While reading through Dan's site, I came across a link to Chillcasting, which bills itself as "downloadable solutions for stress." Basically, for a very reasonable price, the site sells mp3 files that you can download to your computer, i-Pod or mp3 player. So when you're feeling stressed, for $6, you can listen to one of several recordings guaranteed to activate your relaxation response.
What struck me about this was the "downloadable solutions" idea. Everyone is about wanting a solution these days, but how often do nonprofits pursue this route as a way to both provide services to and create relationships with their various stakeholders?
When I think about the potential "downloadable solutions" for NPOs, I think of things like:
- For an NPO that serves victims of domestic violence, podcasts that cover issues like how to keep yourself safe or how to talk to your children about what's going on.
- Employment and training organizations might provide brief podcasts on how to answer specific interview questions or how to find job leads.
- Consumer credit counseling agencies could use podcasts to share "tax tips." Or at holiday time, they might have a recording about how to create and stay within your holiday budget.
- The American Diabetes Association might have audio clips on recipe tips or on how to read and interpret food labels.
These are just a few off the top of my head--I think that with a little brainstorming, you could come up with an extensive list of even better options that are more geared to your specific needs.
The process of recording, editing and storing the audio is relatively simple and can be done very inexpensively. For the investment of time and money, I think that there's the potential for powerful impact.
I personally believe that the use of audio and visual media is great, but it has to be done in the right context. Looking at what you have to share in terms of what solutions you have to offer your customers, your staff or your donors is a good place to start.
UPDATE--Just to give an example of what we're talking about here, I did a 5-minute podcast sample on how to diagnose a job search problem. This is something that could be used by an employment and training program or by any organization that works with people who are trying to find a job.
I'm uploading it to the blog using an embedded player format (see above this update) so that you can just click on the play button and listen to it from you computer. But I could also upload it in a downloadable form so that someone could pull it off the web and into their i-Pod or mp3 player to listen to at some other point when it was more convenient.
I also did a little scouting around to price mp3 players--you can buy a decent one for $40. Now think about getting some to be used by staff to listen to training modules at their leisure. Or having donors "sponsor" an mp3 for clients to use for training, "news you can use," etc. Just some additional thoughts. . .