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Social Actions explained - Technologists

Page history last edited by Mariel Garcia M 13 years, 2 months ago

This page was created for web innovators, technologists, or people who are interested in the creation and use of open source software and online technology in philanthropy.

We have prepared this page thinking about questions you may be asking yourself. 



I've never heard of Social Actions before. What is it? 


Social Actions is a project presented by a group of people who, with ideals and ideas, are working on three big things:  

  • Making it easier for people like you to make a difference on the causes you care about.
  • Promoting collaborations that advance the work of social innovators.
  • Developing open source software that adds a philanthropic layer to the web. 

You can learn more about Social Actions and the people behind the project on this page.

You can also learn about the Action Sources (the projects whose action opportunities are drawn by the Social Actions API) here



What does Social Actions do with IT to make it easier for people to make a difference?


The main functions we have adopted at Social Actions in this regard deal with


  • aggregation of information that is relevant to philanthropy and activism to make it easily searchable;
  • the promotion of philanthropy-related software creation;
  • the establishing of a community of developers that want to use their IT skills and Social Actions tools to help the world.


  • Social Actions API


The API, launched in 2008, provides aggregated access to information provided by over 60 action sources on volunteering, donation, and other opportunities people have to take action to support a cause.

There are many applications that use this API, including the search engine on the Social Actions website, a WordPress widget that features related ways to take action on blogs, and a tool to share information on different social networks about projects people have donated to, among others.


Here is the full list of applications.


  • Social Entrepreneur API


This is the first open database of information about social entrepreneurs who have won fellowships and awards from social enterprise funders. The tool allows philanthropists, investors, press, and fellow entrepreneurs to find social entrepreneurs based on keyword, location, cause area, population served, and a variety of other factors.


You can find more information about this here.


Some applications draw from this API; for example, Social Actions' search engine on http://search.socialentrepreneurapi.org/ , and the applications listed here


  • Open Actions XML


The goal of this Social Actions project is to promote the collaboration of people involved in the worlds of philanthropy and activism in the creation of an open standard that can be used by any social benefit organization or community group to exchange information about their projects and people seamlessly.

This would allow grant-makers and citizen philanthropists to make decisions about their support to projects easier, and would also permit an easier sharing of information about projects.


  • Promotion of philanthropy-related software creation


Social Actions wants to help and encourage technologists like you to create software that can help promote the actions that will make the world a better place. One example is the 'Change the Web' Challenge that was held by Social Actions in early 2009, and which led a number of developers to work on applications that drew from the Social Actions API to post actions on different social networking and content-sharing websites.


In this regard, Social Actions also tries to beat the creativity block. Developers who want to put their skills to use in the field of philanthropy and don't know what exactly to work on can check the Social Actions Idea Hub, where people submit ideas for applications that they think would be useful.


  • Developer community


There is a space for discussion about all these IT-related aspects of Social Actions - the developer group on Google Groups. There, developers can find tips for creation of applications that draw from the Social Actions API, and general discussions about IT and philanthropy.



What can I do with the tools you've just mentioned?


  • You can work on applications that draw information from the APIs and do something good with it, such as making it easier for people to share that information on social networks. If you're ready to look into this, you will find a lot of resources to help you get started on this page.


  • You can contribute to the development of the Open Actions XML. You will find ideas on how to collaborate in the creation of this standard in this page.


  • If you manage a website or the online presence of a philanthropic project, you can add your organization's data to the Social Actions API, and so promote it to Social Actions users. You can read here how to do this.


  • You can adopt (and evangelize) the Open Actions XML standard as a tool to share data about and between philanthropic projects.



How can I contribute to Social Actions?


  • By reporting bugs you find in the website or the APIs. This can be done in the Social Actions Developers Group.


  • By contributing to the discussions and standard-development on the same group.



  • By donating to support the ongoing development and maintenance of Social Actions' tools.



Is there a place on Social Actions where I can get in touch with other people interested in taking action, philanthropy, etc.?


Yes! You can join us at My Social Actions, where you can read or share blogposts, information about events, and mostly communicate with other people who share your interests.



Where else can I find Social Actions materials?


Apart from the apps that you may see in other webpages, there are two main sources for Social Actions information outside the website: the Twitter account we have, @socialactions, and our Facebook fanpage, Social Actions.



Where do I go if I have any other questions?


Apart from having the freedom to post any comments or questions you may have on this wiki, on My Social Actions, or on the Facebook page, you can find some contact information here.



All the information about other aspects Social Actions can be found at our wiki. Click here to go to the index.  






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