Monday, November 12

OPEN BLOG BRAINSTORM

So I'm posting this proposal in the hopes that you, the internet-at-large, will have something to say about it. Please comment, I've never written a proposal like this, but I'm hoping it finds support in the form of an institutional grant to The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland for development.

ATFGC Online Outreach Proposal


Through the power of the vast social networks fostered across the internet, the AIDS Taskforce can provide vital educational & advocacy opportunities that hold the potential to generate funding from around the globe. By creating a concrete presence in various internet venues, the ATFGC can increase it’s visibility in Cleveland, the United States and the world. Collecting, organizing and utilizing the information available to the Taskforce will allow for greater opportunities to form connections with the pool of compassionate individuals willing to offer their time, services or money to the various programs operated by the Taskforce.


The internet outreach program also offers the opportunity to shape the Taskforce’s image in the mind of its internet visitors. Establishing a “pathway” for new visitors to become new volunteers can vastly improve the effectiveness of the current scatter-shot internet presence. The speed and turnaround-time of the internet also presents the opportunity to respond to controversies and news immediately, increasing the Taskforce’s visibility off-line and providing a forum for interactive public discussion through a network of blogs and commenting systems.


The following table presents each component of the internet presence, all of which will be centered around aidstaskforce.org – a dynamic, multifaceted site containing the majority of the interactivity options and educational material. A presence on Myspace, Facebook and other social networking sites will still be maintained, but used mainly to direct users to the central site, inform friends about upcoming activities and volunteer opportunities and provide an informal means to contact Taskforce workers for private discussion and advice. Aidstaskforce.org will be built using the open-source content management system called Drupal. Drupal is a modular system for organizing and displaying internet content that will allow Taskforce employees to assume control of their respective roles online- posting content, managing public and private calendar events, creating surveys and mass mailings for their events and (with a small amount of training) removing the need for a dedicated webmaster on the Taskforce payroll. The extensible nature of the Drupal CMS allows for the use of previously developed “mods” that add functionality like Wiki’s (an online encyclopedia) – Donation (a pre-coded system that allows the Taskforce direct control of payment processing) – Blogs – Stores – Calendar and others. All these functions fit into a template structure that can be built once and then extended for years to come. By unifying the management of the website under one system, volunteer networks can be activated for email campaigns and funding drives, content can be posted that directly undermines misinformation from political organizations and information can be organized for easier access by the public at large.

Education

ATFGC Wiki – an online encyclopedia of STD & HIV/AIDS information with a focus on prevention, transmission and treatment information – directly contrasting the fear tactics of abstinence only and religious-based sources currently available.

ATFGC Video Archive – a collection of Taskforce-branded YouTube videos with a mix of comedy and sexual health education that can drive traffic to the site, as well as create a ‘buzz’ online. Ideas include “Straight Talk with Drag Queens” a talk-show format for sexual health info, “LivingPOZ - Our Stories” a documentary interview style series preserving the stories of HIV positive individuals and forming personal images of AIDS for the viewer, “Impact AIDS” a collection of PSA spots (10, 30 & 60 seconds) that can be aired by television stations and private blogs to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

ATFGC Direct – a collection of pages/site content that directly opposes sites run by religious/right-wing organizations and provides fact-based contrasts to the messages those sites spread. Ties into Advocacy program.

ATFGC Audio Vault – Podcasts, Radio PSA’s for distribution among local radio stations, and audio interviews. Have local bands provide free MP3 downloads available on the site to drive traffic.


Advocacy

ATFGC Blog – personal blogs from members of the Taskforce staff with news, activity info and public responses to current issues. Provides a means for web surfers to respond with public comments and fosters a democratic discussion of HIV/AIDS and sexual health policy.

ATFGC Mailing List Program – Drupal’s mailing list functions will allow for the creation of an email database that allows each address to be captured and coded based on both the user’s preferences for contact (from web users who provide the email address on the site) as well as email addresses collected from offline sources like the AIDS Walk and other events. Users can be contacted based on previous donations, event participation and even age/sex ranges (from users who join the ATFGC Volunteer Network)

ATFGC Volunteer Network – A mini-social networking program run on the Taskforce site that allows interested individuals to join the site, provide information and easily express interest in participating/organizing events run by the Taskforce. This system will allow for better mass-communication, as well as fostering volunteerism by directly involving interested individuals and providing a forum for their participation leading up to Taskforce sponsored events. Will also allow for “Virtual RSVPs” for ATF functions to ease planning and turn-out estimation.

ATFGC Blogroll/News Archive – A daily update of news links and blog posts on an RSS feed that will point subscribers attention to policy, funding and other hot links each day.


Funding

Direct Donation – Using a module for Drupal that’s tied to credit-card processing gateways or Paypal – visitors may donate directly from any page on the site, with payments and security handled by a trusted web processor.

ATFGC Store – Utilizing the tools available from the site Cafepress the Taskforce can create a portfolio of branded buttons, stickers, t-shirts and sweatshirts with no overhead cost and no payment processing requirements. Margins can be set and managed by product, and designs can be easily added and edited for specific events and funding drives.

Online Email Drives – Utilizing the database of email addresses, the Taskforce website will allow for branded funding campaigns that connect the public’s email inboxes with pages that allow them to donate, contact friends and co-workers to ‘virally’ spread the message of fund-raising drive and provide an interactive forum to track the success of the drive publically as well as a back-end admin system to track the effectiveness of the message.

Grassroots “Franchising” – The ATF can seek donations for the ‘Best Practices’ and Drupal configuration to monetize the learning experiences and reduce the impact of the cost of implementing this new system.

Establishing Best Practices and Providing a Road Map for Other Organizations


By tracking each step in the implementation of this program and then quantifying the success of each component the Taskforce can provide a guide to benefit other grass-roots organizations. Best practices in design, mass-communications, virtual volunteer management and back-end administration of the entire web program can be assembled after implementation to provide further resources for organizations seeking to implement a similar program. This information may also represent a funding opportunity, as a hard-copy book or pamphlet collection could be sold – or an entire pre-configured system matching the setup of modular components used in the Taskforce’s Drupal setup could be shared with a donation to the Taskforce being requested.

These best practices should also be shared with sister organizations in Cleveland to expand their reach, provide more visibility amongst associated organizations (through cross-linking, blogrolls, shared news and co-branded funding drives) and strengthen the online presence of Cleveland’s grass-roots.



Estimated Implementation Costs


Implementing an open-source solution for content management should vastly reduce the up-front costs for establishing this system, as well as the long-term maintenance expense. The figure table below represents the current known expense for the various components of the new ATFGC outreach program.


Component

Expense

5-Year Cost

Domain name registration and DNS

$9.99/year

$50.00

UNIX Hosting and MySQL database

$10.00/month

$600

Direct Donation widget

3% Credit Card processing fee


Cafepress.com branded ATFGC shop

$4.95/month

$300

Drupal template const. and admin training

$10.00/hour – est. >100 hours

$1000



Estimated Implementation Timeframe


Construction and configuration of the system should be deliverable within 3 months, with training and administration beginning soon after. Content can be created during implementation as well as once the administration is turned over to the end-users at the Taskforce. Each trained Taskforce user will be able to post blogs and content related to their individual section, while the community at large will be able to post comments and forum entries – further enhancing the content and discussion available to website visitors.

2 comments:

DanNation said...

Sweets - this looks great. Give me a call offline and I will give you some 'vice.

Dan

Roger said...

Hey Steve, I think this sounds great! It's a big project, but you're definitely leveraging all the right technologies for the right purposes.