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Dear volunteer organizers, not everyone does Facebook  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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I volunteer for quite a few things, or at least I use to.

My thing is mostly educational displays, like showing people how to spin, what life was like in the middle ages, processing flax to linen... that kind of thing. Some volunteer activities involve farming or more often, free gardening lessons. I try to be community spirited. I feel that communities should have this sort of thing, so I go out and help with these sorts of things.

Over the last three or four years, I noticed that I've been invited to fewer and fewer events. One or two less, someone's been forgetful, but now I'm invited to almost none. I figured there was something wrong with me. People are intimidated when confronted with someone younger than them who can, on demand, relate the last (nearly) 400 years of knitting history from Egypt through to the WW1 knitting machine movement, to do so accurately, cite my sources, and unintentionally show the organizer of the event was talking complete rot. I'm loud-mouthed, opinionated, and do not pick up on social cues. So of course, they don't want me around... or so I thought.

Lately, from several sources, I've been getting some rather angry communications for not turning up to these events. They value my contribution, blablabla, all sorts of rather nice things which completely turn my earlier theory on its head. So they want me to come to these events? Yes, apparently they were depending on me to show them this or that, teach them something or rather. The event was a complete bust without me - which I don't believe, but who am I to argue with the delusional?

It's no use getting angry at me, I say, I have to know about the event to attend it.

Well, it was on facebook.

Ah.

I don't do facebook, and the other people you complained did not show up, they don't do it either. I know a lot of community-minded people who are giving up facebook, and if organizers depend on this medium for organizing events, then of course, they are going to be disappointed.

There are a lot of reasons not to do facebook, not going into them here, but basically, NOT EVERYONE DOES FACEBOOK. (yes, I yelled that last bit).


If you want people to volunteer their time and resources, then it's important to make it easy for them to do so. Requiring membership by a third party that not everyone is willing to use is going to limit the number of people who turn up to the volunteer event.


If someone tells me they are organizing the event via FB, then I tell them that if they want me to come, let me know the details... otherwise... I'm just going to assume I'm not wanted and do some weeding in the garden.
Stop getting angry at me for not turning up.
There's nothing you can say that will make me do facebook.

 
Rebecca Norman
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Thank you for reminding me about this. Facebook is very popular in our region, and I know several people here who use facebook but not email. Then again, the internet is often down here, or people are out of reach of the internet.

Sometimes when we are calling an open event or open meeting, we rely too heavily on facebook because it's so easy. I do notice that we get much more participation when I send text messages to each person, but still we have the lazy habit of putting an announcement on facebook and feeling like we've told everyone.

 
Joe Braxton
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I'm too anti-social for social media.................
 
R Scott
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I didn't do Facebook for a long time. Then I started a couple small businesses. You HAVE to do Facebook to reach people these days. Plus they have actually added event organization tools that make it fairly easy to promote an event AND get commitment numbers. Things you had to pay a marketing company thousands for just a few years ago are just a few clicks now.

And that has been part of Facebook's plan to become everyone's homepage for life until they simply forget those that aren't part of the matrix. It's working
 
r ranson
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That's a big concern for me. Over half the people I know in the physical world don't do Facebook, most plan not to sign up. I know a few who have quit it for good over the last few months. I don't think Facebook is as ubiquitous as they tell their users they are.

People with moral qualms about the site won't even click on a fb link, because of the privacy policy and other reasons, so a group or organization that relies on Facebook, won't have access to that demographic. I suspect that is a big reason why the local transition movement failed to take off. They couldn't get the volunteers, but there were people willing to help, they just weren't on Facebook.

I worry that Facebook tells their users that everyone uses Facebook, now their users can't imagine that there is a sizeable part of the population that does not use the site. It's creating a social divide.

Today I got another email that an event is cancelled due to lack of volunteers. I'm trying to show them that there are people willing and able to help, but because they didn't join the whatever word for it on fb, it isn't going to happen now.
 
Devin Lavign
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Yep I am a FB resistor. Never signed up never will. Any FB link is promptly ignored. If sent too many FB links I will start questioning my friendship with that person or entity.

I know I am not necessarily typical, but I do not like FB and refuse to take part in it. If others wish to, that is fine, but if they can't accept I don't then I start evaluating if they truly respect me.

R Ranson, I think it is very important point your making about how organizers should start taking into account that there are folks who don't use FB. Many of these people are exactly the folks who like you have the knowledge and skills that are needed to help make an event successful.

I think your also very right that more and more folks are abandoning FB. So this problem will likely get worse if alternate forms of communication aren't figured out. Forum posts, Email lists, phone trees, snail mail news letters, etc
 
Jason Silberschneider
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With all the free time I've had lately while the bones in my ankle slowly repair themselves, the thought crossed my mind about finally setting up a FB account.

But then I thought about what I wanted it for. The only "organisations" I associate with are permies and TSP. Jack does all his important announcements at the start of the podcast, and in the show summary comments. Permies has the daily-ish email, and a brief scan of "recent topics" will have me up to date here as well.

So I too will remain FB-less like apparently so many others.
 
Judith Browning
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I have a face book account my friends don't rely on it for important communication though...we also have a phone

Since we're all here on a forum in cyberspace I suppose no one is really rejecting all social media, just the use of facebook as an only means of communicating.

My fb 'friends' are family (lots of pics of grandkids I don't get to see very often) and distant and old friends and even a couple of my college art instructors from the seventies and several new worldwide friends from permies .....I suppose I could have lived life without those connections but they are very special to me as so many of us live such distances from each other.

Locally, folks use the phone, email, the bulletin boards at the post office and bakery, the local newspaper and old fashioned word of mouth for volunteer help and announcements of any kind.



 
r ranson
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And another email this morning of what would have been a really awesome event that is now canceled due to lack of volunteers - it was organized 100% on facebook.

I'm suspecting there might be a trend developing. 2 cancellations, three other people complaining of lack of volunteers, all organized via FB, all this week!

I'm confident FB is a very nice place. I'm just worried that FB users forget the rest of us and are consequently, missing out on some really great resources.

Well, that leaves only one volunteer event for the summer. I'm far too lazy to organize an event myself, so I guess I'll dedicate more time to teaching my friends kids how to grow food. At least I can do some good there.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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With all the hacking going on these days, it really isn't prudent to be on the many forms of "social media", they are just another opening for being hacked or having your identity stolen.

I'm having issues with the AGHA because they have apparently decided their website is not as good for them as Facebook is.
Unfortunately, I don't use it so at this point the AGHA is quickly going down hill in usefulness to my AGH breeding program.

People have decided that being connected through all the different media types out there is a necessity when it really isn't anything more than a convenience.

What's going to happen to all these "techno" types when some terrorist group manages to set off an electromagnetic pulse in the upper atmosphere?
Such an event is the horror story for all the microwave dependent items most folks have come to depend on.
If such an event should occur, then there will be no working cell phones, no working WIFI. The techno dependent will suddenly be lost because they won't be able to connect.

Hmm, perhaps that is the jolt the planet needs to get folks to get back in touch with the world that is physical.

 
r ranson
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I had a fantastic time doing a public demo on flax yesterday.  It was great, talking to people, learning about their family history and what their parents/grandparents/great grandparents did as a home cottage industry.  In return, I got to show them how flax became linen.

A few things came up relating to FB.

1.  Our troop is small.  It's organized mostly on FB, but a few of us get emails from the group to tell us about events so we can show up.  They discovered that if they don't email us, we don't show up.  We get lots of emails.  I think they want us to show up.

2.  There is a desire to have new members in the group.  I think three people who came by yesterday would probably join, and one other would definitely join as she's already grown her flax and wants to use the tools.  All four of them balked at the mention of FB.  They don't FB.  If that's how the group is organized, then they regretfully decline.  This got the discussion of FB.  About 8 people started talking about FB.  2 absolutely won't join because we were taught to value our privacy - we won't even click a FB link.  1 loves it as it's her main way of interacting with the internet.  The rest feel obligated to join because that's the only way they get to see photos of their grandchildren and notification of events.

3.  There were two other demonstrations that day from groups I participate in, or used to participate in.  I didn't know about any of them until someone mentioned it.  These were both organized on FB - maybe three other people I saw that day used to participate in these groups, and would still be participating, except they don't do FB.  Both these groups are rapidly dwindling in membership.  My conclusion - either they are happy dwindling and don't want us to volunteer anymore (their choice, that's fine), or they aren't happy with the groups dwindling, they want us to volunteer but don't know how to get the word out.


Going back to the first group - the one that emailed me. How could a volunteer group get the word out to more people?

Here's a thought.  This group has a blog.  Maybe the blog can have an email subscription so that when a new post goes up, subscribers can get an email.  Maybe there is a way to take that post and link it to FB?  I can't imagine this would take much effort on the part of the person posting.  That way, we have three ways to tell people what's up.  Blog readers, email list, and FB!

Three ways to get the word out sure beats one, don't you think?

If volunteer groups are actually serious when they say "we want more members to turn up", I imagine they might do something about it.  Maybe they just don't know how?  Maybe they don't really mean it?  If they do mean it, then spreading the information in a way that does not require third party subscription is the first step.
 
Rufus Laggren
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There's another issue w/FB that I don't see mentioned. The black hole in your life. A good friend and very fine person I've known for 30 years spends upwards of 5 hours a day on FB. Now that's nobody else's fault, however...  While it's not on a par w/heroine or crack, or maybe even alcohol, it surely takes a tole on actual real life. Meaning face to face connection and all that arises from that.

Guess it's just one more drug and bad habit humanity gets to deal with.

Rufus
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Interesting discussion.
But here are two subjects: 1. how to let people know about an event? 2. what about Facebook?

I like Facebook, to share interesting stuff (photos, videos, links to sites a.a.). I know how to use it to share 'events' too. But when I (or we, my groups) want people to know about an event, we send e-mails, make posters, folders, flyers, advertise in local newspapers and on local TV. And we invite our friends personally.
 
Parker Free
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I very grudgingly came to FB recently and I still don't like it much.  I certainly don't like it for notifications of events and if something is only posted there, it's almost a guarantee that  I'll miss it. 
 
Keith Kuhnsman
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Not a fan of Facebook.
I have an account, so no one else will create one with my name, but only go there to find sale items on the local chicken and farming groups.
I have watched way too many in my family succumb to the strange idea that everyone wants to know every detail of their lives.
What the heck, people?  What do you talk about when you finally see each other, since you already know everything that has happened.
Strange.
 
Michael Cox
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I use facebook extensively to participate in some highly active discussion groups (beekeeping). One has 11,000 members, which I am a moderator/admin of. While I don't use it for organising events, I think I can articulate why it is so popular and successful at drawing people together. And why it is worth engaging with if you have an agenda that you want to draw people into.

First; everything is under one metaphorical roof. There are probably hundreds of beekeeping groups operating in isolation around the world. They may have their own websites, and their may be overlap of members, but the flow of idea across groups is quite restricted. On facebook each sub-identity can have its own presence, and built its own community while still being part of the bigger picture. If I want to keep up with what is going on in these groups I can find them all through facebook, and I can make links between them and share the ideas incredibly freely. The alternative is trawling maybe 100+ different community websites - which might or might not have been updated recently. Facebook brings that stuff to me.

Facebook communities grow and can build a presence beyond that of any physical organisation. Our group is gaining 200+ members per week at the moment, and our group mission is reaching more and more people. No single event could have as much impact on the world as regular participation in a group like this. Face to face I can mentor maybe a handful of beekeepers per year. In groups I can teach classes of 10 or so. On facebook I can help steer the direction of, literally, thousands - all working towards a common goal.
 
Emily Smith
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R Ranson, the blog idea is genius!!!  Blogs are free for the author, and the information can be as in depth as the author wants it to be.  I kind of see it more like a sign someone might post in their yard, if that analogy makes any sense.  You can freely wander up to peruse it, or not.  No strings attached.  When I want to find a service, I look for a website.  But I do still have a current phone book, as well.  Message boards are as close to actual social media as I get, and there are only three I visit.  For businesses, where I'm concerned, it's actually a detriment because if I can't view information without signing up or logging in, I'm going to walk on by.  This has happened with some, they had a FB page but no website or blog, and the FB page required log in to see it all.  Unless they're the ONLY business of that kind in town, I'm not going to bother.  If they are, then I'll call and get my information that way. 

There are people who don't use the internet, too, still.  We've been there before, as well.  It's not totally tied to income, either, it seems: 2013 US Census Report

Rufus brings up a good point, as well, and this is one of my husband's issues with it (he calls it the devil; so funny to say that to people--I'm awful). 
 
r ranson
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Michael Cox wrote:I use facebook extensively to participate in some highly active discussion groups (beekeeping). One has 11,000 members, which I am a moderator/admin of. While I don't use it for organising events, I think I can articulate why it is so popular and successful at drawing people together. And why it is worth engaging with if you have an agenda that you want to draw people into.

First; everything is under one metaphorical roof. There are probably hundreds of beekeeping groups operating in isolation around the world. They may have their own websites, and their may be overlap of members, but the flow of idea across groups is quite restricted. On facebook each sub-identity can have its own presence, and built its own community while still being part of the bigger picture. If I want to keep up with what is going on in these groups I can find them all through facebook, and I can make links between them and share the ideas incredibly freely. The alternative is trawling maybe 100+ different community websites - which might or might not have been updated recently. Facebook brings that stuff to me.

Facebook communities grow and can build a presence beyond that of any physical organisation. Our group is gaining 200+ members per week at the moment, and our group mission is reaching more and more people. No single event could have as much impact on the world as regular participation in a group like this. Face to face I can mentor maybe a handful of beekeepers per year. In groups I can teach classes of 10 or so. On facebook I can help steer the direction of, literally, thousands - all working towards a common goal.


These are very good advantages to FB, and exactly the same reasons why I hang out on permies. 
The reason I joined permies is because it is open to view by the public.  One doesn't require membership to view the content nor does it have the other issues that come with some of the big social networking sites. 

If FB works for other people, that's great for them.  There are people who don't like it and that's great too. 


There are two basic things that worry me about the people who rely on FB for their primary interaction with the world. 


one) people who love it demand that everyone use it or else you become excluded from their life - that's too bad, but I guess they didn't want us non-users in their life.  I don't see why they have to be so angry with us if we didn't know they were getting married and failed to turn up for their wedding.

two) Volunteer organizers that complain that their memberships are dwindling and don't make the connection that it's since they started organizing by FB or some other medium that requires a subscription. - If I know about an event, chances are I'll turn up.  About a third of volunteers don't check their FB.  About a third of volunteers, I know don't have FB at all.  About half of that (about 1/6th of volunteers I know) don't have the internet at home! 

I think the point is, it's difficult to organize volunteers at the best of times. Getting people to turn up for events is a challenge.  Why are these organizers excluding two-thirds of their membership by only organizing via FB?  Excluding one or two people because they are awful is fine, but two-thirds?!?  And then they stand around complaining, baffled that no one turned up. 

I have an ulterior motive for starting this thread:  I want to organize some events next year.  How do I get the word out?  This is what I think I'll do.
  • Get a blog and post not just notices of events but useful info like tutorials to get people interested in said blog
  • make it easy so people can get emails or notifications of their choice everytime the blog is updated.
  • Enlist another volunteer to tell FB, twitter, instapin, whathaveyou, every time the blog is updated - thrice when it's an evenent anouncemnt (once a month prior, once the week priro, once the day before)
  • Get hold of the great big book of names and contact details of people who said they were interested.
  • Make an email list with these names
  • make another list of people who don't email - find volunteers who like the telephone and divi the list up between them so they can call about events (a month a head, a week a head, the day before)
  • Find other ways of getting the word out - since mine would be a craft event, I would approach the local guilds and craft groups with a little note and sweet request they tell their memebers about the event.


  • I don't know if this would work or not.  Blogging I find easy, deligating is my most difficult bit.  I love making lists.  I'm half way decent at sending emails.  The thrice-notificiation system is what gets me out to events best, so I'm guessing others would like this too - but I think it's important to be flexable with this, especially with the phone as it's so timeconsuming.  By deligating to someone to social media, it would include those people who pefer FB as their way of gathering information.  Getting the word out to real life groups would widen the net to include people who an organizer wouldn't normally think of.  Eventually, a core group would settle in and these people would probably sholder the brunt of the work - however, by including new people, this core group wouldn't feel so trapped as they do when they are the only ones showing up and it's been four years since anyone new has joined

    That's what I imagine.  Now, I've never done it before so it may not work like that.  But from the point of view of a person who turns up to volunteer at events that other people organized, that's what I would like to see.  It includes FB, but does not rely soly on it. 
     
    r ranson
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    I've become a volunteer organiser (of sorts) for one group that was about to fold. 

    The biggest challenges this group has is communication and getting more members into the core.

    Of a core group of 10, we have two FB users, two FB dabblers, and the rest do not have a FB account.  The age ranges from 25 to nearly 80.  The main FB users are the second oldest and the second youngest in the group.

    The former organiser would only announce things via the FB page.  There would be an event where we demo in public and only two or three people would show up.  This was disheartening for the organiser but she couldn't (and I think still cannot) understand why people wouldn't show up.  She's convinced they aren't interested, I'm convinced they need to know about an event to show up.

    This also makes it very difficult for people to join the group.  Many of the people want to know how to keep in touch with what the group is doing, but when facebook is mentioned, they groan and you can see it in their face that that's the killing stroke.  When I push them further, what they want is an emailing list, classes, and physical intereacting.  Not another FB group. 


    In this group (and this is only a small segment, not a general statement on society as a whole), I've noticed that the people who do stuff are not the people who FB.  The people who FB spend a lot of time and energy on FB.  The people without FB, spend a lot of time and energy with their hands, building real, practical things in this world.  The FB people do this too, but they seem to be less productive.   If this trend holds true as the group expands and grows, I know where I want to put my energy for communicating and attracting new people.
     
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