Monday, September 14, 2009

Stand up for (insert cause here)

By Robin Bulanti
I’ve always been drawn to volunteer work. I dreamed of joining the Peace Corps but the closest I came was a year spent volunteering as an ESL teacher in China. Today I’m proud to be part of our agency’s efforts to give back, from volunteer hours to a number of charities we support. Volunteering expands the heart, mind and community. And heck, a little outside perspective is always a good thing.

Recently my colleague Tami and I volunteered as media clinicians at the Spin Academy, an annual retreat run by San Francisco’s Spin Project with activists selected for 60 coveted spots. Our assignment was to help train these non-profits in more effective media and communications.

I met some impressive individuals struggling with some pretty familiar challenges: competing for shrinking media attention, doing more with less resources—needing more hands or more hours in the day, sound familiar?—and somehow adding social media to the mix.

I feel strongly that non-profits must engage social networks now, and was surprised how many hadn’t yet jumped in for the cause. In my mind it’s a group that can actually “profit,” not just in mindshare but the real financial sense of the word, from social channels and online community building. Social media can be a way to mobilize people quickly, and a dirt-cheap soapbox.

We’re currently doing our own pro bono work for The Gorilla Foundation, and Koko the Gorilla, famous for her own communication skills. It’s been interesting to watch how this work breathes new life into our team, while all of our clients benefit from the perspective we gain championing a cause.
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1 comment:

Julie said...

"Volunteering expands the heart, mind and community." Well said, Robin!