Taking innovation to the streets

Last year when I returned to work after parental leave, I had a real desire to get involved with innovative projects making a difference. My very first post on this blog mentioned the Global Kids Digital Media initiative who engage urban youth “in socially dynamic, content-rich learning experiences” (like Secondlife)”to educate youth about critical international and public policy issues and “…” opportunities for civic and global engagement.”

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a women’s breakfast where Anita Pahor, Marketing and Donor Services Director at Opportunity International and Women’s Opportunity National Director, spoke about her passion to help those living in poverty. I think her stories and enthusiasm made an impact on every person in the room. It’s difficult to leave a breakfast like that without giving some thought to your own capacity to make a difference. Sometimes it’s a matter of just stepping out and using what skills you have – one step at a time.

Anita’s speech reminded me of some innovative social projects I discovered in the last year. Blogging introduced me to the Age of Conversation project which I have previously mentioned. Proceeds for every book you purchase goes to Variety, the children’s charity.

At work I discovered projects like the World Community Grid where your PC idle time is used to assist projects that benefit humanity. I also found a group of people around the world working on the World Development Initiative and local team members from IBM, World Vision and RMIT Masters students working on mobile solutions.

I discovered quite a few social media for non-profit bloggers including Beth Kanter. There is lots to look at over at the Carnival of Non-Profit Consultants. Chris Brogan also put together a post this week on solving some real world problems with some good links and comments including feedback that some social networks tend to focus on their own growth – and that when social media takes innovation to the streets, we should consider long term, sustainable impact.

So where does that leave you and me? I know I can do more. It doesn’t have to take hours of my week or huge financial commitments, but it starts by making time, investigation, connecting with people and causes that I want to support, sharing ideas and thinking of ways to bring social media community and marketing gold to see social good. As I said…one step at a time :)

What has inspired you lately? Do you have a desire to make a difference?