The ROI of an Anonymous, Nonprofit, Mental Health Community

SANE Australia is a charity that helps Australians affected by mental illness. Their popular online community, SANE Forums, serves as one of their primary initiatives. It isn’t just SANE Australia’s community, but the online community of 51 partner organizations, as well.

When they seek funding (from the Australian government and others), they have the prove their value and show their ROI. But what’s the ROI of an anonymous, nonprofit, mental health forum? That is one the challenges facing online community manager Nicole Thomas. Plus:

  • How the 51 different partner organizations contribute to the community
  • Scaling the SANE Forums volunteer program
  • The benefits of allowing people with mental illness to see the discussions of those who care for others with mental illness

Big Quotes

“Our forums are anonymous, so they don’t share a lot, but what we do ask for is postcodes. [When it comes to measuring ROI,] we look at, in particular, the feeling around social isolation. … There’s no surprise that services in particularly rural Australia aren’t as accessible, and so the appointments with professionals are further apart than those who live in major cities. For them, the forums are providing stability between appointments – a stable network of people that they can look to for support. While they will still have their ups and downs between appointments with a psychologist, they have this base of people they can always come to online.” -@nikkiniknik

About Nicole Thomas

Nicole Thomas is the online community manager of SANE Australia’s online peer support community. SANE Australia is a national charity helping all Australians affected by mental illness. Their online community, SANE Forums, is made up of two segments. One for people with lived experience of complex mental illness, and one for those who care for someone with a complex mental illness.

Since completing her Bachelor of Education degree, Nicole has had a diverse career with past roles within the New South Wales Department of Education, corporate learning and development, and youth mental health. In 2014, Nicole began her role at SANE to launch the community and since then has continued to lead the strategic direction and development of SANE Forums.

In 2015, she co-founded the Community Managers Interagency Group, which consists of community managers from several not-for-profit organizations who provide online peer support communities.

Nicole is passionate about the role online communities can play in addressing social and geographical isolation and improving well-being. She is also committed to working meaningfully with those with lived experience to create relevant and engaging services.

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