October 18, 2011

Media Cause: Crowdsourced online marketing for nonprofits

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Crowdsourcing
Image by arenacreative for Big Stock

Platform sources online volunteers to help nonprofits get the most out of the social Web

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, online media professionals, social media managers, marketing professionals, individuals.

Guest post by Jennifer Helfrich
Communications Manager, Media Cause

Having a social media strategy is an essential component for effective nonprofits and the causes they represent. However, creating a strong Web presence requires funding, technical skill and time – three things many nonprofits never have enough of. Case in point: James Schaffer, executive director of the Tiba Foundation, says finding time for the social Web is a frequent challenge. “Most of our time and effort goes to our actual project work, so when it comes to Web outreach, it can be a little overwhelming trying to gain a foothold out there.”

Media Cause allows volunteers from around the world to connect with nonprofits and offer their expertise on focused project needs.

Enter Media Cause. Eric Facas founded the nonprofit Media Cause in April to connect admirable organizations like the Tiba Foundation with Internet outreach professionals interested in volunteering. Facas found that social media experts capable of giving advice want to support good causes, but many don’t have the time to take on a pro bono client. For a flexible and relatively small time commitment, Media Cause allows volunteers from around the world to connect with nonprofits and offer their expertise on focused project needs. Most projects posted on Media Cause are hourlong commitments, can be sorted by cause and can be completed entirely online. Volunteers can offer expertise in three areas: search engine optimization, social media marketing and Google Grants support.

Proven track record of helping nonprofits

Media Cause logoHundreds of successful match-ups between nonprofits and volunteers have been made since Media Cause’s launch in April. Here are some examples of recent projects nonprofits have posted and the expert advice they have received:

Children Across America posted a Media Cause challenge asking for help with the organization’s Twitter account. Lianne Murphy of the United Kingdom volunteered her expertise and responded with a bullet-point list of valuable advice — for instance, the proper use of hashtags. Executive director Raymond Fellows says he feels indebted to Murphy for her advice. “We had basically written Twitter off as ineffective but she showed us the difference between ‘using Twitter’ and ‘effectively using Twitter.’”

• The Tiba Foundation has posted a series of challenges through Media Cause asking for volunteers for a variety of social media advice. One such project was titled, “Help Tiba understand the power of social commenting and engagement!” and received a flood of responses. Joselyn Bickford submitted tips for creating a more personable Facebook page, Nicola Parry sent along a helpful blog post on the topic, and Varangi Vora commented with general thoughts on tactics for improving online presence. Executive director Schaffer says Media Cause has sharpened the Tiba Foundation’s social media edge. “The advice from Media Cause volunteers has been great,” says Schaffer. “The Media Cause Web platform has been easy to use, and we’re starting to see the results in terms of traffic and engagement on our Web properties.”

Will you volunteer to amplify the voice of a nonprofit?

Nonprofits consistently struggle to reach and engage their supporters. Those with the media know-how and technical savvy who could truly help these nonprofits have busy schedules that make volunteering difficult. Even given the time, nonprofits and potential volunteers might never find each other. Media Cause provides the space for these two communities to connect, and a simple, constructive method for skilled professionals to give back. A portion of your spare time could amplify the voice of a nonprofit. Work your media magic for a cause: Sign up as a Media Cause volunteer today.

Jennifer Helfrich is the Communications and Development Manager at Media Cause. She has worked with Media Cause since its launch, previously in the capacity of community manager and grant writer. Follow Media Cause on Twitter at @mediacause.
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