Social Media for the 21st Century Non-profit

America loves social media, and it’s not just us! The entire world has been connected and arguably addicted to social media networks. Through sites like Facebook and Myspace we’ve created another world in which we are able to identify with one another. No surprise there. What is surprising is the only recent emergence of non-profits on the social media scene. Sure, every non-profit has a webpage. It’s highly likely that most non-profits are now connected to their members through Facebook and even Twitter. Some non-profits have even expanded into developing their Tumblr and/or their StumbleUpon pages; potentially even posting things on Pinterest.

This week, the entire world was taken captive by a now, very well known video called Kony 2012 (which, I will post below) put together by a nonprofit called Invisible Children.

As a non-profit, you might be thinking- so what?

Actually, this is an outstanding example of what you can accomplish with something as simple as connecting all of your social media sites simultaneously. This video, DESPITE the fact that it is an incredible thirty minutes long; grabbed the attention span of an entire nation, and then world. 76 MILLION people have now viewed this video. Half of these viewers probably had no idea who Joesph Kony and/or the LRA was. Now, the 76 million viewers are both educated and passionate about a cause they knew nothing about. Within 24 hours the video went viral on Youtube and facebook while simultaneously becoming a popular world twitter trend… Even more importantly, how many people have donated or become involved in a cause they knew nothing about until they saw it on their facebook page?

You may not agree with this video and you may not care about the message that Invisible Children is trying to spread; but ask yourself- how can my non-profit utilize social media and videos to educate millions of people around the world? It’s a fantastic opportunity to challenge and excite those who work with you in your non-profit while also revitalizing your members’ interests in your cause. The best part about these videos is that they have the potential to unify millions of people for one cause; and so do you.

I found a great resource for non-profit education on social media and video feeds called See3 which introduces ‘Media with a Message’ videos. This website also includes free webinars and resources to help you get started on your journey in attracting members and (potentially) donors. I really love this website, they use videos to teach their audience about ways to use video in order to connect with their donors and members (talk about in your literal education…).

Never fear if you are not a non-profit; this resource can also be incorporated into a lesson plan for high school and college students. Challenge your classes to create educational videos about a subject that they are passionate about and find a way to spread them through social networks to educate people, instead of writing a typical paper about the same subject in which only you (their teacher) sees it. It could be a great way to see creativity come alive, and also find out about your student’s interests in a way that doesn’t bore you (hopefully…) 😉

I hope you find this as challenging, motivating, and as exciting as I do! Good Luck!

World Peace… and other 4th grade achievements

As an adult, I’ve been involved with an inter-agency simulation, here in the Washington, DC area sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace called Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE). SENSE has been used in peace talks across the world and is a great resource and training tool for governmental leaders and public servants who wish to understand the complexities of war and building sustainable peace in a conflict, or post-conflict country.

This all sounds very boring (yawn), right? To be honest, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my (adult) life. Over a three day period, these often well-known and extremely intelligent adults are brought back to their basics: scheming, negotiating, collaborating and finding creative solutions to current world issues. We’ve done simulations for inter-agency adults who are ruthless, to Conflict Analysis and Peace Operation students who are actually too collaborative and sometimes unrealistic; but I’ve always wondered, how would children react?

Little did I know, an educator named John Hunter has been playing this simulation with his 4th grade classes for more than 25 years and loving every surprising and challenging moment along the way. Here he is speaking about his experiences on Ted Talks in 2011:

What I find most amazing about the idea of holding ‘World Peace Games’ for classrooms of children is that they have the opportunity to face struggles, frustrations, and conflict with peers head on while finding creative solutions through negotiation, collaboration, effective communication, and most importantly- without violence. These are traits I wish I had learned at any level before college, which is sadly when and where I’ve learned most of them. Additionally, it gives children the idea that they are intelligent, realistic, and smart individuals who can find the solution to relevant and world-wide issues; and hopefully, the confidence to solve any other problems that evolve in their day-to-day life. Plus, it’s fun!

This is probably why John Hunter was named in Time Magazine as one of the 12 Education Activists of 2012, and was also featured in a documentary based around his experiences with 4th graders and the World Peace Games; which you can see the trailer.

Personally, I think this model is highly applicable at any level of school. John Hunter’s website World Peace Game features details on what the game is and how to play it although unfortunately, it appears as though they don’t give exact instructions; only the ability to contact John Hunter and have him teach your class the game. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t implement your own similar simulation with the same basic formula: 5 countries, specific resources, a driving issue, and a board in which they can actively witness the consequences or benefits of their actions…

For teachers, administrators, and school systems who are unsure, can watch the movie and judge for themselves; or better yet, show it to their students and gauge their interest in playing the game themselves…