Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You Can Make a Difference Today. Here's How.

The BCI Blog is participating for the first time in the Non-Profit Blog Exchange Virtual Event. Each participant writes about another participant's blog, and they write about yours. The result is that everyone gets new readers and attention for the work they do.

The blog I was asked to write about is the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This Chicago organization seeks to connect people from around the world with information and networks that help support the growth of comprehensive, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs. As it turns out, I was a volunteer mentor myself a number of years ago. In fact, the satisfaction I got from mentoring what was led me to my present career in the non-profit field.

There are many things I like about this blog, but what most impressed me was that there is a call to action in nearly every post. This one immediately grabbed my attention by asking, “Did you get up this morning inspired to do something special?” and then going on to tell me, “There is something you can do EVERYDAY that can help make this a better world.”

T/MC, like BCI, serves a low-income, underprivileged population. Daniel Bassill, who writes their blog, knows that to bring about real change for these people, he must convince others of the urgency of taking action. It is not enough that people simply think mentoring is important; he wants them to volunteer, donate, and spread the word to others.

The question is, what makes someone take that step from being a supporter to being involved? What makes them step outside their comfort zone? Daniel believes peer-to-peer networking is the key. If you hear about a good cause from a trusted friend, aren’t you more likely to pay attention, than if you just see it on a Web site, or read it in a newsletter? And once you’re paying attention, you’re probably more likely to volunteer or donate to that cause.

As a blogger for BCI, I think of myself as starting a conversation with a virtual megaphone. I can inform you and inspire you, but then it’s up to you to continue that conversation. Maybe you email your friends what James Harrison said about the needle exchange. Maybe you become a fan of our Facebook Page, so your friends will ask you, “Brandywine Counseling? What’s that?” Old-fashioned conversation works too: “Hey, did you know The Lighthouse needs school supplies?

Networking matters in so many settings. Just look at how our clients decide to enter treatment for their drug addiction. We do not advertise our services. Our biggest recruiting tool is word of mouth, from our indigenous outreach workers who walk the streets. When a person is contemplating whether to enter treatment, that is a huge step outside their comfort zone. They can best be persuaded to take that leap by a messenger they identify with and trust.

So I would recommend the Tutor-Mentor Connection blog to anyone who believes in the power of peer to peer networking. And I challenge you to think about how you could make a difference, today, using your own personal network. How will you continue the conversation?


Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks for passing on this message. It would be great if thousands of blogs, and corporate advertising, had this networking graphic posted, with links to web libraries and databases where people could search by cause, or by geography, to find porgrams and places where they can give time, talent and dollars.

I'm not sure if you have observed the same thing, but I think a lot of non profits who are struggling to find resources, are not yet using blogs as a low cost way to tell their story and attract support.

You do a great job of this and I'm sure it help people know who you are and why they should help you. We need to help others to learn to do this, too.

I'll look forward to continuing to share information with you in our shared mission of helping people who need extra help.

Dan Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection

Matt said...

Dan, you're welcome, and I'm glad we were able to learn from one another via this blog exchange. I've found myself continually incorporating new strategies in my blogging, and will certainly follow your example of how to motivate and inspire people to action.