Posts tagged ‘change’

Designing for Community Change

At the beginning of the month, Craig Lefebvre challenged us to 10 “What Ifs” for social marketing in the coming year. At the heart of Craig’s what ifs is a change in perspective in terms of approach. This shift is also reflected in the United States’ recently released Healthy People 2020 blueprint which is committed to improving the quality of our Nation’s health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions. Compared to Healthy People 2010, Healthy People 2020 includes:

  • Social determinants of health as a new topic area in the Healthy People 2020 framework, and
  • Determinants of Health are also one of the four new Foundation Health Measures which will be used as guides to monitor progress toward promoting health, preventing disease and disability, eliminating disparities, and improving quality of life in the United States.

One of the greatest ways that this shift is being applied in social marketing is by evolving the social marketing approach to influence systems, networks and environments. How? Through design–Let’s take a look at a couple examples.

Bertie County, North Carolina:  Teaching Design for Change

Designer Emily Pilloton is truly inspiring in her approach, her commitment and personal dedication to finding innovative solutions and sustainable approaches to positive social change. Pilloton founded Project H Design, a non-profit design firm where they apply the design process to catalyze communities and public education from within. In the presentation above, Pilloton shares with us the story of Bertie County. The county is the poorest in the state and faces a number of public health challenges that other rural areas may relate to including being a “rural ghetto,” dealing with “brain drain,” and having little access to creative capital.

However, the picture in Bertie County is becoming more vibrant thanks to Pilloton and others working to change the system–the environment. Pilloton walks us through the six steps her firm has applied to make change come to Bertie County:

  1. Design through action.
  2. Design with, not for.
  3. Design systems, not stuff.
  4. Document, share and measure.
  5. Start locally and scale globally.
  6. Build.

In short, Poilloton and the Project H team “design solutions that empower communities and build collective creative capital.” They might not say “we do social marketing” up front–but to me, that’s exactly what they’re doing and we can learn much from them. They are doing the work and taking the type of approach that the shift described above calls for and requires. And shown in Bertie County, this may mean that we need to get our hands dirty, ignite creativity, make genuine connections with those we want to serve, and have a personal conviction to see change happen.

Howard Roads, Virginia:  Designing for Physical Activity

This example comes from Rescue Social Change Group (RSCG). RSCG is a research, marketing and strategy firm where they focus on the relationship between identity and behavior to change behavior through culture. In this specific case, RSCG worked with Howards Roads, Virginia to promote physical activity amongst youth. The reason this case stands out is because it didn’t take the ‘easy button’ approach of pushing “get active” or “exercise more” messages to tweens and teens. Instead, they went a step further and actually designed an environment to promote physical activity for youth. They accomplished this by creating a step dancing league called Step Royale where teams compete throughout the year to earn the title of the best step team in Hampton Roads.

From What Ifs to What Next

Given these two examples, here are three “What Ifs” to add to the list:

  • What if public health wasn’t just about the message but also about the design, the system, the network and the environment?
  • What if public health wasn’t just the responsibility of public health folks but resonated and took root in our communities?
  • What if we didn’t ask what if–but instead, asked what’s next?

I’m almost thinking of a Roosevelt-New-Deal-sense of shared responsibility and commitment. The global citizen can start with us and our neighbors–We can design change in our communities.

Disclaimer: Healthy People 2020 is an initiative by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services–of which, is a client that I work with at IQ Solutions.

Red Light, Green Light or How to Make Change Happen

Change can be a stop-go process, and sometimes, you feel held at yellow for what seems never-ending. On the social marketing list serv, someone recently asked–in so many words–How do you make change happen? You might have this question (I know I’ve asked it plenty of times myself). Today, I’d like to share with you the “traffic light” approach.

In the email, the inquirer specifically wanted to know how to use the concepts and social marketing framework to influence one’s staff and motivate them in their work for change? One of my favorite social marketers is Mike Newton-Ward. Thus, when someone pointed to Jay Kassirer ‘s Tools of Change website and the case study Marketing Social Marketing in North Carolina Public Health–my ears perked up.

The case study shares the journey of how social marketing was adopted by North Carolina, but my favorite part is in the notes section where the author describes the process of change in terms of a traffic light:

We’ve learned to take a ‘traffic light’ approach to introduce social marketing very gradually, rather than a ‘race car’ approach where change is presented suddenly. For example, if you’re in your city and the department of transportation is getting ready to put up a new traffic light. They don’t just put up the traffic light and turn it on and you stop one day. They start out months before putting up a sign that says, “Warning, there’s going to be a traffic light here.” Then finally they put it up and it just blinks for a while. And then finally, they put up the sign or the light, so that by the time they do that, people are used to the idea. This approach helps staff acclimate to a change in their way of doing things.

In a world of instant gratification, patience and perseverance seem like words from the stone ages. But they are important for a reason. Persevering doesn’t mean doing nothing–it means learning, absorbing, and evolving. If given a red or yellow light, we should be looking for the little signs pointing the direction along the way. Or, thinking about the little ways we can influence a behavior, belief or attitude at any turn in the process–even if it’s our own. Because, eventually, the light turns green. Persistence–this is how change happens.

The authors of the case study talk about how to make change happen within an organization, but there’s some core take-aways for anyone working to make change.  Read more lessons learned on the Tools of Change website.

flickr credit: maartmeester

Quote of the Week: Removing Barriers

Most of you have never met or read anything from the person with this week’s quote–but she is one of the most insightful people I know and has an authentic, strong, persistent heart for serving others. She is my mom–the woman I call the original SocialButterfly. Allow me the second to thank my family and ancestors.

“Sometimes, we work so hard to change a person. When, what they really need from us, is to help them remove the barriers blocking them from changing themselves.”

I don’t know about you–but what a change in perspective! We often look at the point of behavior and often, we tell people over and over to run, not to smoke, eat healthy, get tested for STDs and everything else under the sun. Even–come out with us on a Friday night or meet me for breakfast in the morning. We want people to make choices, decisions.

But how often, do we look at people and find the boulders in their life? And how often are we helping to lift those boulders rather than tell them of the great valley that lives on the other side? Do we see their needs? Are we listening? For example, how can someone take a walk–if they don’t have sidewalks? Instead of wanting them and telling them to start walking, what if we helped them build a sidewalk? Or, instead of telling someone to eat healthier, teaching them how to grow and cook good foods. Or, making certain foods more affordable. Or, listening to their trials and tribulations, so they can feel cared for and loved and empowered to make healthy decisions.

Just a thought passed on from my mom. Did I mention she’s pretty great?  😉

flickr credit: Okinawa Soba

Tonight: Live Chat About Empathy, CSR, American Idol and More

Quick note: Tonight is our Read4Change Book Club chat via Twitter at 8pm EST. To join us, just follow @read4change or follow the hashtag #read4change.

Book: Wired to Care

Special Guest: Co-Author Pete Mortenson

Topic: Empathy + CSR as an Approach to Change

From Chase Bank to Pepsi to now–American Idol, many are integrating social media into their corporate social responsibility and/or their cause marketing efforts. Join us to discus what’s working and what’s needed–could it be more empathy? Co-author Pete Mortenson joins us to share his insights and the lessons gained from the concept of empathy.

FYI: During our chat, American Idol will be highlighting its latest cause initiative with Idol’s Kris Allen and the UN Foundation in Haiti. Thus, it’s a book club and a watch party all in one. (#UNFIdol) Hope you can join in on the fun!


Piqued your interest? Learn more about the Read4Change Book Club –including future topics and books.

One Word of Advice for Voters of Pepsi’s Refresh Project

Sustainability. In a fast-paced, 140-character world, short term and one-hit wonder thinking is rampant. But when it comes to making a difference and solving the great problems of our times, we need to be thinking for the long-term. This is why I hope the voters of Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Project will keep the concept of sustainability top-of-mind.

Let me first say that I applaud Pepsi’s jump into social good–and I hope more groups follow their lead. Perhaps if more did, then we’d have more case studies, a deeper set of lessons learned and more refined best practices. In a sense, we’d have more to talk about. This post is not for the folks at Pepsi. Rather, it’s aimed at the people who are engaging in Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Project.

For those not familiar, Pepsi is foregoing its Superbowl Ads and instead, engaging in a social good experiment. Pepsi will award a total of $20 million in grants over the course of the year. Who will receive the grants? That’s for you, me and everyone else to decide by voting–and a big reason why I hope, each voter, keeps in mind the concept of sustainability when reviewing the proposed projects. (More on how the project works.)

When reviewing the proposals, a thought kept pulsing, growing bigger and bigger inside me. Pepsi is awarding $20 million dollars in resources–but what if you had $20 million dollars or your organization did–how would you allocate those resource and why?

Sure–Recruiting people to help clean the highways is great–but what if we knew of a way to make it where people didn’t litter in the first place?

Sure–It’s great to offer a summer camp to kids to teach them to better appreciate the earth, but how can we scale this to reach more children in more places?

Sure–It’s great to find ways to get people up and moving. But, there are so many good people working to achieve this already. What strategies do they find working? Let’s invest there.

The Pepsi Refresh Project is a great initiative, but it’s just a start. I expect (and hope) we’ll start to see more of it. I also agree with Beth Kanter that, with crowdsourcing efforts, this is where having a key group of content experts involved is key. But, to me, the biggest take-away is that we, as a community, need to be thinking more strategically with our resources–this is why I love social marketing. It addresses both the short-term and the long-term. It looks at advocacy as well as promotion and a wide range of other various tools. It thinks both upstream and downstream. In other words, it offers a framework for us to create sustainable programs, products and services that truly can make a lasting change and a better world.

Thus, to all you voters, when reviewing, please keep in mind the idea of sustainability. What’s going to make the biggest difference for the amount of effort, resources and time?

What about you–what advice do you have either to Pepsi or to the fellow voters?

Change Between the Pages

The #read4change book club met twice in 2009 to discuss Tom Watson’s CauseWired in November, and Actions Speak Loudest in December. This January, we decided to take a break to take some lessons learned, tweak and plan for the rest of 2010. We hope you’ll join us in gathering and sharing community amongst some good books and great thinkers.

What to Expect

Once a month–using the Twitter account @read4change and the hashtag #read4change–do gooders, social changers, nonprofiteers and the like gather around the last Wednesday of the month and read a social change-themed book–chosen by the community. The hope is to have authors or experts join us in the conversation as a unique opportunity to have meaningful conversations in a meaningful way.

Everyday–Be on the lookout for #read4change challenges where we identify ways where you or I’s reading can have a direct impact into a positive change. It might not be everyday, but we’ll do our best. If you or your organization has an action you want highlighted, just shoot me an email or direct message.

Bonus–Any funds raised through our online bookshelf (run through Amazon’s Associates program) will be donated to a charity of the group’s choice at the end of the year.

All Stars–Shoot me an email if you want to be a #read4change All Star list. This means you plan to partake in at least 3 of our 11 chats this year, and you will also be also given some link-love.

2010 Themes

  • February–Approach to Change VOTE
  • March–Going Green VOTE
  • April–Social Entrepreneurship VOTE
  • May–Stories of Change
  • June–Economics
  • July–The Big Screen (Movies)
  • August–Inspiration and Motivation
  • September–Today’s Woman
  • October–Global Issues
  • November–Back to Basics
  • December–Enjoy the Holidays (no book)

How to Get Involved

Look forward to a great year. Open to ideas. Feel free to suggest a book or topic in the comments!

To Make a Difference, Must You Choose?

Life is full of choices–some more important than others. I started this post about four months ago, and the question remains unanswered for me, so I greatly appreciate your insights.

To make a difference or to bring about the illusive and often intangible “change” …must we choose? What I mean is this: In the non-profit and social change arena, must you choose a cause to rally behind and make your life’s work to make an impact? I use to think no. Now, I’m not so sure.


When I first started blogging I was an anonymous blogger. I wasn’t sure how it would be taken by potential employers and colleagues. I later revealed my identify. However–I’ve never quite fully stated in public certain causes I support or the specific “change” that gets me motivated. In our space, must we? Should we?

I don’t need to tell you that the line between professional and personal is blurring. I use to think we had to stay middle of the road when it came to personal matters–I thought this was the better route to go. After all, you don’t see companies or employees advocating for the causes they care about or beliefs they believe in….or do you?


I think the pendulum is swinging. More and more, people and organizations are taking a stand. I think, in the future, part of what will make you credible and a force to be reckoned with, is what motivates you and where you take your stand. Remember that quote we were told as kids as we worked to understand our world:

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.

We all have influence. Why is it–that we as people or bloggers or even companies are afraid to exercise it towards the very things we care most about? Fear is powerful–and it can occur within a person or within an organization. Sometimes, we may not even recognize the role of fear as it may be built in systems and processes we may have little control over. Good news: fear can be squashed and new solutions and innovations can light the way. We should leave more trails, rather than report each others foot steps as a pack hovering together for warmth. Am I off here?

For instance, I’m a Christian. There, I said it. Does that change things? Let’s talk about it because I’m tired of not talking about it. How come many of us don’t talk about the things that motivate us to get where we are and push us to do our work? What gave me the courage to finally publish this post is that I know I’m not alone in pondering these questions. Thank you to people like Rosetta Thurman and Alex Steed. Read their posts.

Making a Difference

If this is the goal, what does this mean? This is where my hangup is. I feel like we’d all answer this question differently. In terms of my cause-reporting on SocialButterfly, you could say I’m a bit of a generalist with a heavy leaning towards public health. But what about cause-doing? One word comes to mind:


People who are successful are great at being able to focus. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about verticalization–thanks to friend Geoff Livingston. In the non-profit, government, and even the public health worlds, each has its verticals. As we’ve matured, more areas of focus have evolved within the realms of “non-profit” and “social change.”  I have friends who are passionate about alleviating teenage homelessness. Friends who are persistent in the drive to address climate change. Friends who persevere to find new ways of doing business. Friends who are focused.

In the past, I focused on giving the Hispanic community a voice in Mid-Missouri and got involved in immigration issues. Then I focused on spreading awareness about multiple sclerosis and raising funds for multiple sclerosis research. In four years, I got to be a part of raising over $325k for multiple sclerosis through event planning and grassroots efforts.

Then, to be honest, I avoided “choosing” and this is why. I discovered social marketing–and focused on it because to create change and have an impact, you need to learn behavior changing skills and knowledge. You need to be a student of the evolving strategies, research and tools. This is why social marketing is appealing to me–because it provides a framework to go about influencing change, whether you are passionate about combating human trafficking, decrease drug abuse, ending poverty, eliminating HIV/AIDS, address climate change, increasing the country’s health or wanting to increase the rate people in your school wear seat belts–social marketing can light the way. Now, my focus is social marketing. I firmly believe that the process of social marketing can help address many of the battles we face. Yet I’m torn.


The more I think about it, the more I’m bothered. Being bothered is good because it shakes you up and makes you question, think and go deeper. Thus, I ask you: To make a difference, must I (or you) choose one cause–one organization–or one group of people–to champion?

flickr credit: angrytoast

Four Phases of Online Social Change

red heartYou may agree or disagree with me on this, so I encourage your thoughts as I’m transcribing some of my own observations into the online social change field. These observations boil down to four “phases” of online social change that I think reflect our maturity into using social media tools to meet our organization’s aims:

  1. Awareness Building
  2. Fundraising
  3. Contests and Competitions for Change
  4. Advocacy

In the beginning, I feel many tools were leveraged as awareness-building mechanisms. From the initial launch of Causes to recruiting fans, followers and friends, many tools were initially set out to further awareness-building of an organization.

Then, I felt like the tools and our use of them matured as we discovered ways to leverage the tools into dollars–from Twestival to Tweetsgiving to Goodsearch. Even Causes adapted and identified birthdays as a way to increase micro-donations. You could say that online fundraising in and of itself has seen a phased formation and continues to evolve. See Beth’s Kanter’s recent post: 5 Social Media Fundraising Trends for 2009.

Then, enter the behemoths–contests and competitions like “America’s Giving Challenge,” hosted by the Case Foundation entered in the next rendition. You could say this ties into a more advanced type of fundraising, but I felt like it deserved to be on its own. As, I don’t yet think this area has been “tapped out” and neither do organizations according to Andre Blackman who interviewed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who uses contests and competitions to further public health innovation.

However, where I feel we are still in our infancy is with online advocacy for social change. It’s starting to creep up–just look at LiveEarth’s 2009 campaign “Love, the Climate” where people were encouraged to write love letters to office holders who worked to prevent climate change or the “Be a Voice for Darfur” movement which utilized activist and blogger toolkits to further realize the campaign’s objectives. Even provided a way for people to create and spread petitions with a call to action via Twitter.

Like I said, I think advocacy is where we have the most potential to further expand. I could be biased based on my government and citizen engagement day-job type of work–but I think there’s more ways we can get involved, as citizens, in decision making and peace keeping in our local, state and Federal governments–even internationally. What about you? Where do you think we have the most room to grow and what do you predict as being phase 5? Perhaps, partnerships and collaborations might be a phase five as we see how online and social media open up new doors of opportunity across organization firewalls. Or, another phase 5 might be storytelling–as more of these functions become interwoven and organizations get better at telling their story.

What do you think?

flickr credit: flatfield

The Next #read4change Book is…

You voted, and now, Actions Speak Loudest by Robert McKinnon will be our next #read4change book. I feel it’s quite timely considering my post last week about knowledge, attitudes and actions.

Actions Speak Loudest is a compilation of some of today’s greatest doers like Jimmy Carter, Queen Noor, Mia Hamm, Joe Torre and others who are everyday American heroes that make a difference. Together, they look at thirty-two issues, ranging from childhood obesity to climate change, that are critical to the well-being of the next generation–while also providing ideas and ways to take action. All funds raised from sales of the book go back to the causes and organizations featured within its pages.

BONUS: Robert McKinnon will join our #read4change chat. Stay tuned for time and date.

Feeling lost and wondering what the heck #read4change is?

In September 2009, with some inspiration and a desire to create deeper connections with the talented online community, SB launched “read4change,” an online social change book club–where anyone can participate.

Using the Twitter account @read4change and the hashtag #read4change–do gooders, social changers, nonprofiteers and the like gather around each month to discuss that month’s book and how its relates to our do-good work.

Now, curious about how to get involved?

  1. FOLLOW us @read4change on Twitter.
  2. RECOMMEND a book. Email me at
  3. VOTE each month on which book we should read. The top book will be chosen.
  4. READ the book or browse our bookshelf to see what we’ve recently discussed.
  5. DISCUSS the books with us on Twitter using the #read4change hashtag.

Want to help? Just answering these two simple questions helps:

  1. Do you prefer to have a pre-set reading list–or do you like voting on the book each month?
  2. Given the holidays, should we meet for December’s #read4change or schedule our next one to be early January?

Michael Jackson & Iran: Music to Your Ears

I’m no expert on the Iran situation. But, I do know when a video has that extra powerful “umph.” Talk about responding to current events (Michael Jackson), harnessing in on emotion, and making a statement through visual storytelling.

Have you seen this video of the events in Iran set to the music of Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” yet? What are your thoughts?


(One more tip: Jocelyn Harmon, in her latest post, also talks about how the Sierra Club recently leveraged ‘timeliness’ in one of its new initiatives as well.)