Use of Enterprise 2.0 in Non-Profit Institutions

American Red Cross

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is a non-profit organisation that provide humanitarian services for those in need, including community services, emergency assistance, disaster relief, educational services and health and development related programs in the United States. The organisation is governed by its volunteers and is mainly supported by community donations and the income from their blood products.

Dell Logo

Dell Logo

In March 2012, American Red Cross launched their new Digital Operations Center that was backed by a generous $500,000 donation from Dell, the world-famous American multinational computer technology corporation. The idea for the new center came from Dell itself, who opened a similar facility in 2010 called Social Media Listening Command Center, which the company used to monitor the impact and the social media reactions of their operations on a world-wide scale.

It is worthwhile to point out that this initiative is the first social media monitoring platform whose primary aim is humanitarian relief. Red Cross believes that the new center will aid them in reaching out to communities that need help in the event of a natural disaster situation. By utilising Facebook and Twitter monitoring, they are able to get first-hand real-time information from the people affected by the event sometimes even before it would be reported by traditional media channels. This enables the organisation to respond faster to the situation and also to establish real-time communication with individuals who need help.

In addition to engaging with the public when a natural disaster occurs, the center continuously sources and aggregates data obtained from Facebook and Twitter comments to spot trends and better anticipate public needs. This is an excellent example of the Collect Information and Insights value lever, where by aggregating information and reports and turning this data into easily digestible information (e.g. heat maps), the organisation is able to prioritise their resource use strategy in order to maximise the help they can provide. On the other hand, Red Cross can also broadcast fundraising and other type of messages asking for help through social media channels (for example asking for blood donations in case of a major crisis), which is a good example of the Mobilize resources lever.

To sum up, the case of Red Cross is an excellent example on taking a successful enterprise-level social media program (Dell’s Social Media Listening Command Center) and adapting it to the particular needs and requirements of a non-profit organisation.


American Red Cross
Wikipedia — American Red Cross
American Red Cross Opens a Social Media Operations Center
Red Cross Launches Social Media Disaster Response Center
The American Red Cross and Dell Launch First-Of-Its-Kind Social Media Digital Operations Center for Humanitarian Relief
Superstorm Sandy and the Red Cross Digital Operations Center
The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies


17 thoughts on “Use of Enterprise 2.0 in Non-Profit Institutions

  1. Hi Digitalrainforest
    Thank you for another interesting blog post. I really think that The Red Cross America did the right thing engaging in social media, like you also pointed out, not only from an inside-out perspective but also the other way around by becoming more approachable for the public in need. What fascinated me the most was, however, the way Red Cross was able to monitor the traffic on the different platforms and furthermore the use of heat maps (which I have never heard of before). Do you perhaps know anything about how (real “profit”) businesses can benefit from using these tools also? Looking forward to your next post 🙂
    Cheers Lise

    • Thanks for the feedback, I’m glad you liked my post and learned something new from it. Yes, I found the real-time monitoring thing fascinating too 🙂 My understanding is that Dell did something similar in their Social Media Listening Command Center, so there you go, that’s a commercial example for you 🙂

  2. A good read digital rainforest. It’s impressive to see a company like Dell being generous like this, and American Red Cross are extremely fortunate to receive such a backing. This is an impressive use of social technologies for humanitarian aid on a a formidable scale, I’d love to hear more about its successes in the future.

    Do you think this will set the bar for other humanitarian efforts around the world?

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I really hope that the case of Red Cross will serve as an example for many other organisations too. I’m sure that we will see other institutions implement similar digital strategies soon.

  3. Great blog post Digital Rainforest.
    Implementing a digital Social Media Operations Centre is a great tool implemented by the American Red Cross to gather information on its volunteer base. Dell have created a great thing here in furthering the reach of this essential humanitarian service.

    How do you think they could use this technology to further their reach even more?

    • I’m sure there are many other ways to get people involved in humanitarian activities via Facebook and Twitter. Maybe implementing some games around fundraising would be a good idea? People always like to compete with each other 🙂

  4. It’s nice to know that the Red Cross has this kind of technology to create a map of a disaster. It almost seems like that machine out of the Dark Knight. I guess I could always play the negative card and say that if Dell can sort through disaster information, what’s to stop them from sorting through all other information and help out less noble enterprises map consumer flow. I guess it is just the future of marketing.

    – James Terry

  5. Excellent example of how social media can assistance a charitable organization like the Red Cross. Their Social Media Listening Command Centre is a very interesting way for their organization to provide humanitarian relief.

  6. Great article. I find it amazing that a whole new industry has emerged feeding off social technologies like you have highlighted. Do you know of any examples of trends where the Red Cross have been able to allocate resources quicker or better as a result of adopting this technology?

  7. Pingback: Social Media Monitoring | Social World

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