Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Social Media Built a Movement

With more than 1.2 billion people living on less than a dollar a day, it’s hard not to ask the most powerful nation to do more. That’s exactly what The Borgen Project, arguably one of the most tech-savvy nonprofit organizations on the internet, set out to do.

Launched in 2003 by Clint Borgen, The Borgen Project works to bring U.S. political attention to global poverty, and is now headquartered in Seattle. In 1999, the founder and president of the organization was a 21-year old volunteer working in a Kosovo refugee camp, during the war and genocide. From his harrowing experience on the ground, and through the atrocities he witnessed, Borgen found a need for a powerful force that could put pressure on Congress and the White House to increase efforts to address global poverty. Today, one man’s project has evolved into a web-based movement that utilizes social media to raise awareness for the cause.

The nonpartisan organization is known for having access to congressional leaders on a national level. Using the Web to mobilize people across the globe, The Borgen Project encourages people to call their congressional leaders to urge them to support specific poverty-reduction bills. Connecting with people through over 180 social media sites, The Borgen Project effectively uses internet platforms like YouTube, social networking sites like MySpace, and its blog to mobilize and educate citizens on basic advocacy skills so that they can communicate with their government to make poverty a political priority.

Some of the ways The Borgen Project successfully uses social media include demonstrating how to perform a hero call through a YouTube video, and having interviews and event videos available online. The nonprofit’s Facebook group is growing daily, and new links on poverty-reduction are regularly updated on the forum. The blog is also educational and newsworthy. Through all these various web channels, The Borgen Project continues to build buzz for the cause, mobilize people to contact congressional leaders and raise money for the rising movement.

-- Jaimie Hwang