Using digital media to promote nonprofits

For nonprofits, the use of social media strategy is still in development.. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr — these social-networking powerhouses are commonly linked to reckless teens, crazed in their addictions to their online lives and the personas they assume over the internet.  Despite the stigma, however, social media sites are being used productively to promote nonprofit organizations. Today, the representatives of four very different AAPI non-profit organizations discussed their strategies for using the internet to promote their causes — and the reasons why having a basic understanding of social media is key in generating and reaching out to the public.

Eileen Ma of API EQUALITY runs an organization that tries  to raise awareness of equality and of multiraciality of the lgbt community. The challenge is that many of the people it serves or trying to reach are seniors who are not web friendly, and many victims of domestic violence don’t speak english and may not know so much about the web. Thinking in terms of social media is a big step, yet it is still essential to integrate into bigger organizations and find the most effective way to communicate messages to communities of color.  One key strategy is to reach out to mainstream predominately-caucasian organizations to work together.  To reach out, the non-profit must create an engaging message and figure out how to use social media sites to deliver that message.

Debra Suh runs CENTER FOR PACIFIC ASIAN FAMILIES  which offers support to Asian women who were victims of domestic abuse.     The organization does not have many resources dedicated in the technology area, but it did started Facebook page page in 2009. Through a Chase community giving campaign – giving away grants to top 100 non profits, the organization was able to promote its Facebook page, raise money, and raised awareness of its mission. It is keenly aware of the power of social media in promoting non-profit organizations.

Dianne Belli of Keiro Senior Health Care mentioned that the Keiro Senior Health runs three nursing homes and a retirement home to aid the elderly.  It promotes wellness through healthy lifestyle management and decision making.  It hopes to empower the entire community to age with confidence. It now has a Facebook page to attract younger audiences.  It has a website to register people for conferences and donations.  Message and content is key – if there is a way to communicate the heart and purpose of the organization, it must be done using whatever medium possible.Belli states that  engage people, a non-profit must be selective about the information communicated and post news about success stories, milestones, and positive messages about healthy relationships rather than just statistics about violence, or rape, etc. Next, the nonprofit needs to find a way to convert “followers” into actions: increasing access to services and providing more volunteer opportunities.

Koji Steven Sekai of the Japanese American National Museum sought to tell the Japanese American cultural experience and raise awareness of what happened during WWII.  Also seeks to tell the American story.  To do so, he takes into consideration the feedback of audience.  It is also challenging to trying to figure out how much to devote to each aspect of promotion — Facebook, blog, etc. for the museum, and decide which is most effecting in distributing its message. He feels that  “We live in an amazing time right now,” with all these websites that really reach out to Asian-Americans and build a community.

Eileen Hsu, V3con blogger

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