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Digital Expansion Initiative Program Developer

Organization: 
People's Production House
VISTA Name: 
Alexis Walker
Program Start: 
6/2007
Project Description: 

The Digital Expansion Initiative uses participant-led media production, education, and organizing to expand meaningful access to all New Yorkers. The VISTA will support the project by producing and helping others produce radio and by conducting research.

- Develop a comprehensive understanding of the barrier to technology access in poor communities in New York City by training members of 5 - 10 non-profit organizations to research and report on the state of Internet access in their organizations and among their constituencies
- Produce and distribute community-produced content documenting the state of Internet access in New York City as a way to engage new constituents in the development of broadband infrastructure of programs to bridge the digital divide
- Based on community-produced content, produce and distribute comprehensive report on barrier to Internet access in New York City
- Build a new constituency of engaged and conversant experts on community access technology, based in communities with no or limited access to technology, and the capacity to continue expanding that constituency

Project Outcome: 

During her year of service, Alexis served as the program associate for a new program: the Digital Expansion Initiative. In this capacity, she served as support for the program - maintaing contact records and contacting organizations for partnerships, consolidating data, researching articles and resources, updating website content, conducting audio interviews, administering a written survey, writing articles on public policy of telecommunications, and presenting the initiative’s finding and methods in workshops around NYC and the country.

Outreach Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Erin Taylor
Program Start: 
9/2006
Project Description: 

The VISTA will work with the Project’s support staff and VISTA Leaders to provide coordination and support to other VISTAs in the field on professional, personal, and some administrative matters relating to service.

- Assist VISTA leaders and staff in coordinating training and conference attendance/participation
- Work with VISTA leaders on the development and coordination of collaborative projects developed by VISTAs throughout the year
- Coordinate the avenues of communications among VISTAs (blogs, newsletter, website)
- Assist with organizational outreach efforts
- Coordinate outreach to educational institutions and online communities that may be good sources of VISTA recruits

Project Outcome: 

Erin Taylor has proved herself to be both hard working and innovative during her VISTA service and has greatly improved the ability of the CTC VISTA Project to accomplish its mission and programs.

As Project Development Associate, Erin was instrumental in improving our outreach and communication. Erin developed a comprehensive plan for outreach to colleges and other media technology programs, significantly enlarging our pool of qualified VISTA applicants. Additionally, Erin’s research of organizational and institutional partners led us to having one of the most successful VISTA placement rounds ever, with more than 100 organizations submitting applications. On her work on The Digest, our organization’s newsletter and review, Erin worked closely with staff and VISTAs to produce four unique and high-quality issues.

In addition to outreach work, Erin greatly improved our fundraising capacity. Erin researched more than 40 funding institutions, documenting her processes and providing a strong foundation for future development. She leaves many templates for proposals and grant language, and submitted many letters of introduction and one complete proposal.

Lastly, Erin has proved invaluable in her collaborations with other local VISTAs and VISTA Leaders. In addition to helping to bring about two successful Pre-Service Orientations and our monthly area meetings, Erin has greatly helped in encouraging discussion and creating collaborations between members and organizations.

Media Watch Team Social Media Development

VISTA Name: 
Colleen Kelly
Program Start: 
6/2006
Project Description: 

- Develop fund raising campaigns
- Develop personalized blogs for Media Watch Team members and citizen journalists
- Assist in the training Media Watch Team members and other staff in absic digital media authoring, such as video blogging
- Create a packaged curriculum for train-the-trainer workshops for digital media creation and facilitate the actual workshops
- Implement a membership system for online resources
- develop relationships with community leaders and organizations for building a strong youth media network in Boston

Project Outcome: 

Organized web resource area and assisted in the production of outreach and PR materials.

Marketing and Outreach

Organization: 
Grassroots.org
VISTA Name: 
Molly Fergus
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
5/2010
Project Description: 

We determined the need for the marketing/member recruitment project based on the positive reaction Grassroots.org received from publicity on Reddit.com, Mashable.com, The MIVA Ad Network and Monster.com at the end of 2008. Being featured on all of these websites generated significant traffic to Grassroots.org and both our membership and new volunteers increased as a result. Knowing what a little publicity can do for a nonprofit like Grassroots.org made it clear that a stronger online marketing and member recruitment campaign will be essential to us.

The VISTA will inform more nonprofits about Grassroots.org and expand our client base, increasing the number of people we serve. Last year Grassroots.org began a campaign to reach out through many social networking sites and create monthly press releases. Findings were that neither of these methods brought in significant members. What did attract major traffic to our site was free online advertising Grassroots.org received in addition to outreach to bloggers. This year a Grassroots.org VISTA would build upon what we have found will achieve success: focusing on membership by reaching out to umbrella organizations, continuing to network with bloggers, and pinpointing the social networking sites best suited to Grassroots.org.

Working in cooperation with the Executive Director and Director of Outreach & Development, the Communications Coordinator responsibilities would be to:

-Develop, plan and execute an online fundraising campaign, reach out to potential partners

-Develop and execute a strategic marketing/member recruitment campaign. The marketing/member recruitment campaign will allow us to reach as many potential nonprofit organizations as possible, increasing our capacity to serve. In addition, the campaign will increase our financial capacity as an organization as warranted attention attracts the attention of potential donor and partner organizations.

Project Outcome: 

Shortly after coming to Grassroots.org, Molly created a Public Relations/Marketing plan for us and has been implementing the plan for the past 3 months. Molly created a format for writing and sending out press releases and created a network for us to distribute our media materials to (including local news outlets and nonprofit technology blogs). She launched our first public relations campaign, which landed coverage in PC Magazine, Ode Magazine and the Philanthropy Journal. Molly regularly edits and contributes to the Grassroots.org website, notably our press page and frequent blog posts. Molly has been instrumental in engaging our nonprofit membership by recruiting members to contribute to the newsletter, annual report and blog.

Molly has accomplished an incredible amount for us in the past 6 months and has been a wonderful addition to Grassroots.org. Molly’s press efforts have undoubtedly played a large part of the huge membership growth Grassroots experienced in the last year. In addition to helping us gain new members, Molly has also reengaged older members by reaching out to them for blog contributions. These engagement efforts are so important to us because the best way for us to gain new members is my word of mouth. So far, Molly has launched a “Member of the Month” series that allows us to feature one Grassroots member every month and give our other members advice on what makes a good nonprofit website. The monthly release has been standardized and will be very easy to continue to publish for other staff. In addition, Molly created our “Tool of the week” series. This feature presents reviews from Grassroots.org staff of technology tools that we think would benefit our members. This series has been extremely popular. Molly not only created the format for the series, but also came up with an extensive list of tools that we will be able to continue to feature on a weekly basis.

In addition to the annual report (which came about because Molly was self-motivated and thought that it would benefit our organization immensely), Molly has greatly extended the reach of our organization through her work in developing our social networking reach; namely our Twitter account. Although we had a Twitter account that was managed by me (Laura Benack) when Molly came on board, she completely changed the way we were using this outlet. In addition to getting all recent Grassroots.org news pushed out on Twitter, Molly also started to thoughtfully share useful articles and resources with our Twitter followers and interacting daily with other users in the nonprofit and technology fields. Molly has grown our follower list to just under 3,000 in just a few months. We will now be able to leverage this community of followers in the future and continue her methods of Twitter engagement.

Social Media Research and Development

VISTA Name: 
Billy Brown
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

The Community Center is seeking to further develop its social networking presence and find innovative new ways to use technology to expand its outreach so that it can better serve low-income residents in St Bernard Parish, located at the epicenter of devastation from Hurricane Katrina.

The CTC Vista member will be contribute to the success of the project by evaluating all current social networking strategies and, to the extent possible, determining effectiveness and ROI. Research into best practices to increase effectiveness of current strategies will also be undertaken, and the use of additional social networking methodologies will need to be assessed. Should the addition of new strategies be determined to be advisable, the CTC Vista member will work with the Development Director and Executive Director to develop means to implement, maintain and monitor them.

Activity 1: Assess current social networking methods used by the Community Center has been accomplished.
Activity 2: Assist Development Director in designing online fundraising campaign for Holiday Season 2009 has been accomplished.
Activity 3: Develop a cause-based marketing catalog has been accompished in cooperation with the Development Director

Project Outcome: 

The VISTA conducted research into best practices, implemented the findings, and prepared monthly reports of social media participation data (twitter followers, facebook fans, myspace friends, etc). As a result, the VISTA has significantly expanded our social media outreach on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. The VISTA also worked with our food pantry manager to develop a blog to raise awareness, funding and food for the food pantry – see ffon.tumblr.com for the result. The VISTA conducted a social media use study of other nonprofits in St Bernard Parish, Louisiana, and a preliminary study of social media use by nonprofits in the greater New Orleans area that are doing the same type of work as the Community Center (long-term disaster recovery) has also been completed. Data from these 2 studies is currently being analyzed and the findings will be used by our next VISTA to further develop the social media strategy used by the Community Center.

The VISTA prepared 2 short videos which the Development Director integrated into the end of the year fundraising campaign (both available at www.youtube.com/ccstb), including the “Thank You” video which was the cornerstone of this campaign. The VISTA produced a 5 minute overview of the Community Center and a volunteer testimonial (all available at www.youtube.com/ccstb). The VISTA also compiled a CD that contains a comprehensive introduction to the Community Center of St Bernard. The CD includes video footage of hurricane Katrina damage to St Bernard and surrounding parishes, used by permission of levees.org, along with statements from the Community Center’s Executive Director, and a 12 minute video shot entirely by the VISTA that has interviews with key Community Center staff and details both the services available at the Community Center as well as ongoing needs. This CD is distributed to Community Center donors who give more than $25 as well as offered for sale for $10 to the more than 1,100 volunteers from all around the world who come to the Community Center annually. The 12 minute video will also be a key component in the various fundraising tours that the Executive Director is planning for coming months.

Activity 3, the online giving catalog, proved the most challenging of all the tasks undertaken by the VISTA. Deciding on items to include and whether to structure the catalog as a retail sale (eg buy t-shirt with the Community Center logo and part of the sale price goes to the Community Center) vs a sponsorship sale (buy a hot meal for 40 people for $10 or 200 lbs of rice for the food pantry for $50) was the first challenge. In the end, after a review of what other non-profits are using, a sponsorship sale based on that used by Heifer International and the World Wildlife Federation was chosen. The next step was coding this catalog, including setting up a shopping cart that automatically generates the ability to choose from a variety of “thank you” e-cards for the purchaser after the sale is complete. We are very grateful to the VISTA for his dedication to the project and his willingness to develop his technical skills which enabled him to finish this complex project.

Web Projects Coordinator

Organization: 
Grassroots.org
VISTA Name: 
Scott D'Antuono
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
9/2010
Project Description: 

In response to our rapid membership growth, we saw a rise in the demand for new products and services and realized the need for support tools for our other 3 existing services as well as the importance of support for new services as they are added. Our VISTA will build support resources and strengthen capacity of sub domain web content.

-Build comprehensive online training and support resources for remaining 3 applications in Toolbox and new applications as they are added to the Toolbox. Ensure that applications are fully sustainable & documented, saving staff time while helping smaller nonprofits make use of the Toolbox.

- Strengthen the capacity of Grassroots.org’s sub domain website content to serve nonprofits, recruit new members, and generate needed attention from nonprofits, volunteers, donors and partners.

-Manage Grassroots.org’s newsletters, recruit members/partners to publish entries for Grassroots.org blog

Project Outcome: 

Scott created help guides, Webinars and supplemental materials to make the Grassroots.org Toolbox experience seamless for al Grassroots.org members. Scott took over the management of our NING social networking site in addition to streamlining our SEO consulting program and making the application process for the Social Venture Consulting program more efficient. Scott authored an extensive amount of content on our blog, such as the “Tool of the Week” series and our “Faces of Change” video series. In addition, Scott created estore.grassroots.org (a promotional products website resulting in 4% donations for Grassroots.org) and was an essential force in creating Interns.org on Wordpress. Scott’s positive, can-do attitude enabled him to complete every project he was asked to complete.

Scott ended up developing our NING Community Networking site. Scott fully took over this project from the design to the moderation of the site. Scott also took on the role of reaching out face-to-face with our local members, something he had a personal interest in and showed initiative in doing. In addition to promoting Grassroots.org through attending “GrassrootsCamp” NY Tech Meetup events, Scott got involved in the projects of our member orgs. For example, Scott volunteered his time to sketch/design a handbook for Grassroots.org member “Getting Tools to City Schools” and their sustainable binder project. Scott is a true joy to have in the office and his greatest accomplishment in my opinion is his positive contribution to morale.

Impact Quote: 

Scott was able to accomplish every task that we gave him. Scott was very responsible about asking for help when he needed it and seeking out the tools he needed to complete tasks. It was a pleasure working with him throughout the year and in fact, we hired him at the end of his VISTA term.

Website and Social Media Development

VISTA Name: 
Kelsey Parris
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
9/2011
Project Description: 

This project would involve an update of SoFAB’s website. This would include the integration of the e-commerce site, blog, twitter and Facebook components, the newsletter, developing the e-zine, collections, and the wiki of Southern Food. This would make the marketing of SoFAB more modern and direct. It would mean that we will reach more members of the community who can become involved with SoFAB and its programs.

The VISTA member would be helping SoFAB “catch up” and would train the appropriate staff to maintain and continue to update the technical capacity of the organization. In-person training, as well as a training manual, would be a legacy that would build the capacity of the organization.

- Work with the webmaster and various appropriate staff members to implement the technology necessary to achieve the goals of integration, improved content and improved marketing.
- Make recommendations and suggestions to the staff, based on the volunteer’s observations, skill and experience.

Project Outcome: 

First, because of her willingness to become a part of the organization, and secondly, because of her knowledge and understanding of the technology, Kelsey became integral to our planning process, helping us to make choices and actually use the advances in technology in new ways. She dragged us into thinking in new ways about what we were doing, so that now our entire culture has changed into being not only more modern, more attuned to technology, but also in now thinking to include new technologies in all of our projects and in our actions. This was a major cultural shift, accomplished by the example and encouragement of our VISTA member.

1. An update of SoFAB’s website, including the integration of the e-commerce site and blog. This goal was completely accomplished, except that we have merely archived the old blog and have begun to use our Facebook account instead.
2. Twitter and Facebook components were established.
3. The newsletter, developing the e-zine, collections, and the wiki of Southern Food have all been advanced.
4. Our website was entirely redesigned and completely updated and reorganized. Our VISTA member was the primary person behind all of this, assisted by summer interns and other volunteers.

Kelsey continues to refine the projects that she worked on last year and to prepare a video game regarding children and nutrition.

Impact Quote: 

Kesley dragged us into thinking in new ways about what we were doing, so that now our entire culture has changed into being not only more modern, more attuned to technology, but also in now thinking to include new technologies in all of our projects and in our actions. This was a major cultural shift, accomplished by the example and encouragement of our VISTA member.”

Liz Wiliams, Supervisor

Online Marketing and Outreach Development

VISTA Name: 
Joseph Crugnale
Program Start: 
7/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

We would like to host a VISTA member who will develop effective social media communication that will support and complement A-VOYCE’s existing communications and outreach structure. The VISTA member will primarily be responsible developing our use of social media tools such as, but not limited to, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, wikis, for publicity, marketing, and fundraising purposes. The VISTA will develop training material for youth and staff on blogging, podcasting, digital and social media. ACDC needs to capitalize on social networking media and build our organizational capacity through increased use of technology-enabled venues.

Goal: To create and implement a web-based marketing and outreach strategy for ACDC and A-VOYCE youth development program in order to maximize the program’s outreach and fundraising capacity

Project Outcome: 

One of my main tasks is putting together our Annual Report. One of the more interesting elements of the report has been coordinating Chinese translations that accurately capture our programs; luckily there are staff members here who are able to help out with this.

The power of Facebook, Twitter, and many other forms of social media continue to fascinate me. We have some really innovative urban planning, human development, and youth-based programs which I think have great potential to be marketed using social media. It will be a good experiment to see just what is possible using these up and coming tools.

I have been able to apply my IST monies towards an accounting class. While at first glace an accounting class may not seem relevant to my marketing and communications work, it has been beneficial as I am gaining a greater understanding of how my organization operates. Additionally, it has helped me draft the important financial sections of our annual report, and compile content for charity rating websites which closely examine non-profit finances.

Online Community Manager

VISTA Name: 
Donna Choi
Program Start: 
7/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

This project will strengthen both our capacity to deliver services to our member organizations and simultaneously encourage them to share knowledge and best practices among themselves by connecting them, encouraging collaboration, and disseminating content and analyses through social media tools and technologies. The VISTA staffer will further develop our social networking capabilities, broadening and deepening our engagement with people through these interfaces. They are absolutely crucial to keep the organization lively and useful, and draw new members in. Social media is rapidly becoming a core demand that people want and need as part of a membership of a national network that seeks to bring organizations together.

1. Manage and contribute to the 2009-10 Technology Infrastructure plan, which will continue to build the capacity of our members’ to connect and work with each other more fully.
2. Work in collaboration with program staff to create new content and interactive areas of the NAMAC website; edit and post web content regularly to keep it fresh and relevant; maintain the website and its technical needs.
3. Work with staff to set a social media strategy, and build out NAMAC’s capacity to reach members and the public through social media tools.
4. Work with NAMAC staff to pilot a series of webinars on the use of social media tools.
5. Expand and publish NAMAC’s web-based toolkits and guides to build capacity of our members’ organizations.
6. Work with staff to engage and reach out to members by communicating with them regularly through social media platforms; and develop metrics for NAMAC-based website and social networking usage.

Project Outcome: 

Donna completed several significant web-based graphic design and technical projects during her assignment with NAMAC. She has significantly built the capacity of NAMAC’s online interactivity and resource-sharing to reach and assist members and the public around the country and globally.

Donna’s primary focus has been on developing the interactivity of the NAMAC website, in particular the Idea Exchange. This entails identifying which actions/networks are key for building our online presence and in building strong relationships with a team of bloggers who represent a cross-section of our online community, in terms of region, discipline, generation, and other important demographic criteria.

We have received increased traffic to our website, and conduct most of our membership business via the website: from conference and event registration to promotion and marketing, to resource-sharing, news and analysis across the field. The new look and architecture that Donna instituted has branded NAMAC as a leading web presence and has integrated well with our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube social media platforms.

Impact Quote: 

Not only did Donna meet our goal to redesign the website look, but she exceeded it. She gave the site a look that is striking and refined, and easy to work with by any new OCM. She worked out Drupal bugs, and brought Drupal developers in as consultants to upgrade the site to the current Drupal iteration. She interfaced with them throughout the changeover process. - Jack Walsh, VISTA Supervisor

Social Media Development

Organization: 
Reel Grrls
VISTA Name: 
Nickey Robare
Program Start: 
7/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

In our recent strategic planning process, we determined that our use of online outreach tools (our website, blog, YouTube channel and multiple social networking sites) were not yet in alignment with our mission of being a fresh, vibrant youth media organization that uses the latest technology to empower our constituency. We envision that a CTC VISTA volunteer will 1) evaluate our current online outreach strategy and tools, 2) implement a new strategy to update our current website and use of other online tools as well as expand into other social networking platforms (e.g., Twitter, text messaging) and 3) develop a plan for the organization to sustain these practices in the future.

Our CTC VISTA volunteer will have two primary roles during his or her period of service with Reel Grrls: 1) to support the expansion and relaunch of our website 2) to take the lead in conceiving, launching and managing social networking/marketing opportunities and building a meaningful online presence for our organization.

Specific tasks will include:
-Develop evaluation criteria and goals for website relaunch and conduct interviews w/stakeholders for input
-Write online outreach strategic plan recommendations and present to staff and board
-Prepare & upload media for streaming/online applications
-Update and design quarterly enews format, as well as regular blog, facebook, text and twitter posts
-Track and evaluate website traffic for increase in participant/sales/fundraising goals
-Incorporate new online strategy into organizations overall technology plan
-Train staff in sustaining website and online outreach tools at completion of project

This individual will have the responsibility of evaluating online ventures, assessing the efficacy of different strategies, educating staff, and making these new activities sustainable. As part of the social networking and fundraising activities, this individual will also help build online partnerships and visibility for the media created by our participants.

Project Outcome: 

Nickey has totally revamped our social marketing presence and strategy, increasing our Facebook network to over 1200 fans and bringing our Twitter followers to over 1700. She also revived our long-dormant blog - helping develop a schedule and model for posts from staff and participants, redesigned our YouTube channel, participated in our website redesign project with the Taproot foundation, and redesigned our templates for program outreach and registration. Nickey has done a great job of developing new ideas and really showing leadership in terms of growing our online community - and understanding how to be an active contributing participant in networks like Twitter and Facebook. Where many organizations will simply Tweet or post about their own successes, Nickey has helped us learn to offer interesting articles, videos, analysis and funding opportunities to our networks. That way, when it does come time to promote our own programming or events, our network doesn’t feel bombarded by asks. She and I have worked closely together in developing strategies and making decisions, and she has shown great initiative and leadership skills in being able to take projects from idea to execution.

Thanks to Nickey’s efforts at developing our online presence, Reel Grrls has become a significant contributor to online discussions of women and media within the Twitter community. Many of our outreach materials - in print and online - have had major facelifts. And we’ve finally launched the “GAB (Grrls Advisory Board)” - a youth-led advisory group that was in the works for a long time before Nickey’s energy was able to bring it to life. We are currently working to reframe our intern job descriptions to include some of the work that Nickey has been doing on an ongoing basis. Additionally, Nickey is developing a social marketing handbook that will help us integrate ongoing social marketing tasks into permanent staff members’ duties.

Nickey has a great eye for graphic design, so she has pitched in to help redesign program outreach materials, event programs, enewsletters and DVD covers - which has been a huge asset in presenting a vibrant image of Reel Grrls to the outside world. Nickey has also jumpstarted our Grrls Advisory Board, led a couple of Reel Grrls Productions projects for clients, and started a plan to create a sales catalogue of our DVD library.

Transmission Project