Wednesday, December 8, 2010

safe harbor video - wrapping it up

Our Safe Harbor video is finally done! I really like the final product, and hopefully, everyone else will too. The final version was very hard to come by with all the editing and cutting. Learning editing skills took almost as much effort as deciding what parts of Deborah's story to cut out. Luckily, we were able to make an extended (i.e. uncut) version also. I hope Safe Harbor uses both as the story in its entirety is very inspiring. Deborah chose her words so perfectly, you'd think she was a spokesperson (I promise, no prepping was involved!).

We learned a lot about video editing through trial-and-error in making this video. Once we got the hang of it, it wasn't too bad, and I really think it is a skill that I'll be able to use in the future. We decided not to make the video too elaborate as the story is the focus and we want people to walk away from the video with that in their minds.

While this is mainly an awareness video, I think the story is inspiring and could potentially raise funds for Safe Harbor too. I really enjoyed making this video because we were able to directly interact with a survivor of domestic violence that Safe Harbor helped. As I mentioned in my last post, I think I want to work for a non-profit one day, so being able to help one now while I'm still in school is a really great experience. Hopefully, Safe Harbor will find this experience as useful as I have!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

class - wrapping it up

Well our class is basically done (except for our final projects -- more to come on that when we're finished editing!) and I feel like I learned a lot. Out of all of the PR classes I've taken, I've enjoyed this one the most (though I think it took the most work too) because it focused on the kind of PR I want to do: non-profit! I can't see myself being happy doing PR for some random big corporation like Coca-Cola -- though I'd make more money that way -- but I'd rather use my skills to promote an organization I really believe in. That's why I think the things I learned in this class were important for my eventual career. While the other PR classes I've taken were important because they taught me the basics but this class went into more depth and taught more practical skills. The class projects also helped me realize the real amount of work that goes into various PR campaigns through hands-on experience. I might even keep the books as they apply directly to what I want to do!

pepsi refresh - wrapping it up

So the month of November is over and we weren't able to get the Pepsi Refresh grant. However, we were able to break the top 100, and our efforts helped raise awareness for Safe Harbor. For our class's first attempt (and my first attempt) at a PR campaign of this size, I think it went pretty well. If nothing else, I learned a lot about what kind of effort has to be put in. I wish there was a way to know how the people who did vote found out about it so we could know which efforts worked and which ones didn't.

Looking back, I might make a few changes to how we approached the PR plan. First off, I wish we had known about the texting thing from the beginning. We could have advertised about that for the full month instead of just the half. I also would have put up the flyers earlier (and more of them). I also feel that a more cohesive effort on Facebook might have been helpful (like maybe an event?).

I felt a little burned out at the end (I think everyone was) but I think that just shows you how much effort actually goes into these types of campaigns. Just because we didn't pay for anything doesn't mean we didn't put in any effort. And that's PR. Again, overall I think this was a good experience for me to learn through a real effort, and hopefully it benefited Safe Harbor at least in awareness.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

who governs who?

The second part of this week's readings discuss the governing boards of non-profits, basically the people who make many of the final decisions on how things go in an organization. I'm glad there was a chapter about this because, frankly, I forgot about this aspect of non-profits completely. I guess because boards are often backstage, you can forget they exist. And that's the point of this chapter: to make boards more interactive with the public so they can be included in key decisions too.

This chapter starts with an example of a closed board and an open board that uses social media. The open board is taken to the extreme, but it's noted that not all board will be able to operate that way immediately (again, long transition period). I like a lot of the ideas presented in this chapter though. Boards do need to be open because they make many major decisions.

The key characteristics of an open board presented in the chapter by the P2P Foundation really hit it perfectly, so I'm just going repeat them:
  • "Anticredentialism, the idea that anyone can participate regardless of their title or position."
  • "Collective choice systems, meaning that hte group makes key decisions democratically."
  • "Communal validation, in which the products and choices of the group are open to public scrutiny and revision."
  • "Open development, which eschews closed doors and hiding places. The entire project is developed transparently."
These characteristics may seem lofty but I think they are doable. It might be hard to start up, though social media makes it much easier, but these practices should be incorporated slowly into an organization's board.

Luckily, the next part of the chapter is dedicated to the "beginning" of governing as a Networked Nonprofit. It lists a bunch of easy steps an organization can take to be more open. This means small things like having a Facebook group to posting agendas online to just meeting somewhere new. It basically means stepping out of comfort zones and utilizing social media/the Internet to its fullest.

"friending to funding"

This week's chapters discuss some of the more logistical aspects of Networked Nonprofits: funding online and the governing boards. This post is about the former. I'll admit, when I first read these chapters, the ideas seemed a little extreme and not feasible for many organizations. To the book's merit, they do say that the transition to a Networked Nonprofit could be long.

One point the chapter stresses from the beginning is to mix traditional and nontraditional forms of fundraising to maximize the amount raised because while social media has taken off, some people are still more comfortable with traditional forms of givings, such as writing checks. Even though I'm part of the "millenials," I sometimes still prefer more traditional methods of giving. There is something about giving all of your credit card information on a random Web site that means you must really trust whatever organization you are donating. This brings about another point the chapter stresses. It says organizations should focus on young people as donors and to connect with them through social media. I agree that this is a good way to connect to young people, i.e. me; however, I feel that this is may be aimed more at young people who are a bit older than me, i.e. out of college. I hardly ever donate to random organizations online, whether introduced through social media or word-of-mouth. This is because I'm involved in so many organizations and only make money through a part-time job, so no donations are ever random for me. Usually donations are made to organizations through some sort of philanthropy event, mine or friends'. I can't be sure but maybe organizations' social media will be more relevant when I'm out of school.

The chapter goes on to discuss habits/patterns of social media fundraising. Among these habits are using a multichannel strategy, treating donors as partners, thanking donors often, conducting online fundraising contests and using stories to make fundraising personal. This last habit is particularly important to me because this is the strategy we are using for our Safe Harbor video! We are hoping that by putting a face to the story and having such a potent example of domestic violence that we can help women find help. The chapter also discusses "click actions" or clicking to support a cause that leverages a donation from sponsors. It specifically mentions a game called FreeRice which I absolutely love and have been playing for a couple of years now. Obviously I knew I was helping by playing the game but I never even thought about the PR strategy that went into it, but really it's quite clever. A site similar to this is This site isn't a game or anything but you can click every day to provide food for people who need it. There are also tabs at the top where you can click for several other causes.

Also, on a completely random thought that has nothing to do with the chapters discussed except that it's philanthropic, I saw a Toy Run today in Anderson! Toy Runs are events where bikers ride around all day to support Toys for Tots; usually a toy is part of the participation fee and sometimes the bikers actually transport toys from collection bins to kids. Basically, there were hundreds of bikers in Anderson today, riding for a cause. I think this is pretty cool since bikers aren't usually seen as a philanthropic group. Here's an example of a pretty big toy run: The Big Texas Toy Run. This is also a good example of a grassroots organization since these toy runs are held all over the country without any official sponsors or leaders.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

pepsi refresh update

We are slowly getting higher in the rankings for the Pepsi Refresh grant (86 as I write this) but I'm afraid it's not going fast enough to reach the top 10 before the month is over. It really breaks my heart especially after personally seeing people trying to win this for Safe Harbor. For example, when we went to film a Safe Harbor shelter for our video, the employees told us they were voting every day and thanked us for doing it. After seeing the actual shelter we would be helping and hearing the gratitude of the employees, it made me want to win even more.

Another story: During one of my multiple attempts to get our flyer approved at Hendrix, a guy who was also getting a flyer approved, stopped me so that he could text right then. Apparently, he had been in a class this summer that applied for a $5,000 grant (I think they got it too!), so he knew how important it was to vote. He also mentioned that he got a Tweet about it from @ClemsonStudents which is pretty cool that others are doing it too.

safe harbor video project update

So! Our video project has finally begun with filming that took place Friday. Though we hit a few bumps with microphone/sound problems, overall I think it went well. The sound wasn't very good when we played it back on the camera but it sounded better on my computer so I'm optimistic that it will turn out well.

As for the actual inter view, it was great! The woman we interviewed had an amazing, inspiring story. She wanted her face to be shown so that there would be a face to the story (which it is pretty amazing). We couldn't have asked for a better interview. The only problem is her interview lasted almost 10 minutes, much too long for our video, and we have no idea what to cut out!

In our last class, we did some story boarding. I think the focus will definitely be on the story of our interviewee with domestic violence statistics and facts throughout. We also have footage of the inside of one of the shelters which we hope to incorporate in the video, possibly when she discusses the shelter itself. Mainly I think our goal for the video is to inform viewers of domestic violence and show how Safe Harbor can help.

And I think we'll succeed.