Build Pyramids for Good

One of the highlights of this year’s Gnomedex was Darren Barefoot‘s presentation on using your online presence to do good.

Darren pointed to several sites that enable individuals to sign up to make a personal contribution.

For example, naburr links you to causes that could use your skill set, icouldbe matches mentors to teens, and geekcorps draws on the skills of internet technologists to help expand Internet use in emerging nations.

Other sites, however, leverage people`s desire to make a contribution by providing them with the infrastructure and support necessary to extend the campaign directly into their community. For example:

  • Nothingbutnets is an online appeal for to help control the spread of malaria in Africa by sponsoring the purchase and distribution of mosquito nets. The site provides not only a means to make a personal contribution, but it also encourages donors to recruit teams of their friends and family to join them in extending the fundraising appeal. It features not only an onsite registration to create a team or sign up as a team member, but also offers a toolkits, posters and other paraphernalia that can be used by local organizers.
  • Givemeaning is building a community of contributors who identify causes and needs from anywhere around the world and then organizes appeals to support tangible projects related to these projects.

Darren`s message: Your impact can scale tremendously if you build “pyramid schemes for good.” Build infrastructure that helps others to do good. Don’t stop at making a personal contribution. Build something that encourages and assists others to contribute.

I recorded a brief interview with Darren after the session. I think his message is inspiring. I hope you do too.


  • Another site that’s really cool is
    Where you can loan money to entrepreneurs in the developing world. It’s a very cool idea and makes great use of social media tools (See Journals). I’m not sure the concept would make the same impact without the good ol’ web.

  • Kelly, thanks for the pointer to Sites like this mobilize people and amplify their efforts.

  • I really agree with Darren’s point about donating your skill set if you don’t have access to disposable assets. I think that as far as professional communicators are concerned, we have a bit of a responsibility to make sure that important information is disseminated and the messages we believe in are promulgated.