SXSW: Free Agents and Nonprofits in a Networked World

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  • Free Agents and Nonprofits in A Networked World
  • The guy in the t-shirt, a free agentThese are people like Mark Horvath, Shawn Ahmed and many others .. Who want to work with nonprofits …
  • wrote this book because we saw a landscape of free agents and nonprofit fortresses crashing into one another ….
  • Take Shawn Ahmed for example ….Shawn Ahmed is 29 year-old Canadian from Toronto and is the founder of the “The Uncultured Project.” He raises money and awareness on the issue of extreme global poverty. He is idealistic, facile with social media and works outside the walls of an institution. He’s passionate about wanted to end global poverty and wants to do it on his terms.But as he acknowledges, that he can’t do it alone.
  • By sharing this journey on social networks like YouTube and Twitter, he is inspiring other people to talk about issue of global poverty and take action, and as he says He has started a social movement in the palm of his handsBut what happens when he reaches out to nonprofits? Do they embrace him?
  • We witnessed this collision first hand during our session on the Networked Nonprofit at the NTEN NTC Conference as Shawn’s frustration with traditional organizations spilled over. He grabbed the microphone to address the room full of nonprofit professionals and said, “the problem isn’t social media, the problem is that YOU are the fortress.Social media is not my problem: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter, 10,800 subscribers on YouTube, and 2.1 million views. Yet, despite that, I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously. “: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter, and 2.1 million views on YouTube. I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously.
  • He turned and pointed a finger at Wendy Harman from the Red Cross who was in the room. He told the room full of nonprofits staffers …..When the Haiti earthquake struck, I contacted the Red Cross. I offered to connect the community supporting my work with your efforts in Haiti. But I was dismissed as ‘just a guy on YouTube’”.
  • Next, I’m going to invite Mark Horvath to join me on the stage … Free agents are people who do social change work and use social media but do not work within institutional or government walls .. Mark has been working hard to call attention to homelessness issue in America .. And we’re going have a conversation about his experience working with nonprofits.


  • 1. A Global Conversation Free Agents and Networked Nonprofits in a Networked World
    SXSW Interactive Festival - March 13, 2011
    Facilitated by Beth Kanter, Zoetica
  • 2. Beth Kanter, Zoetica
  • 3. Danielle BrigidaNational Wildlife Federation
  • 4. Mark HorvathInvisible People TV
  • 5. Jessica Dheere
    Photo by SMEXbeirut
  • 6. Jonny Goldstein
  • 7. Global Back Channel: Middle East
    Beirut Tweet-Up in Arabic
  • 8. Andrea Burton, MeedanArabic Twitter Advocate
  • 9. How Tweets Are Being Translated:
  • 10. Global Back Channel: Other Region
  • 11. A Brief Overview: Networked Nonprofits
  • 12. Networked Nonprofits consider everyone inside and outside
    of the organization resources for helping them to achieve their goals
  • 13. The Nonprofit Fortress
  • 14. Use social media tools to organize, mobilize, raise funds, and communicate with constituents but outside of institutional walls
  • 15. Nonprofit Fortress
    Free Agent
  • 16. Shawn AhmedFree Agent
  • 17.
  • 18. “The problem is that YOU are the fortress.Social media is not my problem.“
  • 19.
  • 20. Now working together on a project
  • 21.
  • 22. Danielle BrigidaNational Wildlife Federation
    What are the challenges for nonprofits that want to work with free agents?
  • 23. Breaking Down the Fortress WallsNational Wildlife Federationby Danielle Brigida
    Photo by macieklew
  • 24. We are 75 Years Old!
    That’s no spring chicken!
    (or rooster)
  • 25. We’re a Fortress Taking Baby Steps
    Photo by digicla on Flickr
  • 26. Learning How to Be Network Weavers
  • 27. Engaging with Free Agents
    Grace raised $1,400 for wildlife. We met her mom on Twitter.
    Let people experiment with our brand
    Group we created has 20 mothers blogging to get kids outside
  • 28. But we’re not ready for this...
  • 29. Mark Horvath@hardlynormal
    What are the lessons learned by Free Agents working with nonprofits?
  • 30. Jessica Dheere
    How do Free Agents and
    NGOs in the Middle East work together or not? What is different or same?
    Photo by SMEXbeirut
  • 31. Shokran!
    Slides and Links