Social Media, Relationships and the Playground

How difficult do you think it is to use social media for your organization? 

Some organizations seem to think they need a degree in aeronautics, or have spent a period of time on the space station – or that they need to employee someone to do it for them.

It’s not that difficult, in fact it’s pretty much common sense, getting started is the key – knowing what you have to share and where you want to share it is important, so a strategy is recommended, but then it comes to how you share.

When you’re online it’s important to follow a few ‘rules’ – this article from Social Media Girlfriends is worth a read.

“All You Need to Know About Relationships and Social Media, You Learned on the Playground!” 


Salvation Army – The Growing Divide

The attached report by the Salvation Army (NEW ZEALAND, FIJI

& TONGA TERRITORY) makes for interesting reading, published in February 2012

The report focuses on five social policy areas, children’s wellbeing, crime and punishment, work and income, social hazards and housing.

Alan Johnson, Principal author, sums up the essence of the report:

“This is the Salvation Army’s fifth State of the Nation report. The intention of this report and its predecessors is to provide a snapshot of social progress. In doing so, we hope New Zealanders will value more the pieces making up the snapshot. For example, we have placed New Zealand’s prisons in the picture because it is important that as citizens we get to consider and debate the wisdom of locking more and more people up.” 

Download the report here – The Growing Divide 


Your reputation matters – a social media tightrope

We all know what social media can do, the positives and the negatives – sometimes it can be like walking a tightrope, a balancing act.

Being personable, being yourself is important, people want to engage with an individual not a hum drum corporate code of practice, but in being ourselves online we do run the risk of our reputation coming into question, or tarnishing the reputation others have of us. 

Whether a business, a community organization the same applies – “

Protecting your Online Reputation – Walking the Social Media Tightrope” Simpson Grierson say “Social media offers new and powerful opportunities to connect with customers and build brand but carries with it significant reputational risk. In this FYI we suggest some strategies for managing your online reputation and mitigating the risks of using social media” 

Food for thought in the article are around 

  • a damaging post on a lesser known blog site gets picked up by mainstream media. Once damaging material is available online, it becomes difficult to completely remove the material or references to it, leaving your organisation vulnerable to on-going or resurrected attacks years down the track;
  • dissatisfied customers engage in digital picketing to criticise, complain or leave negative reviews about your product;
  • protestors or activists hijack your organisation’s social media presence and use it to vent their criticisms;
  • current or former employees make offensive, derogatory or commercially sensitive remarks via your organisation’s social media channels;
  • your website inadvertently publishes or republishes defamatory content, potentially exposing your organisation to unwanted publicity or legal liability; or
  • “fans” on your Facebook page post comments about your products, attracting the attention of the Commerce Commission. 

Want to hook new support – ask why you’re being supported

Everyone’s still talking about it being tough in the market place, businesses are still struggling, households are facing increased costs and unemployment is still high.

For charities this makes for even more challenges in raising funds, applications for grants are high, households are being inundated with requests for support, the streets seem to be awash with collectors.

What can be done to ensure charities raises the funds needed to function?

First off – charities need to get their board and current supporters on board … to do more than give time and money, but to also help spread the word and need for support among their own networks.

True, the amount of funds being given hasn’t lessened much, if we look back to 2009 (the height of the ‘recession’) New Zealanders continued to give, they didn’t give up giving time, money or energy into helping causes.

And, it appears that there’s been no change, but there’s still challenges for charities to met their needs, to raise the funds and support needed.

A look at why people give is needed, once there’s an understanding of why – it’s easier to set a path that will help encourage more to give.

People give – because of a various things, personal connection, a need to give, to help someone in need, the list goes on; in 2010 I posted Not-for-profit – Giving Survey Results which showed people give because of –

Personal issue  29%
Family Involvement  23%
Issue close to heart  41%
Other 7%

How they give showed:

Financial  51%
Time (volunteer)  19%
Goods  9%
Services  13%
Other 8%

The reasons people give are likely not to have changed since this data was collated. The important thing is when did you last ask your donors, your supporters, your volunteers why they’re giving to your organization?

Making the decision to a cause involved with cancer for example, could come about from a personal connection, perhaps someone in their family, or a close friend has been touched by cancer. You won’t know unless you ask why people are supporting your cause.

The next time you communicate with your supporters – ask them why they support your cause, select a random selection from your database and give them a call to thank them for their support and, ask them why they are giving you their support.

The same goes for the support you’re receiving from the business community, yes, they are still finding it tough going, people are still watching their expenditure, but despite this they’re still plenty who are giving.

Perhaps it’s not all monetary, there are other ways businesses give.

Some businesses factor donations into their budgets, they see it as a social objective, they’re part of the community and feel a need to give back.

Those that can’t give in monetary terms find other ways they can give, the BNZ has an annual “Closed for Good” campaign, where all branches close for one day and give back to the communities they work in.

Others do pro bono work, creative agencies will give time and resources to causes.

There’s no difference in asking why a business supports what you’re doing than there is to asking why households give.

In asking why you’re being supporting you’re in a better position to style your next campaign so as to attract likeminded people and businesses to support your work.

Stop reading this and start putting together a database of people you’re going to call, thank and ask why they’re supporting you. You’ve nothing to lose from asking, but potentially lots you could miss out on by not asking and only assuming that they way you’re asking for support now will ‘hook’ new support.

Spare coins for food and a bed

The other night walking along Auckland’s Karangahape Road, I was asked by a chap sitting on the footpath with a container for coins if I could spare something as he had no money for food or accommodation, a fairly common sight around the streets of many cities the world over. 

Checking my pockets I realised I had no cash on me, instead of shrugging him off I stopped and asked if he’d been to see if he could get into the night shelter, he had but the doors were closed, it was full.

I double checked to make sure he wasn’t trying it on and wanted money for something else – alcohol or drugs. As I was going to the shop I asked if I could him something to eat, his eyes lit up, he asked if I could get him a pie – easy.

I had been wondering what to cook for dinner and decided on having takeaways – so added a chicken fried rice to my order. Walking back along the street I handed the rice dish to the chap, his eyes lit up, a broad smile appeared – he stood to shake my hand and a genuine thank you ensued.

Stopping for a chat, I found out he’d been in and out of institutions for a number of years; some of this caused by his previous drug addictions others for his brushes with the law. So it wasn’t all society’s fault he was on the street, but society had appeared to let him down by not having enough support mechanisms in place to help him once he’d come out of institutions. 

It took a while before he gave me his name – perhaps this was a trust thing, it turned out his name is Michael. There’s another barrier down when someone give you their name.

Michael had been receiving a benefit, but hadn’t completed the necessary forms for the continuation of the benefits and without any income to support himself, to house or feed himself he had taken to living on the street and had done so now for what he thought was three years.

After mentioning that I work with community organizations and that my understanding that even though they’re all pushed to deliver their services to everyone in need I was sure there was some way he could get help. 

Offering to meet him the next day and go along to WINZ and calling Lifewise to see what could be done to help – he was keen, we agreed to meet the next morning; sadly he never turned up at the place we were to meet. Maybe something had happened to him, maybe he felt he was imposing on the support being offered, I kept my eye out for him over the next few days – but didn’t see him.

Then walking down Queen St who should be sitting outside McDonalds hand out looking for change for something to eat – none other than Michael. I stopped and asked how he was doing and why he hadn’t met me as we’d arranged, I was right – he said he felt as though he were imposing on my generosity. Sad really as he wasn’t imposing I was doing this because I wanted to. I had some coin in my pocket and offered it to him, he refused saying that I’d fed him sufficiently and he didn’t want to abuse my generosity – wrong again, I wanted to help this guy as he seemed genuine and in need.

I know that there is help out there, Lifewise for one I’m sure could have helped him in some way,  but I sincerely believe Michael was genuine in his belief that his asking for help was not only hard for him, that he felt as though he’d been let down before – but more so that he felt he would be imposing not only on me but also on the support Lifewise may have been able to give him.

What am I going to do about this? I’m keeping my eyes open for him, and when I see him I stop and chat – I want to know he’s ok, that he’s not starving and that he’s finding somewhere to put his head down at night.

Still prompting him to make contact with people who can help, nagging him to pick his bits up and get along to see someone – he always smiles and says he’s doing something to change his situation, I hope he is.

We can all do something to help people like Michael and the work that organizations like Lifewise do in the community, sure we may feel that people need to do something to help themselves first, but the reality is that when you hear stories like Michael’s where he felt he’d been let down, and now feels as though he’d be an imposition you have to wonder if there’s more that we can do to help.

What can we do – well, I’m going to do more to help – I’m going to grab my sleeping bag and am going to sleep rough for a night to help Lifewise fight the battle to end homelessness in Auckland.

One June 28 I will be doing the Big Sleepout and joining a group of others sleeping rough on nothing more than a sheet of cardboard, it won’t be easy, I’m sure it will be damn cold – but it’s a small sacrifice to give up my warm bed, to experience what it’s like to sleep rough – and in doing so I’m aiming to help raise funds to help Lifewise.

What’s the Big Sleepout ?

The Lifewise Big Sleepout is an annual event aimed at raising serious funds and channelling significant attention in the direction of solving homelessness in the city of Auckland. It is a night where influential New Zealanders forgo their creature comforts for a night of ‘rough sleeping’ as a way of making a public stand against homelessness. Put simply, it’s a no-holds-barred approach to exposing what is often an invisible issue.

The ultimate aim of the Lifewise Big Sleepout is bring an end to homelessness – for good. The continued success of this event goes a long way to meeting this highly achievable goal. As a result, we remain equipped to address the issue of homelessness at every level of influence – meeting the immediate and the long-term needs of the homeless while at the same time working strategically with non-government and government bodies to find solutions. Check out  The Issue for more info  on the work of Lifewise in this area.

Check out the Big Sleepout video the brilliantly talented Eric Young, Prime News TV presenter donated his time and talent to this project 

Once you’ve done that pop over and sponsor me or someone else to help Lifewise with their ultimate aim ” … bring an end to homelessness – for good.” 

“Share Now” Are your board and supporters encouraged to share what you’re doing?

When was the last time you asked your board to tell their own networks know about the work your organization does? Chances are it’s been a while, for some reason organizations forget that their board is more than a group who help with the ‘management’ of the organization, but are a valuable asset when it comes to gaining support and raising awareness.

The same goes for your supporters, they’re already onboard so are in an ideal position to help you spread the word about the work of your organization and help gain additional support through their networks.

If an organization isn’t harnessing its resources, the board and current supporters – they’re likely making things harder for themselves than need be.

People who are already involve have almost an emotional attachment and are perfect to be tapped into to help solicit support financial and in-kind as well as helping to raise awareness.

Most organizations struggle to gain new support – it’s a fact of life. To gain new support takes effort, time and money and, if you’re lucky you may gain some support – but it’s a small return on the investment to gain them.

But if a concerted effort were put into utilising current supporters the amount of resources needed could be substantially less.

Current supporters already have some attachment and so the possibility that they will go that extra mile and help. All that is needed – is they need to be asked to help.

If organizations were transparent and openly asked their supporters for help, it’s likely it will come, sitting back and hoping they’ll help won’t achieve anything.

Think of business models where people are paid a ‘finders fee’ for introducing new people, these businesses do it because they know they’ll get a return asking, and they know it costs a lot less pay a ‘fee’ than using others methods (telemarketing, advertising, direct mail).

What organizations need do is have a call to action, a plea on all communication (email, newsletters) they have with their supports – this can be as simple as, “please help us by sharing this with your family, friends and work colleagues.”

Organizations have “donate now” on websites, “txt 246 to donate” for mobile campaigns – so why not have “share now” on all other communication?

If you are supporting an organization and they haven’t asked you to help share what they’re doing, tell them you want them to start asking people to “share now”.

If you are an organization will you now start saying “share now” and get your current supporters to share what you’re doing with their own networks?

What have you got to lose?

“Share now” – forward this with your network.