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Steve Bridger on Charities and the Social Web

Howard Lake | 1 August 2008 | Blogs

Nonprofit social media expert and trainer Steve Bridger has shared the presentation he gave earlier this week to staff at Action Aid, subtitled “does it mean we have to change our jobs?”
It’s a fine summary of the issues that charities face in making best use of social media and all things Web 2.0.
The visual style of Steve’s presentation is very engaging and enjoyable, and so too are his quotes and clear calls to action.

He explains why things have changed for charities on the web: “the social web has changed charities from broadcasters pushing out messages and materials to aggregators who bring together content.” He points out that charities’ stories of what they do and whom they help are their most powerful tool online.
He asks “as supporters increasingly want to mix giving their time, money, activism and influence… has the time come for charities to re-structure to reflect this?”
Steve has been advising organisations on social networking for years and his approach is friendly and constructive. I like his comment that “social media is a gardening activity not a building one – let a thousand flowers bloom”.
He points to the Dog’s Trust as a fine example of a charity embracing and trying out these new tools.
He explains the changes in terms of the fact that “social media is forcing charities to make friends” yet “you cannot ‘vet’ who wants to become your friend”.
Steve is clearly a fan of Seth Godin and he quotes him: “Ideas that spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas delivered at an individual.”
He sums up the new situation charities are facing: “participation is marketing”, but reminds us that we must “engage first, fundraise second”.


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