As we have announced, in support of the #GivingTuesday movement we are featuring a series of guest post to present tips & tricks as well as good examples for the nonprofit area. Today’s guest is Kathryn Courts from The Butterfly Foundation, presenting how an online competition can engage a community and raise awareness for a good cause.
The Body Con is a competition initiated by The Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s leading national charity supporting anyone suffering from an eating disorder or negative body image. According to the report from Deloitte Access Economics, nearly one million Australians suffered from an eating disorder in 2012 while a survey by Mission Australia has found that body image is one of the top three concerns for young people three years in a row. The Butterfly Foundation provides community care as well as working in early intervention and prevention with education programs. The Butterfly Foundation also works with government bodies both federal and state, and health professionals to advocate for more treatment options and more access to treatment.
The Body Con was designed to raise awareness of the negative impact that media and advertising play by creating and perpetuating the image of the “perfect” body. The lack of diversity in media and advertising has led to the normalization of negative body image. This can lead to an increasing number of people suffering from stress and engaging in unhealthy behaviors in order to maintain societal standards of beauty rather than loving their body; eating and exercising for well being rather than to meet an unrealistic, and often unhealthy, weight or shape.
The organizers ask for entrants to create a 30-second video that challenges the belief in the “perfect” body. The Body Con provides an opportunity to change the face of advertising and celebrate the diversity and difference that every individual has to offer. Every person is valuable no matter what weight or shape. The Body Con is about contradicting the idea of “ideal” or “perfect” body by exposing the media’s fraudulent representation of beauty and society’s own misguided beliefs regarding how people are meant to look and be.
As a charity we had to find cost effective ways of communicating about the competition and encouraging participation. We did this is a number of ways. The website was a crucial part of the communication strategy and Wix was a great tool for building the website. It was very user-friendly and allowed for as much or as little coding expertise as known. Website development takes a long time to master, with the Wix platform the team were able to construct a website relatively quickly and received good feedback from the audience.
Given the competition element we gave a lot of thought to the ways in which people could upload their video for our approval before being available in the public sphere. Given the sensitivity required in portraying body image struggles and the importance of responsibility in depicting these issues, we needed to keep the videos private initially.
123ContactForm web forms for nonprofits were essential for this stage of the competition. We received feedback through the form and the website became a more developed communication platform as it moved to a two-way communication space. “Ask and you shall receive” played a role in developing this space too. We needed a larger amount of storage space for the video upload and the team at 123ContactForm were able to increase upload data allowance.
When building new initiatives and competitions, communication is essential, not just from the organization but for people to feel like they have a relationship and input into what’s going on. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are so powerful in this relationship building process. When messages are shared and our reach expands organically it reiterates the importance of what we’re doing and why The Body Con exists and why The Butterfly Foundation will continue to make space for these competitions and conversations.
The Body Con has been welcomed by people from many backgrounds, whether supporting positive body image movements or involved in advertising and media, this competition has lead more people to The Butterfly Foundation, and opened up opportunity for raising awareness of body image as a legitimate area of concern for so many people. The awards night will be in March 2014 and it’s exciting to see people getting on board to break down the belief in the ideal body, to expand our understanding and hopefully, begin to improve the norm of negative body image to encourage people to practice body positivity.
Images courtesy: The Butterfly Foundation Website