Ronald McDonald House Charities has always held a special place in my heart, which is why I chose it as the subject of my research, comparing nonprofit social media use in the U.S. and the U.K.
1 1/2 weeks old, in the NICU
On October 16, 1985, my parents visited Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for scheduled procedures to monitor a high-risk pregnancy. Instead, I was delivered by emergency C-section that afternoon. Born at only 31 weeks, I weighed three and a half pounds.
I was an “Rh baby”—my mom’s blood is negative, and mine is positive, causing her body to reject me. Within minutes of birth, I received the first of nine exchange blood transfusions to keep my high bilirubin levels from causing brain damage.
RMHC gave my brother this T-shirt
My dad returned to work in Terre Haute, IN, but my mom had nowhere to stay in St. Louis. I was transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where a nurse in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) told my mom that the Ronald McDonald House offers a comforting home-away-from-home to families with children who are in the hospital, for only $5 per night.
My mom assumed the fee was need-based, and didn’t think she would “qualify,” but the nurse assured her, “Your child is in the hospital. You qualify.”
After my mom was released from Barnes-Jewish, she stayed in the Ronald McDonald House until I was released from Children’s Hospital. I had spent three weeks in the NICU.
Different Houses ask for different amounts of money, but none exceed $25, and no family is ever turned away for an inability to pay. Twenty-seven years later, the Ronald McDonald House of St. Louis still asks for only $5 per night.
That's Why I Want to Research Ronald McDonald House Charities!
With Houses in 56 countries, I’m interested in finding out how RMHC keeps its social media presence consistent, while targeting audiences that may be very different from one another. One of the most important things I hope to learn from my research is how a nation's size affects an organization's national message.
The U.S. is much larger than the U.K., and has many more RMHC locations. I want to study how RHMC maintains a consistent message across all the Chapters, while some of the individual Houses are so different from one another. As there are only 14 RMHC locations in the U.K., I am interested to find out if the social media presence is determined on a national scale, or if the regional offices are simply smaller.
To conduct this research, I plan to speak to social media managers at the national offices in the U.S and in the U.K., as well as speaking to social media managers at a selection of individual Houses. The Houses I will focus on in the U.S. are St. Louis, Cleveland, and Akron, Ohio. In the U.K., I would like to speak to the social media managers at the four Houses in London.
In May of 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in a research trip to London. I conducted research comparing how nonprofits use social media for public relations in the U.K. versus in the U.S. The entries in the blog contain my findings.