Summer conversation starters
July 9, 2010 by Corinne Rusch-Drutz
Earlier this spring we released an app for iPhone, iPad and iTouch. We’ve been shopping it around and trying to spread the good word about it, speaking at conferences like NetChange and the YWCA Annual Membership Meeting about how mobile technologies can help with more than just fundraising, but innovative forms of outreach to new and untapped communities. Our perspective is get girls where they live, and they live on their phones. We’ve been using this thinking as a sort of unofficial tag for the app as we’ve taken it on a road show, talking to people about how the app acts as a kind of take-your- community-with-you product which gives girls information they need, when they want it in a format that’s accessible. Given our excitement about the app, we tend to talk about it a lot. So we are very excited to see other people are talking about this notion of community too.
A recent video post on the Chronicle of Philanthropy with Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup in San Francisco, encourages non-profits to see themselves as online hubs for their communities. The Internet and digital platforms are important spaces to share information about neighbourhoods and issues she argues. We couldn’t agree more. They are also spaces to explore how issues are formed and see where those conversations are taking place. For girls in YWCA programs those conversations may be happening as easily on Facebook as they would at the mall. In fact, a recent Mashable article claims that the first thing young women do in the morning is check Facebook, before going to the bathroom! Put differently, a non profit can do more than serve a community, but become one as well.
Nobody makes this point better than Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, whose book The Networked Nonprofit encourages orgs to engage in multiple social media and digital conversations to build relationships and use their networks to further their good work. To us, that means taking the conversation with you, wherever you may be, but also getting the support you need when and how you need it. We don’t see the Safety Siren as means to an end, but the start of an important exchange. That discussion could begin with, where do I go to get help? But it could also be, why think about safety at all? If that’s a question that gets asked after a download, then we’ve started the conversation.