Best of Social Good for 2015 SXSW Interactive

StartupSpotlightInStartupVillage GOLDThe presence of so-called “social good” content at SXSW Interactive has grown tremendously in the past five years. So much so, that this year we’ll have three reporters covering the sessions, panels, lounges, parties and whatever else we find. Our goal is to bring back all the social good innovation and ideas to those of you who can’t attend.

With that in mind, here’s a preview of what we’ll be checking out. You can always check out our entire list of picks by browsing the GivingCity SXSW Interactive schedule here.



PARTY: The “soft launch” open with the Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards at St. David’s Episcopal Church. We’ll meet 10 social and philanthropic entrepreneurs from around the world and hear about their projects and what makes them get up in the morning.



The big talk today will come from Al Gore, who will no doubt give us a terrifying update on climate change, in preparation for a meeting with global leaders in Paris this December. #climate

For our exploration of diversity today, we’ll hear from he presenters of The Bombastic Brilliance of Black Twitter II, who have both written extensively about the longstanding tradition of forthright Black assertion in public spaces, including #TrayvonMartin, #Ferguson, #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter, #Selma and #Selma2Ferguson. We’ll also step over to the badge-free DIVERSITY EXPO, focused on African American and Latino/a talent in technology. #blacktwitter

We’re always curious about global impact projects, simply because smaller movements like those in Austin can learn from their (well funded) experiences. At the session, When a Moment Becomes a Movement, Amnesty International will tell us how technology can be used to leverage local responses to injustice and build a movement capable of mobilizing people toward a human rights victory and policy change. Think about this in the context of ATX Safer Streets, the pinata store and other events that put a spotlight on social needs. #Amnesty2015

Our technology focus will be on Google Grants. We know nonprofits are eligible for $10,000 a month to spend on Google AdWords, but most don’t use it at all or, according to this presenter, only use about 20%. We expect to learn a lot from How to Maximize a Google Grant. #googlegrant

PARTY: We’re curious about dProgram, which is having a launch party at SXSW. John Mackey will kick off with a speech. “A day-long event focused on technology, human progress, and the future of digital culture… Oh, and two awesome parties.”



We don’t talk about the social impact of faith-based projects enough, and that’s obvious by the title of this session: Church and Tech: The Unlikely Union Yields Real Help. Looking forward to see how an African-American church worked with a lesbian-led digital startup. #ChurchTech

Social entrepreneurship is still struggling to find its place in Austin, but this session, 21st Century Social Entrepreneurship and Policy, led by Elizabeth Gore, Dell’s entrepreneur-in-residence, and Kirsten Dickerson, founder of social enterprise Raven + Lily, will talk about why it’s important to create an environment of policies and regulations to allow social entrepreneurs to do the most good. #SocialGood

All signs point to cross-sector collaborations being the answer to our most pressing social problems, which is why we’re interested to hear from Warby Parker’s General Counsel and Head of Social Innovation and the founder of a nonprofit on a mission to increase organ donations. Catch us at Public Partnerships and Private Parts. #startup

Civic engagement goes hand-in-hand with social and philanthropic engagement, so we’re anxious to hear from big cities like Boston, San Fransisco, Chicago and New York are using open data, new technologies, and the talents of their most creative citizens, to change how they make policy. #SouthByCI

PARTY:We’ll head over to the SXGood Kick-Off Party at the Convention Center. Go, Cause Nerds!



Today we’ll be at City Hall covering Core Media’s full day of social good and social impact investing content, themed Innovators+Social Good.

Hackathons have been around a while, and many have benefited social good by asking programmers to create tools, software or programs that benefit a cause or nonprofit. But we’re now at a point when we should examine whether they’re having the biggest impact. Hacking the Hackathon for the Social and Civic Good will address how we can do that better. #hack4good

At Activism At Its Best: Drive Supporters To Do More, we’re anxious to hear from activism all-stars,, World Wildlife Fund and PETA to learn how to take our digital advocacy programs beyond focusing on email acquisition to a broader movement. #sxswdomore

In 2014, some of the largest technology companies in the world owned up and reported on diversity among their employees. Beyond the Diversity Data: Strategies that Work will discuss this data and how it’s just a starting point for real conversation and progress. #divtech

PARTY: We’ll hang with social innovators at the Innovators+Social Good after party at City Hall.



Are you tired yet?

Then let’s hear from a refreshing point of few almost non-present at SXSW: the fashion world. We’ll attend the Fashion with a Conscience: Giving Back with Style event to learn from folks like Nieman-Marcus how they participate in social good. #SXStyle

New media is a topic near and dear to us, and we’ll be excited to reconnect with Jake Batsell, who spent the past two years visiting innovative news organizations, including the Texas Tribune, that are experimenting with new methods to connect with – and yes, monetize – their readers, viewers, and digital users. #Journalism

Austin’s own Emancipet and Tito’s Handmade Vodka have teamed up to present VodkaforDogPeople: Matchmaking a Business Heart. Let’s hear about this innovative cause-marketing arrangement and see what we can learn. #bizheart

PARTY: Probably, but at this point, we might need to go home and walk the dogs.



Today is the second day of Social Good HUB at Trinity Hall, featuring sessions on social enterprise, social impact and storytelling. And bloody marys.  #socialgood

Back to civic engagement, this session asks Is Mobile Tech the Answer to our Political Apathy? We’ll hear from people who have worked on mobile projects before — and have more planned for the future — about what works and what is still emerging. #civictech

PARTY: Who knows? SXSW Music is just getting started…


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TWITTER: @givingcity – Monica Williams | @victoriagarza – Vicky Garza | @cwidner – Cindy Widner



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