How to Make Money and Change the World

1 12 2009

Recently a good friend of mine and his family heard that I had never experienced an American Thanksgiving and were thoughtful enough to invite me down to visit with them for the weekend. Needless to say, the meal was decadent, and both the conversation and the wine were sparkling. [An extended thank you to the Vitek family!]

While I was down in the USA, my friend took me to meet some friends of his for a night out in small-town America. We visited a local bar, ate bagels slathered in cheese and spicy meats and chatted about our various university degrees and jobs. One of his friends, Tsewang, was a young woman from Nepal who I chatted with for an hour or so about international development and social entrepreneurship (two of my favourite topics!) as well as some less cumbersome subjects. At one point near the end of our conversation, I mentioned to her that I was hoping to start a pilot project for solar water disinfection (SODIS) in Angola next year, and she told me that, being from Canada, I ought to look up an organization called Dream Now“.

After returning from the weekend, I had all but forgotten about her wonderful suggestion when I stumbled onto their website this afternoon. Reading descriptions about how they literally built blanket forts in various rooms across the country in order to facilitate comfortable discussion, I was absolutely intrigued. Ravenous for more of this truly out-of-the-box approach, I dug a little deeper on their website and discovered this jewel of a bookHow to Make Money and Change the World

Not only was it one of the most helpful and innovative books I have read on the subject of finding a job in our generation – it was free! Beautifully designed and available online for download, and redistribution, I thought – well! that’s my Christmas shopping done for every friend I have who’s about to graduate from international development! (On a fair note, being a student, I otherwise probably was just going to wish them Merry Christmas on their facebook walls or twitter, so this is quite the improvement as far as free gifts go...)

Occupation: Change the World

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in working for positive change – either in international development, or other fields of social change.

– Sarah Topps

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The Power of Back-Linking

18 05 2009

Now that the blog has been running for about 6 weeks, I’m really starting to see how my traffic fluctuates, and on which days it sees more readers and why. The biggest difference seems to come from what I tag things with (affecting search engines) and links to my page from other websites – whether other bloggers, or Facebook, or my friends and family or just from people who decide they like what I’ve written and pass it on.

The magic of the internet and the huge power of social change or education through blogging comes from back-linking and word of mouth. The more people that know about you and share links to your site, the more traffic you will get, and thus the circle continues. I was very excited today when I was reading a blog by a friend who I met while doing volunteer work through AIESEC in Morocco, Caitie Hawley, to read that she was linked to Nisha Chittal’s blog which is a decently well-known dot.com about politics and social change.

Nisha recently wrote about 25 ways to use your blog or social media to create change, and I found her suggestions quite interesting, and also that I had already instinctively done at least a few of them in trying to keep the blog interesting for my readers:

1. Start simple: write a post on an issue you care about. Chances are, most people don’t know much about it. Inform them.

7. Highlight nonprofits that are creating change, like this one: Global Giving.

11. Write about your experiences with volunteer or nonprofit work. >>> This one’s coming soon guys!

12. Write your own ideas on how global human rights issues can be alleviated.

15. Discuss how social media plays a role in the non-profit community.

16. Write about advocacy in digestable ways for would-be donors, supporters like The Girl Effect video.

17. Highlight events related to advocacy efforts.

18. Interview or profile someone involved in social justice/human rights efforts like Vandana Shiva.

25. Include a link in your blog to great websites that allow you to make a difference with just a click, like The Hunger Site.

These are the ones I particularly liked from Nisha’s blog, but there are SO many ways to use new media such as blogging to get the word out there and be heard…I also find it interesting that the three people involved this time are also all linked through the global student network AIESEC.

Feel free to send me links to your own blogs or websites and I will pass on the magic of internet traffic!

– Sarah Topps








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