The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 7

Digital Tools and Strategies for Affecting Change with Boris Kievsky

In this Episode:

Boris hosts a special episode devoted to how nonprofits can and should use storytelling and technology to enact change in the world.

Listen to this Episode

Introduction 0:02
Welcome to the nonprofit Hero Factory, our weekly live video, broadcast and Podcast, where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more Heroes for their cause. And a better word for all of us.

Boris Kievsky 0:19
Hi, everybody. Welcome to a special episode of the nonprofit Hero Factory. This is going to be a solo episode. Normally I do have guests on and I will have guests next week again. But today I wanted to take a few minutes and give you a short episode talking about something that’s really important to me. And I think to millions of other people in the world right now. And that is the injustice is going on and what nonprofits can and I believe should be doing to help address them. So this episode seven is titled digital tools and strategies for effecting change. And I want to focus on social advocacy and change making tools for non profits

Boris Kievsky 1:01
I just published a new blog post on the dotorgstrategy blog outlining a lot of the tools and strategies and there will be links to that in the show notes. But today, I just want to talk about the need for us to stand up and take action.

Boris Kievsky 1:18
There are people in this country who are both literally and figuratively taking to the streets right now to demand justice, to demand a better America and a better world for all of us. And I know that that is at the heart of what a lot of nonprofits are doing. If you’re not out to make the world a better place, then I’m not sure what you’re doing as a nonprofit, what else your mission might possibly have to say. And I think these causes, whether it’s what’s happening right now with Black Lives Matter and demanding justice for George Floyd and to many other African Americans in this country that are unjustly being murdered in the streets and in their homes, or it’s fighting pandemics.

Boris Kievsky 1:59
Like COVID-19 and misinformation around the issues that are going on out thereare literally dozens, if not hundreds of other issues that may not be at the forefront right now, but are critical to our nation’s future and our world’s future, you must be fighting for one of those, you must be looking to make a difference in one of those areas. And while I believe that most are doing their best and have great programming, that they’re trying to get out to as many people as possible, I think we can be doing more and I think we have to be doing more in terms of social activism, driving change through political and other activist measures. So with that, I wanted to talk about why this time is different, and what we can actually do. We’ve been here before, right? We’ve had protests, we’ve had riots for all manner of issues, whether it’s race, whether it’s other rights, basic human rights, women’s rights.

Boris Kievsky 3:00
Whether it’s just the way that our government interacts with other countries and people in other places in the world, or the economy, whatever it might be, we’ve had these types of protests before. So why is to borrow a question from Passover? Why is this night different from every other night? Why is today and this particular moment in time different from all the others? I believe it is because of technology, and the ability of technology to deliver more powerful stories to everyone out there today. Everyone is a broadcaster, every single person on on the street who has a smartphone is capable of starting a broadcast of sharing a video and of sparking a movement, like the one on the streets of the United States and around the world today. story is, as I always say, the most powerful agent for change and for inspiring action.

Boris Kievsky 4:03
Many of us watched the video of what happened to George Floyd. Someone happened to shoot that video, someone happened to be nearby, and was able to capture what was happening there and share it with the world based on that people were emotionally connected to what was happening regardless, hopefully, regardless of your, your race, your your beliefs, seeing another human being suffer like that needlessly unjustly has to spark some sort of emotion within you. It could be rage, it could be empathy, it’s likely both. But it has to actually affect you. That is part of the human condition that is part of our DNA. We evolved with storytelling we evolved with the ability to connect to others through story. And now technology exists, whether it’s video recording technology, or social media that allows those video recordings to spread like wildfire throughout our society, the technology exists today where we can actually do more than just witness and document. But we can actually push and inspire action that will that must lead to change. I’m sorry, if I’m sounding so boxy today, I obviously feel strongly about this. And I hope most of you out there do too. I want to take a few minutes and mention some of the different some of the different tools that are out there. And I have highlighted a lot of these on the blog that you can find on my website. But just quickly to mention them. There are apps that have been specifically designed for this purpose, like the UCLA mobile justice apps that I believe are state specific and can be downloaded for your state to document and report the activities of law enforcement or other injustice is going on. And also to help you know your rights. Should you be in a situation where you think your civil rights might be violated. Then there are private and secure messaging apps like WhatsApp and signal that encrypt your communications so that you don’t have to worry about government reprisal, or anyone’s reprisal in terms of what you are talking to your fellow citizens, your communities about.

Boris Kievsky 6:18
There is the app citizen, which is used for listening into 911 official alerts and reports, but also to contribute to those feeds to be able to document and say, hey, there’s a fire going on, or there’s an injustice going on. And the police need to pay attention to this and others in our community need to pay attention to this maybe come out and help and support and and help us fix the issue if it’s something that can be fixed in the moment, or just get enough attention that more people actually care and do something about it. Tik tok, you know, is a very powerful social media tool that can be completely frivolous. It can be all about, you know, the latest jokes or getting videos, but it is also a great way to share content with a younger generation. And one of the advantages of tik tok is unlike the algorithms on Facebook and Instagram, on Tik tok, you can discover new videos much more readily, not just ones that your friends have shared. So it’s a great way to help new people discover things that you want them to see. Because it was all video based. With that Facebook and Facebook Messenger are still incredibly powerful whether you want to go live on Facebook with a with a interview with one of your volunteers who has seen something or someone who is a victim of something or just your organization, how you’re going to step up or are stepping up and making change. Or if it’s Facebook Messenger where you can message a whole lot of your supporters or person to person peer to peer messaging. I know I’ve received dozens of videos over the last few days and weeks. About the Black Lives Matter protests and the COVID-19 situation, right? People are using these tools to spread information quickly, hopefully, accurate information. And that’s another issue that we have to always consider. But if you seed this content out there and it resonates, it will spread quickly.

Boris Kievsky 8:24
Then there are platforms for more social activism in terms of government change., where you could find your representatives, you could find ways to communicate with them. There are several websites that I also mentioned, where you can actually see how people voted on how your Representatives voted on certain issues and what they support and what they don’t even where they’re funded. There is do this is an election year, do is very, very focused on making sure that there is a great voter turnout that people can easily registered to vote there promises anyone can register to vote, assuming you have the right to vote within a few minutes. They also have a whole lot of different campaigns that are on there and you could start your own, you can partner with them to create a campaign to get younger, younger people, but really any generation these days to stand up and take action of some sort or other whether it’s in community on a national or even a global level. is probably the most popular and famous petition site. There are several others where you can start a petition, you can find petitions to sign and when there are enough petitions signed, it gets forwarded to the appropriate representative in government, whether it be on a local or national level. We the people is the White House’s a site for petitions, I think the URL might even be But you could just go to the people and it’ll take you there and that is a direct form of communication where if you have over 100,000 signatures within a certain amount of time, I think it’s 30 or 60 days, 30 days, I think the government promises to respond in one way or another to your petition. How far that will take you. Your mileage may vary, but at least people will see that these petitions are out there that the government is forced to acknowledge the desires of the population. Then, of course, there are crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and many other Indiegogo, many other sites where a nonprofit charity can go on and start a movement in terms of attention and fundraising. The difference between a crowdfunding campaign and a regular donation page is that when you’re launching a campaign, you’re activating an entire community, and you’re trying to get them to also spread peer to peer, the importance of the mission that you’re trying to achieve in that particular moment. So it’s much easier in my opinion, to get attention to that cause beyond the community that you already supports you. It can reach a wider audience through not just search engines, but really through social media, people can easily say, hey, support this campaign. This is important. This is relevant to what’s happening right now. And that’s one of the key differentiators between a specific crowdfunding campaign versus a donate page that’s always up.

Boris Kievsky 11:20
Even sites like YouTube are currently being used for activism, whether it’s just posting videos, or what a lot of videos are now doing what a lot of video makers and channels are now doing is donating any advertising revenue from their YouTube streams to a specific charity to a specific organization like blacklivesmatter, or other organizations that are supporting social justice. What’s fantastic about that is it’s appealing to the Netflix binge culture, where if you just want to sit and watch on your couch, including of course the advertisements that sit and watch on your couch for hours at a time, you’re going to be watching hopefully interesting and relevant videos. Of course, but with those ads every time you watch an ad, the cause that that organization that that video channel is supporting is going to get a donation. And it’s a fantastic way to use tools and common culture that are out there for other reasons to help promote social change, whether it’s through awareness or actually driving donations.

Boris Kievsky 12:24
I said this was going to be a short episode, and I’m going to keep it that way. I’m just going to say that a couple final things. I’m sure most of you have most of your organization’s already have either released the statement or have instituted some begun some conversations within your organization, about blacklivesmatter about how we as a society continue to function, through the pandemic and post pandemic, about how we can make sure that there’s justice for everyone and that the information that’s being consumed by the world is accurate and hopefully positive in respect to where it’s trying to get our country and our society. That’s great statements are of solidarity are fantastic, but they’re not enough. Let’s start asking ourselves, how we can be more active, be a greater force for change, and then activating our supporters and new ones to join us on our mission on our hero’s journey, where we can all be heroes. We are citizens, a nonprofit organization, in many ways is a citizen of this country or whatever country that you are based in. And you have a tribe you have that’s a sensitive word these days, but you have a community that supports you, that will rally behind you. Of course, you want to keep it integral to your mission. You don’t want to suddenly completely shift because you will lose your base but I’m betting that some part of your mission also relates to something that the world needs to take action on and you can use these tools to do that all of the tools, again, are going to be referenced in the show notes. But with that, I’d really like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all that you are doing to make the world a better place. It’s not always easy, and it’s definitely not always fun, but it’s absolutely vital. And the fact that you’re out there doing it every single day counts. I hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies to bring up with your organization, hopefully implement all of the links and everything is going to be in the show notes along with this video, the audio and transcripts of the episode. And if I or dotorgstrategy as a whole can be of help doing these things, getting you moving and getting you in a position where you can actually activate change agents in your community, please let me know please reach out. I’m happy to do whatever I can. I offer consultations to any organization, especially one that is active and trying to pursue social change and justice in this world.

Boris Kievsky 15:04
With that, thank you all for watching and listening to this special and important I believe episode of the nonprofit Hero Factory. Please be sure to subscribe to the show on YouTube. Watch us on Facebook, join us there, follow us on your favorite social media platforms and subscribe and follow us on your favorite podcast platforms. We’re on just about all of them now. And that’ll be the best way to make sure you keep getting these strategies sent to you in one way or another, delivered in your favorite medium, and helping us all make the world a better place. And if you’d love what you see, by the way, please do leave us a review. Thank you Have a great weekend.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • While statements of solidarity are great starting points, we have the power and responsibility to do more.
  • Storytelling—and video in particular—is the most powerful instrument for inspiring and inciting action.
  • Technology has the ability to amplify story and make it go viral through peer-to-peer sharing. It also has the power to organize and activate people in new ways.
  • Mobile tech has democratized media. Everyone is a broadcaster.

Action Steps: What Now?

About this week’s guest

Boris Kievsky

Boris Kievsky

Chief Storyteller and Nerd at dotOrgStrategy

Boris is an entrepreneur, recovering filmmaker, and relapsed geek. As the the Chief Storyteller and Nerd for Good at dotOrgStrategy, Boris helps nonprofits harness the power of great stories amplified through the right technology to reach the right audiences, create meaningful connections, and activate the inner hero in each of them.

Connect with Boris Kievsky