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April 12 2012


Digital Activism: Technology Efforts Inspiring Social Change Offline

In the wake of the controversial KONY2012 video and its related drama and theatrics, I was left feeling somewhat jaded about the power of the digital to affect meaningful and tangible change on the ground (offline).

Surely, a successful deployment of technology for social good can offer us more than a soap opera like media frenzy. Can the success of such efforts be measured beyond YouTube views and money raised?

I decided to channel my post KONY2012 digital skepticism into a search for concrete examples where the power of technology was affecting real change in the lives of people in local communities, especially those communities and people that have the most need.

So how was digital technology educating and sharing knowledge, and more importantly transforming lives?

Well, how about like this:

  • 15K Youth and Community Leaders Trained
  • 76K People Reached by Community Advocates
  • 240 Million Exposed to a Multimedia Campaign
  • 7.5 Million “Sensitized” by a Video Van

Watch this video for an example that walks the walk:

In 2008 Breakthrough India launched Bell Bajao! (Ring the Bell), a national level campaign in India asking communities to join to end violence against women. Truly amazing is how the campaign has involved men and young boys to end the violence against and transform attitudes about women. Not a common approach or an easy feat.

Bell Bajao has become a peer leader in raising this issue on the Internet through the use of multimedia, hosting survivor stories on a blog, celebrity endorsements, map for social change, social media engagement, training toolkits, information and community stories of change.

More related campaign videos can be found on Breakthrough’s YouTube page.

Give us your take on effective digital activism. What works? What doesn’t? Share other inspiring examples. Use #digitalactivism on Twitter.

February 20 2012


Netsquared Regional Conference Buea Cameroon

Conference theme: Cameroon Netsquared Reboot

The Netsquared regional conference Buea Cameroon built for the 9th of February 2012 at Dchucks Palace hotel came to pass as scheduled though we encountered some technical difficulties in carrying out part of our activities. The conference brought together civil society organizations and techies to rethink the future of the network in Cameroon and set a solid foundation. We were lucky enough and highly favored to have:


  • Nicolle Beeby from SANGONet South Africa (www.sangonet.org.za) who spoke on ‘the introduction of Social Media in NGOs’,
  • A 20mins video from Daniel Ben-Horin, CEO of Techsoup Global,
  • Tobias Eigen, Founder Kabissa Kabissa, who spread the news over the web (www.kabissa.org ) and,
  • Asama A. Excel, President & CEO of I-Vission International (www.ivission.net) presenting the historical background of Netsquared network in Cameroon

The following remote presenters could not connect to us due to Internet failure:

Marc Manashil, Community Evangelist for Netsquared (www.netsquared.org): he had to come in to comment the video from the CEO and co founder of Tecsoup Global. Marc just wished us the best through SMS and email.

David Barnard, Executive Director SANGONeT, was to talk on ‘online fund raising’, unfortunately after several attempts to connect us; we could not establish a comfortable connection. He sent us his presentation through email.


After the presentation of participants, Asama A. Excel was given the opportunity to introduce the historical background of Netsquared activities in Cameroon. He briefly explained to the audience how he was in a cyber café, searching for partners in Europe and the United States that promote the use of the web in social activities. This is how he came across Netsquared. He paid more attention on the Netsquareds’ network around the world with the famous Net Tuesdays meetings. Asama Excel developed great interest in the vision of Netsquared in particular and Techsoup Global in general which he said are similar to that of I-Vission International, the NGO he chairs in Cameroon. He decided to get involve by creating a network in Cameroon back in 2008. The Network started and was later on shut down because of in activity. He took the courage and created the group a second time in 2009. That same year, he succeeded to register some few members.

Below are some of the activities Netsquared Cameroon has succeeded to organize since creation:


  • Cameroon Netsquared Campaign in Kribi, August 26-29, 2009. This 3 day event brought together 250 participants from different social sectors. Some of the highlights of the event include: A touristic tour in Kribi, swimming, visit to some orphanages, visit to the Kribi Urban council and the regional delegation of tourism.
  •  Netsquared Camp in Douala-Cameroon: The theme for this event was REMIXING THE WEB FOR SOCIAL CHANGE. It gathered 64 participants both in Douala and its environs to discuss issues on the impact of social web on civil society organizations. Some projects were presented by five different groups.
  • Special training: the Netsquared team headed by Asama A. Excel organized a special training to build the capacity of students on project management on the 7th of February 2012 at the university of Buea Cameroon
  • Local monthly meetings: We have succeeded to organize many local meetings in Cameroon -This regional conference is just part of the activities of Netsquared Cameroon


Challenges encountered

The major challenges we face in Cameroon are:


  • Lack of a good internet connection,
  • Ignorance or low access to the ICTs (Very few people master the social web)
  • Financial and logistic difficulties to organize meetings,
  • Difficulty in attending conferences organized in the USA. Last year in February we were refused Visa to the USA for no concrete reason. This provoked a negative impact on the group as a whole. The group coordinator, Asama Excel was psychologically disturbed and could not organize meetings regularly as a result of this, many members left.


The second speaker of the day was Nicolle Beeby by Nicolle from SANGONet, an NGO based in South Africa (www.sangonet.org.za) She presented the topic: An Introduction to the social Media for NGOs After a series of trials, she succeeded to Skype in. Participants were very attentive to this presentation for two reasons:

  • It was their first time to learn through remote presentation
  • Social media is making the news worldwide and everyone wants to be connected.

She attempted the following definition for social media:


  • Social media is content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies
  • A category of sites that is based on user participation and user generated content
  • Online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights experiences, and perspectives with each other 
  • Social media are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, wiki or video hosting site


 The importance of social media to NGOs including:


  • User-generated content T
  • The demise of the webmistress J L -It’s so easy – the demise of the ‘tech guy’
  • Getting our voices out there – the demise of the gatekeepers
  • Participation – you speak out; other’s speak back
  • A level playing field – we are all documenters
  • Online presence – many can know about you -Text, audio, video, pictures – documenting gone wild J


 Participants were as well empowered on micro blogging applications like twitter and facebook . Nicolle suggested the following sites for bloggers:



The last segment of her presentation involved multimedia sites with flickr, Zoopy, Youtube channels and Dotsub.


  • Youtube channels, NGOs are offered huge international audiences, limit of 20 minute uploads, 10 million uploads a day.
  • Zoopy: Local option, local audiences, local speeds (faster). Audio, video and photos. Mobile site.
  • Dotsub: Plugging in to a community of translators Nicolle highlighted the necessity of multimedia sites as a great way to find resources on issues related to your work and videos as a great way to effectively explain complex issues in a succinct and entertaining way. You can share explanations about your cause and why it is important. 


Some best practices proposed


  • Read blogs! 
  • CONVERGE ALL YOUR MEDIA eg Send your listeners to the blog transcript 
  • Convince your readers (via email, blog etc to listen tonight...)
  • Make it sustainable – should be easy if you are a media org... 
  • Quality above quantity
  • Respond to comments!!!
  • Don’t just tell – show 
  • ANALYSE ANALYSE ANALYSE (www.google.com/analytics


The Co Founder and CEO of Techsoup Global Daniel Ben-Horin, send us a 20minutes video tape explaining the vision of Techsoup Global. This video was projected several times to permit participants understand how Techsoup Global operates. Many participants notice that the CEO used the word trust, confidence and participating several times as essential tools in building long lasting and solid relationships. The NGOs present were delighted to hear the CEO say Techsoup is looking for credible organizations to work with in Cameroon.

Testimonies and success stories The participants were expecting testimonies from other Netsquared groups but unfortunately none of them volunteered to share with Netsquared Cameroon. We wonder why?. Nonetheless, they encourage us to keep on sharing with others.

The New team for Netsquared Cameroon The following organizations voluntarily accepted the offer to join the team and to give full support for the smooth running of Netsquared Cameroon:


  • Helen Nsume Nkelnsieh:  OREP NGO 
  • Hans Jambe Ebot:      CHAMEG
  • Ngrima Yvonne:       ASWA-RUDEB
  • Halle Simon:           Empowerment PR
  • Samuel Akuro:        Creative Hands
  • Abanda Sammy:      Creative Hands
  • Achu Denis:          Member (Independent Expert)
  • Acho Denis Fominyen:   ASWA-RUDEB 
  • Andre Signing: Member (Independent Expert)
  • Asama Abel Excel:   I-Vission International 
  • Anagho Daniel:   Member (Independent Expert)




  • Participants were called to make contributions in writing to help us design our strategic plan of action,
  • A website will be put in place to promote the activities of Netsquared in Cameroon. Part of the funds received from Techsoup Global should be kept aside for this purpose,
  • The new team made up of civil society organizations shall henceforth develop and execute projects together,
  • A specific fee will be charged for anyone seeking to join the network in Cameroon.
  • Meetings could be held on or off line,
  • More conferences and workshops should be organized regularly to build the capacities of members on social media and other related ICT issues.
  • Facilitate access to ICTs to civil society organizations,
  • Put in place a kind of umbrella bureau at regional levels to coordinate activities on the ground,
  • Put in place an online platform to promote the activities of civil society organizations in Cameroon with priority to those affiliated to Netsquared Cameroon, 
  • Jointly organize activities with local partners, diplomatic representations and foreign stake holders.


 Future event

  A meeting was programmed for the 10th of March 2012 at the headquarters of I-Vission International in Douala to review the strategic plan of action 




March 15 2011


Say "No" to Money (to Raise More Money)

Say “no” to money. We dare you. 

Believe it or not, sometimes saying ‘no’ to money, helps the money pour in.  Counter-intuitive? Yes.  But does it work? Yes! 

Based on 10+ years of game-theoretic research and live lab experiments, conducted by two of the company's US founders, NYU and UC Berkeley economics professors, give2gether has built an online fundraising platform, that also introduces some brand new line of thought on crowd and donor sourcing  

Consider ALL or NOTHING when it comes to setting your fundraising goals.

Set an ambitious but not unachievable target, and vow to your donors that unless you hit that target in the allotted time, you will return all the money raised so far. Every single cent.

For example – a hospital looking to raise $50,000 for a new CT machine creates a ‘conditional giving’ campaign.  Either they raise the $50k needed to buy the new machine, or they return any money raised by the time the campaign ends.  They can’t buy half a CT machine, and they won’t redirect the money raised into another cause.  It’s the machine or nothing.

Sounds crazy, eh?  What sort of fundraiser worth their salt would promise to give back money that has been donated by generous, supportive donors?? 

Here’s the thing.  By opting into the ‘conditional giving’ or ‘in it to win it’ strategy, it has been proven in Berkeley XLab (Economic experimental lab) that your donors are more likely to rally, rise up, step up to the plate and come through for you. They know exactly what is at stake, and they won’t let you down. 

Knowing that the balance of the money raised so far rests on their shoulders, gives incentive to civil philanthropists to make the final push, give more than they normally might, and enlist the support of their own networks to help meet your goal before time runs out and the money is snatched back.

And here’s something else interesting.  Try setting a maximum donation amount for your donors.  No, we didn’t say minimum, though that too.  We said maximum.  Donating money is scary. How much to give? How often? Help your donors make those decisions by removing the guilt and uncertainty.  Set an upper limit and time after time, they will donate amounts closer to their top limit, based on your suggested amount.

Now. We don’t just want money from donors.  Your donors are more valuable to your campaigns and causes than just their credit cards, cash and cheques. What you really want are for them to inspire their friends. You want each donor to share and spread, post and get excited, introducing your project to their entire social network and community.  One person with their $50 quickly turns into 100 friends who reach out to their friends each with their $20-50 donation, and see an average social activist bring in x20-x30 of his original individual donation! Awesome!

Our research demonstrates that:

(1) by increasing transparency, fundraisers can enlist trust, donor engagement and commitment  

(2) conditional giving, i.e., the ‘in it, to win it’ principle encourages donors to rise to the occasion to help campaigns succeed and meet their target  

(3) money is not enough, but that people’s vocal support and advocacy are ultimately more important for exponential growth 


Shachar Kariv Bio

Educated at Tel Aviv University & New York University; Ph.D. in Economics. In 2003 joined the Department of Economics at University of California, Berkeley as Professor & Faculty Director of UC Berkeley Experimental Social Science Laboratory (Xlab), a laboratory for conducting experiment-based investigations of issues of interest to social sciences. His fields of interest include game theory, decision theory, and experimental and behavioral economics. His research includes social learning, social networks, social and moral preferences, and risk preferences and are published in a variety of academic journals including, The American Economic Review, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Economic Theory, and others,



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