Tag Archives: health

A plea to USA nonprofits for the next four years (& beyond):

speak upAttention nonprofits: stop believing that you automatically have some kind of magical, wonderful reputation because you “do good.”

Your organization’s future over the next four years depends on your organization rapidly becoming a much, much better advocate for its work as well as the work of the entire mission-based sector.

Over the next four years (and beyond):

Please dramatically improve how you communicate why your organization is necessary. Define it well, and say it repeatedly, in a variety of ways – in press releases, on your web site, in every speech you make, on your Facebook page, etc. Ask the spouses and partners of people that work and volunteer for your organization, people who have NOT volunteered or worked there themselves, to come in for coffee and donuts and a short discussion – and ask them why your organization exists, why it is necessary. Be prepared for them to have no specifics, just a possible, general idea. Use their feedback to create a plan to improve your communications, internally and externally, and to make sure it is clear to anyone and everyone why your organization is necessary. Make it a priority for the next four years to constantly and dramatically improve communication about what your organization does and WHY it exists.

Please dramatically improve how you communicate as to why there is poverty, or domestic violence, or homelessness, or unemployment, or a need for live theater, or whatever it is your nonprofit is concerned with addressing. Please don’t just ask for help for an issue without explicitly saying why the issue exists. And please say so more than once. This is another good opportunity for a focus group to find out just how much you need to improve regarding your messaging. This should also be a top priority.

If your organization does not address a critical humanitarian issue, then you must be even more explicit about why your mission is important. You cannot assume people know why a theater organization, a dance organization, a community choir, an art museum, a history museum, a chalk art festival, a historical society, a cultural festival, etc. is important to a community. Have hard numbers ready, in terms of economic impact, on what your organization contributes to your city or county. Have data on the impact of performing arts on health, school grades, crime, and any other quality of life issue and think of ways to get that data out there, repeatedly, via your web site, social media, press interviews, and on and on.

Make sure your volunteers know why your organization is necessary, even volunteers doing just one-time gigs or micro volunteering, and including your board of directors. Every volunteer, even those coming in for just a few hours as part of a group effort, must be given at least a short introduction to why your organization exists. All volunteers, past and present, microtasking volunteers and long-term volunteers, should be invited to public events. You must turn volunteers into advocates for your organization and nonprofits in general to their friends, family and colleagues.

Please correct volunteers and donors, even very large donors, who misspeak about your mission, or why the issue exists that you are trying to address. For instance, if your nonprofit helps the homeless, and a donor says that people are homeless because they are lazy and do not want to work, correct him and her. Make a list of myths about the issue you address, and the counters to those myths, and go over those myths with all staff, all board members, all leadership volunteers, and all long-term volunteers, at the very least.

If your budget is going to be cut because of actions by the President and Congress, you owe it to your community and to all you serve to say so. And you owe it to those same people to say how these cuts are going to affect your programs and, in turn, the community and those you serve. If cuts are going to hurt your clients, say so. This isn’t being political – this is being factual.

Stop talking about volunteer value primarily in terms of their hourly monetary value. When you do that, you justify a government saying, “Cut your paid staff and just get volunteers to do that work.” Governments HAVE done this, and it’s very likely the incoming USA federal government will do it too, and that this thinking will trickle down to state governments as well. When you talk about volunteer value primarily in terms of an hourly monetary value, you are saying that their PRIMARY value is that they work for free.

Use your web site to be absolutely transparent about who runs your organization, what it does, how much money is in its budget, where the money comes from and how it spends the money it gets. AND KEEP IT UPDATED. And be proud of it – no apologies for paying competitive salaries, for having offices that have adequate parking and lighting, for having clean offices, etc.

Make sure politicians know and appreciate your organization. Have a representative from your organization at every local public meeting by your state’s US Congressional Representatives and US Senators, and send those officials press releases about your organization’s accomplishments and impact. Invite representatives from their offices to every public event you have. Here is more advice on how to get a Congressperson to listen to you, which notes that posts to social media are largely ineffective because they are so easy to ignore, that paper letters are more effective than email, and that phone calls RULE. You need to do similar outreach with your state legislative representatives and senators – in fact, they should be much easier to meet with, in-person. Go in front of your local city council at least once a year to speak during the public comment: announce a new program, remind the council of something you are doing, tell them what a budget cut is going to do in terms of how it will affect your clients, etc. You have about two minutes: use it.

Make sure the nearest weekly and daily newspapers, and the nearest CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox affiliate TV stations know why your organization exists, what it accomplishes, and the underlying issues it addresses. And when they get a story wrong about the causes of homelessness, addiction, unemployment, domestic violence, poverty, etc., CALL THEM and SAY SO. Volunteers can help you monitor the media and look for opportunities for correction.

During the 2016 election, a worldwide audience, not just the USA, heard repeated disparaging remarks by the two main Presidential candidates about each other’s philanthropic bodies. Regardless of the truth or not of their attacks, many people have been left with the impression that all philanthropy – all nonprofits, all charities, all NGOs – is corrupt and conducted primarily with the goal of achieving more power and a good public image, rather than a genuine desire to improve people’s lives, improve communities or help the environment. Every nonprofit has to keep that in mind as it looks at the financial information on its web site and annual report, as well as in addressing the aforementioned communication issues.

Henry Berman said, in an article for an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “We must tell our stories and the stories of those who benefit from our philanthropy, lest we allow the unchecked rhetoric of the campaign trail to define who we are, what we accomplish, and how we operate.” I couldn’t agree more.

You will not have your nonprofit status revoked for doing any of the above. Do not let anyone threaten such a thing. The aforementioned is all mission-based work. You aren’t endorsing a politician or a political party, and you are not directing people on how to vote, things that are strictly forbidden for 501 (c) (3) nonprofits.

Also see

“Every nonprofit organization and nonprofit cause or mission that relies on federal regulation, executive orders, or other non-legislative approaches to implementation is at risk of profound change or elimination when Donald Trump takes office in January.” An excellent warning from the Nonprofit Quarterly.

It’s Day One of the Trump Era: Let’s Defend Philanthropy

How Will Trump Presidency Affect Humanitarian Aid & Development?

My consulting services (I can help you with your communications strategies!)

January 6, 2017 u update: Forbes has this excellent article on how corporations should have a crisis communications response in case Trump attacks them. It is a step-by-step guide on what that planning should look like. Have a look and think about how your nonprofit or government agency should create a similar guide for your mission-based initiative. If your mission has a focus on LBGTQ people, on helping immigrants, or helping women access abortion services, or is affiliated in any way with the Clinton Foundation, or has any Islamic affiliation, or works to help refugees, or has any other focus “relevant to the president elect’s hobbyhorses,” your organization REALLY needs to read this Forbes article.

secular-based short-term humanitarian volunteer initiative working in Ghana

There is secular-based short-term humanitarian volunteer initiative called the Humanist Service Corps (HSC) that launched fairly recently, and they’ve already had a big success with one of their first projects: HSC has been running a medical records/medical screening to provide free health screenings for the rural community of Kukuo in Ghana’s Northern Region. In the process, HSC volunteers have trained local people to create a bilingual medical records system that simplifies and increases healthcare access for an entire community. As the HSC fundraising page for this project notes, “For the first time in their lives, the 1,250 residents of Kukuo will have access to their health information in a language they understand.”

The project is more than you might think: “Results as of April 6th, 2016: 681 patients screened, 67 cases of malaria, 27 cases of hypertension, 116 malnourished residents, 19 children missing vaccinations, two cases of Type II diabetes. Additionally, our medical outreach has helped uncover two child brides and five teenage girls kept out of school to help their families.”

The project involved training local people themselves to collect and organize paperwork, input the information into computers, double-check work and organize data. Since their training by HSC volunteers ended at the end of April, the local Kukuo Health Screening Volunteers have been running every aspect of the project themselves, with an HSC volunteer available to supervise, troubleshoot, and support. According to this blog about working with the Ghanaian volunteers, “They check each other’s screens for errors, sort and file all the screens during processing, maintain lists for future follow-up, and are working to create the digital and paper copies of the much-anticipated Kukuo Census.” Each of the local volunteers was also helped by the HSC volunteer to create his or her own an email address, write a resume, understand and discuss their letter of recommendation from HSC and be able to talk about what they did for the project and the skills that they have mastered… All of the volunteers did very well with this additional training, especially considering that many were touching a computer for the first time.”

But the work is not done. “We need to fully fund the project by June or we will not be able to screen the entire Kukuo community.” You can donate to this HSC project here. Or, you can become a monthly donor to HSC.

Shortly after the HSC volunteers first arrived in Ghana, they sat down with the HAGtivist Podcast to share their motivations and expectations for the year of service. Great idea to do a podcast with volunteers!

Making Mental Health a Global Development Priority

Depression and anxiety disorders may affect as many as 500 million people globally. These psychological traumas are emotionally painful and distressing experiences that overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope. Symptoms include intrusive flashbacks, hypervigilance, avoidance behavior and frequent, unwarranted, extreme distress. Such disorders often prohibit people from working or studying, from being a nurturing part of their families, from participating in their communities in a positive way. Aid and development activities fail when a substantial part of the society to be served is suffering from psychological disorders, and it plays a role in diminishing potential for peace.

The United Nations is emphasizing mental health issues as a development concern, as evidenced by a recent conference organized by the World Bank and World Health Organization highlighting the consequences of psychological trauma. According to a new WHO-led study, every US$ 1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of US$ 4 in better health and ability to work. #mentalhealthnow

See this video from the World Bank for more information:

Mobile Phones & Public Health – online course, March 28-April 22

Reminder: use the code “liberation” to get $295 course price.

TC309: mHealth – Mobile Phones for Public Health

March 28th-April 22nd 2016
 
Course Description

In 2016, the number of global mobile subscriptions will reach 8.5 billion — more than the number of people on this earth, and it took a little more than 20 years for that to happen. Yet at the same time, health systems around the world are struggling to:

  • Provide access to affordable healthcare for all
  • Treat infectious diseases such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis
  • Address crippling maternal and child mortality rates in low-income countries
  • Manage non-communicable diseases like heart disease, cancer, and Diabetes
  • Tackle infrastructure and supply chain challenges in remote settings
  • Train frontline health workers to provide care to vulnerable populations

Increasingly, Ministries of Health, companies, NGOs, and various bilateral and multilateral donors are looking to mobile phones as part of a solution for responding to these challenges.

This four-week, online certificate course will focus on building mHealth skills that revolutionize approaches to patient care and management, point-of-care support, health education, remote monitoring, diagnostics, supply chain management & logistics and more.

A growing number of mHealth projects have been implemented across the world from Guatemala to Uganda, from India to Argentina – we will explore what has worked and what could be improved with each example, and invite participants to share their own experiences in managing ongoing projects.

Apply Now: https://www.techchange.org/online-courses/mhealth-mobile-phones-for-public-health/

Course Topics and Featured Tech
Week 1: Introduction to Mobile Phones for Public Health
Week 2: Strengthening Health Systems
Week 3: Citizen-Centered Health
Week 4: The Future of mHealth

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • critically analyze both the opportunities and the pitfalls that emerge when working with mobile technology to improve public health outcomes
  • connect relevant development theories to the technological strategies and tools discussed in the course
  • manage specific mHealth software platforms and tools
  • design dynamic and effective strategies for using tools and platforms to improve mHealth efforts
  • become more confident using mobile technology to address public health challenges

Course Methodology

  • This course is delivered entirely online over a period of four weeks.
  • This course features several live interactive guest expert sessions each week with leading practitioners, software developers, academics, and donors.
  • Every live event is recorded and archived for you to watch later.
  • This course also features a unique hands-on learning environment with animated videos, technology demos, practical activities, networking events, office hours, participant presentations, immersive simulations, and more.
  • TechChange recommends budgeting a minimum commitment of 5-7 hours per week and scheduling time for the course around your existing obligations.
  • Participants will have access to all course content for at least 4 months after course completion so the material can be completed and revisited later.

Course Price

  • $295 if you use the discount code: “liberation”
  • $495 if application and payment is submitted by course start date
  • Group discount rates available. For more details, please contact us social@techchange.org.

Wearables for Good Challenge by UNICEF

The Apple Watch, the Fitbit, Google Glass and many other wearable tech are luxuries for tech-savvy consumers. But could wearable tech be used for diagnosing deadly diseases, monitoring pregnant mothers’ health, tracking air quality, alerting people with “push notifications” or warning of an earthquake’s early vibrations?

UNICEF, in partnership with the microprocessor company ARM and the design firm Frog, is hosting the Wearables for Good Challenge. Blair Palmer, innovation lab lead at UNICEF, says in this summary story from DevEx that UNICEF’s interest in convening the challenge is to “ask these questions and provoke the industry and people to think differently on a global level and not just have these things come out of Silicon Valley. The wearables challenge seeks applications that can provide low-power, unintrusive, highly durable solutions in low-income settings, and many sensor technologies fit that bill. Close to 1 billion more people are expected to come online by 2017, and UNICEF is taking note, Palmer said.

The challenge is now closed to applications. The challenge has garnered 250 submissions from 46 countries across 6 continents, with nearly 2000 registrations from 65 countries. 10 finalists have been selected. Each finalist will then be assigned to work with 1-2 coaches during 2 calendar weeks (10-28 September). Coaches will provide feedback to finalists in order to help hone their ideas for final submission. The challenge partners will award $15,000 to two winning proposals for wearable and sensor products with social impact potential. The winners will be announced by November 2015.

A summary of the finalists:

Communic-AID: A wearable device that facilitates record keeping, aids in the tracking of medications that have been distributed in a post-disaster context and allows the patient to take part in their treatment.

Droplet: a wearable water purification device in the form of a bracelet, to make safe drinking water available to everyone

GuardBand: a system that helps protect children from abuse and observes their health.

Khushi Baby: a wearable platform to bridge the world’s immunization gap is a system for tracking vaccination and mobilization in the last mile.

Raksh: named after the Sanskrit word “safeguard,” this is a low cost (25$) bluetooth-based, ear-worn multi-parameter monitoring platform.

SoaPen: a wearable and portable soap re-designed to encourage hand washing amongst young children to reduce the risk of catching and spreading disease thereby increasing their lifespan.

teleScrypts: seeks to solve the challenge of providing health care workers with advanced healthcare technology in low resource communities at a low cost.

TermoTell: a real time temperature monitor and alert system, designed to save the lives of children under five at risk of Malaria.

Totem Open Health: an open platform and ecosystem for wearable health technology, including: sensors, data collection, storage, sharing, analysis and algorithmic interpretation.

WAAA!: Wearable, Anytime, Anywhere, Apgar is a mobile phone, text-based surveillance service that systematically transmits live APGAR data via soft patch sensors located on a newborn baby.

Follow #WEARABLESFORGOOD and @UNICEFinnovate on Twitter for updates about this and other similar campaigns.

What mobile apps do you promote to clients, volunteers, supporters, staff?

The Center’s Internet & American Life Project tweeted out a link to a list of health-related mobile apps people have on their phones
(http://pewrsr.ch/UnJyt5).

 

It prompts me to ask this question: what mobile apps does your nonprofit, NGO, library, school or other mission-based organization encourage clients, volunteers, supporters, and/or staff to use? Or just simply recommend – and do you recommend it as a part of the goals of your mission or as a way to improve productivity/better communication with volunteers and staff?

 

For instance,

  • A nonprofit that promotes healthy habits/change of lifestyle to improve health might encourage use of the apps from the Pew list to its clients.
  • A nonprofit promoting alternatives to car travel might encourage the use of apps related to bus schedules or bike routes.
  • A homeless shelter might encourage use of apps related to bus schedules or health as well (a lot of people in the USA living on the streets have feature phones – such a phone from Tracfone costs just $20)
  • An agricultural-related initiative, such as a community garden or grow-your-own food program, promoting weather-related apps that might be particularly helpful to its constituents
  • A nonprofit live theatre might use or promote the use of the kinds of apps listed here:
    http://www.dialaphone.co.uk/blog/2010/11/06/top-10-theatre-mobile-apps/

What mobile apps might an organization with hundreds or thousands of volunteers, an organization that works with wildlife, an initiative promoting positive activities for girls, an animal shelter, a library, or any other nonprofit, NGO, library, school or government initiative want to promote to volunteers, staff, clients, or supporters?

 

You can answer here, but I’d really love it if you would answer over on TechSoup, where I originally asked this question:
http://forums.techsoup.org/cs/community/f/13/p/36558/124520.aspx