The Benevolent Guide to South by Southwest (#SXSW)


The annual South by Southwest ("SXSW") festival kicked off in Austin, Tex. on Friday, March 9. We perused the online schedule to look for sessions that have to do with storytelling or design for social and environmental good. If you're in town and interested in blogging about one of the events, contact Editor-in-Chief Erica Schlaikjer: erica [at] benevolentmedia [dot] org.


Social Change, Social Media & Social Filmmaking

Friday, March 9 2:00PM - 3:00PM

Bringing together top filmmakers, change agents & digital communicators, this panel will share practical tips, tools & tactics for activists, non-profit pros, volunteers & creatives to affect social change through documentary-style online video.

Sparking Real World Action with Social Media

Friday, March 9 5:00PM - 6:00PM

Join this fun, interactive core conversation and learn best practices and practical tips for using your social media voice to spark social action in the real world. Whether you care about supporting local schools, raising money for your Cause, or mobilizing your friends and neighbors for a service project or to respond to a community crisis -- this conversation is for you.


Data Visualization for Social Change

Saturday, March 10 11:00AM -12:00PM

The power of data visualization as a tool for social change can no longer be ignored. Successfully illustrating vital data can help advocates maximize the impact of sound science in public debate and policy, whether using maps and graphs or motion and info graphics. But many nonprofits still struggle with effective information design and delivery. This session aims to bring together visualization experts with advocates working for social good to discuss effective ways to visually present data in clear and meaningful ways.

Design for Social Innovation and Public Good

Saturday, March 10 12:30PM - 1:30PM

A new movement is gaining momentum in the design world— a movement to expand the applications of high design beyond its elitist client base to solve complex social problems. This panel will engage an array of leaders in the public interest design movement who use design thinking in various ways to address global challenges and engender social innovation at different scales.

How Meaningful Design Can Save the World

Saturday, March 10 3:30PM - 4:30PM

The mission: To create a visually impactful, cutting edge online user experience that encourages people to take action for your cause. No sweat, right?For designers working in the non-profit sector, this is the challenge we face everyday. Organizations who don’t see the true cost of bad design, or those distracted by the low-hanging fruit of mere eye candy (i.e. “wasted pretty”) can make it even harder to achieve this ambitious goal.

Let's Talk Video for Social Change

Saturday, March 10 5:00PM - 6:00PM

With great images, powerful music and rich, authentic stories, videos can influence real change in our world. The question that businesses and organizations have to ask is, "Which stories resonate with our audience," and, "How do you produce these stories with ever-decreasing budgets and impossible deadlines?"

Games 4 Change: Great Power, Great Responsibility

Saturday, March 10 5:00PM - 6:00PM

This talk will address the power of computer and video games as a mature entertainment medium and a largely untapped art form. It will make an impassioned case for using games for social impact and learning, with an overview of the latest trends and core challenges game developers and funders are facing.


Material Change-Tackling Human Rights with Artists

Sunday, March 11 9:30AM - 9:50AM

Story-telling is a process for healing. As we hold in our hands the technology to address global problems, we can foster a new world of creativity & community through individual expression & shared visions. Globally, artists and technologists are empowering other artisans and creators by celebrating their spirit, talents and traditions - giving them a stronger voice for their future.

It’s Funny ‘Cause It’s True: Battling Bad Media

Sunday, March 11 11:00AM -12:00PM

This panel is about having a few laughs, discussing comedy's role in social change, and talking about how humor can help us create policies that will lead to better media.

21st Century Giving: Social Philanthropy’s Rise

Sunday, March 11 11:00AM -12:00PM

Leaders from top social networking sites share case studies to discuss the trend of social philanthropy. People around the world are using social media in engaging and creative ways to raise money for the causes that are most meaningful to them. Our distinguished panel will enlighten you on what's happening now and what's likely to happen next.


Content As a Means for Social Change

Monday, March 12 3:30PM - 4:30PM

As social and Internet entrepreneurs search for ways to effect IRL social change by using online tools and platforms, the focus has been on social media. However, while social media has been the Internet's buzzword for some time now, research shows that content consumption actually represents 53% of all time spent online. Given that content takes up most consumers' time on the web, it's time to harness it as the most effective way to drive social change in the real world.

Civic Media Projects in Latin America

Monday, March 12 3:30PM - 4:30PM

In this panel we will hear from the actors who developed, designed, implemented or applied projects that use social media and digital technologies to attempt social change.

Positively Inspired Change Campaigns

Monday, March 12 5:00PM - 6:00PM

Social change agents often use guilt, fear, pity, or outrage to rally an audience around a cause. But does tapping into negative emotions with the hope of creating positive change make sense? Could focusing our common attention and intention on positive emotions more effectively transform our world? This panel will explore the experiences of recent positivity-based campaigns by Epic Change and HopeLab and other examples.

Everyone Is Gay: Social Media As Social Action

Monday, March 12 5:00PM - 6:00PM

Everyone Is Gay (EIG) began as a humorous pseudo-advice blog, but has quickly become a safe haven for young people-particularly LGBTQ youth, their families, & friends. Through a combination of social networking sites (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube & Vimeo), the creators of EIG have successfully built a “big gay sandbox” where their audience can anonymously ask them everything from "Will people think I’m a gym teacher if I cut my hair?" to "What do I do if my religious parents disown me when they find out I’m trans?”

New Media and CSR: Communicating Corporate Good

Monday, March 12 3:30PM - 4:30PM

Two-way communications, transparent supply chain tools, c-suite twittering, online video and social media. Understanding the power of these technologies in a corporate setting leads not only to better communication, but a more powerful, authentic brand to prosper behind.

Branded Documentary: Cause Marketing's Best Media?

Monday, March 12 11:00AM -12:00PM

Procter & Gamble recently commissioned Flow Nonfiction to create a documentary film capturing one of its signature cause programs: Pantene Beautiful Lengths. PBL has donated over 272,000 ponytails for real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society, and also generated significant ROI for the brand itself. How and why has the program succeeded in making good on doing good?

Social Apps and Charitable Giving

Monday, March 12 12:30PM - 1:30PM

We'll take a close look at best practices for working with verified facebook and google+ apps to drive philanthropy and increase fan loyalty. How do you increase online giving, what are the do's and dont's for contests around charity, how does a brand measure the value of engagement?

Social Networking: Giving Cancer Patients a Voice

Monday, March 12 3:30PM - 4:30PM

Their Story Is Our Story (TSOS) is inspired by witnessing my dad’s fight against cancer. Sharing our experiences helps keep his memory alive, and hopefully, provides comfort and support to those in similar situations. Each cancer journey is unique and deserves to be told. Their stories are our stories.

Reaching Teens on the Digital Streets

Monday, March 12 3:30PM - 4:30PM

Ranging from political activism and charitable campaigns to drug awareness programs and anti-bullying initiatives, cause marketing campaigns and non-profit organizations are increasingly tapping the power of social gaming to authentically connect with millions of teens.


How to Raise Awareness Through Blogger Outreach

Tuesday, March 13 9:30AM -10:30AM

Emotion drives action. This session will address how bloggers can lend their voices to raise awareness about a cause, help with fundraising or spread the word about a campaign. We will explore how non-profits can benefit from the power and reach of bloggers world-wide by highlighting successful case studies as well as talk with bloggers who have created non-profits as a result of their passion and dig into what works and what doesn’t.

Harnessing the Power of the Benevolent Internet

Tuesday, March 13 12:30PM - 1:30PM

Despite the mainstream portrayal of the web as a den of pedophiles and hackers, the Internet is capable of doing a whole lot of good. Panelists Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit; founder of Breadpig), Dan McComas and Jessica Moreno (founders, RedditGifts), Christina Xu (founder, Institute on Higher Awesome Studies; co-founder, ROFLCon), and Zach Walker (Donor Relations Manager, will give the low-down on the benevolent side of the hivemind.

Boost Fundraising & Engagement with “Gamification”

Tuesday, March 13 3:30PM - 4:30PM

Join us and we’ll show you real world examples of “gamified” fundraising initiatives, simple gaming tactics that have been proven to work, and how to take advantage of gamification at your organization.