Step Right Up and Change the World!

    It's not just program managers and field workers that make a difference. Social Actions is giving techies a chance as well.

    The

    , which aggregates social activity sites to help people get involved, just kicked off its

    . The goal is to design and build the best Web application such as a plug-in, hack or widget to improve connections between those needing help and those wanting to pitch in. Think of an eBay for social entrepreneurs, or a Priceline for NGO programming. Social Actions' contest is your chance to build a better mousetrap.

    There are already a couple dozen Web sites that help bring potential donors in contact with small-scale projects in education, poverty alleviation, climate change, media, human rights and a host of other issues – sites like

    ,

    ,

    , and

    . Two of the newer and more interesting additions are

    and

    . The former helps you organize a personal charity portfolio and explains all variety of 21st century terminology like "

    " and "

    ." The latter is all about creating online social change communities with common interests and goals and then

    key impact metrics. Author and activist Tom Watson recently moderated an

    about the boom in social change sites.

    Alongside its challenge, Social Actions is also hosting a related series of conversations on how tools like Facebook Causes, Convivio and iPhone can improve development and affect social change. One of those events will take place next week: the uber-hip culture and music festival

    in Austin, Texas.

    Still thinking about the contest? Keep in mind that the winner will get $5,000, second place $3,000 and third $2,000 – but the real prize will be loading up the bandwagon for social change.

    About the author

    • David Lepeska

      David has served as U.N. correspondent for the newswire UPI and reported for several major newspapers, including the New York Daily News and Newsday. He was chief correspondent for the Kashmir Observer in Srinagar, India, and regularly contributes to the Economist, among other publications. Since 2007, David has reported for Devex News from Washington, New York, as well as South Asia.