In preparing to talk social media to Sarasota, FL nonprofit communicators last October, I looked hard for models of local small-to-medium nonprofits (that was the audience) using Web 2.0 tools in innovative ways.
I’ve found that most folks are hugely intimidated by putting these tools to work for their organizations, even if they use them personally. So mini case studies from similar organizations can shift what’s an abstraction to a tangible, realistic option.
Here’s a simple but extremely effective model from Sarasota’s Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC).
- SPARCC focuses on prevention of domestic and sexual violence, and support for victims, with staff delivering frequent info sessions at regional middle and high schools.
- As you can imagine, most kids don’t want to to ask questions on these issues in front of their friends (or enemies). So SPARCC staffer Jessica Hays started to think about how Web 2.0 tools could be used to solve this problem.
- Since Jessica realized that you have to go where your audiences are (as SPARCC educators do in visiting schools), she pinpointed MySpace as the place to start. SPARCC set up a simple MySpace page and started spreading the word on their school visits. The roving team tells kids that the page (and a new blog) are there, and invites them to friend SPARCC.
- This valuable extension of support and education services doesn’t take much. Jessica says that the main work after setting up the page is ensuring that her colleagues on the program side answer questions quickly, and updating the page with new songs.
- The page isn’t beautiful. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty sloppy. But it works, and that’s what counts. Who knows, maybe sloppy works best with middle school and younger high school students. But, the ROI is as clear as the many kids who friend SPARCC, and the questions that pour in (anonymously) via the MySpace page.
Simple, inexpensive and effective. Thanks to Jessica and friends for showing that Web 2.0 doesn’t have to be so hard.