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Online Events: Not Just for Social Distancing

Tom Dawkins, CEO at StartSomeGood, shares how online events such as the #StartingGood Virtual Summit represent a chance to learn together, to stitch our world together a little closer and to gain the skills and experience to make a bigger difference together. They’re not just for when there’s nothing else to do.

Most people reading this will have been, like me, living in a very isolated way recently. You’re rarely heading out, and if you do, it’s only for necessary errands and tasks. You’re certainly not heading out for fun or learning or meeting new people.

Maybe you miss hearing great people speak and share their story, having the chance to learn from entrepreneurs you admire and to meet people with similar interests and passions to you. If that’s you, I hear you. I do too.

At StartSomeGood, we have always been digital-first. Our co-founders have never lived in the same city and our current team is based in eight locations across four countries. We have always had the challenge of learning together online and supporting a global community of changemakers to launch projects that make a difference on our crowdfunding platform.

We have seen and felt the power and importance of connecting across geographical distance, of communities coming together from every corner of the world to back a cause they care about, to share, and to learn.

This belief in the power of connecting and learning online is why almost four years ago we launched the first #StartingGood Virtual Summit.

I know I am extremely privileged to have the chance to attend international events and see incredible leaders speak and share their learnings. Some of us might be missing the chance to attend these kinds of events during isolation, but most people have never had this kind of opportunity in the first place. And the innovations we need and the impact we need to create won’t just take a few of us; it will take a global movement and a generation of social entrepreneurs.

Four years ago, we got to talking about how to give everyone, everywhere, access to the best thinking and insights into how to create social impact. We wanted to create an online event that would feature the kind of caliber of speaker you’d find at the best global conferences, that were free and that brought people together from around the world.

From this idea, the #StartingGood Virtual Summit was born.

For the first three years of the Virtual Summit, this seemed like a fairly novel concept. However suddenly (and understandably), virtual summits and other online events are having a moment.

I don’t want to be all “we were into them before they were cool” on you but… it’s kind of true.

So now everyone is hosting online events, often organised in a rush, fuelled by a feeling of having to do something to respond to the sense of distance we now feel. This is a natural response to the time of physical distancing due to COVID and it’s been exciting to see, but it’s not the only reason we should be excited about online events.

Online events such as the #StartingGood Virtual Summit represent a chance to learn together, to stitch our world together a little closer, and to gain the skills and experience to make a bigger difference. They’re not just for when there’s nothing else to do.

Once COVID is conquered, the world will still need to improve in so many ways. Maybe even more so. This is no time to quit the field of social change – it’s a time to consider how we can be more resilient, more connected, more equipped to build the kind of future we need. The COVID crisis has shown us in sharp relief so many of the themes the social enterprise community has been talking about for decades: that strong local communities, local supply chains, fair jobs, accessible health care, and equal access to technology are keys to resilience, adaption, and sustainability.

Now we need to scale what works and invent something better for what’s broken and deficient. We need to create businesses that not only do-no-harm but are regenerative; jobs that don’t just offer a wage but dignity and connection; communities that are not just surviving but thriving and innovating towards a better future.

So we’re super-excited to be presenting the Summit at this time. It’s designed to stimulate our thinking and inspire our sense of what’s possible. It is filled with incredible examples of social entrepreneurship and impact, of smart insights and new thinking, of obstacles, overcome and lives changed. It’s a chance to gain new insights into your work, your life, your organisation and your business, to consider the role you are playing and the impact you seek. To gain the inspiration, insights and skills to make a bigger difference.

The #StartingGood Virtual Summit includes action-focused workshops, in-depth interviews with game-changing social entrepreneurs, live panels, hackathons and even music  Speakers this year include Jill Vialet, Ashoka Fellow and founder and CEO of PlayWorks (USA), James Bartle, founding CEO of Outland Denim (Australia), Jeffery Hollender, former CEO and Co-Founder of Seventh Generation (sold to Unilever for $700 Million USD in 2016), Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, Executive Director of Social Venture Circle (USA), Gihan Amarasiriwardena, co-founder of Ministry of Supply (USA), Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, CEO of Rags2Riches (Philippines), Shaun Christie-David, founder and CEO of Columbo Social (Australia), Sian Conway, Founder of #Ethicalhour, Cofounder of Be The Change Awards (UK), Sara Ecklund, founder of The Noble Cup (Ethiopia) and so many more.

With over 4,000+ participants from around the world in 2019, the 2020 summit is set to grow again, inspiring and empowering a generation of change leaders around the world.

We invite you to be part of it.

Tom Dawkins is co-Founder and CEO of StartSomeGood, a crowdfunding platform for social enterprises, non-profits and changemakers initiatives globally with the highest project success rate in the industry. He was previously the founder of Australian youth non-profit Vibewire, the first Social Media Director at Ashoka in Washington DC and the founding Director of the Australian Changemakers Festival. He has worked with numerous non-profits, governments and arts organisations to better engage communities using technology and been recognised with awards and Fellowships from the World Summit Youth Awards, International Youth Foundation, Nexus Summit, Future Summit and the Australian and New Zealand Internet Awards.
Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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