Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: CPS Socal Media

Large Corps vs. Mom and Pops
This month I have faced a certain set of challenges that have made me question my preference in the organizational structure of a business. Although many would not refer to a university or a nonprofit as a “business,” let’s face it – they are. They are in existence to make a profit, or better yet, a profit is needed to exist. So why the topic matter? Well, my (limited) professional experience is coming from a small business background. I often find many similarities between small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Usually both have a small staff and a limited budget. Conversely, larger corporations or business entities (usually) have a larger amount of human capital at their disposal and a vast amount of resources available to them.

Coming from a small business setting I was adamant on positioning myself with an organization that is larger such a corporation or university. I found myself getting frustrated with a certain set of limitations I faced working in a small business setting. I felt like I was wearing too many hats and there was never enough money in the budget to allow for certain necessities. However, now that I am placed in a larger organization, the same circumstances I once deemed as beneficial are now hindering some of my abilities. In a small business setting, I feel like certain tasks get accomplished faster because you have a shorter chain of command. In a larger corporation or business setting, I feel that you have to go through a series or okays and approvals before you can proceed with new ideas or projects. Yes, this is a nice system. It allows for more feedback and suggestions from your colleagues. However, for someone who is not very patient it takes a little getting used to. Oppositely, I am enjoying the ability to have some extra funds allocated here and there to be able to pull where needed. I believe small business/nonprofits can learn from larger corporations/universities and vice versa.

What does this have to do with Social Media?
What I enjoy about the concept of Social Media in a business model is that it levels the playing field between small businesses/nonprofit organizations and larger entities. Businesses or organizations no matter what size or budget can participate actively in the Web 2.0 realm. There are no huge budget restrictions hindering one’s ability to develop an organizational presence on social networking or social media platforms. This is a huge advantage especially from the eyes of a nonprofit! It has been proven that technology has the ability effect great social change and issue awareness.

Look at the case of the first ever Twestival held last year (2009). This was a global event all crowd sourced and organized through Twitter (a FREE short messaging service) to benefit Charity Water. 202 cities hosted events with 10,000 people participating globally. The results? 55 wells were built and 17,000 people were served in Uganda, Ethiopia, and India. America’s Giving Challenge organized through the Causes application of Facebook is another great example. America’s Giving Challenge is a 30 day national competition encouraging people to leverage their personal networks and online social media to raise money for nonprofit organizations. In 2009, over 100,000 donations were made resulting in over $2 million being raised. What I really like about this challenge in particular is that participants (nonprofits) compete for daily and overall cash awards based on the number of donations generated for a cause, not the amount of money actually raised. Talk about leveling the playing field! I believe this trend in only going to continue to grow. Now is the time to jump in! – Dominica Garza, AmeriCorps VISTA  

To learn more about Dominica’s Social Media plans, email her at mediavista@tulane.edu


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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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