How did you attract public attention to the issue you wanted to tackle and make others believe in your purpose and potential?
Bringing people onto the team is important and how they connect to your initiative and purpose. Eight social innovators representing some of the most dynamic social innovation initiatives describe the path through which people became interested in joining their team. The following answers are provided by people from different fields, sectors and countries who turned their ideas into a successful social innovation reality. Let’s get some ideas on what you can do when you are starting a project, an initiative or venture and want to have people join you.
Cibervoluntarios Foundation started off with a small group of volunteers. Yolanda Rueda explains how the organisation now counts with over 1.500 of them all across the territory, “We work very close and collaborate with public institutions (local, national and European level governments), universities, high schools, and other NGOs. Of course, you need to be in all national and international forums to share good practices and experiences. We are always looking for strategic alliances to be stronger and reach more people. An example of this is a new program we started last April in collaboration with Fundación Mujeres and Google Foundation: Digitalizadas.org. This program aims to train 5.000 women living in rural areas in digital competences for employability and entrepreneurship”.
Yolanda Rueda, Cibervoluntarios
According to the CEO and co-founder of Fresh Check, “We actually tried to avoid public attention at first! (…) There were a number of government initiatives (like WRAP, which tackles the issue of food waste in the UK) that we reached out to, to discuss what they were doing and to get them to mention us in the wider world. We also took part in high profile competitions, like Shell LiveWIRE, which gained us a huge amount of exposure and ultimately led to our inclusion on the Forbes 30-under-30 list in 2017. Fortunately for us food waste is on most people’s mind, so we didn’t have to do much to convince people that more hygiene food prep areas were better, but if you’re able to explain your cause well enough, I think it’s natural that people start to pay attention. If the problem you are facing is clear enough for everyone to understand, then the way you help people becomes far easier to explain and to grow interest in”.
Alex Bond, Fresh Check
For the initiator of Re-BUTTON, an initiative aim to raise young children’s awareness of the need to reduce plastic waste, “Ideally, the project or idea speaks for itself. When you have to explain too much, most people aren’t interested or the project gets less attention. A self-explanatory design based on a very simple idea is the key to any project”.
Reading Stars of Gaza is an English literacy program that targets Children in Gaza to help them to become fluent and proficient readers. Peter Fruhmann joint forces with Khaled Al-Ostath, a Palestinian bachelor student, to move the programme forward, he says “Khaled had set up a Facebook account/group (Reading Stars of Gaza). We promoted this group on our (private and business) Facebook and Twitter accounts. I started a fundraising campaign and this was also communicated/disseminated through our accounts. Ewe also shared the activities at Reading Stars. The reactions were heart-warming”.
The founder of DayCape and one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 – Europe – Social Entrepreneurs 2017 and winner of the European Youth Award Digital Solutions with Social Impact shares, “During my last year in School I studied marketing which been very useful to gain attention. I believe the best tool we’ve been using is storytelling to make people understand the children day and to feel it is important to do something. (…) Even before we released any product I made sure to contact small blogs and papers to write about the mission of what we tried to accomplish. In the beginning a few smaller blogs shared our story and grew over time. We also created early on a short animation of the children day and how DayCape could help. So with the video and other material we created content that could easily be shared and spread.
Anton Håkanson, DayCape
Alejandro Hernández Renner, who has been working on innovation, rural development and entrepreneurship for over 25 years, both in Spanish as well as international organizations, explains from his point of view how to attract public attention to the issue you wanted to tackle, “A key rule was ‘never develop a project alone’. We always search for the best partners for every project, and at a certain stage reinforced our communication policy, which was not working properly”.
Alejandro Hernández Renner, Fundación Maimona
From a different prospective, the general manager and founder of AVANTUS employment centre, describes: “When starting with the social innovation we attracted public attention through the use of social media, but soon after we realized it was not enough. More was needed, so we started visiting trade fairs and contact directly with kindergartens and schools. We also became a donator for the children´s section of the hospital in our home town, Maribor”.
Matjan Cojhter, AVANTUS
The Co-founder of SOFFA, an academic and a social entrepreneur who holds an award winning PHD on Social Entrepreneurship, says “We have used a variety of tools and means to attract attention, providing a combination of mass media and press coverage, awards and grants obtained. We share our story with everyone, we did (and do) daily meetings with people to share our story and we wrote about it in newspapers. Items on SOFAA were featured in US Chanel TELEsure; Greek Epsilon Channel Central News; Bright Magazine and Huffington Post. Being present at conferences and present our venture is also important, for instance, we have been a central speaker at the UN Women Day event 2018 in UNEP Athens”.
Futhermore she explains, “Awards and nominations are a very powerful tool to attract attention… One of the most important highlights has been the fact that we were the central character of the international documentary film ‘One Over Many’ by Swiss Director Daphne Bengoa, produced by Geneva based Flux Laboratory 2017 & OOM.
We offered benefits to our partners, we created conferences to increase public awareness… Being the Country Coordinator of Fashion Revolution global movement helped greatly with exposure”.
Fiori Zafeiropoulou, Social Fashion Factory, SOFFA
Want to know more what other Social Innovators think about their projects/initiatives, their ideas, their challenges, their plans for the future, and their lessons learned. Check out the Social Innovation Academy for more interviews, answers and other topics related to social innovation.
It will be the first Social Innovation Academy in Europe, with a fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation, developed EOLAS, Limitless and with 3 other partners.
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