How we used digital to build and inspire our community


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  • Child ’ s I Foundation started in 2008
  • For those of you that don ’ t know Child ’ s i Foundation I just wanted to give you a bit of background. I thought the most fitting start would be to show you our mission video on YouTube [video] In Uganda poverty, disease and violence are rife – which leads to hundreds of children being abandoned every year. Child ’ s i Foundation is helping solve this endemic problem. Our mother and baby centre gives vulnerable mothers the support they need to keep their children; our transitional home and family support centre provides quality short-term care for babies; while our placement programme ensures every child in our care grows up in a loving family in Uganda. All of this has been achieved in the last 2 and a half years due to the support and endurance of our worldwide family of supporters who have collaborated to make our dream a reality.
  • A little bit about me. I am a volunteer for Child ’ s i Foundation. I am not employed by the charity and I don ’ t have a background in fundraising. But I have been involved in the development of this project from Day 1. I met Lucy Buck when she had returned from her last trip to Uganda before she decided that her goal of solving the endemic problem of babies being abandoned in this country could be achieved if she could only gather enough support from those around her. We were introduced by a mutual friend who thought I might be able to help Lucy find a way to build a website as cheaply as possible. I was immediately compelled by her cause and wanted to get involved. In turn I told people about Lucy ’ s cause. They were all immediately struck by the terrible situation but more importantly the determination of one woman ’ s quest to change it. Each person I told wanted to get involved in some way. No one thought this was just about offering money. We recognised a massive opportunity for many people to join forces to make a huge difference to a generation of children.
  • For small amounts of time, love and money correctly targeted, we believed, and still do, and in fact have proved, that a great difference can be made. When people get involved in the way they want to, they are acting to actually create something they can see and be part of. A journey they can follow. Not just putting a cheque in the post, “ into a bureaucracy ” .
  • So, The ‘ I ’ in Child ’ s i Foundation came to be not only about “ interactivity ” and collaboration but about “ individual contribution ” Giving credit where credit is due, genuine advocacy. We knew that our objectives could only be achieved through successful engagement with our supporters. We didn ’ t have a recognizable brand. When we set up our mission we didn ’ t even have charity status. Our only hope was to draw on the incredible range of skills, kindness, innovation, ideas and enthusiasm of others. To use our address books, our friends, our colleagues and anyone else who would listen to get this show on the road.
  • So to cut a long story short, we didn ’ t have any money to build a website. But that didn ’ t really matter. We are in the age of social media (web 2.0 as it was know in 2008) and open source technologies. We used it to our advantage. We set up a blog / website on Wordpress, a Facebook group and invited all our friends, asked them to invite theirs, set up a Twitter account and started following interesting people and community influencers Set up Flickr to house our pictures, our brand assets Set up YouTube account And managed our admin via a wiki / google docs and yammer Employing all of the advantages of social media such as interactivity, collaboration and the formation of communities in the most creative way we could. Most importantly we started documenting our journey using video.
  • We videoed our supporters at face-to-face meetups, asked them why they wanted to get involved, asked them for ideas, told them about our plans, asked if they thought they were good ideas. Asked them how we could raise the money we needed to launch the project. Asked them who our trustees should be.
  • We also listened online (and still do)
  • And when Lucy and Brian went to Uganda to structure the project and write the business plan, they posted a video every day of their progress and journey and asked for feedback. The groundswell of support and interest was overwhelming.
  • The conversation didn ’ t end there, in fact it continues every day on Facebook, the website and Twitter. The dialogue is genuine. We are a community, everything we do revolves around our community and the connections we make through it.
  • But of course every charity needs money. Social channels facilitate engagement but do they drive donation? The big question on everybody ’ s lips. Well yes. I am not sure you can separate the channels that work and those that don ’ t. It is all part of our core objective. By giving our supporters a way of connecting with us, with each other, sharing the successes and the failures, they reward us with not only love and time but money too. That ’ s not to say that every donation is made online as a result of an interaction with twitter or facebook or via our “ give ” page. In fact only a slice of funds are donated online. Much of the money is raised offline … wine and cheese parties, curry nights, golf days, clothes sales, donation boxes, running events, abseiling challenges etc. People doing what they enjoy doing with their friends and raising money at the same time. We rarely supply fundraising packs or direction. We always say thank you though and recognise their support.
  • We do however try to do things differently behind the “ give ” button. We feel our donors deserve a little fun, humour and creativity in return for their generosity. Our one-off donations are made on an interactive, tweeting brick wall hooked up to an ecommerce backend. Built of course by a group of kind and willing volunteers.
  • Again our values are upheld. Every brick is equal. Doesn ’ t matter if you pay £2.50 (minimum due to admin fees) we are so grateful for your donation. The average donation is approximately £40
  • We also launched a baby shower using the online site “ shopify ” . We encourage supporters to buy gifts for occasions like Mother ’ s Day, Christmas etc. for their loved ones. These items are genuine items needed by our babies, mothers and centres.
  • Of course we like to show you where your money goes … On our blog and Flickr
  • This is to prove social channels do work. Joey was abandoned in a public taxi park when he was just four weeks old. Before we set up our Baby Abandonment Project, Joey would doubtless have spent his life in an institution. Instead, after just six weeks with us in Malaika, Desire and George, a wonderful Ugandan couple, adopted him. After his terrible start, he was finally cherished by a loving family and had a wonderful future ahead of him. Then disaster struck. On Monday night, we found out that Joey is suffering from critical stenosis of his pulmonary artery – and it was only a matter of time before he would suffer cardiac failure. It seems he is already a true miracle baby – we discovered that since his birth, Joey ’ s heart has been relying solely on the temporary structures that are necessary for babies in the womb. These should have closed up within days of his birth, but they have somehow remained open, and are currently the only things keeping him alive. We launched an appeal on Just Giving, hoping we could go some way to raising the £10,000 we needed to send Joey for life-saving care. Then another miracle happened – you raised the entire amount in 38 hours.
  • This is what makes it real … We ’ ve just had our first birthday and these are all the babies we ’ ve provided care for
  • How we used digital to build and inspire our community

    1. 1. Digital Communications Conference How we used digital to build and inspire our communityKirsty Stephenson, Digital Strategy and Project Planner, Child’s i Foundation
    2. 2. Plenary 2:How we used digital to build and inspire our community