Kickstarter & Twitter for a Principal of a Poor School
During dinner with family a guest had stopped by to eat with us. My brother-in-law introduced him as the principal of the elementary school where he worked at. We spoke at length about religion, politics, and the people of the Philippines. This had been my first conversation with someone that was fluent in English and was also a very well educated professional. He had a deep understanding about his country and I respected that very much. We talked for a couple hours about a myriad of things and it was pleasant to say the least.
The next day, we meet again at the family’s house where they had spent the night drinking gin and had fun talking and telling jokes. I was at my hotel and didn’t attend, but they told me all about it the next day.
As we spoke about the evening, we turned the conversation to work and the community. I asked about his school and if they had computers, the internet, and a curriculum like we have in the United States. He told me all of the proud achievements of the school, teachers, and students. I could see the glow when he told me the stories. This was a very proud principal of a small but poor elementary school.
Schools here are nothing like I grew up with. People don’t have money to pay for education and he said the absentee rate is somewhere in the 20-30% range. The kids are needed at home to do chores and help make money for the family. Think about the commercials we grew up with that asked for a $1 per day to feed a poor child and give them immunizations. This is where I was, minus the guilty feeling of watching Sally Struthers tell you how desperately they need your sponsorship.
I think I have painted the picture well for you thus far. This man has 40 computers in his school and they were not networked. He had about 30 teachers and hardly any supplies. On top of all of this, the Department of Education tells their principals to ask for help from the community. This is how it is done here I believe. Hopefully this wasn’t lost in translation and feel free to add to this or correct me in the comments.
After he had told me about the school I continued on to tell him that my goal is to help the family as much as I can. I told him that I was learning Twitter and having a lot of success with it. That turned into discussing what people with a lot of social influence can achieve with their presence and why companies seek out an opportunity to pay them lots of money to tell their followers to spend their money on this or that. He didn’t know that this was a thing and told me that many Filipinos didn’t really use Twitter. They spend their hours on Facebook just talking with friends and family instead.
I told him if he was popular on Twitter he could maybe use that to help his school. This of course puzzled him and he asked how. So this is where my answer starts.
Twitter can be used to spread news quickly, find people who have the same interests as you, and to promote new ideas or even projects. Twitter is far more powerful than Facebook when you consider the amount of energy you have to expend to reach the same goal. I have spent thousands of hours trying to crack Facebook’s reach and it could be that I just suck at Facebook marketing. Who knows what the issue is, but I know that I have done more with Twitter in 4 months than I have in 5 years with Facebook.
In this educator’s case, he could reach out to local educators like himself with hashtags and join in on the conversations going on about the school system. He could share images and video of his school and the students. He can build local influence and of course go further. If he grew his twitter account and had people who enjoyed his content then he could do even more.
Let’s bring Kickstarter into this mix a bit. It may or may not be the right platform for him, but I am after the concept and not the specific site. Let’s assume in a year he has been active on Twitter and shared content that people loved and even retweeted them. If he could craft a story about his school and the successes they have already had, he could then start a Kickstarter campaign to ask for outside support so he could buy computers, networking equipment and teaching tools for inside the classroom. People may connect with his story and fund his school, from a very poor school that meets the standard to one that exceeds it. How exciting would that be?
I told him a story about the guy that just wanted to make potato salad and asked for $10 to do it. He ended up getting $50,000 because it was unique and fun. People connected with it and it made national news. Needless to say, the eyes of everyone listening to me tell the story got very big. He was encouraged that he could make a difference for his school by meeting people and maybe later on to use his influence to spread the funding page. We took this conversation from just playing on Facebook to thinking about the bigger picture.
Social media can be a benefit to everyone and not just brand pages and the popular stars. I have no idea what the Philippine equivalent of Kickstarter is or even if there is one. If not, please…someone start one so we can fund schools, and amazing projects people have. Being poor should not be a barrier and we need this kind of enthusiasm to make our world a better place. No one here knows much about the hot websites we use in the United States and elsewhere.
Sharing information is something I enjoy. That’s why I write these posts. This wasn’t meant to be a how to use Twitter or Kickstarter, but more of an idea that I shared with someone who had so much passion but very little support. Educations and our children will always be our future and an investment we have no choice but to make if we plan on progressing our societies.
One day when I do an update to what he has done with this idea I hope you will consider sharing it. If and when a Kickstarter campaign is started I will also share that but for now he has work to do. Twitter is not easy and you have to work for your followers and be interesting. He can do this by telling his story of being a principal and what he is all about. We swapped Twitter handles so we can keep an eye on each others progress..
What do you think about this? Did I give him fair advice? Is my thoughts right or wrong? What advice would you give him so I can show him. A blog and anything that costs money is off the table because there is very little money and I won’t share his monthly take home pay. He has to do this for less than a shoestring and even if he never does some funding campaign he will have a network of educators that he can share information with. That in itself is worth something, right?
Listen to this post narrated by me instead by clicking play below.