Pull #7: How Technology is Changing the Not-For-Profit Conversation
The following content is from Pull, an online series about how technology is transforming the conversation.
Pull was produced in partnership with TVO’s The Agenda. Originally published in Summer 2013.
Social Platforms for Social Good
Social media platforms are transforming social causes and social action. It’s changing how not-for-profits (NFPs) are using technology to reach out and engage with everyone from volunteers to activists on issues around the world and in our own backyard.
On the fundraising front, micro-financing tools like Kiva, HopeMob, Indiegogo, Kickstarter,and StartSomeGood bring together small contributions from lots of people for projects that were traditionally hard to fund. These tools give you the opportunity to focus your gift in tangible ways, whether it’s funding a community art project, helping to finance a small business across the world, buying a cow for a poverty-stricken family in Uganda, or finaning a health bus to serve the needy closer to home. And it’s not just about raising money and awareness. Social media has created a platform for more people to find and get actively involved in issues that matter to them on an immediate and deeply personal level.
On the volunteering front, platforms like Sparked, Getinvolved! and the United Nations’ onlinevolunteering.org are engaging those who want to volunteer from their desktops at home or while they are on the run. The ability to teach English to students halfway around the world, or do research for an organization short on skilled volunteers, is transforming the way people get involved.
Social media gurus like Beth Kanter are helping NFPs navigate this increasingly complex landscape, tools like VolunteerMatch are working to engage employees and their companies, and entrepreneurs like Karen Bantuveris are building easy-to-use tools to make helping others simple. Here’s a look at how technology is transforming the social sector. First up, the strategy.
Social Return vs. Return on Investment
Beth Kanter, author, presenter, and widely regarded thought-leader on non-profits and social media, understands the different ways they can put social media to use and the importance of adopting a social media strategy. Kanter notes it’s important to develop a framework to view return on investment (ROI) through a social lens, one that envisions not dollars and cents, but engagement and relationship-building.
Building Communities and Aligning Causes
VolunteerSpot, founded by Karen Bantuveris, is one of a growing number of websites that helps organizations manage and engage volunteers. VolunteerSpot’s online tools help organizations unleash the power of a social community to become involved in everything — from engaging lunch monitors at a local school, to helping organizers schedule and manage large groups of volunteers for a community cleanup. For Bantuveris it’s all about community building — engaging people with local needs and issues while creating stronger bonds between friends and neighbours.
Tapping the Passions of Your Employees
While many of us are being solicited by friends and family to get involved in various causes, Volunteer Canada reports over 43 per cent of Canadians still don’t know where to find volunteer opportunities. VolunteerMatch was one of the first online platforms to help people find those opportunities. Now VolunteerMatch is expanding its audience to the corporate sector, using its tools and technology to help companies and their employees make a difference. Robert Rosenthal, vice president of marketing and communications at VolunteerMatch, says the website is evolving as companies and charities continue to benefit from employees pursuing a passion to make a difference.
For NFPs and their volunteers, technology is making it easier than ever to fund, find, and engage stakeholders to make a difference in their community or around the world.
How is technology helping you get involved and change your world? Join the conversation on Pull.