Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lespwa Means Hope- Campaign Evaluation

For my campaign evaluation I focused on an organization that aims to help those less fortunate in Haiti, the name of the group is Lespwa Means Hope. The word "lespwa" in Haitian literally means hope which is how the organization got their name. Lespwa Means Hope was created when four college students at UCF held a dance party with a $5 entrance fee in order to raise money for children in Haiti. The result was a party that raised over $20,000 in one night. After such great success the students felt that they couldn't simply stop there. After the dance party fundraiser in 2006 the students created a charitable organization dedicated towards their cause. This organization was called Lespwa Worldwide, which was aimed towards educating Haitian children. A few years later the earthquake in Haiti hit which left 100,000 people dead in 10 seconds. It was in the wake of this disaster however that Lespwa Worldwide met Mission of Hope. Mission of Hope was a 10 year old Christian organization founded by a couple working to provide relief in Haiti. It was through this synthesis that Lespwa Means Hope was born. Lespwa Means Hope functions as a subsidiary of Mission of Hope and remains true to their mission, aiming to educate 1/5 of every Haitian child. "In short, what began as a tiny school of a few young students and a few willing hearts, has since grown into a 72 acre facility with a school of 2500, a medical clinic and a prosthetics clinic; a 55 acre facility for agricutural development, orphan care and a trade school; a 200 acres facility with a building project of 500 homes; and total operations employing over 250 Haitians, with a mission that relentlessly pursues the best ways possible to bring life transformation to Haiti - with, by, and through Christ and our Haitian friends" (Schurke). This quote displays the amazing accomplishments that the Lespwa organization has accomplished. None of this would be possible however without the dance party back in 2006 that jumpstarted Lespwa Worldwide. I believe that the dance party received so much attention because it had a large amount of support from the Christian community at UCF. The University of Central Florida also has a very large student population of about 50,000; because of this I think that simple word of mouth played a very large role in the event's success. The event had been promoted on MySpace (which was much bigger in 2006) but that was pretty much all the social media used to promote it. This makes the events success even more suprising. One thing is for certain however, had it not been for the success of this dance event, Lespwa Means Hope would likely cease to exist and thousands of Haitian lives would not have been saved as a result.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TNNP Ch. 10 & Ch.11

    Chapter 10 of The Networked Nonprofit discusses the role that making friends plays in acquiring funding for your organization. The example the book uses is that of a man who has a party and asks all of his guests to donate $20.00 to some sort of charity. With 700 guests this turns out to be very helpful and helps to establish six water wells in Uganda. This example is meant to illustrate how people are motivated to give more if they have a good relationship with whomever they are giving for. This idea goes back to the point that in order to gain as many supportive followers as possible you must first create a personal connection with that person. In doing so people feel welcomed by the organization and want to help support it however they can. The book also says to focus on creating a more personal relationship with your strongest supporters, in doing so these supporters will be likely to not only give more but to also spread word of your organization to friends and colleagues. This chapter also discusses the importance of reaching out to younger audiences. This is important especially in regard to online campaigns, as a younger demographic generally views this more, but also because they can become supporters for a longer period of time. As in other chapters the importance of social media and blogging is stressed. In doing so organizations reach a larger audience but also make it so that their story/ mission can be easily shared between people. Creating a place online for people to read and contribute to your organization can take the personal aspect out of the situation. If not addressed than this can lead people to not feel welcomed by the organization, one way to combat this however is through the use of personal narratives to appeal to peoples emotions, making them more likely to contribute. Rather than requesting people to contribute money, giving people the option to contribute and thanking them graciously when they do is effective.
        Chapter 11 of The Networked Nonprofit explains the governing of nonprofits and how this can better guide the organization through the future. The chapter uses an example of a board member named Joe who is part of the Save a River Foundation, it discusses how a typical board meeting in the office can be boring which results in low participation and sometimes not available to get to. The book offers and alternative however of using an online face-to-face video chat room as well as using social media sites such as twitter to post information and ideas. In doing so the meeting suddenly becomes accessible to a wider array of people across varying geographical contexts and, in combination with social media and the increased level of sharing ideas, more exciting. The chapter discusses several commonalities among ineffective boards. These include: a lack of diversity, poor leadership, and a closed culture that doesn't allow for real discussion and outside input. Stagnant boards often consists of a very homogenous group of people which results in a low level of diversity amongst ideas, this often creates a chasm between the board and those whom it serves. While taking a more networked approach in regard to the organization's board, there is an overall increase amongst many positive factors. This in turn makes the organization more likely to gain support from followers and in general more successful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TNN ch. 5 & 6

     Chapter 5 of TNN talks about the art of conversing in order to build relationships. The book explores in detail the key steps in order to do this. One of which is the importance of listening, by listening to users on the web you can get an idea of how people are reacting to your organizations decisions. Certain programs exist which enable internet organizations to do just this. My dad's company DBase Media uses a program which searches keywords associated with a particular client. In doing so he is able to tell what people are saying about that client and create a strategy in order to help the company react. Chapter 5 also discusses the type of engagement organizations experience. In this chapter an emphasis seems to be placed on the importance that the organization is "authentic" that means treating it as though it were a realistic friendship. You need to tailor a specific type of interaction rather than treating them the same as everyone else that you interact with. In doing so the client feels a personal connection and feels more of an obligation to support your organization. Chapter 6 of TNN talks about the importance of a company being "transparent", this means that all aspects of the company are viewable by an outsider. According to TNN in doing so the company becomes honest with itself and is able to reach a broader spectrum of individuals and organizations. The level of transparency demonstrated by the company is a reflection of the company's culture. TNN describes three categories which organizations fall under: The Fortress, Transactional, and Transparents. The Fortress as described by TNN refers to a company that reserves most of their information from the public, (such as government organizations). Transactional organizations are based on money, they base the majority of decisions on how it will affect the organization financially. Lastly are companies that are Transparents, these companies are referred to as "a glass house", this means that all information is available to the public and that nothing is withheld. By being transparent companies are able to more easily be found. This is especially important for organizations looking to reach a larger audience. With more information circulating around the web, organizations are more likely to be discovered than those that favor the Fortress method. This is especially important within this day and age with the use of S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimization). By utilizing these techniques companies are able to better market themselves to reach a broader spectrum of viewers and in turn become more successful.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TNN ch. 4

      Chapter 4 of the texts discusses the use of social expectations within an organization. Not to be confused with a social network, this "social-ness" as described in the book refers to the way in which companies expect workers to conduct socially. The example used by the text analyzes the group The American Red Cross Association and the way in which they interact with customers/ clients. This chapter also discusses the importance of innovating in this field. An example is used of someone who is not used to the general online procedure. As a result the company is looked upon negatively. Going along with this the book continues to discuss some of the proper online etiquette. This includes the use of blogging, the use of a social network, or even just general online postings, it is important to consider what you would want people to think about the organization you are representing online. Even the style in which you write can give viewers a particular feeling about the group you represent. As in the previous chapter, chapter 4 stresses the importance of being innovative in the competitive marketplace. This is important for nonprofits as well as viewers now respond to different information than they had years ago.

TNN Ch. 3

            In chapter 3 of The Networked Nonprofit, the use of social networks and their influence within society is discussed. Social networks act as an extension of the social life one experiences within the real world. As a result we have entered a new age where people are connected more than ever. This new level of connectivity has accelerated the pace in which we move. Therefore if companies were able to successfully integrate the use of social networks into their business it would make a significant improvement. Social networks also have the potential to dramatically influence society, this is because nearly everyone uses some sort of social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, etc. This enables the social network to reach a large audience. Like other companies, social networks are constantly innovating and reinventing themselves, as a result companies using these social networks need to also innovate in order to keep up. In regard to nonprofits, social networks enable people to easily link together to fight for a similar social cause. Social networks can contain specific pages which can represent your topic of interest. This speeds up the ability of people to link resources together and in turn can make a difference faster. Nonprofits also have an advantage over other businesses when using social networks in that people are motivated to join behind a specific cause, while the same may not be true for a particular product.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Networked Nonprofit Ch. 2

      Chapter two of The Networked Nonprofit addresses some recent challenges among nonprofits. A major factor influencing these challenges is the dramatic increase among nonprofit organizations. The result of this were many "professionally based organizations". These organizations began to become more competitively driven and focused solely on economic gain. Human interaction between the organization and the customer also decreased, this results in a less personal feel between customer and business. As these nonprofits became more competitively driven the emphasis on problem solving decreased dramatically as groups engaged with other nonprofits less frequently. The result of this is stand alone companies that work in desperate measures in order to receive funds. According to the book executive directors have a high rate of turnover as a result. The book also goes on to state that people are more likely to buy a product when the company has a deep seated passion for the cause they represent. When this doesn't occur amongst stand alone nonprofits, these customers tend to lose interest in the product or service. This chapter also discusses the importance of free agents which can greatly influence your audience. By befriending free agents, the free agents become more likely to be enthused about your cause which will be reflective within their posts. These free agents likely know other free agents within the blogging community as well which would further raise awareness for the cause.

Networked Nonprofit Ch. 1

      Chapter one of the new book entitled The Network Nonprofit deals with the basic concept of just that, a network nonprofit. An initial example the book uses is that of the Surf Rider Foundation which worked to bring about major reforms in the cleanliness of our beaches. Networked nonprofits involve linking people together with similar beliefs in order to achieve a common goal. In doing so these organizations are able to greatly broaden there scope of focus and reach a greater number of audiences. This chapter also addresses the ever expanding field of social media. The use of new websites such as Facebook allows networked nonprofits to reach other organizations more easily in hopes of working together. Social media also allows networked nonprofits to reach out to a greater number of people in order to gain both awareness and support for their cause. An important thing to keep in mind while using social media however is to remain professional when representing your organization. This can be overseen at times when using sights such as Facebook, which tend to be regarded as more informal than say a press release. The book goes on to point out certain misconceptions when regarding social media. One of which was the perceived lack of importance of face to face interactions. While social media is able to effectively reach a large range of audiences nothing undermines the power of personal interaction. In doing so you are showing the client that you care about them enough to be there, that they are not just a contact on an email address. Going along with this is the importance of conversations amongst people in order to bring about social change. An example the book uses is how over the past couple decades littering has become socially unacceptable. People are more likely to be influenced by a family member for instance describing the importance of not littering rather than a commercial. The best way to influence these conversations is through networking, be it through personal relationships or social media, once an idea catches fire it can rage on relentlessly.