Down the Ballot

Thursday, September 13, 2012

5 Ideas to Rock You to Action for the APIC Part 1

One of the side effects of being underemployed and back in school is you get a lot of time to sit and contemplate the realities of life. This particular night I found myself thinking about the APIC (those of us in the know, know this is the non-profit founded in 1945 dedicated to preserving America's political history). I am involved with a lot of groups, but none that hold as special of a place in my heart than this one. Like you my fellow members, your time and energy are pulled every in numerous directions and it can get a little overwhelming. We sometimes forget the groups that ask very little of us need help just as much as the larger ones that are always sending out donation requests.

So I came up with five ideas that might stir another devoted member in action and together we could help out the APIC. Only by discussing ideas can we figure out what we really want to accomplish as a group. We talk lots about our collections and getting others to collect, but I haven't noticed much outside of that and thought it would be good if we got use to bouncing ideas off each other. Here is my first idea.

1. Embrace Technology & Social Media 

These are the modern tools of the modern battle non-profits use to survive and thrive on in the 21st century. It is not just political campaigns and businesses. Churches, schools, marching bands, debate teams, farmers markets, libraries, alumni associations, and fraternities are all using multiple platforms to get their messages of hope, good deeds and sense of community out to the general public. The Pew Internet & American Life Project revels that averaged for Americans 18-64, 88.8% of them use the internet daily at home. The numbers for 18-29 year olds is 97%! For 30-49 it is 91%, these folks are internet junkies. Everything they do from reading the paper to paying bills is online. Interacting with the APIC for them needs to be online. That's how we're going to attract them and get them. They are use to the websites they visit to be interactive and full of information.

We live in the age of social currency. If your site doesn't play videos, have original photos, keep a blog, or offer some sort of daily interaction you are not going to generate traffic, which means people are not visiting, and also means people are not generating ad revenue. Advertisers want to know how many 'hits' you get a day, and how often you appear in the goggle in the search. More hits are more money for our organization.

66% of Americans, according to Pew, use Facebook. It was smart of Mike Smith to get us on there when he did, and he has been doing a terrific job as our volunteer moderator of the group, but the next question is, how do we connect with the 1/3 of Americans who still refuse to use facebook?

I'm not sure on the exact structure of the APIC and volunteer committees (if we have them) but we shouldn't leave everything on the shoulders of our webmaster. He's a volunteer just like us. An idea to come out of this embracing the power of social media would be to create a Internet & Technology Committee that handles all of our internet and social media pages. The APIC ought to have an official Youtube page, flicker, tumbler, pintrest, twitter, and all the other relevant sites the committee feels would be beneficial to our group. For example, say our flicker volunteer account manager sees someone posting photos of campaign buttons. They can start interacting with that person and perhaps connect with and persuade them to join up with us. Also, this is a great way to find out who among us is tech savvy and find something that our younger members who spend large portions of the day on the internet can contribute. Pew also found out that as of this year 50% of the us population are using SMART PHONES. I hear some rumblings that there may be a smart phone app related to our hobby being developed by some energetic members. It will be cool to see what comes of that.

The latest feature introduced on the website for members was great. I love having access to the roster. We need to build on that, and with more volunteers behind our webmaster we can increase the usefulness of the roster. For instance, it might be nice to have a place where members can volunteer like they do on political campaign websites.

Our site would benefit greatly from a MEDIA Tab. Where the organization can post all our news stories highlighting members or our organization as well as archive them. It also makes it easier for others to help us with promotion, and prevents our index or home page from being overly cluttered with links.

 How do we best keep the love of history, politics, and collecting in the age where so much is done online? This of course is just brainstorming. What is your idea about how we can better use technology and social media to grow our organization and empower our members?

The next post will be:  2. Use them or lose them: Membership Matters
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