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Allyson Kapin 15 min read

SXSW Top Picks

 Conference season is here. Coming up this week is SXSWi in Austin, Texas. SXSWi is always packed with tons of panels on just about every interactive topic under the sun. It's impossible to take it all in. Don't worry though, we combed through all of the nonprofit related panels and the following sessions sparked our attention.


Diversity in the Digital Age

With the plethora of niche sites it’s hard to deny that the Internet has increased the amount of social, political and personal groups one can join. But is this cross sharing really creating diversity? In this session, Anne Hunter, VP, Advertising Effectiveness, comScore, will provide a comprehensive understanding of how the digital age has affected diversity. Does the democratic nature of the internet with its open sharing of ideas and cultures lead to a natural increase in diversity or are we seeing an end of true niche and specialty groups? Is over-diversification leading to a weakening of subcultures? With your grandmother being able to join your band’s fan page how has the demographic makeup shifted? This session will highlight the key differences between visitors. Through understanding key metrics comScore will examine whether or not this democratization has actually created a more diverse audience or simply created a group of samplers versus key users.

Editors Note: Anne Hunter of comScore who is leading this panel, has access to some of the best data about internet users online habits. If you are a data geek focused on online demographic trends, don’t miss this session.

When: Saturday, March 12, 9:30 AM 

Austin Convention Center, Room 10AB

Let's Hook Up: Brands, Celebs, and Nonprofits

Ever wonder how your favorite celebrity became a spokesperson for a national brand? Why your beer of choice is supporting veterans? How your home team chooses the charities that they support? It takes more than a one-night-stand to make these relationships worthwhile. It takes dates, flirting, compromise and commitment. Most importantly, it takes shared goals and vision. We'll show you how Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), a national non-profit, non-partisan group supporting our nation's newest generation of veterans has established a multi-year partnership with Miller High Life, the San Diego Padres, and celebrities that support their mission. Together, they are literally changing lives through a program that will give up to $1 million in experiences to veterans. In a world where everyone is online and new technology, websites and companies are cropping up everyday, brand loyalty is difficult to maintain. It is critical for brands to ally with the organizations and people that support their ideals, and give their audiences a reason to believe their messaging.

Editor’s Notes: If your nonprofit is going to partner with celebrities or major corporate brands, you need to be prepared for navigating these relationships. It should also be interesting to hear how Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) decided to partner with the beer company Miller High Life.

When: Saturday March 12 11:00 AM

Austin Convention Center, Room 6AB


Money for Nothing, and Your Software for Free

Free beer! Free kittens! Free software! We all love to get something for free, especially when budgets are tight. We dream of the free product that will, like magic, solve our problems without costing a cent. (If you aren't, your boss probably is.) But free things almost always come with hidden costs, and free software is no different. It won't give you a hangover, or get fleas, but it could eat up your staff time, control your data, or change the rules on you without notice. We'll explore the ins and outs of free and low-cost software, and ask: what does free software really cost?

Editor’s Note: Nonprofit’s are on tight budgets. So it makes sense that they love free tools and products. But just because it’s free, doesn’t mean that it’s good or not a time suck for staff.

When: Saturday March 12 5:00 PM  

Austin Convention Center, Room 10AB

You Can Impact Charity Without Being Rich

My strongest memory of SXSW 2010 was at a rooftop party when the SXSW party goers spontaneously raised $300 toward the purchase of a wheel chair for the nephew of one attendee. The young man was paralyzed temporarily, and the family could not afford a wheel chair. Many people want to do more than just create a "Killer Ap", they want to impact the greater good. But the media only covers how the rich and successful donate, and it leaves others thinking they have no place in philanthropy. There are so many ways in social media and live to impact charities and individuals in need (not just money). This panel will bring together four people who help a variety of causes, and show entrepreneurs and others how they can, with minimal effort, make HUGE contributions to society.

Editor’s Notes: Of course one of the few panel descriptions that opened with a personal story features Estrella Rosenberg, founder of Big Love Little Hearts. Why? She uses personal stories to raise money through social networking, and yes even Foursquare. Big Love Little Hearts is a great example of how a small nonprofit can be nimble when it comes to leveraging tools and social media.

Time: Monday March 14 12:30 PM

Austin Convention Center, Room 9ABC

Twitter for Good and Beyond

A 60-minute interactive, small-group, workshop moderated by Claire Diaz Ortiz who leads Social Innovation at Twitter. The goal is to come up with an answer to one specific question. What 1 THING could Twitter, Inc. do to better help non-profits, causes, and anyone trying to make a difference in the world using the platform? Come with your own answers to the question, collaborate with others, and watch ideas bloom.

Editor’s Notes: Kudos to Twitter for reaching out to the nonprofit community and asking them for input on how the platform can help organizations. This is a great opportunity for organizations to talk directly with Twitter staff and provide them valuable feedback.

When: Monday March 14, 12:30 PM

Icehauers, 83 Rainey Street, Austin

Hispanic Marketing After the 2010 Census

After the 2000 Census, companies began paying more attention to the Hispanic market. The estimated buying power at the time was $500 Billion and has steadily increased since then. However, large corporations still struggle when it comes to marketing to Hispanics because they do not understand the subjective culture of the Hispanic marketplace--beliefs, fundamental priorities, modes of communication, technology adoption and buying habits (such as who makes the purchasing decisions in the household). In this presentation, we'll explore the diversity of the Hispanic market such as how Hispanic markets in the U.S. vary by Designated Market Area (DMA). We'll show where the Hispanics are, what they are consuming, and how to reach sub-demographics such as "Hispanic females aged 18-24 in Dallas." We'll also discuss the nuances of marketing to 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics--some of whom may only speak English but who still identify strongly with the culture.

Editor’s Note: The demographics of the US have been changing for quite some time. An estimated 40% of the US is comprised of people of color, according to 2008 US Census data. Yet many nonprofits online lists aren’t diverse. Nonprofits must start diversifying their base of supporters to survive.

When: Monday, March 14th, 5:00 PM

Austin Convention Center, Ballroom F


Techies Can Save the World, Why Aren't They?

Techies are plugged in. We're cutting edge. So, why aren't we more green? Why aren't we the ones using our special power to save the world? Are we too busy working on the next hot i-phone app? Do we not care? Are we just avoiding the guilt over our higher than average personal electrical requirements? Maybe the environmental movement just isn’t our battle to fight. Their ‘triple bottom line’ lingo sounds like a foreign language. And it doesn’t sound much like PHP. A kick-ass panel made up of a rare breed of successful environmentally and socially focused tech pioneers provide insights, examples and practical inspiration for techies, bloggers, entrepreneurs and web-business people who are looking to do a world of good.

Editor’s Note: The tech community is comprised of some brilliant people who thrive on solving problems and innovating. But why isn’t more of the tech community focused on using those same skills to solve some of the world toughest issues?

Time: Tuesday March 15 3:30 PM

Austin Convention Center,  Room 6AB


What sessions are you looking forward to at SXSWi?



Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.