Posts Tagged ‘ non-profit organizations ’

Taking an organization’s past into the web’s future

On the “about” page of its website, The Reeves Theater Restoration Group prominently proclaims “A future in the past.”

But whether or not this non-profit organization achieves its $3.2 million fundraising goal might depend on if “the past can be shown by the future.”

In this case “the future” means web-based communications technologies the non-profit is using to tell its story. The tale itself is a compelling one — an art-deco theater that was once the vibrant center of a small town has fallen into disrepair, but a locally-driven effort could revive it as a performing arts center that would give the community a much-needed economic boost. This is a story that trades heavily on nostalgia — with photos and testimonials of people who remember the theater in its heyday — in order to project what a revitalized Reeves could mean.

That approach is a tricky one to implement on the web, although the organization is trying. Its website is well constructed and pops up as the first hit on a Google search for “Reeves Theater.” The organization has also established a Facebook group with more than 700 members.

But simply being on the web is one thing; effectively turning that presence into donations and awareness is another. The website is mostly static, with little content about upcoming fundraising events. The Facebook group has been devoid of updates for a few months now. Neither makes use of all the photos and personal stories the organization has available to make its pitch on “a future in the past.”

That will soon change. I’m heading up a five-person project that will reinvigorate the Facebook site, create some more dynamic content for the website, and make sure the design and branding is consistent for online and print materials. What gives the project so much potential is the capability of multimedia to tell this story better than print. A video or an interactive photo gallery both establish a much more immediate connection than text on a page. Social media outlets are ideal for sharing memories, which are in abundance for the Reeves Theater and needed in order to motivate the restoration.

It’s all a matter of bringing the past to life with the future of communications. That will maximize this organization’s capabilities for the present.

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Don’t judge Twitter by a few rotten tweets

Teens waste thousands of hours on meaningless phone conversations of gossip and superficial chatter. Adults fritter away entire nights watching trashy “reality” shows and formulaic sitcoms.

Does anyone think this means the telephone and the television are stupid, pointless devices?

Of course not, yet we push this impossible standard onto Twitter. The entire concept is derided and denigrated just because it’s used by some for dumb purposes like tweeting about their lunch plans or their mundane routines.

No one wants to read dull posts likes that. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great uses for Twitter that more than justify its ubiquity. New developments in the platform are making this more abundantly clear.

Consider location-based tweeting, something being rolled out in the near future by developers. Tweets would be accompanied by the latitude and longitude of their source, so you can search for those in your immediate vicinity. Imagine the usefulness (and entertainment value) of being at a concert, sporting event or festival and having the option of seeing what all your fellow attendees are thinking.

This feature would also have great practical purposes for newsgathering. If there’s a major event taking place in a specific area, Tweets from that source would  provide a tremendous depth of perspective from those at eye level.

Sounds good for big, crowded events. But what about everyday individual lives, you say? How can people use Twitter on the days when they mostly keep to themselves?

One option is to donate your Twitter feed. Many charitable organizations are asking supporters to retweet their key messages. Water.org has a great feature where the non-profit will automatically post its most important messages onto your feed for whatever time period you agree to donate. These groups recognize that your Twitter voice carries a unique credibility to friends and family following your feed. If you feel passionate enough about a cause, you can use the platform to instantly convey that feeling to those who trust your perspective.

Will these uses stop celebrities and narcissists from providing too much mundane information about their lives? Certainly not. But maybe they’ll broaden society’s outlook on Twitter’s considerable potential and value as an integral part of the media landscape.