Ask yourself the following: What is your organization’s voice? Can you easily recite your mission statement in public? What celebrity would your organization be? What is success to you? Mark Horvath, founder of Invisible People grabbed our attention and engaged the audience with interactive questions like these during ProLiteracy’s first Snow Speaker Series event, funded by a grant from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust.
When Horvath found himself facing homelessness a second time after the economy crashed, he grabbed a camera and started an innovative social media video project to empower homeless people to share their own stories. He wanted to help raise awareness of the people affected by homelessness and chip away at the social stigma of it. Horvath recounted his journey starting Invisible People with only a bag of socks, a modest camera from Best Buy, a laptop, a smartphone, and a Twitter account. Since then, Horvath has been featured by the L.A. Times, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, MTV, Forbes and many more, and has gained the attention of major corporations like Hanes and Ford that have helped further his mission.
His experience and passion shone through his presentation as he shared tips on how other nonprofits can leverage social media as a tool, not a trick. He expressed the importance of using story telling on social media to attract people to our causes and to build a sense of community rather than for promotion.
Horvath shared with us some of the triumphs of homeless men and women who were able to get off the streets. He also pulled on our heartstrings with tales of those still struggling to survive and be acknowledged for their basic humanity. Perhaps the most important message that Horvath urged us to remember was one of encouragement—you can do it. He used his past personal struggles with homelessness to inspire each of us to tell our organizations’ various stories with the tools we have available. His work is proof that genuine passion and free networking tools can make a world of a difference to any cause.
Horvath’s resilience and compassion have helped him to hone in on his mission to change the story of homelessness. What story will you tell?