Social media and the Internet, in general, have had an immense effect on social work. It enables communication between people from different corners of the world and makes access to information fast and easy. On the flipside, social media has brought about evils like fake news and Cyber Bullying whose effects can be fatal. But how exactly has what is possibly the most significant invention of the 21st century affected the field of social work? Below is a look at both the positive and negative impacts of social media.
Social media has significantly improved the communication experience between social workers and their clients. Social networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp make it easier, cheaper and faster for social workers to get in touch with clients without necessarily spending money on transport. In addition to this, most social workers have social media pages where interested clients can contact them and book appointments without breaking a sweat.
Globalization of social work
Decades ago, social workers could only deal with issues affecting their neighboring communities. Now, with social sites like Skype and Facebook Messenger, it is possible for a counselor in the USA to offer their services to a client in Europe or Africa without either of them incurring massive expenditure.
Easier solicitation of clients
As mentioned earlier, social workers can attract more clients by opening social media pages and regularly updating content. As it were, there are numerous resources available to social workers who want to establish and grow their online presence such as using video to increase engagement on social media. On their part, clients can search for available social workers and be able to receive services such as spiritual, psychiatrist and anxiety counseling online even without revealing their identities.
Social workers who have direct contact with their clients on social media face a lot of moral issues in their work. For one, being friends on Facebook may result in both consensual and unwanted flirting which may lead to a sexual relationship. This often leads to conflicts of interest which might affect the social worker’s efficiency.
Privacy and confidentiality
In the past, social workers relied on the personal information provided by their clients when designing interventions. With social media, social workers like counselors and psychiatrists may be tempted to spy on their clients’ social media pages to fish for information. This amounts to an invasion of privacy, which is not only an ethical issue but a legal issue as well.
Social workers may also find themselves in awkward situations when, for instance, clients send them friend requests on Facebook and start chatting them up. There is also the risk of clients stalking social workers and using the information and pictures on their pages for unprofessional purposes.
Social work remains mostly an unregulated field, and the increasing social media usage doesn’t make it any better. On one side, regulatory bodies may find it difficult to regulate online social workers who may not have a physical office or address for that matter.
This is made even worse by the fact that there is no existing regulatory framework for online social work. Clients, on the other hand, may also not be in a position to verify the registration and regulatory status of their social workers especially if they’re not from the same country.
Dealing with unregulated social workers exposes one to dangers such as sexual harassment and even fraud.
Social work has a lot of challenges as it is and social media, despite being a significant opportunity, happens to be one of them. As government agencies find ways to regulate online social work, both the public and social workers must look out for themselves and find ways to protect their confidentiality.
When Business and Social Good Intersects Communities Benefit
Annually, London Borough hosts the Camden’s Business Awards where a range of local companies, large and small, were up for recognition for their contribution to innovation, the local economy, design and the creation of new job opportunities.
I was there to support the Accessible Environments team of the design and engineering company Arup who over several years have worked tirelessly to support our work as a small local charity – we were initially approached by this team because they were interested in doing some fundraising for a local charity that supported disabled people.
We soon found further common ground, and the relationship has since led to Arup training service users and staff to carry out access audits and providing placements for young people with a learning disability in their high-tech, high performance and yet awesomely inclusive work environment.
Our relationship with Arup really exemplifies a voluntary sector organisation and a business working together at its best. What I’ve learned is that when the corporate world engages with charities and voluntary sector organisations, some key elements determine the long-term value achieved. Below I identify 3 of them:
One is around the importance of shared values, in this case focusing on a genuine commitment to pursuing inclusion and community participation. The most effective outcomes come from working with businesses like Arup that embrace the same outcomes we care about and approach them with the same respect, rigour and commitment.
That attitude is also demonstrated by the staff of John Lewis, Oxford Street, when they take our students on work placements throughout the store. They have a genuine personal commitment to helping young people with a learning disability succeed. That’s shown wonderfully when we have events at the store to mark student achievements and staff from all departments flock to take part in the celebrations – not because they are told to or have to but because, like our supporters at Arup, they care about the lives and progress of the young people their company hosts.
Last year, I also spent an evening at the 15th birthday celebrations of The Front Yard Company a small social enterprise who share their beautifully designed building with a community of other makers and designers across the road from our offices. My invitation came about because, over the last few years, due to some wonderfully supportive and collaborative interactions with the Front Yard Company. They designed and supplied the plant lockers which decorate the road outside our building and provide places for cyclists to securely lock their bikes. Most importantly, they also worked with our students with a learning disability to place and fill them with bulbs and bushes.
The celebrations were a wonderfully warm and vibrant evening with the diverse guests and speakers showing how deeply embedded this little company is in their part of North London. The company chose to mark their place and story in the community by highlighting organisations nearby, including Elfrida Rathbone Camden (ERC). The company is so physically close to our location they see our young people, families, and staff coming in and out every single day. They value all our stakeholders as neighbours and contributors to the local community too.
Secondly, it is vital to have respect for the skills that exist on both sides of the relationship – the partnership has been about mutual learning and especially a recognition that we all learn from the experiences of service users. It’s important to state that this is a learning process that flows both ways too. Arup’s Accessible Environments team tell me that working with our service users have improved their understanding of some of the day-to-day barriers that the built environment presents.
Apparently, there is little in today’s building codes and standards which directly addresses the requirements of people with neuro-diverse needs. An added benefit of working with charities, it can help sharpen professional insights and skills on the side of the business partner too. Much as with the relationship with local authorities, it’s important that voluntary organisations and their service users are not just seen as absorbing resources. We want businesses to see their interactions with us as beneficialal opportunity as well.
Lastly, it has been really important for ERC that our corporate partners whose resources are so much greater understand the limitations and pressures on our side (such as having to prioritise the demands of service delivery over fundraising) to make sure the support offered is pragmatic and enables real change. Ongoing access to work placements like those described above has helped our learners build their self-esteem, and overcome barriers around access to academic qualifications, role models and confidence in the workplace.
Practical support can come in other ways too like that given to us by Bikes for Good Causes (BGC) a Wood Green social enterprise that sells good quality, donated bikes and also provides a full bicycle repair and maintenance service.
When I and 3 ERC colleagues committed to do the London to Brighton Bike Ride in 2016 the manager of BGC, Sue Wade kindly agreed to support ERC by making sure our bikes were in good condition ahead of the ride. What struck me when I contacted Sue was how quickly she had said yes (which is not to say that BGC can always do this – they have to raise income and be sustainable to meet their own objectives).
Before my good fortune in coming across BGC I had been in contact with a national cycling chain with a Camden branch which two of us had actually bought our bikes from. That big company didn’t feel able to help us with our request which is, of course, their prerogative but I did think at the time that it was a slightly short-sighted decision on their part, bearing in mind all the local recognition and publicity we would have given them. But for BGC it was an automatic decision based on their community spirit and ethos regardless of whether it held any possible benefit for them.
I think there is something in our experiences about how voluntary organisations and businesses, whether either is big or small, that can create meaning and sustained relationships based simply on retaining a sense of generosity and respect in giving support and in working with each other. When that happens we all become community workers no matter who pays our wages.
The One Question That Fuels My Approach to Life: What Can I Do For You
Through my three battles with cancer, I can’t even count how many times I received this question. And with three young children at home, what was I going to say? “Sure. Can you make sure my kids get fed? Can you do a load of laundry for me?”
I was blessed to have such giving, selfless people in my life, but the truth was that my priorities had changed. Cooking, cleaning and chores like them weren’t at the top of my to-do list anymore; I was in survival mode. So when people asked what they could do for me, I usually responded with, “I don’t know.”
One of the human spirit’s most enduring traits is a desire to be useful during times of crisis. The people around me needed to do something, and so did I. Even as I fought to maintain my own health, finding even the smallest way to help someone in need filled me with strength and purpose.
I want every step I take and every move I make to count, for myself and others who are in need. That mantra informs everything I do, be it personal or professional, and is all a product of receiving the kindness I didn’t know I needed when I needed it most.
Putting gratitude into all we do.
It amazes me, the strength we gain from the smallest things. During one of my cancer stints, I bought my then-husband glass-blowing lessons for his birthday, and one night, he brought home a votive he’d made.
After I dropped a tea light inside, the combination of light and color draped me in this feeling of warmth and comfort that I’d never experienced before or even realized I wanted. And I immediately knew I wanted to give others the same solace I felt at that time.
That was the impetus for glassybaby, where we sell glass votives and drinking glasses. We made these pieces in specific colors and attached origin stories to them to help buyers feel more connected with the glass vessels and with our story. While we hope to recreate that same feeling I felt the first time I dropped that light in, we don’t want the glow to end there.
Ten percent of our pretax revenue goes to charitable organizations focused on healing people, the planet and animals. Before we had any kind of business objective, we had the simple desire to help people, to give them comfort. That’s how sustainable giving has worked so well in our company. It’s not an add-on; it’s 100 percent part of our mission, our core and our bottom line. It’s the embodiment of success to me.
When giving actions come from everyday personal interactions rather than some sense of obligation, they can become authentic gestures that transcend the professional, personal and recreational silos we put up in our lives. We compartmentalize our lives so rigorously, but if we take down some of those walls, that’s where we find the opportunities to reach out and help — because it’s the things we care about that inspire the most passion.
Building generosity into those passions is the best way to ensure we’re giving to worthwhile causes. I didn’t come from a traditional business background. Instead, my vision for glassybaby was inspired by my time in the chemo room. It gave me an insight into what people needed and wanted during that critical time. I came to understand their unique problems — the mother who missed a chemo session because she couldn’t find childcare, the woman who was late because she couldn’t afford the bus.
Once we start understanding the problems and basic needs around us, we’ll be able to put that insight into your business plans and personal endeavors. Let our own personal structure and value sets organically tie to people’s needs, and a model of sustainable giving will follow.
“What can I do for you?” is one of the most fundamental human questions in times of need and has helped mold my personal and professional life approaches. Where will it take you?
Social Good Doesn’t Require a Non-Profit
You want your business to be a force for social good. Most importantly, you want to meet the needs of some target population with the warmth and care reminiscent of the most nurturing presence as opposed to a cold, heartless corporation. You believe your only option to be registration of your business as a non-profit. Chrystalyn Reid of non-profit Queen Esther Ministry states that she didn’t consider anything other than a non-profit, “Because I wanted to help people without worrying about a profit-making business.”
Social Good Dreams
Other options exist, but I want to first challenge your start-up launch with several organizing questions:
Are you under the impression that non-profits always have low budgets and low pay for employees? The average non-profit CEO makes between $97,000 and $123,462. Seventy-six of 4,587 charities pay their CEOs more than $500,000 per year in compensation. Seventy of those have an annual budget above $13.5 million.
Have you created an Outcome Logic Model for your social good business identifying the revenue streams that are possible within the business operations? The typical non-profit today makes only 21% of its revenue from donations. Over 72% comes from program service revenues which include government contracts. Many of those contracts are open to non-profits and for-profits alike.
Have you considered how your board and funding structure will impact the mission of your social good business? You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep. You will want to ensure that your business bylaws are written to guard the mission.
Another Option: B Corp
A B Corp is an organization founded for social good. According to the B-Corp website, B Corps “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” Over 2,221 B Corporations are now certified from over 50 countries and 130 industries.
The choice of a B Corp structure over a non-profit structure for many is a question of funding. They choose non-profit proposing to fund the business through grants. A non-profit is the choice for those who want to provide a tax write-off to their donors and want to be eligible for grants that specify that only 501c3 corporations may apply. Yet, that explanation is a premature determination about how your corporation can make money. More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off,
More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off, non-profit is your only option. On the other hand, you can create value beyond the tax write-off. You may develop revenue streams other than grants. You could have a non-profit partner organization. In these cases, you may consider starting a for-profit with B Corp certification instead.
Mission Creep & Creepy Mission
Many launch non-profits because they believe that the money is not as important as the difference they can make. They focus on the people that they will help, the social good proposition, and the lives that will be changed rather than the bottom line. “My mission was never to make money. It was something that God called me to, to make a difference for women aging out of the foster care system,” Reid says about her non-profit.
This often means that these social entrepreneurs also neglect to focus on sustainability. Therefore, Marvin Olasky can tell the story in Renewing American Compassion of the multi-million-dollar social welfare building with few visitors. He compared this to a beloved, yet poorly funded child services non-profit. The non-profit operated with client numbers above its capacity.
Social workers and others working for social good are coming to grips with the fallacy of money as a dirty word (or after thought). They are also redefining their business models to avoid mission creep. They diversify offerings to access additional revenue streams without overextending the mission. The innovative method involves building programs for sustainability as well as mission achievement. They couple a profit mechanism within the service provision mix as the social good business model. The result are programs that support themselves.
Mental health agencies have been doing a version of this at the insistence of managed care organizations—billing for specific services. The difference in more recent innovations is to go beyond the billable scope of practice. Include a more holistic service cadre for clients. Those extended services, formerly out of scope, are funded through private donations, fundraisers, and now sales of manuals, merchandising, or sponsorship agreements.
The take away is that profits are not the enemy of social good. Failure to meet the mission is. As Reid of Queen Esther Ministry confirms, “As I’ve learned more about my business, I know the value of diversifying my revenue streams in addition to honoring my mission. I’m now exploring other revenue ventures through my business like holding a Summer camp.”
Sharing is Caring: 4 Ways How Helping Others Can Improve Your Own Life
To this day many people prefer taking, rather than giving. They are always asking life for more, wondering what more they can achieve, get and experience.
But turns out that giving is not just more important than taking, not just what we – as humans – should naturally be inclined to, but also the thing that gives us true satisfaction and can improve own life.
Without having tried it, however, there’s no chance you can know what the real benefits are.
There are many ways in which helping others, sharing, caring, giving what you can, doing good deeds, etc. can make you a better person and help other people too, while making the world more peaceful.
In case you want to live better and also contribute beyond yourself, here’s how helping others can turn your whole life around:
1. A sense of purpose
Let’s admit it. We’re all looking for meaning in life.
Often, focused only on ourselves and living the daily life, we forget there’s more behind all this.
There’s purpose beyond materialistic possessions, reaching our goals in life, getting a new job, finding the right partner, or else.
When you start doing more for others, and less for yourself, you receive more than you can imagine.
You find meaning in your life if you decide to volunteer, or to just be a better person and always help when you can.
So if you still haven’t found true meaning in your life, ask yourself what you can do today to help someone in need, or to show somebody that you care.
2. Volunteer, and you’ll be happy and healthy
According to a , volunteering and the level of happiness and health in people’s lives are closely related. Let’s break this down.
For a start, when you join a volunteering organization, you’re part of a community, you feel like you belong. You’re taking part in something bigger than you, and it makes you smile and be truly grateful.
You start feeling good about yourself, and often can’t even describe it to others in your life. There’s nothing selfish about it, and you don’t even need to talk about it. It’s this feeling of contentment, where you don’t need to change anything, or to ask life for more, you just help others and feel happier day after day. What’s more, it’s great for the mind, body and soul too.
It’s one of the most natural stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety relievers. No need for medicine, spiritual practices, special programs, or else. You just need to go out there and start helping people.
It’s a therapy for the soul to see those in need smiling because of what you’re doing. And that makes you sleep better at night, feel good about yourself, and your other problems you thought you had in life don’t seem like a big deal now.
3. Doing good can help your professional life
How does this happen?
Well, turns out the skills you build while volunteering make you a better candidate for employers. It lets you explore new fields too, and you acquire knowledge at the same time. Then, you can easily put these into practice in whatever career you pursue.
What’s more, if you’re determined to excel at this, there are plenty of volunteering programs that offer further training. Things like that look good on your CV too, show that you care about the community, are open to side projects, and know how to work with other people.
Once you give it a try, you’ll end up becoming a better communicator, understand the real meaning of teamwork, will somehow start brainstorming ideas and solve problems more creatively, will be managing your time better and thus become more organized.
When all these are first experienced at an unpaid position, where no one expects you to do your best and there’s no pressure from superiors, you learn the skills necessary to move to the top of your career in the future, even before you’ve started a job in the field.
4. You build relationships
You know networking is crucial for your success in life and in business. Well, helping others can help you with that too. First of all, you’re connecting with people in a more meaningful way than usual when you’re doing good for the sake of making their life better. That’s the social aspect and it also gives you fulfillment and makes you feel great.
But you also meet other people doing the same, potential employers, influencers, and more. This expands your network and you can never know what opportunity will come out of this.
At the same time, you’re feeling more confident and comfortable around new people and let go of social anxiety. That lets you make friends too, which will stay in your life even when you’re not doing this anymore.
Once you land a new job, or open a new chapter in your life, socializing and putting yourself out there won’t scare you. You’ll be free to approach new people, and will effortlessly communicate without fear of rejection or wondering what to say.
In a nutshell, helping others is one of the most profitable, practical and satisfying things you can do with your life. And it doesn’t need to be big. You can complete smalls tasks or join a community that cares for a cause you’re passionate about.
5 Ways to Turn a Crazy Idea Into an Awesome Reality
Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, what do they all have in common? Every one of them had crazy ideas they trusted, believed in and took proper actions to turn those into an awesome reality. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. This famous quote was the genius of Rob Siltanen.
We live in a time where you have more opportunities to turn your crazy ideas into an awesome reality. Just think about it; jet-setting the world, making music or starting a new business were never as attainable as they are now. Nothing is off limits when you have opportunity drivers such as social media, crowdfunding, business incubators nowadays.
Everybody gets great ideas, it’s turning them into a reality that makes all the difference. Think about Google X projects like the driverless car or Google Glass. How about the innovative genius of Apple products when they first came into the market? iPods and iPhones and Apple computers all have revolutionized digital products. Can you even imagine your life without these devices?
These were all crazy ideas once. That was before someone took great efforts into making them come alive. So what did they do? You know you’ve got to do something about that brilliant idea you have before it fizzles out of your mind. Here are five ways to turn them into reality:
1. Stop Talking and Start Doing
When people have crazy ideas, they get excited and go tell their friends or share it with their family. If you don’t have the proper foundation to defend your idea, then you are ridiculed, shamed or even forced to give it up before you did anything about it. So before you declare your crazy idea to your inner world, consider writing your idea down on paper first. This is to make sure you don’t forget it. Once you’ve written it down, do a SWOT analysis and begin a market research to see if your crazy idea is crazy enough to take off the ground. Do a survey or give out samples to know your potential audience. All this work will help you know if your crazy idea has any potential to turn into a reality.
2. Know How to Sell Your Idea
With the perfect market research, numbers and answers in check, prepare yourself to defend your crazy idea. Your crazy idea is your important product and who’s to say it won’t turn into profitable venture someday? So how can you sell this message across to venture capitalists or people who can back up your crazy idea? If you’ve ever watched the popular TV reality series “Shark Tank” you know pitching your idea has to be done in the simplest way. Easy does it. Can you explain, in under two minutes, how your crazy idea solves a problem? Because if your idea doesn’t improve anybody’s life then you may not have any takers for it. For example, you have this crazy idea for a script or a book, then get assistance on it before you pitch it. If your idea can turn into an app, make a great pitch about it so vendors buy your idea and make the app the way they want later.
3. Break It into Milestones
According to Harvard Business Review, there is a stark difference between planning for new venture and planning for an existing company. Breaking your crazy idea into milestones will help you see how it will evolve and knowing this helps planning better. Each stage tells you what the drawbacks were and you can then come up with solutions, change plans and deal with the next stage. Milestones help you test previous performance and is key for decision making because it won’t be based on estimates. Estimates are more often away from reality. Performance-based reviews are more likely to help you project future behavior. Every milestone will further work on deadlines which helps build a momentum to turn your crazy idea into a reality!
4. Build Momentum
If you want to achieve what you’ve set out to turn into reality, you need to infuse your plans with great momentum. If you see obstacles in your path, people may ask you to wait until they pass. While sometimes this could be true, other times it could just mean you are procrastinating. The more you wait to get something done, the harder it will be, to get done later. Prioritize to take the most necessary actions first. Take consistent steps to stay on course.
5. Don’t Focus on Results
.. too early. Let’s say you’ve started a blog and you’ve posted articles, but you don’t see those 100,000 daily visitors you planned to see in the first six months. See if you’ve done everything in your power such as SEO, posting articles that improve people’s lives, used social media or guest posted to attract traffic. What else can you do to make it better? If you’ve done everything, there will be results. If these results are not what you expected at first, then chances are you will be discouraged. If you shift your focus, you are guaranteed to not see those results anyway.
So what you need is a meticulous plan, motivation to see it through, stay on your course and remain focused to turn your crazy idea into an awesome reality.
SKIP: A Holistic Approach to Promoting Education for Disadvantaged Children
Supporting Kids in Peru (SKIP) is a UK, US and Peruvian NGO charity, working with impoverished families in El Porvenir and Alto Trujillo, in Peru. The primary aim is to enable children to utilise their right to an education, however by taking a holistic approach, SKIP work with the entire familial unit to do this. This means focusing on key aspects such as education, economic stability, emotional well-being and healthy and safe living environments. SKIP promotes empowerment and believe that by working in partnership within communities, people can be empowered to make change.
SKIP is comprised of volunteers from these communities as well as volunteers from overseas. When SKIP formed in 2003, local professionals were motivated by the need for education support and joined in on the mission. Many children had never studied and were too old to attend primary school, however, with the help of volunteers 85 children who had been selected were able to commence school after passing placement exams.
The need for a holistic approach soon followed and as the project grew training was provided to parents so that they could create their own businesses and obtain an income to prevent their children from having to work. It wasn’t until 2012 that SKIP gained registration as an international NGO which meant that volunteering visas could be granted to long term volunteers the following year.
SKIP have a variety of programmes available for the communities they serve. The primary education system in Peru is disadvantaged and involves little emphasis on understanding, analytical skills or problem solving. When SKIP first tested the student’s academic performance, most of the students were performing years below their grade level.
Therefore, SKIP aims to fully finance education, support the development or emotional intelligence alongside therapeutic treatment to children by using individual therapy or group sessions. In 2014, SKIP were able to improve Math scores by 29% with reading comprehension scores improving by nearly 50% showing the determination and motivation of the staff.
Additionally, SKIP also trains and supports parents and carers so that they are more aware of their child’s educational needs which maximises parental involvement and allows parents to acquire behaviour management techniques which will impact the family dynamics. Feedback found that the parents or carers felt valued and empowered with a commitment to continuous learning.
Also, SKIP promotes daily access to a library so that children can get help with their homework. This also encourages children to source information for themselves using the reading materials available. SKIP values the importance of this because some parents may not be literate, and so help may not be readily available at home. The library also provides a safe place where children can be intellectually challenged. Once homework is completed, there are educational games available for children to explore other interests.
Children are unlikely to have similar reading materials at home due to poverty and disadvantage which means they are not able to practice reading and so cannot develop skills. SKIP also offers a library which has at least two volunteer tutors to attend each three hour library session so that support can be offered.
There are also family support programmes available which include a dental campaign that not only checks children’s teeth and provides fillings when necessary. There is also preventative care and children are taught to properly brush their teeth. There are also sight tests in which glasses are provided to children if they are required.
The social work team focuses on empowering parents to expand their skills and abilities and can access advice daily with home visits being carried out twice a year at a minimum. By doing this, 14% of the people who were living in poverty in 2010, by 2014 had crossed the poverty line.
SKIP also have an economic development programme which stresses the importance of saving. There are also business workshops aimed at those who may want to develop a business, attendance in these workshops was over 85% with 36 women participating showing the emphasis on promoting equality.
Liz Wilson, the director of SKIP believes that by using a holistic and evidence-based approach, families are empowered and work can be done to help stabilise the entire unit. By working with families and witnessing their commitment and aspiring nature, it is hard to not find it motivating and inspiring. SKIP promote the availability of the services, but Liz Wilson believes it is the families that put the hard work into these interventions.
Whilst volunteering is extremely rewarding, it is not without its challenges. Liz Wilson stresses the importance of stepping back from fulfilling the volunteers own needs and looking at those of the project and how some tasks may be necessary and beneficial overall. Individually, we cannot change the world, but there is enormous value in shared contribution.
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