Online communities are created and used for a plethora of reasons these days but one particular subcategory fascinates me: online communities employed by not-for-profit organizations and NGOs. Sure, most large non-profits have some sort of blog and call-to-action email campaigns of course, but these organizations are taking it one step further with their rich and active online communities. They’re getting more donations, enlisting more advocates and mobilizing thousands of people for events and demonstrations. It’s leveraging supporters via community and it’s nothing short of amazing.
Charity: Water is an organization that travels around to villages and communities around the world to build clean water wells, provide sanitation training and set up handwashing stations. What sets Charity: Water apart is the ways in which they communicate their work. Their videography, photography and print materials are simply gorgeous. Just watching a two-minute video can send you into a flurry of emotions - positivity, pride, desire to get involved. It all makes it very hard to not want to be a part of Charity: Water. Supporters also love the close-knit feel of the stateside community.
TWLOHA exists to give hope and help to those battling depression, anxiety, addiction, self-injury and thoughts of suicide. They have a fierce and loyal following of supporters, not least of which includes several high-profile celebrities. They host regular concerts and music events, and have one of the most successful retail businesses of any USA-based non-profit.
The Resolve is an international justice and crisis initiative that works tirelessly to put an end to worldwide violence, most recently focusing on the LRA / Joseph Kony conflict in central Africa. They created an insanely cool LRA crisis tracker in conjunction with Invisible Children and the UN literally refers to them for updates on the conflict. No. Big. Deal.
The Enough Project aims to bring a permanent end to genocide and crimes against humanity worldwide. The organization was originally started by a small group of concerned policy makers and became the basis for the best-selling book, The Enough Moment by co-founder, author, speaker and activist John Prendergast. Besides actively working on seven separate human rights crises around the globe, TEP produces comprehensive reports on each and casually boasts 26K+ Twitter followers. Advocates include George Clooney and Don Cheadle.
You’ve most likely heard of Operation Smile – a wonderful organization created to provide children and infants with free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. Their online community, Medical Volunteer Action Center, is responsible for ushering donors through an easy 3-step process, matching them with projects, organizing site visits and mission trips and most importantly: maintaining quality and trust throughout the donation experience. Thier Smile Blog is awesome too.
As far as this list goes, IC easily takes the cake. This organization – their mission is to end LRA violence, bring war lord Joseph Kony to justice, and rehabilitate affected regions - can literally mobilize hundreds of thousands of people in minutes (I speak from experience) via their aggressive yet effective social media strategies. They employ hilarious tactics like live streaming from their office 24/7 while a popular staff member vows to live in a cage until their fundraising goal is met. Other shenanigans have included – but are not limited to – milk gallon challenges, acoustic jam sessions, and the occasional Sophia Bush appearance. Check out an early version of their Follr Community here.