The Best Of SXSW Interactive 2015

It’s that time of year again–happy SXSW everyone! Whether you fully immerse yourself in the madness, or purposely plan your vacation during the weeklong event each year, there’s no escaping the excitement and innovation that overflows from downtown Austin onto social media.

We attended SXSW Interactive this year in hopes of learning better ways to share our mission, finding new supporters and thank existing ones, and learning about the latest tools to better engage the community. Here are some of our favorite things we saw at this year’s event:


As part of our mission, we believe everyone can be a philanthropist and aim to create opportunities for locals to do so. shares this mission, and offers extremely innovative ways to give back where you are, whether you are 8 or 80 years old. Check out for easy ways to get inspired, whether it’s creating 5 minute shower playlists for your friends to encourage saving water or hosting a clothing recycling party.

2. The Social Good Hub

The Social Good Hub, hosted by United Nations, was our favorite place to relax and mingle with nonprofit representatives from all over the world. We spoke to staff from Libraries Without Boarders about IdeaBox, portable multi-media educational kits to bring fun and learning to refugee and other vulnerable populations. Each box unfolds into a library, complete with its own power sources, internet, 15 tablets and 4 laptops, 5 HD cameras, 200 films and a projector, and more than 5,000 books.

3. The Global Happy Party

While at the Social Good Hub, the UN Foundation presented its upcoming campaign for International Day of Happiness on March 20. The UN Foundation partnered with Pharrell to create the Global Happy Party, building on the success of his wildly popular song “Happy.” Upload photos of yourself being happy, and the gifs will be put into an animated gif set to the song. The goal of the campaign is to additionally raise awareness of climate change issues by gathering more than one billion signatures on a petition.

4. WWF on building brand advocates

We heard the CEO of the World Wildlife Fund speak on the beloved brand during a panel titled, “Building an Army of Brand Advocates.” We learned that having a nonprofit budget does not mean you can’t successfully market your mission–you must just think more creatively. We also learned that by 2020, the most successful brands will be the ones with their donors doing most of the advocating. At UWATX, we are thankful to have donors and volunteers who advocate and support us, and we are always open to hearing your ideas about how we can make better use of your talents and time!

5. RLabs on education for all

During a panel on “Building Participatory Cities,” a representative from RLabs in Cape Town, South Africa Skyped in. RLabs Academy offers free courses to ANYONE in the community in the fields of computer science, social media, web and app development, software, project management and leadership, among others. They have now expanded from South Africa and have provided free education to more than 5 million students in 22 countries. They also have a system in which students can truly use their knowledge as currency. The more classes students attend and pass, the more “money” they earn to be used at the RLabs cafe to purchase coffee, tea and food. The panelist from RLabs said that the reason the program has been so successful is that they welcome each individual with enthusiasm and foster a sense of belonging. “When people feel they belong somewhere, that is where connection, innovation and education happens.”

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