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#SXSWCares: Real Time Social Giving


If you’re watching the Tweets come out of Austin, you may have seen the hash tags, #sxswcares or #sxsw4japan. Today I’d like to tell you a little about those hashtags, how they were born and how they evovled.

Date: Friday, March 11
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Samsung Blogger Lounge at SXSW
Players: Leigh Durst and Deb Ng

On Friday, I returned to my hotel room to SXSW after a brief “freshen up” and news break. On the way back to work, my head was reeling from all the news and pictures of the destruction in Japan. I walked in to the blogger lounge where I met Leigh Durst for the first time and after a few pleasantries talk shifted to the crisis in Japan. Leigh and both expressed how surreal it was to be enjoying the blogger lounge festivities while people were hurting on the other side of the world. “We could totally do something here.”  Leigh was right. In a room filled with the most influential people in the world, if we couldn’t do something to help Japan, all our talk about influence is simply just talk. Watching everyone drinking the free booze and eating free chicken and listening to live music almost reminded me of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

“We need a hashtag,” Leigh said. From that hashtag, #SXSWCares, a campaign of social giving came to life.

Soon after creating our hashtag it was pointed out to us that there was another hashtag going #sxsw4japan and that dude even had a website up.

Enter Rob Wu and Jessica Lin.

Rob, the Founder of CauseVox, a platform for social giving, had started his own campaign and we decided to join forces. Leigh and Rob bent heads over a website and Hugh MacLeod, who was sitting near us in the blogger lounge, drew us up a logo on the spot. Me? I walked from table to table asking all the influencers to do what they can. I asked them to share our hashtag and encourage donations to the red cross. I asked them to go beyond the retweet and reach into their pockets. I asked them to post on their Facebooks and Twitters and blogs. I was probably a little annoying.

No one said no and a website and movement were born.

Leigh was able to work with the Red Cross so 100% of all donations made through the #SXSWCares website go directly to the Red Cross, with no fees taken out ever. By 4:00 we had a couple of thousand dollars in the kitty and by 6:00 were were almost at $5,000. As of this writing we’re just a hair shy of $40K.

Things spun out of control but in a good way. Leigh, Rob and I were asked to speak on a panel about #SXSWCares and using social media as a platform for giving. Leigh, Rob and Rob’s girlfriend Jessica Lin, and Chris Noble, as well as several others have set up command central outside the blogger’s lounge and have been securing matching donations. Samsung, who sponsors the blogger lounge is giving $1 per retweet. They’re fielding interviews from the press, bloggers, video bloggers and podcasters alike.

Though I haven’t done as much of the work as Leigh, Rob and Jessica, I’m proud to be a part of this campaign and to continue to encourage my friends in social media to help. This campaign has indeed been a testament to the power of social media and if we can whip up a little something to help in a crowded lounge at a conference, imagine what we can do collectively when back at our own desks.

How can you help?

Spread the word – The hashtag is #SXSWCares

Retweet: #sxswcares to @samsungtweets and Samsung will donate $1.

Give – Visit SXSWcares.org where 100% of your donations go to the Red Cross
Share- Again, spread the word beyond the SXSW community.

Please note: Some companies have been using the #SXSWcares hashtag to raise funds for their own Japan campaigns which is awesome. We’re so happy to many folks are giving and sharing. However, we want to be sure all of your money goes to were it’s most needed. Please make sure that when you do give, you choose a campaign that sends100% of all funds to where it will do the most good, and doesn’t take a cut for themselves. SXSWCares sends 100% of all donations to the Red Cross to be used for Japan and rebuilding Japan.

Now – how are you going to help?

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