Most leaders of not-for-profit organizations are well acquainted with the constant conflict between a deep desire to do your utmost to advance your mission and the harsh reality of limited resources.
You’re trying to make every dollar stretch as far as it will go and you’re trying to satisfy the expectations of funders and all those involved in your cause. So you do the research, analyze the information, and create and distribute reports or guides to educate the public.
You hope those reports have the desired impact. But at the same time you know it’s incredibly difficult to make your organization’s voice heard amongst all the competing interests out there. And you know it’s difficult to demonstrate the impact your efforts are having when it comes time to report back to funders or write that next grant application.
It’s even harder – and seems riskier – to go beyond reports and try something different when there is so much at stake.
The reality is that research IS essential and reports have their place. There are a number of reasons why reports have long been considered the gold standard in public education:
So far, so good. But the fact is that traditional reports also have many significant limitations:
We know that change happens when people DO something different, not when they simply KNOW more. In a nutshell, this is the main failing of reports – they don’t enable people to do something new.
Here are ways that people can do something different – steps that are small, incremental and vitally important for building momentum for a campaign or a cause:
So, how can not-for-profits encourage people to take steps that create real behaviour change?
Marcus’s story (currently in beta) is an interactive learning experience to create awareness and reduce the spread of HIV among college students.
For example, we’ve designed a number of reports for the Human Rights Campaign, including Making HIV History: a Pragmatic Guide to Confronting HIV at HBCUs.
One idea we’ve proposed to increase the impact of this important report is Marcus’s story, which is a text chat between several characters.
Marcus’s story targets a specific audience – college administrators, who are in a position to make a significant impact towards the goal of an HIV- and AIDS-free generation. It is designed to create empathy for students living with HIV on college campuses and would be part of a larger public education campaign to create awareness and reduce the spread of HIV among college students.
Immersive learning experiences like Marcus’s story can be used to model best practices for preventative health care, HIV campus policies and more. In this way, administrators could gain the practical tools and resources they need to reduce the risk of HIV on college campuses, increase HIV awareness and prevention, and provide better support for students living with HIV.