5 Awesome Nonprofit Tweets

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A while ago I created a Twitter list of Milwaukee nonprofits and have been adding to it since. Because I run social media accounts for a nonprofit, I’ve drawn inspiration from the organizations on this list.  I thought I’d share some of my favorites from the past week and why I think they’re effective.

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The Power of Digital Storytelling: Climate Wisconsin

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With a combination of great design, beautiful web typography  and an important message, Climate Wisconsin presents compelling stories about climate change in the state. Personal stories about ice fishing, farming, fly fishing, forestry, extreme heat and other climate related topics make the increasingly important issue of climate change relatable and compelling. Ten beautifully photographed, filmed and edited stories and two interactive infographics convey the impacts of climate change on a variety of people, traditions and industries throughout Wisconsin.

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Official Announcement: SCVNGR trek is done!

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Yep, it’s finally finished! I put in lots of work and I’m thrilled with the outcome. I’m still interested in any feedback that users would like to share, but I think that it will be a fun experience for most people.

Even though the trek itself may seem simple and fun to do, there were a lot of decisions that went into planning it.

Why SCVNGR?

Mobile technology and location-based gaming is growing in popularity and I don’t think it’s going away for a long time. I wanted to see how I could use that technology to help get people outside and to an organization I care about (and work for), the Urban Ecology Center.

There are plenty of other location-based mobile games for smart phones out there, but when I learned about SCVNGR I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. SCVNGR allows you to string together a series of “challenges” into a trek. Challenges must be completed in a specific location and can include responding to an open-ended question, answering a question with a specific right answer, taking a photo, or scanning a QR code.

Although many people have smart phones these days, one of the really fantastic things about SCVNGR treks is that they can be played via text messages. So, those of us with “dumb phones” don’t feel excluded!

In addition to being exactly what I was looking for, a SCVNGR staff member was extremely helpful in helping me get set up. After learning that Marquette has a SCVNGR trek for it’s campus, I got in touch with the guy I thought was responsible for setting it up, Tim Cigelske (@TeecycleTim). Turns out that a guy named Jeff Kirchick (@jeffreykirchick), the Universities and Independent Schools Specialist at SCVNGR set it up. Tim got me in touch with Jeff (Thanks, Tim!), who was happy to hear about my interest in SCVNGR. He also granted me capacity to create a trek, something you normally have to pay for (Thanks, Jeff!), and had a lot of helpful tips and pointers for trek creation.

With that, I began building the “Explore Riverside Park” trek.

Trek Overview

This trek is meant to be a fun way for visitors to experience the Urban Ecology Center through a mobile gaming medium. I had three main goals in mind for the trek:

  • To help people discover some of the unique, fun and educational features of the Urban Ecology Center.
  • To teach users something about the organization and about nature in a fun way.
  • To get people out into Riverside Park and help them to gain some appreciation for it.

The Challenges of creating “Challenges”

There are tons of things to do at the Urban Ecology Center and many features of the building that are worth pointing out to people, but I really wanted to focus on some of the main highlights and leave a couple of things for people to wonder about and ask one of the knowledgeable employees or volunteers. A little human interaction never hurt anyone!

I also found it difficult to point out some features in a way that makes sense in the SCVNGR challenge format. For example, the flooring on the second story of the building was salvaged from a local school gymnasium and is over 100 years old. Pretty cool, right? But how would I point that out in a challenge? I couldn’t figure it out.

So, I narrowed my many options down to 6, and I think they’re pretty good! There are three photo challenges, two specific text response questions, and one QR code challenge. Even though I think the QR code scanning is fantastic, I limited myself to only using one, because those challenges are not available to people playing via text message.

Overall, I think it’s a fun balance of building exploration, education, and nature exploration. I created this fun promo video so you can see for yourself:

In addition to video, I created a prezi to give an overview of SCVNGR, the Urban Ecology Center, why I created the trek and to show some screen shots of the SCVNGR app on my iPod touch. Feel free to take a look at it:

And here are some of the screen shots of the app:

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So, go, play the trek! Have fun! Then tell me about it!

YNPN Social Media Panel

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This week I was honored to be a part of a social media panel for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) of Greater Milwaukee! I shared my experiences of setting up and running the social media accounts for the Urban Ecology Center and some of the unique opportunities that has created. I’m proud to report that our Facebook fan page has 3,309 fans and our Twitter account has 1,529 followers at the time of this post! Overall, running those accounts has been a fantastic experience, which I was happy to have the opportunity to talk about. Here is some of what I shared:

Start a Facebook fan page with a contest.

Right around the time we were going to launch the Urban Ecology Center Facebook fan page, I happened to have been lucky enough to hear a guest speaker in one of my marketing classes recommend launching with a contest. That proved to be great advice! We launched the fan page by letting our email subscribers know that we would be choosing three new fans to receive thank you gifts. We had over 1,000 fans in the first week!

Twitter is great for conversations.

All of the panelists agreed that Twitter is the easiest media to have a conversation with followers. While we get a lot of great engagement with our fans on Facebook, what we really like about Twitter is the real-time communication. Most of our messaging on those two media are similar, but we update Twitter more frequently and can respond to people directly a little more easily.

Foursquare encourages people to come to your location and share it with friends.

At the Urban Ecology Center, part of the goal is to get people outside having fun. With foursquare, we can encourage check-ins not only at our branch locations, but we can also encourage people to check-in to County Parks and other green spaces. Foursquare users can also send out tweets and facebook messages about the locations they’ve been to, increasing the likelihood of their peers to check out those spots as well. Actually, a new service that I just discovered, takes that idea even further. It’s called SCVNGR, and I’ll write a separate post about that fantastic location based social media game!

Three other nonprofits were represented on the panel by their young professional social media pros as well. Caroline Anderson (@Caro_Anderson) represented Meta House (@metahouse) Carol Voss represented Independence First (@Independence1st) and Meghan Arnold (MeghanCArnold) represented the Milwaukee County Transit System (@RideMCTS). Kim Jahnke (@KimberlyJahnke) did a great job planning and moderating the event. I won’t try to sum up all of the wisdom that they shared, but I will recommend following all of them on twitter!

Guest bartending at AJ Bombers – a fundraiser for the Urban Ecology Center

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Tomorrow night, Oct 1st, I will be guest bartending at one of my favorite local restaurants, AJ Bombers! I decided to do this for a couple of reasons. 1). I think it will be a fun way to raise some money for an organization that I really care about, the Urban Ecology Center. 2). AJ Bombers has been successfully using social media (especially Twitter and Foursquare) to drive business, so this will be a great way to gain more exposure for the Urban Ecology Center. 3). This is a great opportunity to reach a bunch of people who have probably not heard of the organization, but may be excited to learn about what an incredible resource it is! 4.) Why not?!

I am basically only using social media to promote this event, so for me it’s an exciting experiment in using social media to raise money and awareness for a nonprofit organization. I’ll have more to report on after the event, but for now, feel free to RSVP and come on out:

Here’s the Twitvite: http://twtvite.com/ecomke2

Find AJ Bombers and the Urban Ecology Center on Twitter:

AJ Bombers: @ajbombers
Urban Ecology Center: @UrbanEcology

Learn more about the Urban Ecology Center here:

http://www.urbanecologycenter.org/