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Storytelling and the Nonprofit Organization

Storytelling in Social Media is the wave of the future for nonprofits to share their missions, raise funds and create and sustain engagement.  Providing that human voice through the use of stories gives an emotional appeal to those current and would be donors and supporters.  Whether the story is told using a blog, podcast, photos or video, the goal is to connect with those whom you want to reach.

Nonprofits who share their success stories would benefit greatly from having their constituents help them spread the organization’s successes with others.  This is important since most likely someone else is talking about the same issue.  The broader the reach of your organization’s mission and goals the greater the potential for success.

It is important to remember that the art of telling your story will be the key to starting and sustaining the conversation. Whether it’s about raising funds, signing a petition, bringing a call to action, the story must have an emotional attachment.  Stories are what people remember.  And connecting via blogging, photos, video and podcasts are ways in which Social Media can aid the nonprofit in connecting. 

Wearemedia.org shares storytelling techniques that should help in this endeavor.  Share the story at the reader’s interest level.  Listen before developing the story.  Read works of great short story authors and modify to fit your cause or mission.  The use of the human voice and language makes the connection.

Telling stories that answer the what, how and why show people how they benefit.  Your organizations’ brand and reputation comes from the  stories shared by your organization.  The stories can communicate the past, future, facts, and figures that would address needs of two or more audiences:  those you need to show empathy to and those who need to know the facts and figures (Wearemedia.org, 2012).  The goal is to connect with all!

Now go ahead and tell your story!

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Process

Two weeks after I started chemo my hair started to pull away from my scalp as though it was taped to my head.  They didn’t include telling me that my eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs, underarm and pubic hair would go as well.  Though I’d been told to expect hair loss because of the type of chemo I was taking, I was still not ready for the loss.   I’d worn my hair cut close to my head in prior years so it wasn’t too shocking to now be completely bald.  I understand that the new growth will be a different texture, fine, soft and curly, not coarse and thick like my original texture.    But, OK, who cares about hair?  I can wear different wigs, short or long, straight or curly, what’s important is that the cancerous mass has been removed and the indicators that show whether the cancer continues to spread show no signs of spreading.  This is what’s important right?  Right!!! 

It’s not about how I look, it’s about whether I can live.  Living a long, healthy life is what I desire.  I have so many more things to do and share. 

I am grateful for being brought up in a faith-filled environment.  My Mom is a colon cancer survivor of 15 years so I have her footsteps to stand in and her faith to help me stay encouraged during this time.  There’s also many other women from whom I’ve received encouragement.  Through Brenda Coffee’s Website and blog (love it), the Breast Cancer website and personal contact with breast cancer survivors I have become strengthened.  I still have to work through this season in my life myself because this is a process and not an event. 

There’s plenty of information and support for those of us going through this experience.  I plan to grow through this with as much grace as I can.  But I can tell that the grace will be tethered to my sharing some of my experiences, strengths and hopes.  This will be my process.

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To be continued…….

It’s been 7 months since I was told that I had metastatic breast cancerStage 2A to be exact about the type.  I am still somewhat in what I call “a catatonic state of being.”  Sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions, no emotions, no concrete thoughts, no sadness even.  I can only remember crying once during this ordeal…. and I’m a crybaby. 

There are people in my life that have reminded me that I must remember to rest, think positive, remember that my health is more important than anything, and be thankful for things are as well as they are, and rest some more.  Well, as far as I’m concerned it’s been long enough. I’m ready to get on with my life, get back to my normal way of being. I want to feel more energetic and not fatigued.  I’m ready to get back to that 16 to 18 hour day, that I thought I was accomplishing so much in.  

But, according to my oncologist, it’s going to take some time to get back into the swing of things.  I’m kicking and screaming in my mind, but my heart knows this is what I need. The truth is that I am just at the beginning of realizing the benefits of this experience.   This experience was really an opportunity for me to take a look at what’s really important in life. 

Resting, being thankful, practicing a healthy lifestyle, and resting more are very important to living a full, balanced, abundant and quality filled life.  I decided to become a Social Worker because I have this desire to inspire others.  Working through this experience will prepare me for my work with others. And hopefully by sharing my experience, strength and hope with others I will satisfy that pull within to inspire.  

As I share parts of my experience and  journey I feel myself beginning to understand, appreciate, and make the connection I need to make to inspire.  

To be continued………

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Blogging?

I’d seen them, read them and even commented.   I’d never thought to create and write one.  What a life?  There’s always something to learn, be inspired about and then DO IT!

In my opinion Blogging is the latest form of communicating ideas and opinions and getting feedback from those ideas and opinions.  Nonprofit organizations, for profit organizations and individuals are using this tool to communicate their thoughts and concerns and market their businesses.   Sharing information, getting feedback, asking for donations and networking for business opportunities are outcomes of this new phenomenon. 

Nonprofit organizations can possibly best use of this media tool to present a clear message to their target audience:  donors and funders.

Heather Mansfield’s book, Social Media for Social Good:  A How to Guide for Nonprofits has provided a great tool for those of us in Social Work arena.  In my recent and very new experience to blogging I realized that I must be confident  (p. 143) about writing my thoughts and opinions for all the public to see.  This was intimidating to start because I am not the most confident person when it comes to sharing my opinions.  That being said, I have been forced to share my opinions and thoughts realizing that this practice will enable me to gain more confidence in sharing what I think and feel. 

Beginning this blog was not what I expected.  The steps needed to create one were foreign.  I knew nothing about the resources or tools used to begin a blog.  Therefore my learning has been enhanced.  This is why being in school is so beneficial.  For me, it is being exposed to people, products and situations that can make me more well-rounded and marketable in my life.

I have been surprised about how user-friendly some of the steps can be.  But, I also realized that I am not that proficient in finding my way around in this technology, so I have to rely on the younger students to help me.  I am grateful they appear to not mind sharing or showing me what to do. 

There are many benefits for the nonprofit to gain from blogging.  To name a few, nonprofits blogging could “transform their online brand recognition to increase it e-newsletter lists, online donations, social networking communities, and according to Mansfield can often be the missing piece in their online communications and development strategies — they just don’t know it (yet)” (Mansfield, 2011, p. 156).   They can lay to rest that they need to blog daily and blog once or twice per week.  Blogging will allow a consistent stream of fresh content to tweet, share on Facebook and use in their newsletter.  Information sharing with supporters in their social networking communities will in turn create a sharing of  information with other social networking communities (Mansfield, p. 157).  And blogging improves search engine results, builds e-newsletter and group text messaging lists, grows the number of fans and followers and provides access to valuable statistics and data. 

Chris Brogan, Change.org and Kivi Miller’s Nonprofit Communications Blog at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com have been the blogs I have read; though I have not yet synthesized the information from these sites into my own blogs. Using these sites and others will aid our experience in the what and how of design which in turn aid in our having a successful class project campaign. 

The most helpful blog for me thus far has been Chris Brogan. His work  is geared toward the business of blogging and that’s the other side of working as a Social Media manager, we must be about the business.  How to raise funds and by sustaining and growing our donor base.  The information he provides in his column will be very useful in our campaign.

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Is Email Dead?…NO!

Young people are using less and less email according to Dr. Danah Boyd, UC Berkeley Professor. This prediction was made at a 2004 conference resulting from her studies on the impact of social media on youth.  A couple of articles reviewed addressed the decline in use by youth, but most articles reviewed gave solid reasons why this type of social media would remain.

  • For example there were five reasons listed by Shel Israel.
  • The archiving is better and more searchable,
  • Managing and downloading attachments remain superior to Facebook,
  • It’s easier to review long threads that take place over lengthy periods of time, and
  • It’s often easier to find a specific conversation in email
    With GMail, it is easier to manage and delete spam than it is in Facebook.

There is evidence that email use by the youth is decreasing because of the convenience and efficiency of text messaging, particularly with friends says Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist with the Pew Internet Project.  Lenhart further states the youth between the ages of 12 and 17 communicate informally and therefore using less email and messaging through more social media and texting has supplanted email among friends within this group. Though email has decreased within this population to say it is dead is a resounding NO for those in the workplace and given those five examples by Israel.

The issue of etiquette and youth is not a huge concern because the youth are communicating with their friends. But with email the adult population has more of a need to recall previous emails with information and various conversations. In my opinion these groups are distinct in their use, the youth finds email inconvenient and adults use it as a way to communication more formally.

Shama Kabani, CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, states that email gives room for marketing and since people like choices, this option of communication will be around for a long time. There is a caveat though and that is to use both because “the people like choices.”

References:

Israel, S.,  December 2011, Global Neighbourhoods, Is Email Dead?

Kabani, S., December 2011, Ask Shama, Portfolio.com, Is Email Dead?

Lenhart, A., February 2011, DiscoveryNews, Is E-mail Dead?

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Another Opportunity

Hello folks,

Last week I ventured out and wrote about my experience with “Chemo Brain.”  Thanks to Erik and Dr. P for their support and feedback.  I thought I’d make another attempt to share a bit more of my experiences during this precious period in my life. 

I stated I was pissed about receiving the news about the malignancy, but  I didn’t share that I was feeling overwhelmed when I received the news.  I was taking a full load in summer school and working five days per week, in a very stressful job.  Thank God I did not have a family to consider and that there was an insurance plan and income to help during this new discovery and journey.

I will not categorize the news as “bad” because I recognize more and more each day how situations can always be worse than they are.  This was another opportunity for me look at where I was, what I was doing and give thanks for things being as well as they are.  Mind you, it took me a moment  to get here, but I have arrived at that state of mind where I can honestly say that I am grateful for this opportunity.  

 The way I see it is that life is to be lived and each occurrence, incidence, situation, happenstance are all orchestrated for another opportunity for me to grow, and share my experiences, strength and hope with someone else.  These opportunities are for me to use as tools to encourage others.    

Though I am still on this path of recuperation, I am looking forward to a positive end.  I see the healing of my body and a full recovery.   This life is short but it can be so fulfilling.  I look forward to broadening my horizons and as I recently read one blogger’s words, ‘living my life out loud.’ This is the beginning of ‘living my life out loud.’

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“Chemo Brain”….another of my life experiences

“Chemo Brain” is when one has difficulty processing information, focusing one’s attention and when in the middle of a sentence just cannot find the word to complete the sentence.  Of late, this has been my experience.  I am a Breast Cancer patient and have been experiencing these symptoms since September of 2011.  I have shared my experiences with family, friends and co-workers who are all empathetic, but my moments of frustration are not reduced even when I share.  It’s a situation I have to work through, let pass, or simply keep at whatever I am doing until the feelings of the dysfunction subside. 

Back and forth I went in my mind about what I’d write about this week.  My “chemo brain” symptoms seem to be larger than life this weekend (I have treatment every Friday).  I thought, hey this is a reality for more women today than ever, why not share some of  my experiences as I go through this period.  

Anyway, I’m not looking for sympathy, just the opportunity to share my experience, strength and hope with others that may have a similar experience.  When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with myself.  I’d thought about starting a blog page, didn’t know where to begin and wasn’t that savvy with technology, especially Social Media tools.  There I was just thinking about it, and before you know it the opportunity to “blog” has presented itself and now I’m starting to write about what some of my experience has been as a breast cancer patient and survivor.

In the beginning, I was pissed.  I didn’t have time for this.  I knew of several women who’d been diagnosed and this just seemed to be some kind of epidemic I thought.  Mostly, I thought, why me?  What have I done to warrant this? How am I going to get through this? 

Here I am, 7 months since I was diagnosed and 8 months away from my treatment conclusion.  I’m looking good and feeling good most of the time.  The side effects vary, but the “chemo brain” is the most challenging.  Check out the FIRST 3 minutes of this video provided by YouTube and you’ll get a better sense of what I am experiencing.  Thanks for listening, I’ll see you next week.