The True Spirit of SXSW - The Genesis of #SXSWCares

I'm admittedly behind on posting and I apologize. Lots of good work going on at Live Path, and travel has also beckoned.  This week, I find myself at sxsw doing some client work and meeting up with some of the best and brightest minds in digital/interactive.  However, I have found myself distracted and deeply saddened by the news from Japan.  Turns out, I'm not the only one.

Early on Friday, I stopped into the Blogger lounge and met up with digital pal and Blogworld Expo diva,  Deb Ng. We talked about how surreal it was carrying on our lives when people's lives were being literally wiped away in Japan.  I told Deb, "We oughta start a hashtag - like 'sxswcares' and drive donations to the Red Cross."  Deb loved the idea, and a movement was born.  We began pushing people to text donations to 90999 (Red Cross) and planning our next steps. I reached out to media relations and the Red Cross and working toward getting a site setup. Buzz began to spread around the blogger lounge and we had tons of leading bloggers, PR experts, social media specialists and technologists spreading the news on our hashtag.

About an hour later, I heard from Jessica Lin about Rob Wu, who (in parallel) had started a #sxsw4japan hashtag and donation site on the same track as us.  I asked him to meet me in the Samsung Blogger Lounge and pooled our resources, using his platform, CauseVox to build a website to direct donations to the Red Cross. It was such an awesome collaborative experience. It turns out that in addition to having the same terrible feeling when we woke up Friday - we'd both had training with the American Red Cross AND we had highly compatible skills.  We decided to unite the efforts.

As I continued to talk to the Red Cross and write copy to tweak the website... Rob procured domain names and started with a new logo  that we coerced Hugh McLeod (Gaping Void), to create on the fly.  I wrote copy and got a finalized the partner agreement with the Red Cross for Rob to sign (running things through CauseVox) while Deb circulated and told people about the movement and stimulated some great buzz. We worked ambitiously all day and launched the sxswcares website (sxsw4japan) officially at 6:30pm. 

Before we launched, we had driven the donations on our site alone from about $600 to about $2k in donations.  In just 24 hours, we have generated more than $7k in donations.  On Friday night, during interviews for the Statesman... We created some sxsw cares cards and are circulating them, and watched mentions in posts, articles and tweets at the hashtag #sxswcares skyrocket on Twitter.  Since then, we've all continued to work proactively and inclusively in a joint initiative to drive support for Japan.  

While we can't track text donations to 90999 - we are tracking donations on our site and working on corporate matching grants.  We will surpass our goal of $10k - I'm hoping to double it. I hope you will help.

UPDATE - We are now over $12k in donations and it's not slowing down. More announcements from our partners tomorrow!

While we're missing out on panels, discussions and even a few meetings -- all of us involved here agree that this is THE MOST important work we may ever do at SXSW.  In the true spirit of crowd-sourcing, collaboration, rapid, iterative design and development, we are excited about the future,


VC Internet Media said...

Thanks for your work over time,. I have enjoyed following this blog and reading your work. I wish you the best success now and in the future at whatever you put your hands to do.
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Jake said...

I am so glad you posted this. I too am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Japan. I hope you have made a difference by getting the word out to donate.
Hope you had a great time at sxsw!

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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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