SXSW Interactive – Takeaways

I attended this amazing session with Mark Horvath creator of

He ended up winning $50,000 for the Pepsi Refresh project. He was heavily promoted by star social media experts @GaryVee and @BethKanter.

His work is very humbling and impactful. He captures raw video clips of homeless people and interviews them.

His tagline is: Homeless has a name.

Here are my notes from this session:

  • If you have a good story – it can become viral.
  • Personal stories are critical. Be vulnerable.
  • Personalize your Organization.
  • Share personal stories.
  • Be aware that sharing personal stories can cause privacy issues. Ways around this are to create private online communities. Allows for trust to build and the ability to share more personally.
  • We cannot control what information gets posted onto the internet. The best thing to do is to create good content to help define your brand. Define your own brand, or others will define for you.
  • Sharing people’s stories is an extremely powerful tool in motivating your audience to action.
  • Create a balance. Don’t make people spectacles. Be sensitive.
  • He never edited his videos.  They were all raw documentaries. Did not want to be interpreted as having a motive.


  • Listen via Twitter, Facebook, Google Alerts, Blogs.
  • Collaborate.
  • Spread awareness.
  • Ask for help.
  • Find partnerships.


“I want to effect change.” – Mark Horvath

  • Strategies change.
  • If you are listening, you need to be ready to change.
  • Create a model and make it easy for others to replicate. Let go of trying to “control” everything and everyone.
  • Research, research and research.

Someone in the audience noted that journalists, grant givers and foundations are now “listening” to Twitter and other social sites. And directly contacting them to see if they can help them.

Fundraising is about building relationships and telling a really good story.

Mark Horvath does not place his Donate Now button in a visible location. His reasoning is he wants to build relationships with people.

He talked briefly about the Haiti donate via your phone. While this is incredible, you are not able to build relationships with these people. It’s a one time thing. It’s illegal to contact them again.  In addition, they hold the donors dollars for 90 days before delivering to the Organization.

New models are being created that will hopefully reduce the 90 day delay.

Research: TextToGive and URMobile

“Those are just tools, but it’s all about relationships.” – Mark Harvath

He pointed out that it’s important to talk about your competition in a positive manner and be collaborative.

“It’s not about numbers, it’s about influence.” – Mark Harvath


by: Stephanie Ross, e-Project Specialist

This entry was posted in SXSW.