Category Archives: Calendars

Seeking Suggestions :: Social Media for Promotion of Nonprofits

Social media will be incorporated into a summer project I’m working on for Easter Seals Camp ASCCA. I know you’ve seen me write about Camp ASCCA often, but this summer – get ready – you’ll see it a lot here and at the Camp ASCCA Web site.

I honestly believe that this will be the largest nonprofit use of social media (blogs, podcasts, video, forums and more) that has ever been attempted (aside from political sites and some national / international NPO sites). But, I can’t say that for certain until I do some more research. You can help, if you like. Do you know of any site for a nonprofit organization that has posted this much, this often and using online communication?

Below you will see an outline of what our plans are and how we seek to accomplish these tasks. I have abbreviated the plan as it is actually written out and is 12 pages – single-spaced – in a Word document. I’m still working on it, too.

Here, in a nutshell, is what we’re going to try. I’d love to receive your feedback, suggestions and criticisms.

ASCCA is a nonprofit organization and resources are limited. They have devoted two internships (paid) to the process. The students will receive free housing, meals and $1,000 per month (the same salary camp program staff receive). That, I believe, is a remarkable commitment.

Beyond that, ASCCA has invested in two multimedia computers, digital audio recorders, video recorders (straight to MPEG) and software. I am donating the use of a digital video camera, digital photo camera and a digital audio recorder, too. This should enable the interns to easily capture, and quickly edit, the content they capture. More on that below.

…this will be quite an experiment into social media for nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and we are excited about the potential…
  • Two interns will run the operation. Their work hours are quite different from other jobs. They will follow, essentially, the same day that all of the campers and staff do – 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM each day. The camps traditionally run from Sunday at Noon until Friday at Noon.
  • In an attempt to be realistic, I am seting an initial “minimum” number of blog postings at four per day. Actually, I believe it could be 8 or more per day.
  • Posts will be a combination of audio, video, photos and text.
    1. VIDEO: Our initial goal is to do short video pieces and they will be loaded up to our Google Video site and YouTube. These will highlight the program areas from lakefront and the pool to horseback riding and high adventure. We have over a dozen activity areas, so content will be widely avaialable.
    2. AUDIO: These will be short interviews with campers, parents, counselors and visitors. The length will not, I pray, go beyond 10 minutes each. These will be hosted on our servers and delivered through the WordPress Podpress plugin and iTunes.
    3. PHOTOS: Digital cameras will be used to capture dozens of photos each day. They will highlight four main areas: programs, camper/counselor relationships, barrier-free architecture incorporated into activities and cabin life. These will be hosted on our servers and in our Flickr Pro account.
    4. WRITING: These will be observations by the interns about Camp ASCCA and the experiences of the campers and staff. Visitors (fund raising) will also be highlighted. We want honest observations. ASCCA has always been about the reality of abilities – not focusing on the disabilities. We want to offer answers/solutions which allow people with disabilities to participate. We don’t want any “poor pitiful crippled children” stories. Those always irk me.

I realize that is a lot of uploading. Now the sad news. One of the limitations we have at a camp is our location. We have satellite web access. That means that uploading is essentially dial-up. Camp is 10 miles from the nearest highway. A squirrel on the phone line can cause havoc. We may actually drive into town for the uploading of the video, audio and photo files. The only alternative is to keep the phone lines running all night.

With few exceptions, opensource software will be used for all of these projects. We have a wiki (PmWiki), CRM (SugarCRM), calendars (30boxes and Google Calendar), forums and/or alumni database (phpBB), eLearning (Moodle), photo albums (Flickr and Gallery 2), video (Google Video and YouTube) along with WordPress blogs and plugins.

The students have already used much of the software and they have seen the rest of it in action.

New releases will be delivered via a blog newsroom setup to the state and southeastern publications serving our campers hometowns. Most of these are mid-sized to small publications and usually appreciate the content. High resolution photos will accompany the stories created by the interns. Where possible, audio actualities will be included and sent to their local radio stations. Small town radio still does radio news, you know.

I am not sure what, if any, value online press release delivery services could offer us, but we may try them. We’ll likely only use the free services, unless someone wants to spot us for free access to a paid service. That would be a blessing.

Contacts will be made to these local news organizations and offer them email notification of stories or RSS feeds. They’ll likely prefer the emails, as most of the releases will be specifically targeted by locality.

Side projects include populating the Moodle eLearning site to help expand ASCCA’s appeal to school teachers in the areas of environmental education.

Among our many goals are: considerable search engine placement and optimization, increased visibility in online social media communities, a rebirth of ASCCA’s regional media releases, active involvement with our primary audiences (people with disabilities, parents, caregivers, teachers, therapists/medical, other nonprofits and our alumni – campers, staff and volunteers).

Yes, we will be pitching – news outlets and bloggers. We will be commenting in other blogs and developing relationships with sites/blogs addressing disability issues.

We are also interested in online fundraising, but that will come down the road. We want to develop a strong respectable presence online, first.

OK, that is a brief (believe it or not) synopsis of what we’ll be doing this summer. What do you think? I’m reserving some comments I have until I hear from you.

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Google Calendar Beta

Was chatting with my brother online today and he made me realize that Google Calendar is out in beta. I hadn’t noticed. Very cool. Thanks, Bill.

…social calendar networking is here and I like it …for nonprofits this removes software costs and provides easy RSS delivery of events…

I love it already. Still, there are some aspects that I would like to see beyond this Beta version. Naturally, they are still working on it so here is my wish list.

A shared output that can be viewed like a traditional calendar. You know, with little boxes in rows and columns. Google’s, just like 30boxes, simply provides the feed. Why not allow a the caledar box view? Perhaps because it frees them from having to host such an animal. The way they are doing it, Google just has to deal with delivering the RSS feed.

The calendar already allows for pop-up notifications as well as notifications by email and SMS. You can have reminders sent to your cellphone. The calendars have public and “invite a friend” capabilities, too. Excellent idea by Google and much appreciated.

This tool has potentional to be tied into Google video and podcasting along with Flickr. The possibilities are many and broad. But, we’ll have to wait as the 3rd party developers get started working with the API.

Can’t wait to see the mods and hacks that will be coming down the line. CBS News reports:

Google is publishing an “application program interface” (API) which will enable independent programmers and web developers to create applications that work with the calendar.

That will almost certainly result in a number of rich applications including event web sites using Google calendar as well as added features such as two-way synchronization between Google Calendar, Blackberries and programs such as Microsoft Outlook.