Browse Tag: Philanthropy

BEEcome BUZZworthy: My Social Media 101 Training Workshop for Passionate People

Here is a sample of a social media 101 workshop I’m offering to Artists, Activists, and Non-Profits (aka “Passionate People”).

Are you a passionate person who is interested in learning how to use social media more effectively, to share your ideas, market your services, advocate for an issue you care about? Are you already sold on the power of social media but struggle with the time-drain of managing multiple profiles?

BEEcome BUZZworthy(TM) is a workshop geared towards activists, artists, change makers, and/or anyone who is interestd in learning how to use social media to impact social change, as well as gain access to resources beyond their immediate networks. My own personal passion stems from my work in the philanthropy, media, and art sectors. However, this workshop will be helpful to anyone who wishes to increase their influence online in order to increase their influence offline; whether you’re looking to better advocate for an issue you care about, run a fundraising campaign, market a valuable service, or build a network around a shared interest, social media is for you.



Social Media 101 for Artists, Activists, and Non-Profits 

Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, Oh My! There’s so much BUZZ about social media these days and it seems everyone’s catching on. But perhaps there’s too much buzz coming from too few BEES. How to make sense of all that noise coming from the HIVE? Who can tell us where to find the HONEY?

Did that make sense to you? Probably not. It was a silly analogy. But it got your attention, didn’t it? :)

Hi, I’m Spectra. And I’m here to tell you how you can use of social media to… well, make sense to other queen bees (including to yourself) when “buzzing” in the virtual world that has fast become an intrinsic part of our lives.

My approach is simple: social media is socializing, in a very big room.

If you’ve ever attended a networking event, made a new friend, hosted a party, or applied for a job, trust me, you already know how to introduce yourself, build relationships, maintain them, and subtly boast about how interesting, talented, and all-round awesome you are without appearing to be doing that at all. (It’s okay, we all do it, there’s nothing to be ashamed about). In the real world, we build relationships, then tap into their value, all the time. 

So here’s the secret to doing it online: it’s no different.

Yup. The same rules apply. So, if you’re personable in real life, chances are using social media to build relationships online will come naturally to you. Whether you’re an independent artist who’s trying to get people to support their work, a small business owner who could use some more visibility, a new social impact organization interested in spreading their message to potential supporters/members, social media is for you. Moreoever, whether you access the web through your school library, internet cafe, laptop, or your mobile phone, social media offers free, do-it-yourself tools to connect with people who should be connected to you.

But in a room full of BUZZING BEES (oh! there goes that analogy again), it can be difficult to hear yourself, or anyone else for that matter. However, it’s absolutely crucial that we find a way. 

Think of it this way: You have really important ideas to share, products and services that people actually really need. But what good can you really do in the world if no one knows who you are or what you’re about? The world needs you. Yes, it’s true, you and your own unique brand of honey could make the world a better place. No doubt about it. 

Yet, it is also true that social media can be time-consuming, and so many of you are already so busy. So many of you may think, “I get it. I know social media is important. But how do I find the time?”, or “Why would anyone listen to me? I’m just a ___”, or my personal favorite, “Does any of this really make a difference?” But don’t worry, you’re not alone! This is where I come in! (See, I finally landed on my point). 

Attend this workshop, and I’ll show you how to BECOME THE BEE THAT OWNS THE HONEY.

It’s my job to make sure that you’re both seen and heard by the people that matter to you, by the people that need you. This hands-on workshop is structured such that each person maps out their own strategy over the course of the session, and has time to address their own specific needs.

What You Will Learn

  • Why social media should be an integral part of your awareness-building strategy
  • How to build your brand/identity/vision into your social media strategy
  • Tips and tricks for online engagement (e.g. “How to Boast without Sounding Boastful)
  • Tools and resources for efficient automation and time-management (e.g. scheduling content ahead of time, “bucketing” ideas for future use, etc) 

I’m Sold! Show Me the Honey! 

If you’re interested in joining the swarm of regular every day people who are using social media to make a positive impact in their workplace, communities, the world, don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss booking a 4-hr workshop for your organization, group of colleagues or friends, or arrange one-on-one consultation services (1-hr calls, once a week, for a month). Rates are negotiable. 

Please note: Basic internet savvy is required of all attendees. Projector screen and PC laptop hook up for interactive presentation required. U-shape conference seating arrangement is ideal, but classroom, lecture, or informal lounge seating can also work. At least one wired internet connection is required, but a venue with high-speed wi-fi is preferred. Minimum of 6 attendees required to schedule a group workshop.

Click here to schedule a workshop!

Decisions, Decisions: Group Workshop vs. Individual Consulting Sessions

If you’re already familiar with social media and are seeking support for a specific project (e.g. fun a fixed period online fundraising campaign, increasing Facebook Page engagement, etc), then I recommend the one-on-one consulting sessions. I would also recommend the one-on-one sessions for busy professionals/activists who already have a platform (i.e. executive directors of non-profits, activists who blog etc) and would like to promote their thought leadership more strategically. Again, we would treat these goals as specific projects in order to jumpstart their progress. Additional sessions may be purchased as-needed. 

Conversely, group workshops are ideal for people who have familiarity with social media but are not yet sure how they can use it to their advantage. As I’d like to say, they haven’t yet identified their “honey” or what makes them unique and buzzworthy. The workshop is intended to help people identify (and articulate) their value within their niche or community, and map out a strategy for garnering support, improving their engagement, and increasing their influence. To that end, learning about social media in a group format — in addition to drawing from the experiences of multiple people — provides an instant support network via which you can continue practicing.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to BEEcome BUZZworthy? If so, I encourage you to schedule a workshop or consulting session with me. I look forward to hearing from you.


As I’m constantly creating new workshops and training modules to better support every day people whose voices should be reflected in the media, your stories (of successes and challenges) are an essential part of learning how we — as passionate people — can better make ourselves heard. So, please share your experiences with social media in the comments below.

Are you a passionate person who is interested in learning how to use social media more effectively, to share your ideas, market your services, advocate for an issue you care about? What areas of using social media do you struggle with? What has been helpful to you? What has been the most challenging?

It Takes a Village: Fikelela Shelter for Orphans with HIV/AIDS Fosters Community Advocacy

“It takes a village to raise a child” comes to mind when I reflect on my visit to the Children’s Center of the Fikelela Aids Project, a program of the Anglican church that fosters orphaned children living with HIV/AIDS.

Villas of Hope

On the morning of my visit, Rachel, the founder and project leader, picked me up from my residence and drove me to Khayelitsha, where the centre is based. On our way to the site (about a 20 min drive from town), we both chatted about our passion for philanthropy. Rachel shared that a friend of hers, Villa, had been the inspiration behind Fikelela; Villa had always dreamed about opening a home for children who were HIV+, called “Villas of Hope”. Villa passed away from AIDS, and Rachel has since kept that dream alive.

Rachel may be the visionary behind Fikelela, but the centre’s operations are heavily driven and overseen by Kate, a social worker by training. Over some very delicious tea, she outlined the program’s vast operations, of which there are many moving parts: child developmental activities led by Kate, play and care by the staff carers, medical services (TB and HIV/AIDS testsing, general health check ups for which they partner with local clinics), and a variety of art activities and fun outings for the children. What struck me about Kate was her unwavering love and commitment to the children; every bottom line she described, whether fundraising, reporting, hiring new staff, working with other non-profits, social works, and government agencies, were all articulated via impact on the children.

Love Fills These Playgrounds

After speaking with Rachel and Kate for a bit, I received a tour of the facilitites. The girls and boys each have their own separate quarters, rooms with individual bunk beds and cribs with their names on them. I arrived during nap time for the younger ones (2-4 yrs), and the older kids were still away in school. I didn’t want to snap photos of the children as they were sleeping, but I did capture one little girl, Nikkie, who had woken up early and wanted everyone passing by to pick her up! Her smile won me over.

I noticed that the bathrooms have towels and toothbrushes labeled with the children’s names. Kate explained that children naturally want to feel special, and thus, in a group as large as theirs (up to 40 children at a time), Fikelela tries to affirm them as individuals in as many ways as possible. The children have a wonderful playground at the back of the centre. They’re even getting a pool very soon, donated by a supporter of Fikelela. They have bikes to ride around on, and indoors, an assortment of toys and games.

I spoke with a few “carers” (women who tend to the children — bathe them, feed them, play with them etc), too, and was moved by how much love they expressed for their work. One of them, Pindiwe, has four children of her own; she works at the centre three days a week, and on the days when she isnt, tends to her children. I accompanied her as she prepared a daily booster (immune system strengthening drink) for a few of the children. When I asked her how she could love so many children at once, she replied, “I just really love children. I can’t help it. They make me so happy.”

More Than a Shelter, A Dedicated Community

A good number of the kids that come to the centre are HIV+. Yet, the centre is literally bubbling over with love, laughter, and joy. The few children that I saw awake were smiling and happy. The staff were themselves upbeat and positive. And, in fact, Kate explained that they hardly ever disclose which of the children are HIV+. “Everyone is treated the same. If I wear gloves for one, I wear gloves for all. If I kiss one, I kiss them all. Visitors who come in to start mourning are asked to leave. I don’t need them bringing in negative energy. My children are happy.”

“It takes a village to raise a child” comes to mind when I reflect on my visit. From the driver who shuffles the children back and forth from school, picks and drops off ARV meds etc, the carers that tend to the children (change their diapers, feed them, lead playtime activities), the social workers that visit to facilitate developmental activities (so that the children can eventually become better and be reunited with their families, not just physically, but emotionally), and the volunteers who stop by to help (cleaning, painting, projects for the children etc), Fikelela is more than just a centre for orphans; it’s the hub of a truly extraordinary ecosystem of childcare.

Everyone working there spoke frankly about the love and passion they have for the work they do, but were also realistic and forthcoming about challenges; despite having a stellar reputation with the department of social services — who are constantly recommending them — it’s clear that Fikelela is an organization that is constantly pushing themselves to accomplish even more than they have, for the sake of the children fortunate enough to be in their care.

In the words of their founder, Rachel, “… thinking about the millions impacted by HIV/AIDS, it’s easy to get discouraged. Making the differences in the lives of the one or two is what keeps me going.”

Villa would be so proud.

If you’d like to learn more about Fikelela, visit their website, or donate to them via their profile on GlobalGiving.

Our Voices, Our Stories: Training African Women’s & LGBT Organizations to Use Social Media is Critical

“Until lions write their own history, tales of the hunt will continue to glorify the hunter.” — African Proverb

Despite the richness, diversity, and complexities that shape the landscape that is my homeland, Africa is often depicted as one big safari (or war zone). Why is that? Because Africa’s stories are rarely told by Africans themselves.

This is no different for the African LGBT movement. For every western media news story I hear about LGBT Africans being murdered, raped, living in fear etc., there is an untold story of resistance, progress, and change. As a queer Nigerian writer, I have made it my responsibility to cover that change, to document our history as told by us — not through the eyes of western imperialists or saviorists, and to amplify the voices of my brothers and sisters who are leading the way.

For instance, on a recent trip to South Africa, I met an African transgender man who told me that he’d gotten most of his hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgeries covered by the government. In MA, where I’ve been living for the past ten years, we only just recently passed a workplace anti-discrimination law that includes gender identity. Many of my friends still have to work several jobs at  a time, throw fundraisers, and run online fundraising campaigns to pay for their gender reassignment surgery. But before I could congratulate him on such a feat, he dismissed the achievement almost entirely. “They can do better. I’m going to make the government pay for all the surgeries. What nonsense.”

Given all the negative news we hear about gay Africans (as well as either the apathy or aggressive criminalization by African governments), who would ever have suspected that a black, transgender South African would not only have gotten gender reconstructive surgeries covered by the government, but that he would be so bold as to demand for more,  i.e. full coverage for anyone transitioning, when countries like the US are still debating the recognition of gender identity in basic healthcare policy?

I immediately began to interrogate him about his experience advocating for trans-inclusive healthcare, and LGBT activism in general. Soon, we discovered a way we’d already been connected; I’d recently written about his organization in a recent article (“Will Transgender and Intersex Activism Unite Africa’s Movements?“) for Gender Across Borders. Small world. But he’d had no idea. So, before we parted ways, we exchanged emails, and he gave me a T-Shirt with his organization’s name and logo on it. I was so happy to have met a fellow gender non-conforming African, and resolved to keep in touch, and follow his work more closely.

But here’s the thing: after I got back to the states, I searched for his organization online and all I found was a website with no content. Not even a contact link. His umbrella organization had an active Facebook page, but the major new initiative he’d shared with me, along with some of the programs and work he’d talked about, weren’t mentiond in their updates. Basically, my new friend — and all his passionate trans advocacy — was invisible.

Two weeks ago I heard about the brutal murder of an LGBT South African, Thapelo Makutle, described by western and African news and media outlets as gay. Thapelo had recently competed (and won) a beauty queen pageant, was seemingly self-described as trans, but I had no idea which pronouns they went by; almost all the news stories I came across had been written by people outside of the  community most familiar with Thapelo’s work. I wondered if my friend had known Thapelo personally. I wondered what he would have written about the crime, and what steps he would have suggested to happen next in order to honor and continue to build on the work of a fellow transgender activist.

As the story spread far and wide, framed as an anti-gay issue in Africa, Thapelo’s trans identity taking a back seat — I began to feel frustrated. Now, news of the crime was being picked up by western media sites, who barely cared to include any details beyond the murder method and a reiteration that South Africa was unsafe. Where were the other less-sensationalized truths? What were they? Who could we trust, then and now, to deliver them to us? And, how will these voices be able to reach us in crucial times such as these?

These are all questions I’m hoping my new project — Social Media & Communications Training for African Women’s & LGBT Organizations — will address. For the next 6 months, I’ll be traveling through 6-8 countries (including South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, and more), hosting workshops on social media, writing and storytelling, branding and communications, blogging, tweeting, and more.

My goal is to support my brothers and sisters in leading the conversation about the LGBT African movement and the impact of their work, so that it isn’t reduced to a series of atrocities and vigils due to the west’s tendency to “re-tell” reductive stories about Africa (and the Diaspora in general). 

However, I must reiterate, that in addition to lending my hand to the fight for liberation at home, I am eager — and excited! — for the opportunity to learn from activists who have been creating change with little to no resources.

As the founder and lead-organizer of a nationally-recognized grassroots organization, and executive editor of a media advocacy and publishing organization, both of which serve queer people of color, including the Diaspora, I’ve had to learn to be resourceful in a variety of ways; but I’ve done all this from a very safe distance away from draconian anti-gay laws that threaten imprisonment and death (at least most of the time). I can’t imagine the hardships queer African activists face under such a climate. Yet, in spite of this, they persist, they survive, and often, against all odds, they thrive.

I will never forget how much the passion and conviction of my friend inspired me that day; it still encourages me to have courage, push through the fear, whenever I begin to doubt myself. I need this trip just as much as my brothers and sisters need my — and all of our — support for healing, for hope, and for affirmation.

So, goodbye to the overly simplistic, dehumanizing narratives western dogma continues to perpetuate about African; and hello to authenticity, autonomy, and self-determination. Instead of constantly being disappointed by reductive narratives about LGBT Africans (in the rare occasion they’re presented at all), I’m focusing instead on arming my community with tools and strategies to amplify of our voices. As far as telling our story of the LGBT African movement? I think we can take it from here.

David Kato. Thapelo Makutle.  And too many whose names we will never know. This trip is my homage to you. 


Support Africa Social Media Project

I’m aiming to raise more than $7500 by July 31st. I’m embarking on this trip completley on my own, and relying on individual donations; no sponsorships, no grants, just me. So, please consider donating if and as much as you can. I’ll be gone for 6 months, and am hoping to not become another “starving child in Africa”!

Suggestion: A good way to calculate a donation would be to think about what you’d be comfortable giving me as a one-time contribution, then multiply that by six.

All details about my project are available at

You can follow my journey @spectraspeaks and hashtag #africansforafrica on Twitter, or my Tumblr blog

Alternatively, you can setup a recurring donation via paypal by selecting from one of the options below:

Africans for Africa Project
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