Community Building In the Real World & Online

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Community Building In the Real World & Online

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Atashi Chakravarty – East Bay API Coalition to End Domestic Violence; Narika

  • Community-building in real life
  • Community-specific domestic violence intervention; community outreach a key
  • Toll free hotline; most people they serve are not online; counseling and hands on services
  • Perceived as feminists from Berkeley; people would tear down our posters; how get message out there and not be so in your face?
  • Challenge: diversity of South Asian community; not a culturally homogeneous group
  • When approaching faith-based and other organizations/communities for collaboration/outreach, first ask “what can we do for you?”, not “what can you do for us?”
    • Example: approached a Sikh temple for domestic violence outreach
    • Asked what are their needs? Answer: legal services for immigration issues
    • Narika is not a legal service provider, we went back to our network, what can we do?
    • Found a partner that held pro-bono legal clinics; Narika made their materials available (domestic violence prevention info); men & women would pick them up; nonthreatening
    • Built trust with temple community
    • Eventually temple leadership opened up to hosting their domestic violence prevention outreach programs

Melinda Kramer – Natural Capital Institute; Women’s Earth Alliance

  • Convening women virtually
  • Avoid missed opportunities due to orgs, funders, others who can help each other not coming together, because they don’t know about each other
  • Check out Wiser Earth at From their website: “a community directory and networking forum that maps and connects non-governmental organizations and individuals addressing the central issues of our day; climate change, poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger, social justice, conservation, human rights and more.” [Note from kfb: I checked out their website and surprisingly they already have my (tiny!) org listed! All I have to do is make some minor updates.]
    • Website that helps people in environmental sustainability & social justice work together
    • A meta resource, orgs, events, jobs, resources
    • Can narrow to specific need, and where silos are broken down
    • Like Wikipedia – community generated content
    • A reflection of who we are as a movement
    • Growing every day, launched May this year – a foundation of a house – inviting all people and orgs to build upon the foundation
    • Great example of community that exists in real world, leverage by tools on the internet
    • Place to convene when we can’t be face to face; bridge real and virtual worlds o be more effective as advocates and active community members

Ben Rattray –

  • debunking myths
    • myth 1: social networks are for kids
    • myth 2: social networks are for socializing
    • myth 3: social networking is a fad
  • new form of communication
    • eNewsletter – 2.25% response rate
    • two-way communication – media production youtube, wikis
    • peer-to-peer interaction – rich relations – way for members to connect
    • empower supporters – advocates, resources, donations
    • overcoming barriers to involvement: power of personal connections
      • reasons people give for not getting involved: lack of personal connection to cause or org; paradox of choice, so much to do, ignore them all
      • use personal connections – people care about issues vicariously – transmit personal stories and empathy more effectively
    • collective action and magnified impact
    • social recognition and reinforcement
  • the present, what orgs are doing now
    • many orgs are excited and dedicating resources
    • focused primarily of myspace (60mn users) and Facebook (34mn)
    • bottomline: not fully embraced – using as marketing vehicles – to get new members; instead of tapping into existing members, engaging them better; not using social net tools to empower them
  • the future
    • deep integration with existing processes
    • use those tools to host own content, comment on work you’re doing, see their photos
    • allow collaboration among orgs with overlapping missions


  • How do you convene when you can’t be face to face?
    • discussion forums
    • area focus portals
    • wiser earth groups – for existing communities
    • people don’t just come unless they have a compelling reason to be there
  • Build your own?
    • very few can
    • needs critical mass, sufficient content
    • nonprofits swimming upstream, building what’s already out there
  • MySpace, Facebook
    • get an intern to manage
    • make sure you get url
    • soup it up with videos, photos, put bling in your blog; photostreams; customize it
    • proactively friend people 70 a day; go to top friends who are most active
    • send bulletins, mass spam in myspace
    • 3-5 times a day so not get pushed down, then eliminate the old ones
    • small things matter – name of your url, design
    • some things will not work on myspace, distracting ads
  • six degrees org – create a fundraising widget
  • second life – facilitate meetings around the world; nonprofit commons within secondlife; feels a little overwhelming
  • integration – email, discussions group, social networking, wikis – not one tool out there that does everything
  • how to pull people in – real stories that we experience in our communities – nothing more powerful than a personal account; her stories on narika’s website; march of dimes –Share Your Story – blogging their day to day struggles.
  • how sustain
    • wiser earth – same model as Wikipedia – user generated – become more valuable – no ads – tiny staff – low costs – funded by foundations
    • change,org 1% donations

Online communities & tools

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Community Building In the Real World & Online


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