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. 

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.

Video-Sharing and Baby Boomers: Why You Can’t Make Assumptions

j0422342.jpgThe Pew Internet and American Life Project –an initiative of the Pew Research Center–released a new survey yesterday demonstrating why we can’t make assumptions about who is doing what on the web.  To make these assumptions may mean missing key opportunities to engage new supporters. 

Many nonprofit execs make assumptions that it is the young volunteers, not the “mature” potential donors that they will reach on YouTube and through other web 2.0 technologies.  Okay, we all admit that we DO know that young business and social entrepreneurs exist (such as the two former hedge fund managers who started www.givewell.net at age 26) who value giving AND can afford to do so now.  But let’s face it, many fundraising professionals are focused on the baby boomers, who have established themselves in massive numbers and are worth billions of dollars.  It’s what Christina Cheddar Berk of CNBC calls “the golden age of philanthropy.”  We’ve read a lot of discussion about how to appeal to these potential donors: accountability, making them stakeholders, demonstrating real impact of their donations (demanding lot, aren’t they? LOL). 

 How do YOU engage the baby boomers?

If you aren’t already, better start thinking outside the box of traditional venues.  The Pew/Internet survey on Video-Sharing revealed that use of video-sharing (like YouTube) is up–48% of respondents said they had been to a video-sharing site; 15% had been “yesterday.”  But delving deeper into their data reveals some interesting facts. 

  • Of respondents age 50-64, 30% had visited video-sharing sites, up 58% from the previous year. 
  • Of households earning more than $75,000 per year, 60% indicated they had visited a video-sharing site—up 43%. 

For now, this may just be “a” visit but it is the beginning of a trend (remember a few years ago when few had broadband?)—and maybe the beginning of a relationship with you.  So when’s the last time your agency put something on YouTube?