Shelly Steffler is a social media manager, strategist and coach. She runs her own digital agency Mundo Social Media where she works with a wide range of purpose-driven businesses and non-profits.
Last year, she completed a 3-month fellowship in Ghana, during which she initiated her own charitable projects. One of these projects resulted in building a new roof for a local school.
She’s also assisting documentary filmmaker Faiza Duut Majeed in raising funds for a blind family in Ghana. The mother, Konlan Languur, was born blind. Her father “gifted” her to her husband, hoping she would have a child to care for her. The oldest child, Yennuyar (who was 11 in the film but is now 13), fulfilled that role – cleaning the house, collecting firewood, cooking the food, and walking miles for water. Despite never attending school, Yennuyar dreams of becoming a teacher. Konlan’s other three children were born with vision problems, and the family struggles to survive, relying on the generosity of neighbours and leftovers from the mill floor. They often go hungry.
So before you move on to read Shelly’s interview, we’d like to ask you to consider supporting Shelly’s fundraiser. Whether it’s through making a donation or sharing it with your network, every action, big or small, will bring Shelly’s fundraiser closer to achieving the goal and helping Konlan and her children.
Q: Can you share a bit about your journey into freelancing and how you started your own social media agency?
I was working as a Policy and Communications Analyst for a small municipality in 2016, and part of my role was managing their social media profiles. So when I realised that I could never satiate my love of travel in 2 weeks of vacation, I started thinking about what I could freelance in; social media management was the obvious choice.
It started as a side gig in August 2017, although I didn’t get any clients until early 2018. But by December 2018, I had almost replaced the income at my day job and felt ready to make the leap. I moved to Spain – luckily, I have in-laws there, so it was a soft landing!
Photo courtesy of Shelly Steffler
Q: While you’re not exclusively working with nonprofits, you mentioned a desire to move more towards that direction. How do you balance working with different types of clients, and what motivates you to focus more on non-profits?
My current client roster is stable enough that I hope to focus on non-profit, EA, and other mission-driven organisations from here on out!
I love working with passionate people who are trying to make their corner of the world a bit better – I find it so inspiring.
Q: Your expertise lies in social media marketing. How do you believe social media can be used to make a positive impact in the world?
I think people are worn down by (sometimes fake) news about wars, disease, and all the terrible things in the world.
Social media has a role to play in inspiring people to do a little better, appreciate what they have, get involved in causes, and maybe even donate.
Q: What social media strategy had a significant impact, either on your freelancing business or for a cause you were passionate about?
Consistency is a beautiful thing.
When people see you sharing the same messages over months and years, they come to know, like, and trust you. Many people are observing, without commenting or connecting – until the time is right.
Q: How did you first come across the concept of Effective Altruism? How do you typically explain it to people who may not be familiar with it?
I learnt about Effective Altruism on the Reddit Ask Me Anything sub!
That was summer 2022. I was immediately hooked, because it makes so much sense to do as much good as possible with our efforts. I took the introductory course and tried to apply some of the principles to my volunteer fellowship in Ghana in winter 2023. But that was government funded, and very established, and didn’t have any comparison groups, so… the outcomes were disappointing.
When I say “EA measures the impact of projects, in order to do the most good with our money and efforts”, people always seem to understand.
Q: It’s inspiring to hear about your goal to launch your own charity. Could you share where this desire comes from and what kind of impact you hope to achieve?
I’ve just always wanted to!
I love making things happen that would have never happened if it wasn’t for me. Poverty alleviation is very close to my heart. It ties closely to other areas I feel passionately about, like health, education, and human rights.
Q: Can you tell us about one of your favourite projects you’ve worked on? What made it special for you?
Right now, I’m working with Ethical Seafood Research, an EA-aligned and funded organisation that focuses on aquatic welfare. I’m learning so much, and realising how important and highly neglected the work is.
Q: Finally what advice would you give to fellow freelancers who want to integrate social impact into their businesses?
Don’t limit yourself to doing good through your current work!
I scaled back and volunteered for 4 months in Ghana, both in social media management and in some ad hoc projects that came up.
To see how Shelly can help your organisation be seen and heard through power of social media marketing, make sure to check out her agency Mundo Social Media. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn, or on the Freelancing for Good Slack channel.