How Charities Harness Social Media for a Social Impact

Jina Moore of The Christian Science Monitor writes that as the Internet comes of age, social media has changed the way nonprofits do business. They’ve advanced beyond getting the word out on Facebook and raising money with Twitter to find a unique overlap between the mission of nonprofits and the methods of new media.

For example, the best blend of Web 2.0 and social activism may come from innovators who set out to exploit the collaborative potential of media tools. It’s just that potential that Ory Okolloh wanted to tap last year, during the election crisis and communal violence in Kenya.

A Harvard University law graduate and a well-known Kenyan blogger, Ms. Okolloh asked readers to use her blog to report on the violence in real time, subverting a government ban on live reporting. “I got overwhelmed by the amount of information coming in,” she remembers. So with the help of some tech-savvy readers who volunteered their time, she set up Ushahidi, an open-source mapping software.

Ushahidi changed the reporting on Kenyan violence. Ordinary Kenyans sent text messages about attacks, which were then mapped online. A Harvard study found that Ushahidi reported on a significant number of incidents the mainstream media missed. Okolloh and her team have been refining the code since then, and the tool has been adapted to crowd-source reports of violence in Congo, medical supply shortages in five East African countries, and election monitoring for national votes this year in Afghanistan and India.

For more examples of how charitable organizations are harnessing the power of social media, we encourage you to check out Moore's original piece here.

How charities harness social media for a social impact
Networkers shift from sharing info to linking up to effect change.


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