Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A framework for transforming abeyant communities at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre through digital media - Project Overview

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre has been in operation for nearly 20 years. The mandate of the facility is to help all injured and orphaned wildlife (including mammals, birds, and some reptiles/amphibians) and release them back into the wild. Sandy Pines runs an internship program and educational outreach to teach youth about local Ontario wildlife, and how to support and nurture our natural areas for the future. The younger community is an important market for Sandy Pines but could be categorized easily as abeyant. Creating a two-way dialogue with this group is imperative for the longterm longevity of charitable organizations (Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011).

Sandy Pines relies heavily on volunteers and charitable donations (they receive no government funding). As a non-profit/charitable organization, Sandy Pines experiences the usual challenges of funding, volunteer management , abeyant communities and continuously meeting their mandate on a shoestring. Creating awareness of the organization is only one-step towards the longevity of Sandy Pines. Awareness must be turned into action. Action can be measured through changes in behaviour, increased donations, or volunteer registrations. Utilizing social and digital media in a way that inspires action versus simple engagement isn't always intuitive for charities (Kanter, 2010).

Building upon Briones' research that highlights the necessity of digital media for public relations in the non-profit sector (2011), this research project will address not the should it be done, but rather the strategies in which it should be done. Digital media has made enormous strides since the first discussions in the early 1970's, in fact as Lee lists it has contributed to the decrease in infant mortality, a decrease in littering and the persuasion of pet owners to 'poop and scoop' (2011). Large, multinational charities are outpacing the private sector in their digital media, in fact 89% are using some of form of digital media (Barnes & Mattson, 2008). The question is whether a local, small charity can have the same profound positive changes in a abeyant community.

Sandy Pines needs a digital assessment, a short-term implemented strategy and conclusions to draw from that will enable the organization to concentrate their efforts on the digital media that have the greatest opportunity for impact and action.

The final analysis will provide insights into the following:
  • Percentage of digital engaged members that act (volunteer, donate or change their behaviour)
  • Timeline from engagement to action per person
  • Profile of who the typical digital community member that acts is compared to one that doesn’t act 
  • What digital media channels are most likely to engage community members that act 
  • A digital media strategy to implement as a result of the analysis 
  • Evaluation (phase 2)

Barnes, N. G., & Mattson, E. (2008). Still setting the pace in social media: The first longitudinal study of
usage by the largest US charities. Center for Marketing Research.

Briones, R. L., Kuch, B., Liu, B. F., & Jin, Y. (2011). Keeping up with the digital age: How the American
Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 37-43.

Kanter, B., & Fine, A. (2010). The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with social media to drive change.

Lee, N. R., & Kotler, P. (2011). Social marketing: Influencing behaviors for good. SAGE Publications,

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