Top Trends for 2010
2012/01/01
By : Marcia Stepanek
This article appeared in Cause Global for Social Media and Social Change, Just Means and P2P Foundation, forecasting which trends are most likely to shape the cause-wired landscape this year. The forecast (below) mentions Compathos as a site to watch for 2010.

It's New Year's Day and time to forecast which trends are most likely to shape the cause-wired landscape this year. More than ever, it seems, online activists are divided over how they think the Web will empower them in new ways to make change in the world.

To be sure, 2010 will be another tough year economically for many start-ups and social advocacy groups. At the very least, proving social impact will matter more than ever. But these same rising pressures to make measurable change also will lead to innovative new forms of online collaboration and consolidation. Low-cost social media will be used ever-more widely and creatively by social enterprises and advocacy groups to aggregate new levels of clout, funding, innovation and community support.

In short? Collaboration and consolidation are this year's mega-trends. Here are some of the ways these trends will show up in the weeks and months ahead. (And this list is just for starters. Have your say at the end of this post.)

Divisions between traditional "giving" sectors will continue to fade. More organizations, companies and consumers will seek to achieve a branded, demonstrable impact on social problem-solving with the dollars, time and ideas they spend or contribute. Look for social entrepreneurs to collaborate on new ways to prove, measure, and scale their social impact across time, place, sectors and ideologies. The recent launch of the Global Impact Investing Network, for example, will push the cause of social investing by bringing together global philanthropists, ethical banks and social entrepreneurs and enterprises to apply the microfinance model to health care an other services needed by those living in poverty around the world. Look, too, for more offline conferences that celebrate collaboration among activists across sectors for social change. Example: The two-year-old CUSP conference in Chicago, which features social innovators who are reshaping society by design, regardless of whether they are from the corporate, education, religious, nonprofit, entertainment, or technology sectors. Look for more such efforts to scale cross-sector social innovation for greater impact.

New ways to measure impact will emerge. Mobile and location-awareness technology -- because it will enable people to get closer to measuring their personal impact on the world in real-time -- will continue to radicalize the social enterprise space and the giving experience (watch for Foursquare, Google Latitude, Loopt, FireEagle and other such geo-location "games" to become more socially conscious this year), reshaping how and what people donate. Giving money will become less important than giving voice, giving time, giving influence, and giving work. Look for social networks to create new ways to reward those who demonstrate the most activity around socially-conscious activities.

Micro-activism will proliferate. Expect to see new start-ups modeled after The Extraordinaries, an online micro-volunteering enterprise that enables people to give short bits of their time via their mobile phones from anywhere at any time. Also look for more micro-gift enterprises to emerge, such as Dreambank.org, which allows causes or individuals in need to receive a portion of what they need or want from many people rather than get gifts or input they can't use (such as wool blankets for weather-disaster victims in tropical climates). Additionally, look for more micro-funding groups like World Nomads, which through its Footprints program funds large-scale international development projects through micro-donations. Expect, too, the rise of micro-seed funding and 1-to-1 financing of social entrepreneurs. Additionally, get ready to see new types of micro-work enterprises to stem from SamaSource, which uses the Web to outsource digital work for larger companies to educated people living in poverty in developing nations. The micro-craze will also lead to more innovative uses of social media platforms like Twitter and Ning by social enterprises to crowdsource micro-services and influence that scales.
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