Monthly Archives: September 2014

Using social media to promote respect, tolerance, reconciliation?

The Center for Disease Control in the USA uses a special Twitter account, @CDCSTD, to help people” to be safer and healthier by the prevention of STDs and their complications.”

The initiative @EverydaySexism uses Twitter to create awareness about the every day harassment and sexism that women experience. This organization does this both via its own tweets and using this hashtag, #everydaysexism, which they encourage others to use with their own tweets; they monitor use of this hastag and, often, retweet messages using it.

These are two examples of organizations using social media – Twitter, specifically – as a part of their program delivery. They aren’t using Twitter to point to a press release or provide updates on programs; Twitter IS the program delivery or, at least, part of it.

I’m looking for examples of organizations using Twitter, Facebook, even just simple, old-fashioned text messaging, to promote:

  • tolerance
  • respect
  • reconciliation

And to counter:

  • bigotry
  • prejudice
  • inequality
  • misperceptions and misconceptions about a particular group of people or different people

I’m not looking for just organizations that are promoting tolerance, respect or reconciliation among different groups; I’m looking for examples on Twitter or Facebook of organizations actually using social media as a way to build tolerance, respect and/or reconciliation – they are sending out messages that somehow encourage two groups that have previously been or are currently in conflict to respect each other, for instance.

I’m going to be gobsmacked if some organization somewhere in the world isn’t trying this…

Tweets from UNDP Ukraine’s Social Good #inno4dev summit

I had the pleasure of live-tweeting the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ukraine office’s recent Social Good #inno4dev / #2030now summit, highlighting the many excellent tech-for-good initiatives happening all over Ukraine.

Tweets were tagged with #uatech4good, which I’m hoping will catch on as a tag for any tech4good initiative in Ukraine that tweets about their work, including those with no UN-affiliation. If you have a computer, app, Internet or other tech-related projects helping people or causes in Ukraine, please use the #uatech4good tag when you talk about it, so we can know about it!

You can view all of the tweets leading up to the event, and during and after the event here

Here are photos from the Ukraine event as well.

I hope that, for next year, UNDP Ukraine can do something much more ambitious and interactive, that will produce tech4good results by the end of the day, such as any of these activities:

  • A hackathon to build simple, easy-to-manage web sites for NGOs in Ukraine that don’t have a web presence, or need their web sites improved, AND that there is a commitment to make the web sites accessible for people using assistive technologies, ala the Accessibility Internet Rallies by in Austin, Texas – thereby not only creating web sites, but creating awareness re: the needs of people with disabilities on the Internet.
  • An edit-a-thon to improve information on the Ukrainian version of Wikipedia regarding various development issues: HIV/AIDs, women’s empowerment, women’s history, vaccinations, migrants, etc.
  • A workshop about online volunteering for local civil society organizations, and following such, brainstorming with these civil society organizations about ways they could start involving online volunteers right away, and then having onsite volunteers help NGO representatives register on the UN’s online volunteering service and start recruiting for at least one online volunteering task.
  • Workshops on free and open source software (FOSS), how NGOs and civil society can use social media, how government agencies can use social media, etc. how videos can deliver messages that can positively influence/change people’s behavior, etc. (with lots examples from Ukraine), etc.
  • Dispersing IT volunteers throughout the city to help the elderly, women, refugees and other learn how to use particular computer or mobile phone tools.
  • A roundtable discussion – inviting everyone in the room to participate as well – regarding what needs to happen to ensure tech4good initiatives in Ukraine flourish, rather than disappear after just a few days, weeks or months.

My favorite parts of the Social Good Summit preparations and day of the event for Ukraine:

  • This tweet from Robert Rosenthal, regarding a blog I wrote several days ago about how the first UN team I was a part of tried to get the UN excited about various Internet tools, including handheld tech, for use in development way back in 2001.
  • Seeing my Ukrainian friends Artem and Dmytro walk into the room for the Kyiv event – I had gotten to invite them at the last minute, and was really hoping they would be able to present regarding their E+ initiative, which stated as an all-volunteer, spontaneous effort to get urgently-needed medical care for injured Maidan protesters back in January 2014. Initiative E+ continues to help those injured during the Maidan 2014 protests with long-term care, but now has branched out to manage programs for the children of Maidan victims, to provide Ukrainian soldiers injured in fighting in the East with pharmaceuticals and financial support the greatly-weakened Ukrainian government is unable to provide, and to help the children of military veterans. You can read about their activities on the E+ Facebook page  or on this E+ initiative page in EnglishIndeed, Dmytro got to present a bit regarding their initiative (thanks to UNDP for making that happen!).
  • Having a delightful exchange on Facebook with a colleague from Kyrgyzstan that I worked with in Afghanistan, regarding Social Good events by UNDP in his country.

Yet another wonderful work experience from my time in Ukraine!

capacity building tools & resources for CSO strengthening

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), my current and semi-frequent employer, does a lot of its work to help developing countries through those countries’ local civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). But in many developing countries, these CSOs and NGOs are small, are new, and/or are unfamiliar with practices that can help them be sustainable and very effective.

UNDP has curated a list of capacity building tools and resources for CSO strengthening, with toolkits, guides and classes from a variety of organizations. This list is meant to be used by UNDP country offices and programs as they work with CSOs and NGOs for program delivery.

It’s an excellent list and I’m sharing it here. If you have updates, send them to; remember that resources should be easy-to-access and free or VERY low-cost.

Resource mobilization and fundraising

Internal governance and management

Code of good practice for civil participation in the decision-making process

Civil society accountability

Capacity analysis and capacity building

Monitoring and evaluation

Gender and youth mainstreaming

Networking and partnerships (with other stakeholders)

Advocacy and campaigning

Engaging with the media and social media


II.                  Selected training institutions

 Listed by alphabetical order:

Call for Papers : Social Media Adoption, Utilization & Consequences in Nonprofit Sector

Call for Proposals, Special Issue on: Social Media Adoption, Utilization, and Consequences in the Nonprofit Sector, International Journal of Public Administration in the Digital Age (IJPADA)

Paper Proposal Submission Deadline: December 1, 2014

Guest Editors: Dr. Hugo Asencio and Dr. Rui Sun (California State University, Dominguez Hills, USA)

As a group of internet-based applications, social media (Web 2.0 technologies) allow individuals to create, update, and exchange content. They also help facilitate the development of social networks in an interactive way. Compared to traditional websites (Web 1.0 technologies), given their stakeholder engagement, community building, and mobilization potential, social media can better help nonprofits accomplish their goals and fulfill their missions. Given the dearth of empirical evidence available, systematic investigations are needed to better understand social media adoption, utilization, and consequences in the nonprofit sector.

Objectives of the Special Issue:
This special issue seeks to contribute to the discourse among researchers and practitioners on the antecedents and consequences of social media adoption and utilization in the nonprofit sector. That is, what are the internal and external environmental factors that affect social media adoption and utilization in nonprofits? What are the impacts of social media adoption and implementation both within and outside nonprofit organizations? Quantitative cross-sectional or longitudinal studies using secondary data or original surveys are preferred. Qualitative multi-case or mixed-methods studies are also welcomed.

The editors invite systematic investigations on social media adoption and utilization in nonprofits providing services in areas, such as: education, healthcare, social services, environmental protection, advocacy, public awareness, human and civil rights, and so forth. Cross-country comparative studies are also welcomed.

Recommended Topics:
Topics to be discussed in this special issue include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Internal, external environmental factors and social media adoption
  • Internal, external environmental factors and social media use
  • Social media use and marketing
  • Social media use and communications
  • Social media use and fundraising
  • Social media use and volunteering
  • Social media use and advocacy
  • Social media use and civic engagement
  • Social media use and organizational learning
  • Social media use and organizational capacity
  • Social media use and collaboration
  • Social media use and performance evaluation
  • Social media use and collaborative governance

Submission Procedure:
Interested authors are invited to submit paper proposals (500 words) for this special issue by December 1, 2014. All paper submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication. INTERESTED AUTHORS SHOULD CONSULT THE JOURNAL’S GUIDELINES FOR MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS at

All submitted papers will be reviewed on a double-blind, peer review basis. Papers must follow APA style for reference citations.

About the International Journal of Public Administration in the Digital Age (IJPADA):
Created in 2014, IJPADA is an international journal that examines the impact of public administration and information technology (IT) in developed and developing countries. Original research papers published in IJPADA focus on the impact of new and innovative technologies on improving public service delivery in public and nonprofit organizations. This journal will also provide case studies examining technology innovations in specific countries. The editor invites author(s) to submit original research papers that examine important issues in public administration and information technology.

This journal is an official publication of the Information Resources Management Association

Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Christopher G. Reddick (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)

Published: Quarterly (both in Print and Electronic form)

IJPADA is published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference), “Medical Information Science Reference”, “Business Science Reference”, and “Engineering Science Reference” imprints. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit

Important Dates:
December 1, 2014: Paper Proposal Submission Deadline (500 words)
December 15, 2014: Proposal Acceptance Notification
May 1, 2015: Full Paper Submission
July 1, 2015: Peer Review Results
September 1, 2015: Final Chapter Submission
September 15, 2015: Final Acceptance Notification

Inquiries and paper proposals should be forwarded electronically to Dr. Hugo Asencio ( or Dr. Rui Sun (

UN innovation events show how far they’ve come re: ICT4D

The change is stunning. And welcomed.

Back in 2001, my first year working as an employee of the United Nations, I was a part of a little department of six people (and various interns over the years) within UNDP/UN Volunteers, managing two projects: the Online Volunteering service (then part of NetAid) and the Secretary General’s United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS). Our team could not have been more excited to talk about virtual volunteering, technology for development (ICT4D), ICT4D projects by volunteers in the fieldhandheld computer technologies in community service/volunteering/advocacy, citizen-designed tech solutions, using tech to work with remote volunteers, crowd-sourcing for development (though we didn’t call it that then), south-to-south knowledge exchange ONLINE, hacks 4 social change (though we didn’t call it then), and other tech4good activities to anyone who would listen! It was an incredible four years of my life.

Unfortunately, many of our UN colleagues never understood our projects – or our boundless enthusiasm for such. Despite our events, workshops, one-on-one meetings, online resources, singing and dancingdrums, support from the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, whatever else we could think of, our activities were met with eye rolls by many of our colleagues. By the time I left that assignment, the new head of UNV (now long-gone) was proudly proclaiming that most of our initiative’s activities, save the online volunteering service, were finished – not because they had met their goals, but because they weren’t needed, and never had been. Even the UNITeS web site was taken off-line for a few months (hence why I keep a version here). Our team went its separate ways.

UNDP innovation logoNow, 13 years after we came together in Bonn, Germany and tried to get the rest of the UN excited about our crazy ideas, and nine years after most of our activities were ended, it’s fascinating to see UNDP in particular fully embracing those ideas: The UNDP SHIFT campaign, focused on innovation (and many of the ideas we tried to promote back at the start of the century – see graphic at left), is the week of 22 September 2014, headquartered in New York City (the “Social Good” summit) but happening all over the world, including here in Kyiv, Ukraine (details soon!).

We can’t take any credit for this change happening, of course. But my colleagues can feel good to know that we weren’t quite as crazy as people thought we were – we we really were on to something worth pursuing by the UN. We were just a decade or so early!

(although… we were pretty crazy…)

Somewhere, Sharon Capeling-Alakija is smiling.

Ukrainian journalism student project:

For more than a decade, I’ve been informally studying how folklore, rumors & urban myths interfere with development/aid/relief efforts, and government initiatives, & how these are overcome. I’m so fascinated with the subject that it was almost my Master’s degree these once-upon-a-time – but I couldn’t find enough people to go on-the-record in interviews.

I have longed for myth-busting sites like or Straight Dope column by Cecil Adams in the USA to be created for developing and transitional countries (as well as home-grown versions of the show “MythBusters“), in local languages. I dream of winning the lottery just so I can fund such initiatives in various countries.

Imagine my thrill to discover this week that there IS such a thing in Ukraine! Fact-checking website was launched on March 2, 2014 by alumni and students of Mohyla School of Journalism and of the Digital Future of Journalism professional program. “The main purpose of this community is to check facts, verify information, and refute distorted information and propaganda about events in Ukraine covered in the media,” according to the web site. The site is in both English and Russian.

It’s an all-volunteer site (and that includes ONLINE volunteers / virtual volunteering), verifying information, finding and translating and researching stories, etc. Though the site is meant to fact-check anti-Ukrainian bias in media, there are some articles that debunk pro-Ukrainian stories as well. What I particularly love is the article How to Identify a Fake.

I hope that, once the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has become non-violent and not quite so threatening and vitriolic, the focus of the site can move to more every-day myths that float around Ukraine – about HIV/AIDS, or about Islamic or Jewish religions/culture, for instance. Such myths can have serious, even deadly, consequences.

I also hope the site will start being updated again in English soon – as of the time of this blog’s writing, it hasn’t been updated in English since the end of August. I wonder if this program would qualify to use the UN’s Online Volunteering service to find online volunteers to translate articles from Russian to English… I certainly consider debunking rumors as an essential part of development and aid work

If you know of a similar myth-debunking site in countries other than the USA, please note such in the comments section on my blog.

And for a good source of information about the conflict in Ukraine, from a variety of sources (news, NGOs, UN agencies, etc.), my go-to site is ReliefWeb’s Ukraine site.

where are the evaluations of hacksforgood/appsforgood?

Just found this out: the city council of Ivano-Frankivsk, a municipality in Western Ukraine, initiated a project for the creation of a mobile app to improve service delivery and expand opportunities for collecting the public’s feedback. On 18 January 2014, UNDP help to launch the app, making it available for free on Google Play. “Containing information about the city, its executive authorities, and a useful telephone directory of 500 contacts of relevant public authorities, the app also provides easy access to municipal emergency services. Crucially, it also allows citizens to report cases of corruption via 14 different anti-corruption hotlines at local, regional, and national levels. The claims and petitions filed will be addressed within the legally established timeframe of 30-45 days.” Here’s the official story from UNDP Europe and Central Asia.

Ukraine really is quite a tech-savvy country – as I mentioned earlier, re: the late Ukrainian journalist Ihor Kostenko, who was killed earlier this year in a Euromaidan protest, being named Wikipedian of the Year for 2014. And, as you may recall, I blogged earlier about the development of a citizen reporting system for post-conflict areas in Ukraine, one that could be accessed by a computer or a smart phone, where citizens could report on a particular issue, and these reports could be mapped and shared, etc.

But with all that said, just as with app launches and hackathons / hacks4good in the USA, there seems to be no followup. Are any of these apps4good projects sustainable? Are there more users of the apps now? How many cases of corruption have been reported to date with this particular app that was launched earlier this year? Has the app – or any apps six months later – been improved in any way? Has any hackathon products or apps4good had any evaluation yet and, if so, what are the results?

I’ve been trying to find examples of citizen reporting apps being used by governments to respond to citizen reports – about illegal waste dumps, infrastructure issues, misuse of official vehicles, whatever, in any country. And so far… I’m finding only stories about the launch of the app. Like this one in Montenegro. In addition to getting answers to the questions in the aforementioned paragraph about all these apps for good, I’d like to read a success story about the government being responsive to the data generated. It seems to me some of the requirements for this to happen would be:

  • the government designating an office and at least one staff position as being responsible for reading every submission, evaluating it, passing it on to the appropriate people for action, and following up to make sure action was taken – and if not, getting back to the reporting citizens as to why not.
  • the office and staff people assigned to be responsible for reading and responding to the data generated by the citizen reporting app being evaluated regarding their performance in responding to the information, and that evaluation being made public.

I did hear of one project in Kyiv, where citizens can report housing problems via a web site, and, according to the person that referred such to me, it is actually working: “There is a system that a person leaves a request (reports a problem), the housing department employee checks it, and fixes the problem and reports back on it.” So it seems to be working exactly because it’s addressed the two aforementioned bullet points – or, as my colleague put it, “such a system can work only with local authorities, who will implement the projects, and have access to the ground, and resources.”

It’s wonderful to see so many tech4good / apps4good / hacks4good initiatives anywhere in the world, Ukraine or otherwise, but I fear we’re spending all our attention on their launch, and not nearly enough on their impact and sustainability. And if we don’t focus on those things, then they are just tech fluff.

Greetings from Ukraine.

Humans of New York guy posting re: Ukraine

Yes, indeed, Brandon Stanton, creator of the blog and bestselling book, Humans of New York, was in Ukraine last week and, this week, is posting photos and stories from his time here.

No, I did not meet him. Quit asking.

This is part of his UN-sponsored trip for 50 days to countries in different parts of the world, asking about their main challenges, achievements and hopes. The goal of the trip is to raise awareness for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Stories and photos from his trip to Ukraine and elsewhere here can be found on his Humans of New York web site, , via his Humans of New York Facebook page,  and via his Twitter account, @humansofny.

More information about the entire trip via the United Nations in Ukraine web site (info co-written by myself and my Ukrainian office mate – she wrote a MUCH better lead than me. I just cannot write a lead that good… she was who accompanied him, and translated for him, and I get to hear her own stories about the experience, which are fascinating).

Initial feedback on UNV plan to integrate volunteerism in development

United Nations Volunteers has proposed a plan to further integrate volunteering in peace and development action. UNV is now collecting feedback on the Zero Draft to revise it before submission to the UN General Assembly in 2015.

I’m still digesting the report, but at first read, the two recommendations that got me the most excited/agitated:

  • Strengthen the evidence base for the impact of volunteerism through concerted research…


  • Exchange practices in the areas of volunteer management, safety and security, innovative approaches such as online volunteering, inclusion of marginalized…

Regarding the research recommendation – hurrah! Research is so needed, particularly regarding what works, and what doesn’t, in

  • engaging groups of volunteers onsite in one-time, just show up activities – not just park cleanups, but hackathons and edit-a-thons
  • involving youth as volunteers,
  • involving teams of volunteers online
  • microvolunteering online
  • involving volunteers from other countries (organizations wanting to or expecting to host such volunteers need guidance on assignment development, necessary support for volunteers, training for those that will work with such volunteers, etc.)
  • measuring the impact of non-traditional volunteer engagement, such as hackathons and edit-a-thons, group volunteering, and episodic/microvolunteering (online or onsite), on the participating volunteers, on the organizations they support, on the causes they support, and on the communities in general
  • involving volunteers that represent a range of cultures and languages in group volunteering, online volunteering (particularly in teams), and traditional volunteering (commitment of more than just a few days, with a set time and place to be regularly)
  • recruiting volunteers from among ethnic and religious minority groups and creating a welcoming environment for such
  • using volunteering as a way to build cultural understanding among different religious, ethnic, economic or age groups
  • the costs of involving volunteers (because, of course, volunteers are never cost free; there are costs associated with engagement them)

I hope there can also be a promotion of the growing body of research regarding online volunteering  / virtual volunteering.

Regarding the volunteer management recommendation: I’m even more excited about that than the research recommendation. Without more promotion of the necessary systems and practices needed to support and engage volunteers, no other action recommended in this plan will work – every other recommendation will be doomed to failure. For too long, campaigns have focused on encouraging people to volunteer, rather than helping organizations to involve volunteers. I’ve been recommending this action since I first became involve in UNV back in February 2001, while directing the UN’s Online Volunteering Service and managing the online components of the United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS). I can’t take the credit for it finally being a priority, however.

That said, I STRONGLY disagree with the suggestion from the report that, as a part of the promotion of volunteer management, that we:

Advocate for the implementation of  the methods suggested in the ILO  Manual for Volunteerism  measurement; Member States to integrate the ILO  methodology in their household surveys.

The ILO Manual has NOT been agreed to as the measurement of volunteerism by most volunteer-involving organizations. Far from it; the ILO manual uses the old-fashioned, highly controversial method of measuring volunteerism by assigning a monetary value to volunteer hours. This kind of measurement for the value of volunteerism is something that has caused a tremendous backlash from unions and other working people, who see this as fuel for corporations and governments to say to nonprofits and non-governmental organizations, “Cut paid staff and replace them with volunteers.” Did UNV learn NOTHING from the backlash from the UK’s “Big Society” push which used a similar measurement for the value of volunteers?

There are much better ways to measure the value of volunteers. It’s time for UNV to promote those more modern ways.

Also, volunteers as are not free, I would have liked to have seen this statement explicitly in the report. It would have been nice to see an explicit statement saying, “Corporations and governments have to be prepared to help fund organizations in the engagement of volunteers.”

I’ll be reading the report more thoroughly in the coming days and formally responding via UNV’s mechanism for such. I encourage you to do the same.