When Wikis Trump Email

j0404960.jpgGlad I discovered Stewart Mader yesterday.  What drew me was a discussion of wiki versus email on Day 2 of his series, “21 Days of Wiki Adoption.”

Last month, I wrote how email might not be going away anytime soon, and I stick with that.  But having held jobs where I’d leave my desk for a meeting, returning to find 100 emails, I know there must be a better way.  My email-from-hell experience was during the implementation of a rather large project–welfare reform–in one of the largest state agencies in existence.  I was top assistant to the Deputy Secretary overseeing this sea change. 

Everyone would “CYA” themselves by copying me on every email…it was how they “collaborated.”  Sound familiar?

Oh, if we only had wikis then.  Development of regulations, retraining of staff, outreach to constituencies, new policy manuals, IT apps–all under deadline with thousands of people involved.  How many days we broke our momentum to attend front-office meetings to explain where we were on the project(s) and “collaborate.”  Some staff had to come from across town or across the state. 

Collaboration and a Smaller Inbox

Fortunately, wikis are now idiot-proof and easy to set up.  I’ve used them (from PBWiki) for my college teaching, in both traditional and online classes.  In all cases, I’ve been the only person involved who knew what a wiki was at the outset, but most participants adapted quickly. 

 duqprojectmanagementwiki2.jpg

The screenshot here was for a Project Management class I ran of adult (mostly National Guard) students enrolled in a Masters of Leadership program run by Duquesne U. 

We were spread all over central PA during the week at our jobs, but had 8 weeks (and 8 evening classes) to run a fundraiser from scratch to finish to benefit The American Legion Legacy Scholarship.  We used the wiki to get our ducks in a row for a mission statement, then used subsequent pages to share word documents, timelines, tick lists, etc.  In projects, a wiki lets you:

  • Avoid the barrage of email
  • Have one source for the most current version of documents
  • Get input from multiple sources in an orderly manner
  • See the most recent updates, comments and postings by your colleagues
  • Let participants view parallel activities that might affect their portion of the project
  • Be more nimble, reacting to new input and altering direction, if needed.
  • Cut down on meeting time (if you need meetings at all).

If you need an easy-to-understand resource on what a wiki is, check out this video by Lee Lefever of CommonCraft.com

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Social Media in Action 2: Pedal to the Metal for America’s Giving Challenge

On a post last week,  I reported on Social Media In Action, where Beth Kanter’s passion for kids in Cambodia stood to benefit from participation in the online fundraising contest sponsored by America’s Giving Challenge.   Beth’s passion is for The Sharing Foundation, which is benefiting from her networking on Twitter and her blog. 

The contest is intented to encourage better and more use of online fundraising for nonprofits.  The four fundraisers with the highest number of unique donors will receive $50,000 from the Case Foundation. The 50 projects that get the most total donations will each get $1,000.

 As of this moment in time, The Sharing Foundation is at #2 in terms of unique donors, with 1,490–nope, make that 1,495 (just changed) unique donors. 

  • To donate or check out the action, click here (be patient, with last minute donations, the site is a bit slow).  

The leaderboard is here, if you want to check it out.  

The contest ends this afternoon at 3 p.m.  (if you are reading this after that time, still check out the links…there is much to learn). 

If you are reading this in time, please consider giving the $10 minimum donation to help ensure The Sharing Foundation receives the extra $50,000!  It’s the number of donors that counts.

And if you are with a nonprofit, check out all these links above, including Beth’s Blog to see how you too can take advantage of web 2.0 media. 

Social Media In Action

I haven’t been blogging long, and although I have a depth of experience in communications and a “gut” instinct on what works, there’s still a lot to learn.  One great source has been Beth Kanter’s blog and wiki.  The great thing about social media is that this assistance comes “free” (okay, I retract that, there’s the time issue–but you know what I mean). 

Social Media In Action

Beth’s passion is for lifting kids in Cambodia out of poverty and she’ s involved in The Sharing Foundation, recently mentioned in a slide presentation Ed Schipul gave at the Got Social Media Conference. I had already seen the slideshow posted on Beth’s blog, and read where SHE learned her project was mentioned in the presentation in a “tweet” she received.  I then decided to get more serious about Twitter (had signed up for an account a few days ago but hadn’t yet used it—more on that in future post on being a newbie).  Twitter was having some problems yesterday so I bagged it for another day, but not before directly tweeting Beth Kanter.  She got back to me, asked if I’d donate and help get a couple of other donations for the Cambodia for Kids/Sharing Foundation group.  Ah..the wonders of social media. 

America’ Giving Challenge wants to encourage online giving campaigns.  Toward that end, they are sponsoring an online fundraising contest.  There’s the chance for Sharing Foundation to winner an extra $1,000 or even $50,000 if they can get enough unique donors.  Minimum donation is $10.  Contest ends January 31 at 3 p.m. but…

Beth said:   

..over the next five days (now actually 3), the organizations that get the most donations in a single 24 hour period will receive an additional $250, plus the largest donation will be matched. So, if you haven’t contributed yet, this would be an excellent time to donate $10!

If we are four of the top causes to get the most unique donors, we’ll win $50,000 for the Sharing Foundation as part of America’s Giving Challenge. With $10 you can help improve the lives of over 1,500 children in one of the world’s poorest countries.

So check out this link, donate and spread the word.

How’s that for a “best practice” in action?

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#1: BAM your Board of Directors

Yesterday, I made this comment in response to others on Ken Goldstein’s blog:

In a perfect world, even smaller nonprofits have some semblance of a strategic plan, signed off on by their board of directors. Web2.0 usage would be integrated into the plan (in general terms-I don’t want to indicate micro-management or, heaven forbid, sound too corporate). Buy-in in general terms by the board really frees up staff to do what they do best. In reality, most usage of Web2.0 is probably first seen coming out of the marketing and fund development staff (or consultants). The staff using it (including the Exec. Director) gets put in the position of have to explain where it fits, why resources are being used, etc. No resource is completely “free”—staff time, at minimum, is required.bam.jpg

  

There are many steps to strategic planning, but we’re only requiring small, incremental steps here on your journey to get buy-in from your board.  I envision a presentation that would be done in more than one part.  Once you “hook” them, you’ll need to then layout what resources you need and what your results will be.

In preparation for step 1, examine your external operating environment and how it is being or will be impacted by web 2.0.  This would include:

  • Identify your key constituencies.  Volunteers, donors, potential supporters, advocates–you know best. 
  • Lay out the external environment in which your organization functions.  You’d need to look at:
    • Social Factors, such as the lifestyle, attitudes and values of your key constituencies (the need for transparency, engagement,  shift in giving patterns, loyalty, etc. Back yourself up with facts.)
    • Technological Factors, such as the innovations that now exist in web 2.0
    • Contending Forces (in the private sector, I might call this “competitive factors”).  Who else is out there who deals with your key constituencies? Who is vying for funds?
    • Economic factors, such as the need to seek alternative ways of fund development. given local and regional trends.
    • Best Practices–how others with similar missions are effectively using new social media technologies.  A quick review (and demonstration) of some select best practices that best serve your purposes.  Should also include bullets on ease of implementation.  
  • Where possible, cut the jargon.  Even the term web2.0 might not be used in a board presentation, at least not at first.

In BAM#1, Part 2, we’ll talk about how to and who should present this to the board and subsequent steps.

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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.

Which “seasoned” advocate would you nominate? The Purpose Prize.

Nominations are again being sought for the Purpose Prize–a $100,000 award for baby boomers and beyond who have rocked their world by being social innovators, using their experience and talents to benefit others.   Who is eligible?  People over 60.  (For you young-uns, that’s people who remember with clarity where they were the day President Kennedy was shot).

Check the skyscraper link at left or this link for the nomination form.    

This will be the third year that the annual award will be presented by Civic Ventures, a think tank/idea incubator dedicated to the proposition that the second half of one’s life can be well-used to advance society’s greater good.   Five awards of $100,000 each will be given, plus ten $10,000 awards.  The deadline for nominations is March 1, 2008.  

According to Civic Ventures, nearly 8,000 baby boomers turn 60 every day.  That’s a lot of experience and potential passion for social entrepreneurship.  The winners from last year’s contest represent a full gamut of projects: fighting for water rights in the community, keeping siblings from being separated in foster care and helping students achieve through art.   

Watch a video interview of Gordon Johnson, one of last year’s winners.  (If this doesn’t affect you, I don’t know what would).

So, I want to know,

Who would you nominate?