Tapping into social media to boost nonprofit learning

How can social media drive learning in non-profit programmes? One answer can be found in an innovative project funded by the Global Sanitation Fund, under the Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (CRSHIP). The project focuses on generating real-time, emergent learning for actors coordinating sanitation and hygiene activities under CRSHIP, to solve complex problems as they occur.

These actors have been encouraged to use social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google+, to document their observations and immediately share them with peers. The Learning Network on Facebook has emerged as the most successful platform. Through the platform, implementing partners, programme management staff, sector partners, and government staff share photos, videos, case studies and other content. In addition, a small team managing the platform shares tools, facilitates discussions, monitors, summarizes and expands on the emerging learning and documentation on the platform.

Udom Sok Ek, Programme Coordinator for CRSHIP implementing partner Sovann Phoum, explains how the platform has made the learning process more effective: 

“There is a case when I organized a community meeting. Villagers joined the meeting for a while and they left. Only several people stayed until the end of the meeting. I did not know what to do back then. Without [the real-time platform], I would have to wait until the quarterly meeting to discuss the issues. But now, as soon as our problems occur I [can] write on the Learning Network Facebook page. Then I [can] receive a lot of suggestions from other partners regarding what they would do when facing similar problems.”

The Facebook platform has also proved to be a useful programme management tool, enabling CRSHIP management to monitor progress on the ground, and identify and address challenges early, in real time.

Learn more in the video below.

Drawing attention to homelessness and hunger

An award-winning campaign for Crossroads Community, a homeless shelter and food pantry in New York City, used street art to engage and mobilize people numb to the plight of the homeless and hungry.

The campaign first illustrated faces with mouths as garbage and other debris on various streets across New York City. The street art was then photographed and recorded, messages were added to them, and posts and online films were created on social media.

This content was increasingly shared across the main social media networks. In addition, the posts and films appeared on international blogs and online publications. What’s more, chalk kits were requested by local schools and businesses to create ambient street drawings. Individuals from different cities around the world including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, Milan and Sydney, contributed and shared street art, helping the campaign go viral.

As a result, the number of individual donations to Crossroads Community went up by 63 percent, the number of volunteer applicants by 20 percent, and the number of groceries provided to those in need by 50 percent.

As stated in the video below, the campaign “shared a simple idea to inspire people of all ages, all over, to get involved, proving that when we all come together, we can make a big difference in helping erase hunger.”