NGOs, health, and social media

I ran into this grant opportunity on Twitter tonight:

Rising Voices, the outreach arm of Global Voices, in collaboration with the Open Society Institute Public Health Program’s Health Media Initiative, is now accepting project proposals for the third round of microgrant funding of up to $5,000 for new media outreach projects focused especially on public health issues involving marginalized population.

I’d be surprised if a lot of NGOs have the capacity for innovative social media work and also are small enough to apply for a 5K grant. With any luck I am wrong – I’d love to see more social media used on public health. I also suspect you could do some really great stuff in the developing world with text messaging. The list of possible project types in the grant description is interesting stuff.

This one seems useful:

Distribute mp3 recorders to a local NGO working on palliative care issues, and help them produce monthly audio testimonials and/or interviews featuring stories and experiences of participants, for uploading to the NGO’s website.

This one not so much:

Organizing a regular workshop on blogging and photography at a legal aid center representing the rights of people living with mental disabilities. Part of the budget could be used to purchase affordable digital video cameras and internet café costs, so that participants can describe their challenges and life experiences to a global audience.

I don’t think getting to describe yourself to a global audience automatically useful; it’s not an end in itself. It has to have a purpose. (Someday I’ll talk about refugee kids and cameras.)