YouYou are the first person to help when people are in physical and emotional pain and crisis, you coordinate blood drives, walks to cure cancer, reunite families, stop children from being abused, and help adults heal from past wounds. You are a:
- do gooder
- change maker
- emergency provider
- hope dealer
The Internet is big, important, and a very real factor in how we communicate these days and how we talk about changing the world. There are tons of “experts” on doing good on the web, but not many front line stories from you as a professional. Just because you do social good doesn’t mean you have to flock to the typical social good and new media watering holes. In fact, I think it may be a good ideal to start your own watering holes (or a juice bar, if that’s your style). There are tools and strategies on social media for non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and social workers, but not enough about your story.
Right now, you may have a story on your website about how you came to become an organization, the founders story, and one testimonial about a success story, but that’s not the story I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the story of how the non-profit almost didn’t happen, but you pushed through. I’m talking about the story of you “showing up” after the excitement faded and how you keep yourself motivated. I’m talking about the emotional challenge of working on an issue and experiencing devastating failure.
Not in the spirit of throwing a pity party or glamorizing struggle, but to understand and learn from each other. I trust that your compassion, courage, and bravery could be a light that shines through for those of us who are on the same path.
Starting and growing a mission based company is hard work. Doing mission based work is even harder. Being someone who risks and cares with compassion is a job that could never pay you enough, no matter the salary. It takes persistence, patience, and vision.
How did you do it?
How are you doing it?
Do you want to do it?
We need to hear it. I need to hear it.
Social Media Sucks and an Opportunity
While I’m excited about the possibility of raising money through crowd-funding/sourcing, and I definitely want to grow my Facebook and Twitter pages to connect with my mission, what I’m most excited about is the potential of collaboration with do-gooders all across the world.
People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King were only able to connect via postal mail (it took weeks, sometimes months), phone, or by actually traveling all the way across the world to meet.
Now, I can literally reach out to any do gooder on the entire globe, in seconds!
There appears to be a conversation going on about non-profits and social media, but it is dominated by the mission and not the people behind the mission. It appears to concentrate on the client or supporter and not the homeless aide who makes sure each sheet is clean before families come to the shelter that night.
I’m not saying talking about the mission, recruiting and marketing, and goals are wrong, I’m saying that we’re missing out on a better conversation: human connection.
If you work directly with people on critical issues I can’t wait to hear your story.
Confidentiality and Possibilities
Protecting your clients is important.
Someone has trusted you with the most intimate parts of their lives as you help them on their journey. If you’re interested in sharing your story, myself and other social workers are here to support you in honoring the confidentiality of your client as we share in a professional community.
It is possible!
* Email me(<-click link to email) if you want help starting a professional blog*
The people who share the stories of folks on the front line are trained to show one side of the story (I’m one of them). Our job is to only show the good side. What would happen if the people who are doing the heavy lifting spoke for themselves? What if a social worker providing basic needs shared their day to day?
What could we learn? Where could we go as a profession?
If you work directly with people on critical issues and actively use social media I dare you to be more revealing:
How did you get into social good?
How do you deal with the negative emotions that come up doing this work?
What books inspire you?
What is your guiding mantra?
How do you embrace your spirituality and the spirituality of the other?
How and why do people get in difficult situations?
How do you feel *today*?
What are you *thinking* today?
This isn’t navel gazing. This is in depth examination of who and why we are. Leaving these questions unanswered is a recipe for circumstance, crisis, and mindlessness in your professional life.
Stop letting fancy books and experts speak for you.
Start a blog about your daily experience.
Make a YouTube video about an advocacy issue.
Be honest on twitter.
Most of us are tired of social media!
Not because social media is bad, but because we’ve turned it into an infomercial instead of an opportunity to grow intimately with our community of do gooders.
What happens when 10,000 housing case workers are in the same “virtual” room sharing and discussing ways to address low-income housing. Opinions change. Policies shift.
One of the reasons you might fear blogging or think it may be a waste of time is a common concern: "No one cares". Not true, look up your issue(s) on Facebook or Twitter: thousands of people are following and listening to non-profit organizations hoping to make a connection. Seeking to learn more about the issue.
They want to hear from you. No fluff. Just you.
If you have a blog - How did you get started?
If you don’t have a blog, but want one - What is the #1 question you have about starting a blog?
Share your answers in the comments!
This post was inspired by my recent conversation with Karen Zgoda and her work encouraging greater visibility of social workers on the Internet.
Mozart Guerrier,MSW, is a social worker, writer, and the community manager for Aunt Bertha. His work focuses on urban community engagement, supporting helping professionals, and services for low-income families. You can email him at mozart(at)auntbertha.com