SXSW Social Good Hub

South By Southwest (SXSW) launched its Social Good Hub in 2014 as a space for digital creatives, agencies, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs to collaborate and share ideas that promote social change. This year, Why We Give was able to be a part of that conversation. We spoke with inspiring individuals who are working to make the world a better place and got their take on how we can do the same. (These are the perspectives of the individuals only and not necessarily representative of the companies they work for.)

Meg Allison


Profession: GIS Data Manager, Shelter Research and Development, ASPCA

What inspires you to give?

One of my mantras is, “It could always be worse.” Even on your worst day, your life is probably a lot better than someone else’s. I like to keep that perspective to remind myself that there’s always someone that has it worse and I can help make it better.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

Most animals in shelters have a profile page. You can share a photo of a homeless animal in your community to help increase its chances of getting adopted. Most people don’t visit animal shelters so sharing photos is a great way to get their attention.

Nick Cain


Program Manager,, Google

What inspires you to give?

I personally believe in having greater empathy for a host of challenges that individuals other than myself face day to day. I want to be part of a connected society that addresses those challenges.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

Up your empathy. We often take for granted or assume that we have empathy. But we have to push ourselves to identify with new situations. It’s an active process to remain empathetic towards challenges that don’t directly impact you.

Taylor Campbell


Profession: Canvasser, Save the Children

What inspires you to give?

People have given to me in the past. I was raised in a low income family and I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the help of people who made sure others had opportunities.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

Find something you care about, do your research, and make a contribution. Don’t just tweet. Don’t just morally support it. Awareness doesn’t feed kids, cure cancer, or save animals. Social media is counterproductive. People get the satisfaction of having done something without doing anything. They start to wear charity like a badge just because they “liked” Habitat for Humanity on their Facebook page. But if they haven’t hit a nail with a hammer, they haven’t done anything.

Allister Chang


Profession: Executive Director, Libraries Without Borders US

What inspires you to give?

I believe access to education and information is a human right but that’s not the reality today. [Libraries Without Borders] is helping to make up for what society has denied many people. Most people don’t know that refugees stay in camps for an average of 17 years. So we’re working right now to reach out to local communities, technology companies, and corporations to provide information to areas that need it most.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

At SXSW, we talk a lot about digital innovation but the issue of access is something else entirely. We often forget about equality and the fact that just because the technology exists, doesn’t mean everyone has access to it. We have to acknowledge this in our efforts to help.

Sachin Malhan


Profession: Executive Partner, Ashoka’s Changemakers

What inspires you to give?

Very often we talk about giving as a moral thing or a good thing but it’s a human thing. You feel it. As I’ve gotten more in touch with my humanity, giving has become a natural part of me so it doesn’t require inspiration.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

We can just be. It doesn’t have to be something far away from our passions. Look within your interests and find something there to contribute to. That will be enough.

Jessica Myers


Profession: Junior Director, Save The Children-Austin

What inspires you to give?

I was tired of working for a paycheck. I wanted to do something that makes me feel good at the end of the day. My family and I had support from others and that’s stayed with me. Growing up, I was part of the Free & Reduced Price Meal Program. Without that, I probably wouldn’t have been able to have a good meal every day. And when my mom was really sick, people sent us food and even money to help cover the medical bills.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

Take action today—volunteer or donate. We’re out here every day actively trying to make people care and do more than tell us they morally support our cause. In order to make a difference, you have to do something.

Alaine Newland


Profession: Communications Lead, OpenIDEO

What inspires you to give?

I’m inspired by the tangible relationships I see forming [as a result of the Amplify program]. My role focuses on stories and impact so I’m constantly capturing these moments around collaboration. We’re so lucky to be the people that we are with the advantages that we have and it’s important for us to break out of our bubbles and learn the stories of others.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

Find conversations and join them. To really problem solve we need to understand what the problem is and a lot of that comes through dialogue. We need to take the time to understand what we’re talking about so that we can build solutions with people, rather than for people.

Courtney Nied


Profession: Marketing Manager, Austin Humane Society

What inspires you to give?

It feels good to be helping others whether it’s animals or other people. We’re all interconnected and here to find happiness. We wouldn’t be able to achieve this without pitching in and doing it together.

What is one thing we can do today to make a difference?

Random acts of kindness. Be polite to someone on the street, put extra money in the parking meter if you see it’s running low. Those small things are the most contagious—it spreads the love.

Photo from sxsw 2014 Social Good event.


Jess Stowe


Jess Stowe is a research analyst at Finch15, a product innovation company that helps well-established brands build revenue-generating digital businesses. She is also the Managing Director of Greatest Good, an online platform that allows industry experts to raise money for charitable organizations by providing business advice and consulting while commanding the market value of their time. She recently joined the junior board of TASC, a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing education and enrichment opportunities to kids who need it most. Jess graduated from Wesleyan University.

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Why We Give tells stories of ordinary philanthropists, making a difference, dollar by dollar and hour by hour.  

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