Phyllis Ryder’s essay, Public 2.0. Social Networking, Nonprofits, and the Rhetorical Work of Public Making, although primarily addressed social networking with a specific homeless shelter in Washington D.C., has some applicability to my own service site at the Turning Point Boys House.
Miriam’s Kitchen had two primary goals with their use of their facebook and twitter accounts: first, to deepen relationships with their followers, and the second is to receive monetary donations and support. The great thing about social networking is that the information is readily available, and updates can be regularly checked by followers. Instead of a follower having to go out of their way to search an organization, an update can automatically appear on someone’s newfeed. Also, if someone’s friend posts a status about helping an organization, that is easily and readily accessible to a possible donor. “Twitter and Facebook, says Roccanti, are about building relationships that allow people to have a direct effect, and to “build relationships on their timeline”: she allows people to “choose when and how to engage.”” (Ryder, 33) I think that this is an interesting point– people have busy lives. But a lot of people find a few minutes to check their Facebook page or Twitter and keep informed. I have looked on the Turning Point Facebook page, and they have a lot of posts related to donations and monetary support. They currently have 315 likes, and if this number grew I think that this could impact the number of donations that they receive.
I think an interesting point that Ryder’s essay makes is that the Facebook and Twitter pages are more accessible to donors and volunteers, more so than the guests of that particular organization. Ryder explains that many of the homeless people who have eaten in Miriam’s Kitchen and used their services do not use their Facebook or Twitter pages because of their desire for privacy. I think that this is very applicable to the guys in Turning Point. I think that there would also be a concern, as Ryder mentions, about the guests feeling regulated by the staff and volunteers who post on the Facebook and Twitter sites. I think that the use of social networking for these non-profit organizations is limited to the communities that that can give help or spread the word; which are typically not members of the communities that are being served, because this could feel like a restricted space, or a breach of privacy. I think that this limitation is a significant one, however the benefits of social networking should not be underestimated or undermined by this limitation. I think that if Turning Point grew their social networking sites, I think that this could have tremendous benefits for them and this would be something to be desired and encouraged.