BAM: Board Buy-in for Social Media, Part Two

In my previous post, you began to lay the groundwork for board signoff on your web 2.0 initiatives.  

It’s a myth that boards won’t support (increased) usage of web 2.0 technology.  They are simply unfamiliar with the potential of what exists.  They may have seen their teenager use MySpace or a school blog. Your job is to connect the dots. Ultimately, they are accountable for the financial well-being of the organization, which includes ensuring resources are available to achieve the mission.   In BoardSource’s “Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards,” they state:

Linking budgeting to strategic planning, they approve activities that can be realistically financed with existing or attainable resources, while ensuring that the organization has the infrastructure and internal capacity it needs.

Coupled with the fact that the board’s duties include advancing the public perception of the organization, why wouldn’t they provide the resources and support to more-fully utilize social media?   Now you have your background, let’s get the rest of the ducks in a row:j0314273.jpg

 Questions your presentation should be able to answer:

  1. What do you want the board to sign off on? 
  2. How does this (your web 2.0 suggestions) solve problems or allow staff to do their jobs better?
  3. How does it further the organization’s mission?
  4. How does it link to the organization’s strategic plan?
  5. Are the costs justified? Remember costs include time and money.  Address concerns about learning curves.

Who should do the presentation?

You have two options.  An internal staff member or someone from outside the organization.

  1. Internally, who “owns” your web 2.0 initiative and will be knowledgeable and passionate about it?  It may be the marketing or fund development staff.   Make sure this person presents from an overall strategic standpoint, not their stovepipe, however.
  2.  Sometimes, it might be beneficial to use someone who is perceived as an outside, impartial expert.  You know best.  Consider a consultant (we’re out there) or someone from a larger nonprofit association (perhaps you are a member). 

By getting your Board “on board” with web 2.0, you’ll feel more confident as you build your initiatives. 

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BAM, breaking down barriers that keep nonprofits from taking advantage of social media

In a swirl of links only the blogosphere could manufacture, Beth Kanter brought to my attention (aren’t feeds great?) a post by Ken Goldstein on why Web 2.0 is important to small nonprofits.  I couldn’t agree more, but posting a comment to his blog got me to thinking some deep thoughts.  

As I look around at the best practices with regard to web 2.0, I see that:

  • one size doesn’t fit all, even in the nonprofit world.  Everything that works for the SPCA won’t necessary be employed (or should be) in the same way or with the same results for a family counseling agency. Yes, there are common concerns, but different constituencies, legal implications regarding confidentiality, visions for the organization, etc. 
  • social media not only has the potential to help nonprofits build constituencies, raise funds, and get their message out, but it has the potential to totally transform the business model and internal operations of nonprofits. 
  • in spite of that potential, there are some very real obstacles impeding the ability of small- and medium-sized nonprofits in their adoption of web 2.0.   I count any obstacle as real, whether it’s perceived or tangible. 
  • Most nonprofits executives with streamlined budgets need to know what can quickly create opportunities and what solves problems without creating more of them. 

bam.jpg I’d like to start periodically blogging on what I’ll call “BAMs”  for “bust a myth.”   Really, it’s about breaking down obstacles. BAM. 

Next: BAM your Board.

ZUP 4 Nonprofits

page-float-trip-small2.jpgZup world?  Specifically, my friends in the nonprofit sector.  This site is for you and your busy lives. 

Welcome to the maiden voyage of ZUP 4 Nonprofits.  Like their counterparts in the private sector, nonprofit executives are increasingly busy, sophisticated and engaged in managing growing organizations.  Vibrant nonprofits, like business, have to keep their sights on the horizon for emerging trends, storm warnings and the occasional tsunami. Yes, you even have to keep an eye on that “upstart” new nonprofit coming up from behind you in that new speedboat.  The vital services provided by nonprofits are often a lifeboat to the constituencies they serve, so keeping abreast of the external operating environment as well as internal factors is critical. 

In case you’re wondering about all the boating/water verbiage, take a look at my header graphic.  Nice calm water? Yes.  Also capable of giving you hypothermia in 3 minutes…even though the air is 100 degrees.  Fabulous place (see photo at right).  Smooth water float trip the family took in Page, AZ this summer, down part of the Colorado.  No rapids, but things aren’t always as smooth as they seem.  Between the rocks just under the water and frigid temp, you have to know what you are doing. Remind you of your recent “smooth” operations at your nonprofit? ‘Nuff said.

Generally, I’ve found nonprofits have to operate in a more transparent way then their business counterparts (although that is changing, as private sector stockholders demand more accountability).  This need for transparency combined with the already tight budget (and dare I say, competition for funds?) creates a situation I call a “triage” budget—throw funding at what really needs it first, with no time to think about the future impact.

In the past, that affected the quality of things like technology implementation.  Still, it tends to affect (to differing degrees) areas that are seen as noncritical: board development, non-mandated staff training, and use of web 2.0 media. 

The intent of this site it to promote best practices in some of these areas.  Why reinvent the wheel when we can learn from others?page-float-trip-small2.jpgpage-float-trip-small2.jpg

Next up:  Do U YouTube?