World Vision is a global non-profit organisation that endeavours to eliminate poverty and the causes of destitution across the world. Based on Christian values, the heart of their dealings is to create a united force that overcomes poverty and develops prosperous futures for the world’s most defenceless children. Their major initiative known as the 40 Hour Famine challenges participants to sacrifice something they value, such as food or technology, in order to raise awareness and funds to resolve global hunger.
As a non-profit organisation, World Vision relies primarily on public donations to accomplish their humanitarian objectives and is able to do so through the utilisation of social media and digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, a webpage and blog. Social software enables World Vision to disseminate their charitable messages and connect with an audience around the world in an economical and effective way. It is evident that World Vision not only embraces the workings of Web 2.0 and its tools to benefit their non-profit activities, but also executes Niall Cook’s four-category classification model to speak to their public in an appropriate manner that persuades them to contribute and make a difference in an impoverished child’s life.
World Vision uses social media to broadcast personal and psychologically moving stories of children who are in poverty-stricken situations and need help. They take advantage of Web 2.0’s flexible, simple and lightweight nature to influence viewers, causing them to respond to their appeals and get involved in their community projects. Information Technology specialist Joey Barnal stated, “Web 2.0 had created a paradigm shift to delivering services that can be used and combined with other services in new ways”, it enabled users to “actively participate and contribute” to the online world and “foster a collective community” (2009). Barnal further articulated that Web 2.0 allowed users to “create, edit, rate, and tag content at will” and provide “other users with new information” (2009). World Vision acknowledges Barnal’s description of Web 2.0 and implements its tools such as Instagram to extend their altruistic messages. For instance, on March 10th, 2016, World Vision posted an image of an underprivileged Syrian boy on their Instagram feed and commented, “13 year old Ali is missing out on school. He spends his days selling tissues on the streets of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to help support his family.” In doing this, they provided their Instagram followers with an opportunity to comment and forward their post to other people, therefore enhancing their brand image, awareness and ideals. This post would have also worked to increase social interactivity, showcase the types of activities World Vision participates in, inform potential donors of the heartrending situations impoverished children were facing and create stronger relationships with new or standing supporters. Overall, Web 2.0 is a platform for transparent and synchronous exchange, which permits World Vision to remove the walls that would usually inhibit people from seeing the realities that deprived children face.
World Vision also adheres to Cook’s 4C’s, communication, cooperation, collaboration and connection, in order to capitalise on the appropriate social software that is freely accessible to them and sustain their non-profit ethos. The 4C’s concentrate on the literal action involved in using social software tools rather than its characteristics, as it is the actions that ultimately benefit an organisation’s culture. Cook explained, “communication platforms are those that allow people to converse with others” (2008, p. 37) and this is evident through World Vision’s great use of social media, which allows them to speak and interact with their audience in an informal manner. The communication action enables World Vision to overtly demonstrate their humanitarian approach to raising awareness and funds; it allows those who have received help from the organisation to articulate their experience and inspire individuals to make a donation. Moreover, seeing that communication is one of social media’s essential traits, World Vision takes advantage of this action by expressing their emotions and purpose via social media, fulfilling their supporters need to be part of their charitable deeds, and building trust between their organisation and donors.
Cook goes onto to explain, even though cooperation and collaboration are somewhat distinctive actions they “both share the objective of enabling a group of individuals to produce something better than that which they could have produced alone” (2008, p. 37). Cooperation and collaboration are implemented in a more formal way compared to communication and connection, and this is because they both require a formal structure and higher level of interaction between individuals. As a result, World Vision eludes these two actions from their social media activity and focuses on the two informal actions, communication and connection, as their culture is essentially based on an interpersonal structure. Cook articulated, “An organisation with an informal structure and a culture that rewards individual effort may prefer to invest in social software to support communication” (2008, p. 37), and this is what World Vision endeavours to do. The social software they employ supports their desire to commune and connect with the public. Connection relates to the direct interaction between individuals and according to Cook the networking of “technologies make it possible for people to make connections with and between both content and other people” (2008, p. 37). World Vision thrives on social media’s connective nature as it strengthens their ability to find and keep donors. For example, World Vision ambassador Kimberley Crossman used the World Vision blog to personally connect with donors and followers. She was able to witness and communicate what World Vision was doing with the funds that they were given, and transmit her observations through pictures and a personal testimony. Her blog post painted a picture for the reader, which helped them to understand the horrific conditions the Syrian children were living in and how “World Vision was responsible for setting up the washroom and bathrooms for each village”, including how they were “making child friendly spaces” (Crossman, 2016). In essence, World Vision’s blog is employed to make an authenticate connection with the public.
As a non-profit organisation, World Vision is focused on seeking the fiscal means to nourish the lives of helpless children. They acknowledge that social media is a cost-effective approach to achieving their charitable objectives, however I believe they also need to consider the constant upkeep and monitoring of content that is required when using social software. Furthermore, they need to be aware of the security and sovereignty of their data, including social media’s two-way participative nature. That being said, World Vision has done an exceptional job in embracing technology to advance their intentions, and to some extent their social software undertaking aligns to scholars Witzig, Spencer and Galvin’s (2012, p. 118) study of non-profits and social media, as they suggested that non-profit organisations are more inclined to use and retain social media tactics due to having a lack of marketing resources, understanding the inexpensive nature of social media.
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