John Carnell, co-founder and project manager of BullyingUK, a nonprofit organization working on anti-bulling campaigns in the UK including services for youth, parents and schools, recently took time from the active participation in social media to chat with me about the organization’s work. BullyingUK has incorporated social media tools into communications, fundraising, and community buildling. Learn more about how they are succeeding in the interview below.
Tell us a little about who BullyingUK is and the work you do:
Bullying UK was founded in 1999, then known as Bullying Online. I had a simple goal to create a new breed of charity that was light on its feet, able to react quickly to changes and be low cost but very high impact.
At the basic level we provide help, advice and support to people being bullied. We have over 200 pages of advice and content dedicated to the subject matter, as well as tools and services to help spread the anti-bullying messages far and wide. We have a history of using the cutting edge technology to challenge convention and push the agenda in new directions. We create the projects that others would say are too difficult or impossible.
What are the Unite Against Bullying badges?
UniteAgainstBullying.com is our online world-wide campaign site and has an associated offline campaign. At its heart is a simple widget that can be embedded into any social site or webpage that tells everyone you’re United Against Bullying.
The campaign widget is currently served by over 3,000 websites and seen by 170k people a week. This year, we are offering 50 U.A.B badges to supporters who would like to sell them to raise a donation for Bullying UK – email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address to get yours!
How have you seen social media help the organization?
Being a founding part of the modern web means social media is what we do, not just something we actively work into our organisation. It’s a core feature of our work and how we communicate.
That said, sites like Facebook and FriendFeed really help to create engagement and find like-minded people. We are out there having the conversations where people tend to find us and latch on with ideas for ways they can help.
How are you leveraging social media in your current anti-bullying campaign?We have a number of off-shoot campaigns from the UAB widget I mentioned above to more low level work connecting with bloggers and supporters to create buzz around our services.
One thing that’s important to me is that people don’t feel obligated to help us, and social media is the perfect way to find those sorts of people. I feel there is more value added to our work by people who truely feel a connection to us than those that are just involved to be involved.
What was the order or progression of social media adoption at BullyingUK?
As I said before, social media has been a part of our work since before “social media” was a buzzword. As the founder and CEO it’s my job to identify technologies and services years in advance of becoming mainstream. I then look at how that technology can be used to further our Anti-bullying work: Click, Create and Print is a perfect example using technology that so far no other charity or business has thought of combing the way we have.
Click, Create and Print is an online poster creater that allows schools to build and print their own posters (saving schools £34,000 so far). Each poster then has a special barcode that allows a child to snap the code with their mobile phone to download a copy of the poster which they can then share with friends via bluetooth or mms or upload back to the web—creating a perfect circle!
I think this is the first time anyone has created a project that fills in the digital divide in such a unique way—it really is a whole new spin on a very old issue.
What has surprised you about social media use with the organization/campaigns?
The most surprising has been how quickly we can achieve critical mass (the point at which you don’t have to promote a service because supporters do it for you and pass the word along to their friends).
Historically we reach critical mass on a service in a little under 6 weeks; I consider critical mass to be 100 new supporters per day at an increase of 10% day on day (it fluncuates but its a good line in the sand).
Using a new supporter network we have been building we received over £1500 of badge pledges in just 2 days from a few thousand new supporters who had only just discovered who we were. That’s amazingly powerful.
How do you engage your supporters via social media and how can readers help out?
We have a presence on every social network site, all life streaming sites and preety much everywhere people from the UK are. Do a search for BullyingUK and you will most likely find us.
We are always looking for bloggers and social media users to help spread knowledge of our service either by adding the UAB widget, or linking to bullying.co.uk. Even just knowing we exist and mentioning us in conversation to someone dealing with bullying can have a huge impact.
To steal a tag line: “every little helps!”