Starting at HopeLab


Over the last month my life has gone from ambling along to whizzing by, a wonderful blur of new thing: people, work, projects. During this time I have however found myself struggling to carve out time to write and so a catch-up is in order.

Two weeks ago I started work at HopeLab as Manager of Communications and Emerging Media, a nonprofit which harnesses the power and appeal of technology to improve the health and quality of life of young people. This also ensures that K and I will be staying in San Francisco for a bit longer, through 2011/12. I couldn't be more excited by the organization and position.

HopeLab had me from hello really. Reading the very first sentence of the position description got my mind buzzing and I knew I had found something I was interested in. It said "When you’re a small nonprofit like HopeLab, impact is sometimes measured by what you’re doing to promote the greater good, not just the number of customers you reach through products and programs". It went on to read “The insights we share about our work – lessons learned, risks taken that paid off (and the one’s that didn’t) – are valuable measures of impact as well.”

In other words, HopeLab’s purpose in using social media goes well beyond transactions, and unlike many nonprofits see it as more than a fundraising medium. This is really important to me. I believe social media has given us an extraordinary set of new tools which give rise to exciting new possibilities for community building, cultural formation, knowledge-sharing and storytelling. Doing these things well also creates great opportunities for organizations to build a supporter base which is prepared to help fund projects.

But if fundraising is the primary focus I believe many of the other opportunities can be lost or neglected. And as a communicator it’s also less satisfying. I’m driven to share stories that matter and create relationships that are real and two-way. This requires a focus not just on what your online supporters can do for you but what you can do for them. I find this broader view of impact, one focused on the human connections, transparency and the greater good, both exciting and inspiring. Creating this impact, sharing these insights, listening and learning as well as talking, is the kind of work I want to do. This is the work I am excited to take up at HopeLab: informing, inspiring and involving a diverse community of stakeholders in designing technologies that improve the health and quality of life of young people and workplaces that support human beings.

HopeLab have an incredible intentionality about the work, mission and organizational culture which I have never experienced before. And they have made me feel more welcome than any previous workplace. I’ll be working on a number of exciting campaigns this year including the launch of Zamzee and the Joy Campaign. I think this is going to be a very happy and productive home for me and I’m thrilled to be here.

For a great overview of HopeLab’s work and approach check out this talk our CEO Pat and my boss Richard gave at the Wisdom2.0 Summit recently.

I am also, with their blessing and support, still working on StartSomeGood, a new crowdfunding platform for social good. We actually launched yesterday, which naturally I’m psyched about but will commemorate with a proper stand-alone blog post, coming next.

I’ve also been maintaining two new shorter-form blogs, one of them shared with K and devoted to San Francisco street art. More on that soon also.

Over and out, for now.