Monday, August 18, 2008

Non-Profit Organizations and Social Media

Kevin Dugan at Strategic Public Relations makes an excellent post about how non-profit organizations are using social media to bring attention to their causes in response to a question posed by Jeremy Pepper. His entry features a video from Stand Up To Cancer. The video is fairly simple, but very powerful in it's message.

It reminded me of a few more efforts I've seen.

Points with Purpose is an art project, a healing tool and a call for action. The project seeks to show that "every story has a point," and the website encourages survivors and friends of survivors to submit their story. With each story submitted, artist David Ilan adds a point to the project.

[Each] dot represents a real person with real emotions. But all the dots represent people who have a story of rape and sexual abuse in common. Hopefully, one day all the dots will represent only one type of person, the survivor.

When facebook was launched over four years ago, the option to create and join groups became instantly popular. To the best of my knowledge, the Save Darfur group was one of the earliest groups around. The original concept was very, very simple: Join the group, and ask your friends to join, too. In fact, the group was created by a pair of students, not an organization. The group now has nearly 30,000 members and provides users with information about donations, divestment and contacting political representatives. I think the most amazing thing about this group is that I grew largely by word of mouth, or word of fingers: People joined as they saw their peers join. Other groups have seen similar success.

PostSecret is less a non-profit organization than it is an art experiment, but the nature of the project has allowed creator Frank Warren to bring attention to many causes, including sexual violence, suicide and depression. The project is highly interactive: every post card was created by an anonymous reader, and you are left to wonder if it was someone you know. This kind of interaction has led the project, the blog (hosted on Blogger) and the book series to become extremely popular, and Mr. Warren regularly engages in speaking events across the country.

I think a lot of groups can take a cue from these projects in designing their own social-media campaigns. I'd love to hear about any projects that you have come across in your surfing. I think that there are many groups out there with great ideas, and I love it when they find a creative, stimulating way to present them.

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