NGOs, Causes and the Original Interest Graphs – Takeaways from a Social Media Week NYC Panel

Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

21 days until SMW Chicago. Watch live or on-demand. Activate free trial now!

I like a panel with structure. John Gordon, Fenton’s SVP of Digital, did a great job of laying out the themes at the beginning of the panel NGOs, Causes, and the Original Interest Graphs on Tuesday morning.

Here are the four themes with examples of how they could play out.

Utility – Using this blog post as an example – I’m covering the takeaways and themes from a Social Media Week panel. My aim is for it to be useful to you, and I got it to you as fast as I could. If you find it useful or interesting, I hope you will take action by commenting and sharing with friends. Through this blog, I am subtly promoting my organization’s services and expertise.

Authenticity/Transparency – I work at the Ad Council, a nonprofit. I’ve worked with Fenton in the past. I may mention one of our sponsors in this blog. If I had a self-effacing joke to say right now, I would add it to show my humanness. This can make me more likeable.

Storytelling – Panelist Amanda Michel, Editor at the Guardian, told the story of Joe Trippi cherishing attacks on Howard Dean when running his presidential campaign. “Cha-ching” he would say as he sent out the email blast reminding constituents of the attack which then motivated them to give. Polarizing issues and backlash are not always bad.

Data – If several people comment on this blog to tell me that I got some facts wrong. I should respond to the comments and consider revising the facts.

There were many more takeaways from this panel, but one I would like to talk about in detail. James Windon, Vice President of, talked about the shared value between a NGO and corporation in a social good partnership. Sometimes a NGO’s concern is a disillusioned consumer who sees a corporate brand slapped on their favorite cause.  However, data purports that consumers are more likely to engage with and share a corporate sponsored cause initiative than others.

At a time when corporations are realizing more and more how effective these partnerships can be, it’s encouraging to hear the sentiment has shifted on the consumer side. Whether the increased engagement happens simply because the corporate funds facilitate more impressions is something to think about. Either way, this is good news from as they ramp up (with big support from Facebook) to take the once popular Causes FB application into a site format. For NGOs, is one to watch.


Amanda Lehner

Digital Strategist, HelpsGood


Want to write for Social Media Week?

We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.