Last year I was fortunate to attend the first NetSquared conference. NetSquared is a project of CompuMentor/TechSoup, a nonprofit run by my friend Daniel Ben-Horin (who’s been named to the Nonprofit Times “Power and Influence Top 50” list in each of the past two years).
NetSquared is a community whose goal is:
To help hundreds of thousands of non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) successfully utilize the community empowering capabilities of the Internet to increase their impact and achieve social change.
The conference is an annual event held on the Cisco Systems campus. The focus last year was on bringing together the technologists developing Web 2.0 applications with nonprofits who could use these tools to further their cause.
To the best of my knowledge, I was the only person from the for profit investment industry who attended the conference last year. This year is going to be different. I’ve excerpt the following from an invitation to the event that I and others have been sending out:
The Second Annual NetSquared Conference (N2Y2) will be hosted by Cisco on its campus on May 29 and 30, and will be sponsored by Yahoo, Microsoft and Symantec (among others). The conference is structured to accelerate 20 to 25 of the most exciting new projects that utilize the technologies, tools and communities of the social web to create societal impact in a sustainable fashion. Each project will be evaluated along three parameters – Financial Sustainability, Technology and Social Impact – and receive feedback in each area from expert panelists.
The best projects will receive cash and technical resources from the Technology Innovation Fund, which TechSoup will launch at the Conference.
If you working on an innovative, internet drive social venture (structured as either a nonprofit or for profit) you should nominate your project for the conference. GiveWell, Xigi and FreePledge (projects I’ve highlighted in the past) are all nominated or working on their nomination. You can see the full list of nominated projects here.
Also of interest is the NetSquared Advocates list. It is a remarkable cross section of individuals. I can’t think of another conference that is drawing such a high degree of interest from people in such varied fields.
Changes are afoot in philanthropy. Innovation is bubbling up. I think that the NetSquared Conference is ground zero of Philanthropy 2.0.