social media

A Child a Day Starts with You

by Virginia Sowers, Community Manager

Our child sponsors are an amazing group of globally focused citizens who make a huge difference in the lives of children they support through ChildFund. They are making positive things happen in families and communities every day by supporting children’s health, nutrition, education and well being.

Diego from Guatemala is awaiting a sponsor.

The truth is that we need more sponsors just like them.

Right now, more than 100,000 children live in areas where ChildFund works but lack a one-to-one relationship with a sponsor who writes to them and paves the way for a brighter future through financial and emotional support.

So starting this month, ChildFund is committing to working even harder to tell these children’s stories to people like you who want to take meaningful action. There is no better way to have a lasting impact on the future than to help a child escape the grip of poverty.

For the next several weeks, we’re going to take the ChildFund story to places like Chico and Redding, Calif.; Gainesville, Ft. Myers and Naples, Fla.; Providence, R.I.; New Bedford, Mass.; Rochester and Austin, Minn.; Mason City, Iowa; Albany, Schenectady and Troy, N.Y.; and Milwaukee, Wis.

If you live in these cities, or know someone who does, you’ll be discovering more about ChildFund through TV, radio and newspaper promotions. We’re also inviting a little friendly social media competition among people tweeting and posting on Facebook and blogs from these cities.

Wouldn’t it be terrific if your metropolitan area gained the highest number of new ChildFund sponsors by the time this campaign wraps up in September? Wouldn’t it be incredible to play a vital role in greatly reducing the number of children awaiting sponsors?

You can help make it happen by spreading the word about ChildFund’s One Child a Day campaign through Twitter, Facebook and blog posts and inviting members of your social networks to consider sponsoring a child at just $28 a month.

When tweeting, please be sure to use the Twitter hashtags we’ve developed to track the campaign in each metropolitan market:

  • Chico, Calif.: #1child4Chico
  • Redding, Calif.: #1child4Redding
  • Ft. Meyers, Fla.: #1child4FtMeyers
  • Gainesville, Fla.: #1child4Gainsville
  • Naples, Fla.: #1child4Naples
  • Austin, Minn.: #1child4AustinMN
  • Mason City, Iowa: #1child4MasonCity
  • New Bedford, Mass.: #1child4NewBed
  • Rochester, Minn: #1child4RochMN
  • Albany, N.Y.: #1child4Albany
  • Schenectady, N.Y.: #1child4Schenectady
  • Troy, N.Y.: #1child4Troy
  • Providence, R.I.: #1child4Providence
  • Milwaukee, Wis.: #1child4Milwaukee

Throughout the campaign, we’ll use this blog, Facebook and Twitter to provide fun facts about these great cities, answer frequently asked questions about child sponsorship and issue updates on our goal to welcome at least one new ChildFund sponsor a day from each of these metropolitan areas.

Will you help us get started? We need to spread the word that anyone can change the world — simply by helping one child at a time.

Do You Know a Lionheart?

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

Like many children, I was captivated with the story of Robin Hood when I was younger. The whole idea of carrying out social justice — especially in unorthodox ways — was recklessly appealing.

So every time a new Robin Hood movie makes its way to theaters, I flash back to those childhood dreams of accomplishing good in daring ways.

Yet my excitement over the newest rendition, “Robin Hood: The Untold Story of How the Man Became a Legend,” stems from the social media outreach leading up to the film debut this Friday.

The Robin Hood Lionhearts cause-marketing campaign seeks to identify and recognize everyday Robin Hoods who make outstanding contributions to worthy causes — big or small.

I can think of several ChildFund supporters who would qualify. I bet you can, too.

Nominees set up online profiles, and seek votes for their cause of choice by tweeting and posting on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Universal will select three Grand Prize Lionhearts to each receive $5,000 plus $5,000 to share with a charity of their choice. Ten first prizes will be awarded, with $500 going to winners and an additional $500 to their cause of choice.

The consumer-powered ad network, Peer Squared,  provides another means for participants to help spread the word about the Lionhearts program — and earn rewards that can be shared back to charity partners.

I think Robin Hood would like social media.

Fighting Malaria in the Social Media Age

by Virginia Sowers
ChildFund Community Manager

As the social media minder at ChildFund, it’s continuously fascinating to engage in—and learn from—social actions that come to life via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and result in a degree of change in the world.

As we lead up to World Malaria Day, Sunday, April 25, we have an opportunity to watch social media do what it does best—motivate people to act.

Last month, Ray Chambers, the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria, announced the formation of a Social Media Envoy group in support of malaria control. Now that’s a desirable title — social media envoy.

“In our efforts to reach the Secretary-General’s 2010 goal of universal bed net coverage, and to reach the longer term goal of near-zero deaths from malaria by 2015, it is critical that acceleration continue in the malaria control movement,” he said.

The social media envoys plan to take one social action, such as a tweet or a Facebook wall post, in support of malaria control at least once a month over the next year. Their first organized social action is set for Sunday.

The envoys include a mix of celebrities, news personalities and social media gurus such as Anderson Cooper, Arianna Huffington, Larry King, Alyssa Milano, Peter Cashmore (founder of Mashable), Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter), Randi Zuckerman (Facebook’s director of marketing) and Sarah Brown (of number 10 Downing Street).

I’ve set up the full list on Twitter. You’ll find Randi Zuckerman at www.facebook.com/Randi.

I invite you to follow this unfolding story via social media—better still, engage in the conversation and take action to help children in Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 90 percent of malaria deaths occur.

I’ll be blogging again later in the week about ChildFund’s work in malaria prevention and treatment. And I’ll be ChildFund’s own social media envoy on Twitter.

The Art of Storytelling

by Cynthia Price
Director of Communications

At ChildFund we know that the individual circumstances of every child are unique, and the communities and countries in which they live are often very different. We also know that our supporters – through their sponsorships and donations – provide interventions that can move children from being the victims in a tragic story being told the world over, to one where they are authors of their own, more hopeful narratives.

Our President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard frequently references this goal when she speaks. As a communications person, I am drawn to the idea of children authoring a hopeful narrative for their life story.

One of the things we aspire to do well at ChildFund is to share those narratives. We’ve been meeting in recent weeks to figure out how we can do this better. Should we ask youth to journal and share their entries through our Web site? Should we tell the stories through videos? Should we interview children and youth and tell their stories for them in traditional feature writing format? We think it will be a combination of these ideas and others.

We want to tell stories well and develop our signature style. That requires incorporating the voices of young people and illuminating their role as actors in their own development and success as they transition through life’s stages.

We already have some great content from the 31 countries in which we work, but we don’t always make it easy to get to. We’re working to change that. We also want to allow user comments, share more video and enable you to commit further if you are interested by linking you to areas where you can donate.

Through our Web site and our social media, we want to use stories to connect you better to the children whose lives you impact and also to explain the why and how behind ChildFund. We want to create a user experience that is worth your time.

If you have suggestions on how to do that better, we’d love to hear from you.

Providing the Wow Factor

by Cynthia Price
Director of Communications

Change agent Seth Godin had an interesting post yesterday about the search for wow in our culture. On the one hand, the social media platforms open doors for creativity for anyone and everyone.

The downside, though, is that it can be distracting and a time waster, he says.

And that’s what we wrestle with here at ChildFund as we engage with our supporters and prospects. We know your time is precious. So how do we give you what you want without wasting your time?

We limit our posts on Facebook to about once a day. More than two, and we know the multiple messages and stories will get lost among all of the other updates you receive. We tweet a few times a day when we have something to say. But if we aren’t adding to the conversation or starting a conversation, we don’t tweet. We don’t want to simply be noise.

We’ve adjusted our thinking, too. We’d love to have thousands (OK, hundreds of thousands) of followers and fans. But if all of those thousands are doing nothing, then what have we achieved?

Seth writes in his post: “Should a charity focus on instant donations by texting from a million people or is it better to seek dedicated attention and support from a few who understand the mission and are there for the long haul?”

And that’s where ChildFund is at this moment. We would rather have 5,000 fans or followers who are engaged with us. We want to hear about your experience as a sponsor. We want to know how you are helping to change a childhood through your support. We want to hear and see what you did on a Study Tour. We want you to inspire others.

So, while we care about the clicks and the numbers, we care more about the person – you, and how we are engaging with you.

How are we doing?

Show Your Passion for ChildFund This Valentine’s Day

by Virginia Sowers
Community Manager

We just launched an expanded Facebook site to engage more interactively with our growing online community.

The new page features virtual gifts from the ChildFund catalog, an instant poll, a link to our Twitter feed and videos from our YouTube channel. Our fans now have opportunities to virally share important ways they are helping change a childhood through sponsorship and donations.

We also have a special focus on Haiti, linking Facebook fans to our donation page on the ChildFund Web site.

And just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ve created a downloadable ChildFund heart symbolizing our work in 31 countries around the globe. We’re inviting Facebook fans to download the badge and use it for their profile picture leading up to Feb. 14.

By integrating several of our social media platforms with Facebook, we aim to project a consistent brand presence that resonates with our supporters and attracts new members to our child-focused community.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are rapidly becoming preferred methods for sharing news, discussing important issues and staying in touch.

One of our long-term ChildFund sponsors reconnected with a former sponsored child on Facebook. It had been four years since the young man left the ChildFund program, and their online reunion was an incredibly happy moment.

If you’re not already connected to ChildFund through social media, we invite you to find out what you’ve been missing! More important, we want to hear firsthand how you’ve changed a child’s life and what ChildFund means to you.

ChildFund Quickly Adopts Social Media, Next Step is Fundraising Online

By Cynthia Price
Director of Communications

The responses of 1,295 nonprofit executives show that 91 percent raise money online, but only 58 percent of those nonprofits use social media for fundraising. The article appeared in NPT Instant Fundraising, a publication of The NonProfit Times.

Sharing their story, building a community, public relations, and donor engagement/retention — not raising funds — were listed as the nonprofits’ top reasons for engaging in social media.

The executives were responding to a survey conducted by Sage Nonprofit Solutions, based in Austin.

ChildFund International trends with the results. When we changed our name in July to one that reflected our global scope and our work as part of the ChildFund Alliance, we knew we had to familiarize people with our new name and help others connect the new name to the old one.

We’ve done a decent job of raising awareness through Facebook, Twitter and blogs. We’re hearing from you that you believe in the work that we do and that it feels good to make a difference in the lives of children. Many of you have further shared that message for us through your social networks.

One of the survey findings was that social media isn’t a part of most nonprofit organizations’ everyday activities. At ChildFund, it is. We have both a community manager and a director of e-Philanthropy. Those aren’t titles just to impress. They’re intended to send a message: Our community of supporters is crucial to helping children in the countries where we work. And we plan to continuously seek more contributions through online platforms.

In the coming weeks, we’re planning to use our social media platforms to raise awareness of our gift catalog, a unique way to help a child. Each gift you choose will be used exactly as described in the catalog. The gifts come in all shapes and sizes — and price ranges — and are a great way to become more familiar with the work ChildFund does. We hope that many of you will take advantage of this opportunity to purchase an item and change the life of a child.

ChildFund recently launched our Causes page on Facebook and will be updating that regularly.causes_image

We know that the more we can connect you directly to the impact we have on children’s lives, the more you will want to participate. Whether that takes the form of sharing our message, contributing or both. We want to continue the conversation and continue making a difference in the lives of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children.

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