If I would randomly pick a young guy walking on the street and give him €50 euros and tell him to donate it to the charity organization of his choice, where will that money end up? Probably in the hands of the organization he has the “strongest and most meaningful relationship with – the one he trusts the most and that shares his passion and core beliefs” (Weisnewski, 2). Then, the guy goes home. He grabs his laptop and goes online. He opens up Facebook and gives his friends a status update: “Feeling good. Just donated €50. I hope it helps and makes a difference”. One minute later, he got 12 ‘Likes’.
How could a non-profit organization have convinced this guy, who belongs to the young generation, to support their organization in an age of instant promises overloading him from everywhere he looks? What should they have done to reach this guy, engage him and build a lasting, meaningful relationship with him?
The research behind this blog has focused on the opportunity for UNICEF to develop such a relationship by means of an online community. The Internet has grown into an important environment in our lives, where we meet, interact and share. What would happen if UNICEF or any other non-profit organization would build a space where people can talk about child-related development issues in the world, their own good initiatives, and UNICEF’s intentions and projects? Would that build the desired sustainable relationships with the young generation? To answer this question I started a research project last summer. I interviewed the best experts in the field of online communities and asked them to give their advice to UNICEF. I also asked online community managers to share their views and expertise. Besides, I surveyed people in this young generation to find out what their preferences regarding an UNICEF online community would be.
This blog contains my research findings and recommendations that I would give to non-profit organizations regarding online communities. Although my research was focused on UNICEF, I am highly convinced that other non-profit organizations can also benefit from the insights that I will share. I even believe for-profit organizations can get inspired by this blog as well.
I hope you will enjoy the journey I have undertaken into one of the most exciting subjects of this time. The Internet has reshaped our lives. We become more and more part of virtual communities. These groups can enrich our lives and help us sharing our dreams, passions and ambitions. How can (non-profit) organizations accomplish their meaningful mission by using these new environments and meet the people who might be willing to support them?
This blog will answer that & more. Enjoy!