This is a post I have been preparing for along time, thanks to Kathrin for reminding me to publish it.
ICT tools and in particular social media have been things that has been close to me heart for along time, and I would to give you and example of why this is so;
I previously worked for an non-profit know as WildlifeDirect Inc
(WD), it deals in creating awareness on wildlife and conservation issues and also helps conservationists fundraise through the website.
WD was founded by Dr. Richard Leakey in 2004 seeking to get revolutionary ways to get the conservation message across to as many people, one thing he was certain about was that the old model of writing grant proposals was not sustainable so he looked to blogging, which was slowly growing then, and fundraising through blogs.
This ensured that with minimal expenditure, conservationists could get their messages out and with the interconnected nature of the world wide web, the blogs could be read by as many people as there were online. And this people in turn would be a community which would be called upon any time there was a crisis.
The results was mind-blowing, the WildlifeDirect site raised over USD 125,000 dollars in its first year of operation.
How did they do it?
First conservationists were taught how to blog, as many of them had never heard of the term blogging before ;-), them if necessary equipped with a laptop and an internet connection and left to write. A minimum of two blog posts a week was the benchmark to ensure that the site maintained regular content.
Next the WD staff, that include me, would push and promote this stories to as wide an audience as possible, from focusing niche community to sharing sites like digg.
As more people got to know about the site, more people became donors and as they say the rest is history...
The tools used
We used facebook two-fold, the first being to push traffic to the site and the second to maintain a community of people who did not necessarily want to be on the on the site, towards this end we created a facebook cause page and a fan page both of which are still thriving communities, with the most recent donation on the cause page being last week.
Twitter being a more formal community we used it to push traffic t the website and also create linkages with others who were and are in the same business as WD is. The success is evident in that after six months of usage, twitter became the second highest source of traffic after Google.
This were used solely for driving traffic for the site because of their nature as sites that people got to for new stories and blogposts.
The WildifeDirect website
One thing I should stress is in any online campaign, your best available tool for community building is your website, build a good one, ensure that its is active and has a regular update of content and you are going to be OK. These we made sure of, also the best place to create a community of users on the site is through commenting, we encouraged the conservationists who were blogging to respond to each and every comment as this ensures a personal conversation between the visitor the blogger.
This is something I believe we can replicate here, use these tools and others to spur and sustain conversation about governance in extractive industries and in turn ensure, benefits accrue to all and the most needy.