How Network Orgs Are Re- invigorating Change Organizing 2.0/501 Tech NYC May 2012
About CommunicopiaWho we are About us We are a boutique digital consultancy working globally for change. We lead transformational digital projects that help social mission organizations increase their impact & effectiveness in a networked world. Our clients Include Human Rights Watch, NRDC, Net Impact, City of Vancouver, the UN Foundation, The Elders, & the TckTckTck global climate campaign. We also founded the Web of Change community.
We live in times ofmassive systems changeThe web & networks are creating new models
Audiences have tuned out
Faith in institutions is at all time low
Complex world. People see connections
They expect more. Want to give more.
Rapid growth of networked orgs
Rise of “free agent” changemakers
The web has changed advocacy comms
Initial web = publishing
Networked web = conversations
The web past & presentTraditional Web Today’s Web
Most institutions lack thepeople, structure, & culture to lead in this new world
Networked NonprofitsA term coined by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine Simple & Transparent Orgs Networked nonprofits are easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out. They engage people to shape and share their work. They don’t work harder or longer than other orgs, they work differently. They engage in conversations with people beyond their walls to build relationships that spread their work through the network. Relationship building is a core responsibility of staff. They are all comfortable using social media to encourage two way communications between people.
Networked NonprofitsInstitutions born in a post-institutional ageBeth’s Three Attributes: Social culture. Transparency. Simplicity.Other attributes:•Smaller budget, less reliant on staff-driven model•Focus on doing one thing well•Hold back resources to jump on big opportunities•People working there are ambidextrous + younger•Listen well. Many are member-driven•No barriers between “online” and “real world”
How are they different?
Traditional NonprofitsDriven by policy, run by experts, focused on elites Create & promote policy solutions Find the right policy answers. Run a lot of long term campaigns promoting or defending them. Policy Expert based culture Program / policy professionals drive the ship. The “real work” of the institution. Senior leaders were often wonks previously, not managers. “Grass-tops” audiences Communications & campaigns typically targeted at senior decision makers or media.
Traditional NonprofitsAdditional attributes•Very silo’d structures: deputies compete for resources, disincentivesto collaborate, even turf wars•Hierarchical, top down cultures: young/web ppl not asked•Small donor fundraising drives “regular people” work & owns thelists. Sometimes even runs parallel programs•Typically very protective of & conservative with brand•Incentive to always promote their own experts/reports/wins, actingsomewhat narcissistically•Often work in isolation, or in cumbersome coalitions
Nonprofits & OnlinePeople are a means to an endOnline = List Building: We run campaigns to grow our lists, ask forsimple online actions, & convert activists to donors.Online programs are often made up of:•Email lists bought from big providers•Facebook friends gained via advertising•Cookie cutter, endless online “crisis” actions. Clicktivism•No personalized communications; no engagement ladders (noprograms to support higher engagement)•Don’t know what supporters care about; don’t ask
Online is a faux grassroots strategy
NGO’s struggle with digitalIt’s not about “pounding the list”Online is separate: Run within one silo, it struggles to keep up withpublishing demands, much less drive new campaign models basedon engagementOther challenges:•Dept that does “real world” is separate from “online”•Online lives in communications, driven by content needs•Communications is under-invested in across the sector•Culturally, staff built careers being experts, being perfect, beingprofessional, being the best, having control
Network orgs are built around a high engagement model.
Network OrgsPeople lie at the core of their Theory of Change Social culture Co-create or improve solutions along with partners & people outside their walls. People Transparent model Openly share theory of change. Comfortable with emergence, testing, & learning in public. Simple focus A clear goal and limited program areas. Also stronger investment in comms, messaging, UX.
The model suits our timesMaybe we centralized too much social change in NGO’sModel maps directly to web values: More conversational style. Meetspeople on their terms. Enables self-organizing systems. Offersmeaningful participation.Other benefits:•Complex world, difficult issues take many players•Can stretch fewer resources a long way•Engages talents locked up in our communities•Can turn on a dime; focus big attention on opportunities•Innovation doesn’t always come from experts; front lines
The limits of network orgsSmall isn’t always beautifulNot a panacea: Network orgs often lack the scale, reach, or capacityto really drive an agenda that doesn’t already existOther limits:•Don’t do the grinding, long term policy framework work; don’t haveexperts to do it•Can be seen as “ambulance chasers”•Hard to have impact without large scale of community•Difficult to fund; don’t fit into existing models•What is the sustainable business model?
Lets look at some stories.
Let’s stay connectedThanks for listening. I also ramble here:Jason Mogus Communicopia@mogusmoves communicopia.com twitter.com/communicopia facebook.com/communicopia