I’m not quite sure how it happened. One moment, I was at this touchy feely staff retreat complete with a yogaesque mirroring exercise and the next, I was in charge of the LGBTQ initiative (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Questioning or Queer depending on who you ask). I do PR, raise money, event planning, write copy, acknowledge donors, you know, all the things crammed under development in a small organization. My involvement with program is usually limited to talking about how exciting our work is and why you should fund it. The culprit is a wacky grant I am supposed to steward till I can dump it in someone else’s lap.
Our area barely acknowledges LGBTQ issues and we have a grant to raise awareness, help kids, stop bullying, all good. So far we have established a PFLAG group (Parents Families & Friends of Lesbian and Gays). Excellent! We have held community discussions for school districts to help kids. Awesome! We have established a horrible website that no self respecting teen will visit. There are 18 people with usernames. I assume the 18 are staff members or teens we know well enough to coerce, like offspring. It is bad. And useless. Our meeting with an established LGBTQ group in a neighboring county is going swimmingly with lots of plans in the works until the program director announces she has a sculpture for me. A sculpture created by a high school class for NoName Calling Day. It represents what it feels like to be bullied, an albatross around your heart. Kind of looks like a papier mache corpse with glitter. I am supposed to find a home for it. A public home willing to display it. And there is a poem. And there are bags of food. All of this is in her car. Now on the floor of my office, which doubles a a counseling room.
A local food bank declared us LGBTQ friendly so we are the recipient of a food drive. I go through dozens of bags checking expiration dates and note several cans of olives, fat free balsamic vinaigrette, polenta, organic corn flakes with dried fruit, and imported pasta from Italy, just the stuff I would go for if the cupboard was bare. Our emergency aid person takes them to her church for desperate local families. I hope they know what to do with polenta.
As for the sculpture, the eyes are a little creepy, but it beats the motivational poster I haven’t quite removed so if my new LGBTQ project bff can’t find an appropriate display place, I suppose it would be quite a lovely addition to my office.
I inherited a website I rate at Web 0.5 on Heather Mansfield’s scale of social media evolution. Doesn’t even make 1.0 infancy. Our website is essentially an electronic brochure with snail mail newletters in .pdf form you can download. The “what’s new” is a year old consisting of a list of sponsors. Finding the Donate button is a challenge. And then, it connects you to a place to create a Paypal account. Our Facebook is a profile with 200 friends and a business page, not even a nonprofit page, with 26 likes.Despite it all, we’ve gone from 0 to 5 new requests to be added to our mailing list each week. So something is working.
I did not grow up with social media and have no interest in connecting with people over what I ate for breakfast. As far as I am concerned, people in my past can stay there. However, this is different. To get up to speed, I ordered Heather’s book Social Media for Social Goodand while waiting for it to arrive, I caught her webcast. Confirmed all of my worst fears but bolstered confidence in my own assessment. What needs to be done is a long list.