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Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

  • 1.  Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

    Posted 7 days ago

    Hi, fellow Orgs! I have been working at a nonprofit for a while now and think I realized a huge need for more inclusive communication online. There are plenty of websites that help us fundraise, track donations, and reach out to our current donors (newsletters etc...)


    But there is a huge disconnect between the nonprofits and the local community we serve. I work with low-income and/or homeless clients. I can't tell you how many times I hear someone in the community aimlessly expressing concern and not knowing where to find help for their problem while also not having a place online to constructively discuss it.


    On the flipside, I always here my office wondering how we can engage the community more, increase donations and gain local support!


    So, I feel like there is something missing within the nonprofit community and that more integrated online communication strategies should exist. I mean we have the technology to seamlessly take donations, but we have zero ways to communicate online with our local communities.


    I love the website NextDoor.com because it helps bring a community together online. I would love to create something like that but around nonprofit supporters, concerned local community members, and nonprofits. To create a place where everyone who interacts with the nonprofit world can talk about solving problems in a collaborative way, then if something gains momentum, come together to fund a solution as a society.



    My Idea brainstorm:

    Possibly a social website with nonprofit people (employees representing nonprofits), concerned citizens, and nonprofit ambassadors (past donors or volunteers) can discuss local issues.


    my initial thoughts would be a community board where the community can post issues they see, then other members along with nonprofit representatives can join the thread and offer solutions.


    These are just quick thoughts as I'm still trying to understand exactly what would be a good idea.


    I'm curious what all of you think about this and what your ideas are???



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    tim jones
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 2.  RE: Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

    Posted 7 days ago
    Hi Tim,

    It's an interesting concept! A couple thoughts:

    - When I worked with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a lot of the folks that I worked with didn't have reliable access to the internet. So, that could potentially be a barrier. Could it be integrated somehow with an IRL "in-space" version? Like... a board in the library? Or at local service providers? Where the people you want to reach are hanging out? I think if you're serving marginalized populations, ensuring their voices are central is pretty important.

    - Could this vision be achieved through something like a FB page or group or Reddit? I wonder if creating a new platform might overwhelm people. I know I'm having a hard time getting people to use Slack, which a lot of people already use, so I wonder if starting a new platform could be a barrier. Or, at least, if there is some kind of digest option. If you did want a new platform, I think having a mobile app could be important, since a lot of community members would likely use their phones for that.

    Cheers!

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    Christine Mettler
    Canadian Freshwater Alliance
    Kelowna, BC
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 3.  RE: Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

    Posted 7 days ago
    Oh - I'm also thinking, will there be capacity / availability among non-profit providers to address some of the issues that arise through this process?

    Because I think if people are given a space to communicate issues/ideas, there is a chance they could feel alienated if there isn't a commitment and capacity to address them.

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    Christine Mettler
    Canadian Freshwater Alliance
    Kelowna, BC
    ------------------------------

    Tech Accelerate


  • 4.  RE: Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

    Posted 7 days ago
    Hi Tim--I like this concept. As a former local civic association leader, I echo Christine's caution about incorporating a "sneaker net" option to be sure you get the voices and opinions of those without digital access.

    That said, one tool I suggest you check out is www.mightynetworks.com. I recently launched Content Forum (a community for association and nonprofit content strategy) on this platform. It allows for topical thread organization and public and private groups which would accommodate your pubic discussions and private collaboration as needed. It also has a mobile app. Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Dina

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    Dina Lewis CAE
    Distilled Logic LLC
    Washington, DC
    www.distilledlogic.net
    Host, Content Forum www.contentforum.org
    ------------------------------

    Tech Accelerate


  • 5.  RE: Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

    Posted 5 days ago
    I'm excited to see this discussion. I recently learned about Cartido - https://www.diginido.com/ - which is aiming to solve something similar by creating crowd-sourced maps of services. They plan to have these available on desktop, not just for those with smartphones. But part of the problem they are trying to solve is making it easier for people to find amenities and services they might be looking for, in a safe way. The Refugee Center is doing something similar - findhello.therefugeecenter.org - for refugee resources specifically. These may not be exactly the platform you're looking to build but perhaps good people to collaborate with? Hope this is helpful!

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    Darya Gorlova
    Director of Client Experience
    Flipcause
    Oakland, CA
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 6.  RE: Curious about creating a communication channel for nonprofits and local community members to discuss issues

    Posted 5 days ago
    Very cool! My idea inpart was inspired by the city of San Jose who is funding a technology special project to help solve something similar but specifically about homelessness.

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    tim jones
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    Tech Accelerate