The Sad Truth
By Mahatma Das
A quick look online reveals six sad truths about ISKCON and the Internet.
Sad Truth Number 1: ISKCON is not properly taking advantage of internet technology to attract our niche markets. As a result, many potential "customers" end up on other websites, and subsequently become involved with other organizations.
Sad Truth Number 2: ISKCON does not offer introductory material that is easy to understand and apply, and offers virtually no further guidance through strategic mentorship and educational programs that are suited to the needs of people exploring spiritual life.
Sad Truth Number 3: There are other spiritual and religious organizations, both Eastern and Western, that are light years ahead of us in strategically educating the public in their teachings and lifestyle, both through the internet and through intelligently designed in-person introductory workshops.
Please check out the following Christian websites to get an idea of the kind of work they are doing (there are other organizations teaching Eastern practices that do this as well).
Sad Truth Number 4: ISKCON lacks strategic and professionally produced media on the internet. When you search Google or YouTube with questions our niche markets asks, (What is karma? How to meditate? Who is God? What is a guru? What is Hinduism? What is bhakti? What is Hare Krishna?) you quickly see how poorly we are represented on the net. In some cases, we don't even appear in the top searches for these important questions. Perhaps even worse, where we do appear our presentations are not good quality, do not relate or resonate well with your average person, and offer no clear way to proceed in Krishna consciousness.
Sad Truth Number 5: The first thing that comes up under "What is Hare Krishna?" on Google is a Christian site explaining who we are! The first thing that comes up under "What is Hare Krishna?" on YouTube is absolutely the wrong person and presentation we want to represent us. Please check this out and you will really get my point - plus have a good laugh (or maybe a good cry!).
How did we allow things to end up like this?
Sad Truth Number 6: ISKCON is doing nothing to change this. As an example of what is being accomplished online, Global Media Outreach reports on their site today (this was only by 7pm) that 277,284 people have visited their site, 1,255 called or emailed them, 25,751 committed to being Christians and 6,659 were discipled.
Can ISKCON not do better than this? In 2008 a GBC outreach strategic planning committee formed and outlined dynamic outreach programs. What has happened to date? Nothing. Why? There is no money to hire the qualified manpower (the manpower exists) that is required to execute these plans.
Many Christian organizations are so well-funded by their constituents that they have been able to develop highly effective outreach programs (the major cost of which are salaries). However, we have not provided similar funding to the many qualified devotees who could develop similarly successful programs.
If you would like to help me address these issues, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org