Social Media Research and Development

VISTA Name: 
Billy Brown
Program Start: 
Program End: 
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.

Promotional Products Website


Design and copy of a promotional products website for Grassroots.org by corps member Scott D’Antuono.


Transmission Project