Over the past 5 years at SXSW Interactive, I’ve seen the social good presence grow from two rooms in the convention center to 3 hubs scattered around downtown Austin. Perhaps this presence simply scaled with conference attendance as it ballooned from 11,000 in 2009 to 32,000. Yet I’ve also felt a different kind of shift.
This year, I didn’t need to work as hard to explain “social good” and get people to listen to me. When one of the social good hubs was sponsored in part by Caterpillar, the leading manufacturer of mining equipment, it’s safe to say many understand the benefits of being a socially responsible company.
The hubs, although curiously organized, were awesome. United Nations, Change.org, Participant Media and Beaconfire (the Original SXSW social good hub since 2009) were all doing #sxgood proud. Plus the hashtag, #sxgood, reached over 25 million.
As I raced from one hub to the next (which were miles apart) only to find none of them crowded, I wondered why we weren’t all together. Is the world of social good now super competitive?
My favorite session was in good old 9ABC – The Original Gangsters of Crowdfunding – and this is why. The panelists from Charity Water, DonorsChoose.org, Kiva and GlobalGiving.org talked about their weekly calls with each other to share their data, insights and best practices. All this sharing amongst fundraisers! I was impressed.
These sharing sessions may strike some as the most non-competitive thing an org can do however the collaboration has strengthened them. It also follows that if your nonprofit is going to be competitive in the traditional, for-profit, market-share type ways, you’re actively trying to hinder progress towards the greater good. In the world of social good we talk about transparency, solving the world’s biggest problems and evolving together, not climbing a ladder to be the king of DoGoodville.
This whole notion of us descending into one location to attend a “conference” and “hub” leads me to think we would benefit from identifying one big place to hang out all together. Don’t worry, we are no strangers to oversized partnerships and websites with 15 logos on them.