In what will be my last post, I’d like to bring together all the discussions we’ve had over the last few weeks as we pondered the world of not-for-profits (NFPs), their use of social media and whether that use has had a positive impact on marginalised people.
NFPs, social media and political economy
In thinking about NFP use of social media from the perspective of the political economy, together we sifted through issues of inclusion and considered whether ‘marginaliens’ were more able to participate and have the same rights as those at ‘the centre’ of society. We looked at whether the seemingly-constant focus on touting for money by NFPs was warranted, and at examples of social media’s ability to truly democratise fundraising, but also to perpetuate corporate control of how it was spent. We touched on building community as critical to engagement for NFPs, and the importance of feeding back success stories to donors. And we toured the digital divide, the battle against which appears to be gradually being won with ‘leap-frog technologies’ like mobile phones (Macnamara 2010).
In the trenches
Finally, albeit that the issues raised by political economy theorists remind us we must remain vigilant about the potential pitfalls of social media use, as I found when researching for my Walking the talk post, the NFP social media horse has well-and-truly bolted. NFPs are being urged to expand their social media presence to raise awareness, raise money and build community.
But is it building a more egalitarian society?
After all your thinking about people on the margins, do you think social media can make a more egalitarian society by improving the lives of disadvantaged people?
Update 14 October 2012: Poll Results
Poll results just in indicate 60 per cent of people think social media do improve the lives of disadvantaged people, while 40 per cent are undecided. No-one thinks social media is unhelpful to disadvantaged people. I choose to see that as promising.