“Every mom counts.”
“We all have moms.”
“You don’t have to be a mom to help a mom.”
UN Week in mid-September saw the launch of the Million Moms Challenge in Times Square, trumpeted through facebook, twitter, a new game app, and an ABC video segment. The video showed how measles is spreading among Somali children weakened from hunger in the drought-stricken region. It also showed a group of U.S. mommy bloggers visiting a Somali camp, the news crew capturing their shock at the conditions, as one mom barely uttered, “I don’t think people even realize what the situation is.”
Viewers of the news clip quickly donated 138,000 doses of measles vaccine to children in the Horn of Africa refugee camps.
The Million Moms Challenge partnership between the United Nations Foundation and ABC News aims to use social media marketing to directly engage consumers – especially moms – in advocacy around global health and poverty. It’s an appeal to mothers in the world’s most privileged nation to make a connection with moms facing challenges they can barely imagine—among them the dangers posed by infectious disease.
A week after the campaign launch, the GAVI Alliance announced that it will fund immunization against two childhood diseases — rotavirus and pneumonia–in 37 countries, and fund the second dose of measles vaccine to nine more countries. Such life-saving measures are taken for granted in the world’s richest country.
Not so in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Globally, rotavirus kills more than half a million children every year, half of them in African countries, where access to treatment for severe cases is limited or unavailable, and acute diarrhea can lead to life-threatening dehydration. For children there, rotavirus vaccine is truly a shot at life.
Be sure to check out the campaign and help spread the word for one million strong!
Disclosure: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a Weber Shandwick client and supporting partner of the Million Moms Challenge campaign.
Here on the blog we talk a lot about the powerful role social media can play in driving advocacy efforts. Most recently, we discussed the role it played in Egypt and its impact on a global scale. Over the weekend, a piece in the New York Times: A Life on the Streets, Captured on Twitter caught our attention, which focused on a unique approach to using social media to bring about social change.
Underheard In New York is the brainchild of three interns: Rosemary, Willy, and Robert who were given the challenge to “Do something good, famously,” by the advertising firm BBH where the recent college graduates currently intern. The project follows four homeless men: Danny, Carlos, Derrick, and Albert – each have been given prepaid cell phones and Twitter accounts that collectively boast a following of 15,905 (as of 9am Monday).
The mission is bold: “Fighting Homelessness 140 characters at a time,” but certainly a sign of the times for the evolving world of communications. The project’s creators wanted to connect those impacted by homelessness with the global community and for that they turned to social media.
Underheard in New York is currently in progress and the long-term impact for Danny, Carlos, Derrick, and Albert remains to be seen, (you’ll have to follow along for yourself).
Regardless of the scale of change, the social nature of this project has provided a unique experience that was not possible just a few years ago:
- Access: In its purest form, Twitter allows users to have a peak into a life or experience that is not their own. This project provides the opportunity to follow four men in real time, and the chance to interact and lend support.
- Community: The men participating in the project have benefitted from the support of a global following. Each of them actively responds to words of encouragement, which for Derrick “help him avoid a spiral into dejection,” he says.
- Visibility and Voice: While the tools provided to these men are simply that – tools used to communicate a message – they make it possible to engage with an audience that could not previously be reached. These tools have given Danny, Carlos, Derrick and Albert a voice.
In addition to the opportunity of real time access and engagement with the project, the team behind Underheard in New York has done a great job of updating the community about successes thus far. In fact, the same New York Times piece that inspired this post also inspired New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith to reach out to Derrick directly to offer support. As an added bonus, we were all able to watch it all unfold on Twitter.
Be sure to check out the project and let us know what you think. Does the social nature of the project impact your interest or involvement?
For our team, as we considered topics to explore in our second annual Social Impact survey, one question rose quickly to the top: Why are corporations motivated to invest in CSR? And, what are the key success factors and lessons learned from recent CSR efforts?
Today, we’re releasing the findings of our survey of more than 200 corporate executives in large-sized companies with responsibility for philanthropic, social responsibility or community relations, conducted in partnership with KRC Research in October 2010.
Here’s the major takeaway: Having an impact on critical issues is the number one reason why corporations are investing in philanthropic or socially responsible activities.
- Other Motivating Factors for CSR: A second reason given for funding CSR is the opportunity to see an organization’s values in action. Interestingly, having an impact on critical issues (30%) outranked several more business-oriented motivations, such as building customer loyalty (15%), differentiating the company from competitors (6%) and engaging and retaining employees. The last finding suggests the need for companies to better understand the link between CSR and employee satisfaction, a topic we’ll explore later this month.
- Nonprofits Critical to CSR: The news for nonprofits is very positive, with 8 in 10 executives saying they consider nonprofits valuable partners. Nonprofits are seen as ideal partners because they make their CSR investment more effective, provide a critical foundation and infrastructure, contribute expertise and help engage consumers.
- Senior Leadership Drives Success: Nearly all executives reported that strong and vocal support from senior managers (94%) and well-defined objectives and outcomes (91%) are the most important ingredients in creating successful CSR programs.
What these findings highlight for our team is a shift in why CSR programs are undertaken. Corporations are looking at community needs and asking how they can narrow and better focus their resources and expertise to foster genuine change on specific critical issues. Given the urgent need for action in the U.S. on vital issues such as education, health and wellness, economic development and environmental sustainability, that’s encouraging news.
We’ve highlighted key findings and our perspective on the strategic implications they present for corporations and nonprofits in a two-page PDF that you can download. You can also view a detailed PowerPoint. Let us know what findings you find interesting and if they prompt questions you’d like us to explore on these pages.
One of the reasons I enjoy open houses, aside from the chance to check out how people create a home for themselves, is that most hosts will put out a spread to welcome guests stopping by to take a look. It's a small gesture, and I know it’s about inspiring people to want to buy, but I appreciate it. So, apologies for not having any cake to offer you as you stop by to check out the launch of our new Weber Shandwick Social Impact blog. (Blame my colleagues. I wanted to give you cake.) What we do hope to offer on these pages is lively conversation, thoughtful ideas and our perspectives on how the evolving social web is changing how nonprofits and foundations communicate. We know there is real innovation happening within nonprofit communications, but we also know that there are challenges with how best to leverage social media to build brands and mobilize advocates. And, we've seen on blogs like Beth's Blog and A. Fine Blog, which we're big fans of, that this is a topic that many people are focused on. That's why we're excited to be launching, in just a few days, findings from a new survey on Social Media in the Nonprofit Sector. Over the next few weeks, we'll dig into some of the specific findings that really caught our attention, and talk about their implications. We hope you'll join in this conversation, and come back often. Next time, we'll have cake.