Why Opportunity Village should go all-in on live-streaming in 2016

Last summer, I visited nonprofit organizations in all 50 U.S. states.

Without question, the highlight for me was meeting and working with hundreds of youths around the nation, but the organizations also loved the positive PR generated by each visit — like this clip, from Fox 5 Las Vegas.

Behind me in that shot is the Magical Forest, a complex and detailed sprawl that brings in about 60,000 visitors to Opportunity Village during their annual HallOVeen and Holiday campaigns.

OV facilitates a Guinness world-record-holding annual Santa Run, which in 2015 grew to over 8,000 participants, but the organization’s efforts are unquestionably a year-round journey.

From Opportunity Village’s website:

More than just a charity, Opportunity Village operates three employment training center campuses and a Thrift Store in Southern Nevada. It also operates a vehicle donation program, provides vocational training and places hundreds of adults in jobs throughout the community,

Since 1954, Opportunity Village has provided life-changing experiences for individuals with disabilities and their families. As new CEO Emeritus, then-CEO, Ed Guthrie told me in a sit-down interview on Day 34 of my 100-day quest, OV is very well-known inside the Las Vegas community, but “outside of the community, it’s sometimes difficult to get that message across.”

“We’re overwhelmed by the hospitality industry.”

Later in the interview, I ask Ed what his favorite part of the Magical Forest is.

Like almost every other nonprofit in the world, Opportunity Village uses social media to spread the message about its mission and accomplishments. They are particularly proficient on Twitter, with well-crafted and interesting posts like this one:

(By the way, I interviewed Charlene Blackstone on Blab in October: https://blab.im/chris-strub-volunteerism-in-america-oppvillagelv-lasvegas-3 )

As far as nonprofits go, Opportunity Village is very, very good at using social media in a traditional sense. But in 2016, the opportunity — no pun intended — is there for OV to set a new industry standard.

Live-streaming video is no longer just an emerging concept. In August, Periscope reported a user base of 10,000,000. Since then, the community, led by @Ryan_A_Bell and Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz, organized summits in New York City and San Francisco that brought viewers and visitors from around the globe.

At the more recent summit, in San Fran, I was invited to speak — twice — about using live-streaming for social good. My experiences were paralleled with incredible stories from Periscopers like AJ Joshi, Derek Cowan, Arvin Poole and many more who have inspired thousands of people around the globe. Below is the keynote from AJ, that passionately details a number of different initiatives tied together by #ScopeForGood.

Even more encouraging than the stories was the response from the community itself: that, in 2016, they want to see even more social good. They want to learn of volunteer opportunities. They want to see positive change. They want to support organizations that share their messages with the world.

For more than six decades, Opportunity Village has been a pioneer and an example for other nonprofit organizations around the world focused on a similar cause. In 2016, under newly appointed CEO Bob Brown, Opportunity Village can take the next step in blazing a trail for nonprofits around the world by being the first major nonprofit to truly embrace storytelling through live-streaming.**

The potential for Opportunity Village to become a major player in the live-streaming space is immense and immediate. Dozens of live-streaming influencers already live in the Las Vegas area, and so facilitating a program that welcomes and encourages them to come tour is a natural fit. In fact, last fall, Veronica Atkins at OV hosted a tour for popular Periscope host Joe Symon:

But live-streaming can, and should, go much deeper than wooing influencers. Opportunity Village can and should create “Opportunity Village Live” — a detailed, multi-platform schedule that attracts audiences on Periscope, Blab, MeVee and any other channels that make sense.

Creating a diverse mix of in-house, live programming, on various channels, creates an entire new set of entry points for people inside, and outside, of Las Vegas to learn about Opportunity Village. It creates an exciting stage for staff, volunteers and, most importantly, OVIP’s to be featured — even when the television cameras aren’t around. It creates exciting, innovative, repurpose-able content for channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Furthermore, it establishes Opportunity Village as a crown jewel of the Las Vegas community, creating a destination for visiting influencers from around the globe to visit. And perhaps most importantly, it creates a model for nonprofits around the world to look at and build from in 2016 and beyond.

Together, we can manifest this dream at Opportunity Village. We can raise exponentially more awareness for the various causes and efforts at OV. We can bring volunteers and tangible donations to OV. And we can make OV the nonprofit that all nonprofits, quite literally, look to.

I made a lot of friends at Summit Live who would love to visit Las Vegas. And since Summit Live, I’ve been invited to speak at other conferences about live-streaming for social good; I’d love to do so on behalf of OV.

And so, Las Vegas, without hesitation … I’m all in. And hopeful for that call.

In 2016, let’s go to Vegas.

Chris Strub is the first man to live-stream and SnapChat (add him: @ChrisStrub) in all 50 U.S. states. He visited Opportunity Village on Day 34 of his 100-day quest around the country in the summer of 2015. His book, “50 States, 100 Days: The Book” details his experiences at each nonprofit along the way — including OV. He’d love to take you on a tour of Opportunity Village sometime in 2016 — on Periscope or in real life.

**P.S., if there are other nonprofits out there that are fully embracing live-streaming to tell their stories, I would love to know about them and help tell their stories. Just because I haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they aren’t doing magnificent things!

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