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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My Brain Hurts…..so much potential for collaboration

Beth Kanter, the technical maven of the nonprofit world, posed a simple question to me yesterday–  

“What do you think are some best practices in using these (social media) tools in terms of collaboration?”  

So much potential, it makes my brain hurt! (Sorry, too much Monty Python with my daughter last weekend).  I’ll focus on one aspect:

peer learning. 

As the former director of a small statewide human service association, I can tell you that at our quarterly meetings, the most cherished part of the agenda wasn’t the legislative report from Harrisburg.  Often, I felt we were hurrying through the meeting to get to the GOOD part—brainstorming and story-sharing among peers. 

There is a hunger among executive directors of nonprofits for opportunities to speak casually with each other about pressing management issues they face.  At least in the human service sector, they would also like to get supervisors of similar programs together.   What have I seen discussed?  Relationships with funders, corporations.  Benefits packages for staff.  Self-insurance.  Issues with HIPAA compliance.  Technology for case management.  Agency certification experiences. 

Although we allowed time for this interaction, it was tough to get everyone to attend the meetings.  Time was at a premium for executive directors.

A quickie on what holds potential (and what I would use if I were running the group today):

  • Wikis, for pulling together joint grant applications. We did a statewide grant application for federal funds—an intimidating undertaking requiring agencies from across the state to get letters of support, standardize their financial figures, etc.  It required input from our national association and a D.C.-based law firm.  Snail mail, email and conference calls were used, but the wiki would have made it less-time consuming and easier to get comments. (I use PBwiki.com, but there are many wiki farms).  

  • GoToMeeting.com or similar services to hold online meetings, allowing more frequent contact.  If an association picked up the fee for this service with membership dues, there would be no cost to the members for the actual meeting.  Meaningful guest speakers would be easier to schedule, since there is no travel time. 
  • A private Blog, for executive directors to share concerns and bounce ideas off peers.  Britt Bravo has some good advice for nonprofits thinking about taking the plunge into the blogosphere. 

 TIME & MONEY 

 Social media like these would especially benefit small- to medium-sized nonprofits, which have less staff to devote to grant-writing or cover work for those out of the office for conferences. Time and money are saved by using these technologies. Ironically, I believed that time and money are perceived as being a hindrance to using these media. We need to bust those myths.

Jim Tobin, at Ignite Social Media, does a great job doing just that.  After admitting social media can be a waste of time, he then busts that theory by discussing ways it can improve productivity.  That’s the appeal to management, and something we need to discuss more.