the service week – and you can help that number to keep growing!

Happy service!

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“Eco” dish soaps and Dawn campaign by sylvng

The other day at work I noticed that Dawn is offering $1 to save wildlife for every bottle of dish detergent sold. Just enter in the bottle’s donation code at their website by the end of this year and Dawn will donate a dollar that will go towards the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center. This is just another example of social responsibility that I see companies being increasingly involved in, but for once I can’t help but question the effectiveness of the campaign for doing good.

Dawn’s website states that “For 30 years, wildlife rescuers have used Dawn dishwashing liquid to gently remove oil and help save wildlife affected by oil spills. Animal rescue organizations choose Dawn because it removes the greasy oil—while being gentle on delicate feathers and skin.” And that seems to be the main argument for Dawn being good for the environment – that it’s tough on grease while being gentle on skin. But if the detergent itself isn’t inherently biodegradable, can it possibly be better for the environment than other detergents that are biodegradable? And isn’t it better to buy a detergent that is better for the environment than to buy one that’s more harmful even with $1 going towards environmental causes?

On further research though it seems that biodegradable soaps still harm the environment. It’s just that they might harm less.  And you do pay a premium for it, but I think it’s definitely worth the price, especially if it’s going to be used while camping or in some other situation where the soap is entering soil unfiltered. If you’re looking for a good one, try the top 6 list at

Of course, depending on how you wash dishes, it may be better to use an energy efficient dishwasher. But if you do it right, manual dishwashing is still the most eco friendly way to get your dishes clean.

I’m definitely not an expert on dish soaps though, so any thoughts on this are more than welcome!

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