When it comes to mainstream media, the story told about international aid doesn’t paint the whole picture. So how do not-for-profits get their message out?
The recent One Just World forum in Adelaide brought three key leaders together to discuss the current state of Australian aid and how people can take action to raise awareness and take action.
Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia; Ginny Stein and Scott Kelleher of AusAID spoke to a full house and discussed the challenges they face when it comes to raising awareness of international issues and the need for more aid to more Australians.
One of the key focus areas of the night was addressing the hurdles created by the ‘sensational’ nature of mainstream media.
— Ben Teoh (@HelloBenTeoh) October 23, 2012
Competition for news coverage is high and in most cases, stories of significant need overseas are bumped for more local issues.
But organisations are now turning to the Internet and social channels to share their own stories to help educate people around their issues, raise support for their work and also show the impact of their efforts.
While the Adelaide forum was focused on international aid, the reality is that there are many causes out there that often don't get coverage because they're not sensational enough for main-stream media.
— Kate Rose (@kate_wv) October 23, 2012
It's an exciting time right now as the social web is booming - and I'm not just talking about Facebook and Twitter. The current state of the Internet is seeing highly connected individuals expressing themselves, sharing what matters to them and engaging like-minded people to form communities, niche groups and even larger movements across the world.
It's not just the young people who “get” the idea that social media is drawing us into a global village either. Studies show that older people are spending time on social networking sites with more seniors and Baby Boomers making social media a daily habit.
— Felicity Spurrett (@Felic75) October 23, 2012
Technology is quickly lowering barriers to creating great digital content online. Whether it's sharing photos, publishing blog posts or creating videos, the technology's there to help. Higher speed broadband access, smarter mobile devices, low-cost computing and the means through which to share content across the globe in seconds.
What this means is that not-for-profits no longer have to rely on traditional media outlets to share their message, but can become publishers and broadcasters themselves.
Tim Costello urged organisations and their supporters to tell stories of hope.
— One Just World (@onejustworld) October 23, 2012
Not only hope, but to make the stories personal.
On a large scale, Medecins Sans Frontieres recently launched MSF TV – their own online TV station with a mix of live and on-demand channels allowing them to bring discussion, education and awareness of the needs in the communities they serve and the work that they’re doing.
On smaller scales, we’re seeing more and more not-for-profits growing their presence on social media channels, especially on YouTube. Video is powerful and it’s not always the most polished or professional videos that get attention. In a discussion with Tom Dawkins of StartSomeGood, he said that crowdfunding campaigns that included video as part of their presence received higher support.
In other cases, not-for-profits are turning to blogs, online campaigns, Facebook and Twitter to reach a wider, more global, community.
We’re already seeing great things happen.
Australians are giving and our response to disasters locally and globally have shown our potential.
However, bringing that sort of action to persistent problems will take people relating personally to the stories that are told.
The time is right for not-for-profits to lead the way not only in becoming publishers and content creators but showing others how the social web can be used to rally people around a cause for the benefit of others.
Have you seen examples of not-for-profits using social media well and telling their story? Let us know in the comments below.