I have been a fan of These Numbers Have Faces for quite some time. For certain, I love how they use social media to tell their story. But even more importantly, I love the heart of their founder… Justin Zoradi.

I met Justin when he was working with another awesome non profit, The Mentoring Project. Justin has a big heart and is the real deal. What he and his team have been doing in South Africa with These Numbers has been something special to watch.

What I also absolutely both respect and love about These Numbers is with how transparent they are with their followers and supporters with regards to their finances.

In a world now filled with much donor fatigue and to some extent, suspicion as to how organizations spend their money, having a proactive and transparent approach in this area I find refreshing.

Money doesn’t grow on trees and people want to trust organizations to do what they say they are going to do with the hard earned money they make contributions with. In this, follow up and through is of utmost importance with non profits.

I also have been impressed with how These Numbers both take their viral communities virtually to South Africa through the content they post as well as how they use social media to articulate who they are. All of which are extremely critical to long term sustainability as an organization with garnering ongoing support.

With all of this to be said, what would be really awesome would be if you could do three things for me after reading this interview. Are you ready?

  1. Follow @TheseNumbers on Twitter
  2. Like them on Facebook
  3. Pass it on

Recently, I asked Justin and his team about what’s next for them as well as how they have adapted to social media.

Q – What is your organization?

A – These Numbers Have Faces educates and empowers youth to ignite community transformation.  We provide scholarships for deserving township youth to attend university.  However, a scholarship to college is just one piece of our program, our goal it to help students succeed in college and beyond. We ensure this through our community impact program.  This involves monthly meetings, workshops, financial literary courses, mentoring, tutoring, and community service projects.

Q – How important is social media to achieving your overall organization objectives?

A – Social media is a key tool in reaching our supporters.  Our fieldwork all takes place in South Africa, so social media is vital in helping connect supporters with our students.  It brings the reality of a place so distant to many of us, right into our living rooms.

Q – How specifically have you been using social media to tell your story?

A – We use social media in a variety of ways.  We keep an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and our own website.  Through these online venues we are able to keep our supporters updated with student stories.  Whether that means posting recent photos, or student success stories in their various classes, we are able to keep people current with what’s happening in Cape Town.  We also use videos regularly throughout the year.  This allows are supporters to hear our students talking first hand from their own home environments.

Q – Has social media been an effective tool for raising funds?

A – There are so many venues for fundraising online to tap into.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

However, if you learn to have a critical eye for what works, the possibilities are endless.  We advertise all our major fundraising campaigns online, this is the quickest way to get people’s attention and keep them up to date with our progress.  There are a variety of fundraising portals hosted by corporations for their employees give.  This is a great way to get in touch with new supporters.

Q – How do you measure results from your social media usage?

A – It can be hard to track results from social media usage without devoting more time than we have.  Luckily, most sites come with built in analytics tools.  So we are able to weekly track how we’re doing with our social media outlets.

Q – What online tools and platforms are you currently using?

A – The list could be quite extensive.  Where to start?  The basics: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Vimeo, our website and blog. These are all connected so for the most part they circulate the same information, just directing them in different circles.  We are also active with groups such as Global Giving.

Q – If you could tweet why your organization is using social media, what would it say?

A – From South Africa to Portland in 2 seconds.

Q – How much time a week does your organization spend using social media?

A – Wow.  That’s hard to calculate.  In general we are always supervising our social media outlets.  So even while we are working on other projects, we are keeping an eye on what’s happening online.  Social media is heavily integrated into our daily work.

Q – What are you doing while you are on them?

A – We try to keep an eye out for any shout outs from our supporters.  If they comment, or ask questions, we want to make sure to answer them and acknowledge their presence.  It’s important our supporters know that they are real people to us. We make sure to spend some time each day browsing through other people’s tweets and posts and commenting on anything we find interesting.

Q – What’s next for your organization?

A – Big question.  What’s next for our organization with social media or in general?  In social media we’re doing our best to keep on top of the trends without overextending our online reach.

In general, at the TNHF office we’re all getting excited about the next few years.  We’ve been doing a lot of vision casting and are excited about the future growth of our mission.

Over the last 5 years we’ve seen amazing results from our work in South Africa.  Even more so, we’ve seen how much young people can do when they are given the support and opportunity to push toward their dreams.  This has had a huge impact on our organization and has led us to our next big step: expanding our programs to other countries!

I’ll leave with just that and keep you hanging, stay tuned to our website www.thesenumbers.org and Facebook to find out more about our plans for 2012!