Mercy Corps

Getting help to those most in need with Workplace and SWOOP

This sinking mosque was one of the few buildings still standing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the coastal city of Palu, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing more than 1500 people.

The Arkham Babu Rahman Mosque once dominated Talise Beach, Palu, with its dramatic walkway from the shore to mosque. After the tsunami, the mosque’s access from the shore was cut off, leaving it floating in Palu Bay.

In the foreground is Dasci Fadihu, a long-time training officer and emergency response team member for global humanitarian aid organisation, Mercy Corps. Dasci is a seasoned emergency responder who has helped save the lives of countless people in Indonesia following the 2004 Aceh earthquake and tsunami, the 2010 Mentawai tsunami and the 2014 Kelud volcano eruption.

Sirajul Afkar.

Dasci and his team came to Palu to survey the extent of the damage and begin emergency programming.

The photo was taken by Sirajul Afkar, a first responder in Indonesia who’s been working on solving technical issues during emergency situations with Mercy Corps for a decade in his position as Senior Program Officer for Technical Assistance and Training Team Program.

A third member of the team on the ground was Julisa Tambunan, Director of Mercy Corps’ GirlSPARKS, a global training hub to help organisations better meet the needs of adolescent girls. During emergencies, Julisa takes the lead on advocating and planning programs for vulnerable adolescents.

Soon after Afkar took this photo, Julisa posted it on Mercy Corps’ Workplace by Facebook network, giving her colleagues around the world an immediate, and first hand, look at the extent of the devastation.

Workplace is Mercy Corps’ enterprise social network, a place where every field worker, admin officer, regional director, the CEO and everyone in between can share news, share knowledge, post updates and communicate.

Mercy Corps also uses SWOOP Analytics to see who is connecting on the network, what posts people are engaging with, which teams are talking to each other, who needs help to get connected.

When Julisa posted this photo on Workplace, data from SWOOP showed it was the most engaging post on the Mercy Corps’ network. This was the first look at the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami and the sinking mosque image was met with strong emotional reactions from the rest of the Mercy Corps team scattered across the world.

A screenshot of the SWOOP dashboard with at Mercy Corps’ Humanitarians at Mercy Corps group.

Before Workplace, the team in Indonesia would have posted the photo to its Facebook page, in the hope some Mercy Corps colleagues around the world saw it, and eventually, emailed stories like this to Mercy Corps’ headquarters in Portland, Oregon and updated them on the situation, when they had the time to do so.

Teams in Portland, like the Humanitarian Leadership and Response (HLR) team, would then relay the story, often after it was translated, and send it to others in the organisation. There was little chance a photo would, or could, be included at this early stage.

Julisa Tambunan.

With an open Workplace group called Humanitarians at Mercy Corps, Julisa was able to immediately upload the image, tell the story in her own words and provide Mercy Corps team members with access to this firsthand account of the devastation in Sulawesi.

Mercy Corps’ external communications team saw Julisa’s post and use the photo and Julisa’s words to begin a funding campaign to help raise money. This campaign was then sent to corporate and individual donors.

Allison Dworschak, a Portland-based member of the HLR team, explains.

“Our primary objective is to get help to the people that need it,” she said.

Allison Dworschak.

“Our humanitarian response is rapid, bold and accountable and one of the ways in which we achieve being rapid is by being quick with funding and quick with resources. It’s really hard to do that if you don’t have pictures to show or stories to tell or voices from the people who are on the ground seeing what is happening first hand.

“And the number of intermediaries the content from the field has to go through, both degrades the quality of the information we’re sending out, and also the speed at which we get those resources.

“So this platform makes us more rapid and more accountable.”

Allison’s small team is spread across the world so it’s imperative they communicate constantly, not only amongst themselves but with everyone in Mercy Corps’ 5,000+ network of staff.

She uses SWOOP for internal team reporting because she’s building a community of practice where everyone involved in humanitarian response can ask questions of each other.

“We’re trying to get to that point where we are cross-pollinating across all of our 40+ countries, we’re using Workplace and SWOOP to help get us to that place,” Allison said.

With SWOOP, Allison tracks the number of active users, the influencers in her groups, the “Most Engaging Posts” and each month she publishes a post using SWOOP data to share these insights with her team.

Jade Frank, Mercy Corps’ Internal Communications and Knowledge Management Director, says Workplace is increasingly becoming the organisation’s top engagement channel for collaboration and communication.

Jade Frank.

“That’s because it has really rich multi-media functions and because it’s very real time, it’s just been offering us more flexibility to cut through everything that’s going on and engage people in an easy, light way,” she said.

“It allows people to dip in and dip out between meetings or throughout their work day.”

Mercy Corps launched Workplace in January 2016 to its more than 5,000 team members. There are currently 4,900 staff with active Workplace accounts (they are now automatically added as part of their onboarding) and SWOOP shows an impressive active user rate of about 50 per cent.

Jade said it has been a slow build of engagement on Workplace across the agency but it has been exponentially growing over the past six months.

“We’re seeing a real uptake in engagement and we’re moving from sharing pictures of our dogs and cats to exchanging and learning about real-time learnings and lessons and program impact from across the agency,” she said.

“We’ve struck a nice balance between the more social side of engagement and the real practical side of engagement and content.”

The Humanitarian Leadership and Response team manages Mercy Corps’ “Crisis Tracker”, where they update on the agency’s response to every potential aid situation around the world – from Hurricane Michael in Florida, to the migrant caravans currently making their way to the United States border, to earthquakes in Indonesia and the current Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The team constantly shares all the information in the “Humanitarians at Mercy Corps” Workplace group, which connects Mercy Corps’ humanitarian staff across the world.

Thanks to SWOOP, Jade’s communications and knowledge management team has seen the impact the Humanitarians at Mercy Corps group is having on the entire network.

“What we’re trying to do more and more is enable and empower our group moderators to better utilise Workplace to get the word out about what they’re doing but also facilitate and engage global conversations and we use SWOOP to point out the groups that are the most engaged and the posts that are getting the most traction so then we can help them see what tactics they are not taking and how they can increase their influence within the agency by employing tactics similar to teams and colleagues in other countries or other groups,” Jade said.

Mercy Corps recently held an all-agency meeting which was broadcast live on Workplace so every team member, anywhere in the world, could join in. Video conferencing was used, with a large screen showing those on the conference call and another camera broadcasting the whole proceedings live on Workplace.

“We did a global wave where everyone could see each other in these different offices around the world and then we had Workplace Live broadcasting the entire thing so that anyone from anywhere could participate,” Jade said.

“We fielded questions, and questions that we didn’t get to, we were able to use Workplace to then tag our executives, tag the people that asked the questions and we’ve had an ongoing discussion that’s been happening for the past few weeks.

“SWOOP is really helpful for us to evaluate the effectiveness of utilising Workplace for this all-agency meeting and how that increased overall engagement and also helped us analyse the inclusivity of these kinds of events and how we’re able to increase inclusiveness of our broader global agency.”

The video has had 1,300 views so far and the internal communications team continues to use questions from the event to make new posts, tagging the person who asked the question and executives to provide answers.

“We’ve really been able to utilise SWOOP to track that progress,” Jade said.

“SWOOP has also helped us get information about our impact, or about case studies and stories of change across the agency into the hands of people who really need that information.

“It’s become a powerful knowledge management tool.”

If you’d like to add SWOOP to your knowledge management tool kit, contact us for a free trial.


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