Using Communities To Change The World: What Non-Profits Need To Change

September 23, 2010 Comments Off

Most non-profit social media efforts are broadcast-focused and achieve little more than short blips of awareness. This is such a waste of the internet and the self-organizing power the medium offers.

If you’re working for a non-profit, split the issues you’re involved with into separate chunks and build communities around each. Keep these small, tightly focused, communities working on real achievements.

UNHCR, with whom I worked, helps displaced people. There are lots of displaced people, approximately 40m. That’s too many for everyone to care about all of them. Building a community around UNHCR is a bad idea, building a community around the displaced people makes sense. It’s a stronger issue.

You need to pick major issues within the work you do; e.g. urban refugees, Somali refugees, stateless persons etc and build tightly focused communities around these. Use your existing social media platforms to ask who wants to help on each and then use these as the founding basis.

Feed these groups with focused content, set progress targets and provide constant updates, interview people affected for audiences that directly care about them, celebrate success, be honest about failures, champion top members, help your members them set up fundraising operations where they live.

The goal, obviously, is to build small, but highly engaged, audiences around issues that you then help provide content, interviews, encouragement etc. Now you’re not sending similar stories to increasingly worn out audiences. You’re sending stories to the audiences that care a lot about the issues. You have an solid base of supporters/volunteers ready to leap into action when the situation calls for it.

My message to non-profits on social good day, is to switch their social media managers to community managers. Focus on building communities of interested people around issues they care about. If you do this, you have a sustainable digital strategy with unlimited potential for growth. If not, you can best hope for short blips of attention.

Happy #SocialGood Day.

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