Post by: Kim Stephens
Anyone who follows me will not be surprised by my choice of Rebuild Joplin for one of the top SMEM examples of 2011.
The story: After the EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri affecting thousands and killing 162 persons, community leaders not only had to deal with the crisis at hand, but also a veritable tsunami of donations and volunteers. Matching needs to these resources, however, can be an overwhelming task unless there is a system in place. Joplin did have a system via an existing program in the school system called Bright Future.
As I wrote in this post, Bright Futures’ pre-crisis mission was simply to connect the needs of impoverished students with resources in the community with the overarching goal of increasing graduation rates. Social media facilitated this transaction by communicating needs and allowing for a conversation to take place with community members wishing to help. Organizers found that they could find the resource for a child, such as a pair of shoes, within a matter of minutes after posting. The social platform also allowed for both thanking the donor and to stopping further donations or offers by making it known that the need had been met.
Post-crisis, Rebuild Joplin was launched to do this same type of service community-wide.
- Used an existing framework both community leaders and citizens were familiar with.
- Verified organizations accepting monetary donations before they were authorized to be listed on the site. This fact was (and still is) prominently posted.
- Provided multiple ways for people to find the information, including tying the website to their social media presence and embedding their Facebook feed via a widget on the site’s homepage.
- Designed a process that allows for a multitude of organizations to register themselves on the site.
- Sorted registered organizations into a beautifully designed intuitive, and tabbed interface that allowed donors to quickly find who is accepting what they wish to contribute. See example above.
I don’t think it can be said that every single item or in-kind donation was processed through this site during this event, (which is in the long-term recovery phase at time of writing) nor was their social media presence the only one facilitating donations (many sprung up organically). I would also like to see a way to pull in more information via twitter feeds, however, as a model for donations management, this is a darn good start.
- Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options and Policy Considerations (idisaster.wordpress.com)
- Using Social Media to Aid Recovery (idisaster.wordpress.com)