Tech for Change - August Round Up!


Technology in and of itself is no panacea for positive transformative change. It is the people who create the opportunities and who leverage these technologies for the betterment of society. Though still a work in progress, there are tons of charities and non-profit organizations who are working towards this.

Earlier this month, Red Cross hosted the Emergency Social Data Summit in Washington D.C., bringing together government agencies, humanitarian and disaster response organizations, and tech companies to address how technology can be used to respond more effectively during crisis situations. From the Red Cross blog:

"Social media has changed how people communicate, including their calls for help. Now, people Tweet, update Facebook statuses, and text about natural disasters. Emergency and disaster response organizations are working to develop a process to address this and harness the communication power of new media."

Tutus for Tanner originated when an influential blogger in Toronto, Catherine Conners, (, posted an entry telling the story of her nephew, Tanner, who suffers from Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. The blog post soon went viral and people began taking action and holding their own fundraisers for him. As a quick example, Scott Stratten (another big kahuna in the social media world) hosted and managed the #TutusforTanner tweet-a-thon auction, which called his 65,000+ followers to tweet about the contest and donate. He set out to raise $25,000 in just 30 hours and guess what? Over $29,000 were raised! Incredible stuff! Just goes to show the importance of having not just a large, but engaged following online.

crowdrise is the funky, hip, and hilarious web platform that brings together a community of online givers and volunteers. Here, anyone can start their own fundraising/volunteer projects or donate their time/money for the causes that they feel most passionate about. It makes giving in all shapes and forms so easy! Check out their website at  If not to donate, at least to read their cheeky copywriting, which in itself deserves a prize of some sort!

A Weekend of (for) Good Fun

So the past month has been absolute madness on my end but this weekend, I took the time to kick back, relax, and have a few drinks in support of some really amazing causes.

On Thursday night, I joined hundreds of people at Tryst Nightclub for TwestivalTO (see entry below) where collectively we raised $20,000 in Toronto and nearly $350,000 globally for Concern Worldwide. Truly an amazing feat that I'm just so humbled to have played a small part in. I got to spend some QT with my fave tweeps and as usual, met some fantastic people. Only downside to the event? The music was pumping way too loud for me to have any real meaningful conversations with the people I met. Best part about it? I now have an excuse to catch up with them some time in the near future!

with @coleyeung @andrealiew @carinaaaaa and @aMAYzin

But I have to say, Friday's Night for Rights, Journalists for Human Rights' annual fundraising event was a whole different ball game. Now I realize my position in the organization may undermine my credibility here but really, I played almost no role in putting this whole night together. In fact, my volunteering gig at TwestivalTO was probably a more significant contribution than my role at Night for Rights. See? I'm keeping it real over here!

Having said that, I have to give kudos to Aileen Doyle who did an absolutely stellar job at orchestrating the entire evening. Let me just say that that night I was truly proud to be part of such an amazing team of people who work hard everyday to make this world a better place.

jhr interns

The night oozed with class and sophistication with a live jazz band, African drumming, and Garvia Bailey's wit. And of course, it marked the unveiling of our latest project, Make Media Matter, with a video that gets me giddy and excited every time I watch it (high 5 to Jon Wong on that!). With delicious food, unlimited drinks (took advantage of that open bar, yes I did!), kickass music, and a happening crowd, Night for Rights is mos def the party to boot!


with Strombo himself


on the dancefloor


gift of rights

I'm about to start interning at jhr (Journalists for Human Rights), an amazing international media development NGO that seeks to mobilize local media in various post-conflict African countries to help raise awareness about human rights and empower marginalized populations to make a change. I thought I'd help spread the word about their latest campaign.

Founder Ben Peterson's birthday is on September 8th and instead of accepting gifts for himself, he's asking friends and fans of jhr to donate $32 for his 32nd birthday. It's an incredible initiative that has really taken off. Launched only a few days ago, jhr has already managed to raise 94% of the$3,200 goal! Every dollar raised helps fifteen more people aware of their rights. Kind of crazy how little it takes to make such a huge help support jhr by clicking here.

I was wondering what kind of strategies jhr used to yield such results and according to Ben's blog, they only "sent out one email, posted one blog, put together a short video request and issued a single tweet asking supporters to donate". Craziness! Always knew the power of social media but I've never actually worked on a campaign that made use of it, which is why I'm so stoked for this internship. Can't wait to play around with social media and discover it's super powers!