I’ll be talking about a couple of themes from my book, The Networked Nonprofit.
It launched in June with quite a splash and a series of events both online and offline. During our virtual book launch, I dared someone to order 100 copies of the book on Amazon and I’d jump into the pool on camera. Someone did, I am jumped …. All for a good cause. Both Allison and I are donating our share of the proceeds to causes that we care about – mine is going to the Sharing Foundation which takes care of children in Cambodia. The book has been #1 on Amazon since the launch
Nonprofit Nerds from New York City to San Francisco are reading and talking about it …
The book has gotten in the hands of nonprofit practitioners around the world from Holland, Tokoko, and Oz
It’s even been used as a bed time story for the newborn of a dedicated nonprofit social media manager. Not that the book will put you to sleep, but ending up being a great way to multi-task.
It isn’t a nonprofit with an Internet Connection and a Facebook Profile … Networked Nonprofits are simple and transparent organizations. They are easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out. They engage people to shape and share their work in order to raise awareness of social issues, organize communities to provide services or advocate for legislation. In the long run, they are helping to make the world a safer, fairer, healthier place to live. Networked Nonprofits don’t work harder or longer than other organizations, they work differently. They engage in conversations with people beyond their walls -- lots of conversations -- to build relationships that spread their work through the network. Incorporating relationship building as a core responsibility of all staffers fundamentally changes their to-do lists. Working this way is only possible because of the advent of social media. All Networked Nonprofits are comfortable using the new social media toolset -- digital tools such as email, blogs, and Facebook that encourage two-way conversations between people, and between people and organizations, to enlarge their efforts quickly, easily and inexpensively.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/422442291/ Problem statement: Explosion in size of nonprofit sector over last twenty years, huge increase in donations and number of nonprofits, and yet the needle hasn’t moved on any serious social issue. A sector that has focused on growing individual institutions ever larger has failed to address complex social problems that outpace the capacity of any individual org. or institution to solve them.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterhowe/163472919/ Problem statement: Explosion in size of nonprofit sector over last twenty years, huge increase in donations and number of foundations, and yet needle hasn’t moved on any serious social issue. A sector that has focused on growing individual institutions ever larger has failed to address complex social problems that outpace the capacity of any individual org. or institution to solve them. That’s why feel strongly that nonprofits need to work more like networks.
The transition from working like this to this – doesn’t happen over night, can’t flip a switch
The transition of how a nonprofit goes from institution to looking like and working more like a network is what our book is about The transition isn’t an easy, flip a switch – and it happens – it takes time Some nonprofits, newer ones like Mom’s Rising have networked nonprofit in their DNA, while others – institutions – make the change slowly. Way of being transforms into a way of doing
The American Red Cross initiated its social media strategy right after Hurricane Katrina. The organization knew there were negative blog posts about its disaster relief efforts, but had no capacity to respond, let alone track. They knew it was doing damage to their brand. They hired Wendy Harman, a social media integrator, to “combat” bloggers and to increase organizational transparency. “ It felt like we were going to war. There were concerns about negative comments, fear even,”
They started a listening program where they had a method of collecting and analyzing what people were saying about them – and who said it. Wendy Harman would prepare daily reports that summarized the tone, volume, and sentiment of what bloggers and people on social networks were saying about them. She would distribute to staff in other departments and affiliates. For example, a blogger was not happy with the quality of a CPR class at an affiliate. Wendy forwarded the link to the affiliate. The director reached out to the person and it helped turned around their impression of the Red Cross. The information was of great interest to the community outreach department and to affiliates – because people were blogging about their experience with the Red Cross in a lot of detail. The outreach department found this valuable in shaping their messaging and strategy – and it was free information!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cursedthing/1286047620/ Listening has helped informed communications strategies. What surprised the staff at the American Red Cross and even Wendy herself, was the majority of these conversations were positive. They found that most are passionate and positive and want to help. Social media provided the Red Cross a way to engage in a conversation with them. Perhaps the biggest benefit and unexpected outcome was that listening drove internal adoption of social media. Wendy says people are no longer afraid of negative comments or posts. Negative comments are now viewed by the organization as an opportunity to educate and improve what they are doing. So this listening, prepared for the next step –engaging and building relationships
http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanredcross/2584636379/ 18 months late, engaging with their stakeholders is part of the staff’s work flow. This photo is the communications staff using their smart phones to engage with people on Twitter. They listen and respond in real time. They hear people complimenting the Red Cross. So they may respond via Twitter with a thank you or relationship building approach. They might hear complaints. First they try to understand whether the complaints are valid complaints of something that needs to be fix or perceptions. For example, there was a complaint about being reminded too often to give blood. Wendy forwarded the information to different affiliates – and as it turned out there was a glitch in their database software and they’re working on improving it. They also track whether or not a person complaining is an influencer. When this happens, they address it right away because it could escalate into a disaster of a PR time. They’re not trying to control the message, they engaging in the conversation.
They also know that in order to have more impact, they need to scale. They wanted to go beyond having social media be a silo in the communications department, and through the Target experience they realized the value of employee use of social networks/social media. They worked on a social media policy, guidelines and an operational manual so that anyone working in affiliates as well as national could be ambassador on social networks. The guidelines also extend to volunteers. The overall policy is encouraging, not controlling. The operational handbook gives them specific steps, examples, and tips for being effective.
For example, they are able to provide advice and support to their affiliates who want to use Twitter effectively. Show example of all Twitter Accounts http://redcrosschat.org/twitter/ Now they have this network set up in the event of a disaster to quickly spread news/information. Their constituents/donors/stakeholders expect them to have a presence http://redcrosschat.org/twitter/#comment-37060 (screen capture of this comment) Summarize: The Red Cross found value from social media – by monitoring brand, reaching out to new supporters, and mobilizing them – and they did it by following these incremental steps: listen, engagement, build relationships, mobilize and scale It isn’t just Red Cross that has found value in Twitter. Here’s a couple of brief examples.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncorneredmarket/370672187/ “ You cannot be fully transparent all the time because you need to give people a safe place to have the discussion without disrespecting others.” Not black and white – line the Esther Dyson Story at Transparency Camp What is Transparency Transparency isn’t black and white. It is very tempting to grade organizations as either transparent or not. However, transparency isn’t quite that simple, it is a sliding scale of openness that changes upon the circumstances and needs of an organization and its network. Organizations certainly need to be open to people on the outside, easy to enter, understand, and navigate. However, this does not mean that every conversation, every piece of paper, every decision, needs to be open to everybody. “ You cannot be fully transparent all the time because you need to give people a safe place to have the discussion without disrespecting others.” This black and white notion scares a lot of organizations. Their is definitely a need for a safe place for private conversations – but I our default impulse is to do things in screen – is to build a Robert Frost mending wall. I wonder what it would be like if the default was – everything is open and you had to decide what should be closed?
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down.’ - Robert Frost, Mending Wall Walls protect calls, but not disdenents Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. The work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Where they have left not one stone on a stone, But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at spring mending-time we find them there. I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls We have to use a spell to make them balance: 'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!' We wear our fingers rough with handling them. Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, One on a side. It comes to little more: There where it is we do not need the wall: He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.' Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder If I could put a notion in his head: 'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him, But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather He said it for himself. I see him there Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. He moves in darkness as it seems to me, Not of woods only and the shade of trees. He will not go behind his father's saying, And he likes having thought of it so well He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigtallguy/139143816/ We wrote this book because we saw a landscape of free agents and nonprofit fortresses crashing into one another ….
Shawn Ahmed is 29 year-old Canadian from Toronto and the founder of the “The Uncultured Project.” He raises money and awareness on the issue of extreme global poverty. He is idealistic, facile with social media and works outside the walls of an institution. He’s passionate about wanted to end global poverty and wants to do it on his terms. Shawn feels strongly that his generation can end extreme poverty with one small action at a time in places like Bangladesh. His on-the-ground work aims to make as many meaningful differences in other people’s lives as possible. This includes helping a widow keep her children, helping a student stay in high school, helping malaria survivors live malaria-free lives, and much more. But as he acknowledges, that he can’t do it alone. http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncultured/1173511851/
By sharing this journey on social networks like YouTube and Twitter, he is inspiring other people to talk about issue of global poverty and take action, and as he says, “in a way that is different from the big nonprofit organizations.”
We witnessed this collision first hand during our session on the Networked Nonprofit at the NTEN NTC Conference as Shawn’s frustration with traditional organizations spilled over. He grabbed the microphone to address the room full of nonprofit professionals and said, “the problem isn’t social media, the problem is that YOU are the fortress. Social media is not my problem: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter , 10,800 subscribers on YouTube, and 2.1 million views. Yet, despite that, I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously . “
He turned and pointed a finger at Wendy Harman from the Red Cross who was in the room. He told the room full of nonprofits staffers ….. When the Haiti earthquake struck, I contacted the Red Cross. I offered to connect the community supporting my work with your efforts in Haiti. But I was dismissed as ‘just a guy on YouTube’”.
A month after our gathering in Atlanta. Shawn Admed shared news of a meeting with the Red Cross, an organization he now describes as “unfortress.” He applauds them for exploring ways to team up with a free agent. The hardest step is for most organizations is the first one. They have to admit their fear of a loss of control that prevents them from working with free agents – and get to a conversation to explore the possibilities. The Red Cross took that first step. There are actually 12 steps – and we lay this out in the chapter on social culture.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbrown47/4474478047/ We are the beginning of this process of transformation of this field – we don’t know the answers or the questions at this point – we thought it would be a great opportunity for two specific questions.
I wear many hats these days. I’m the CEO of Zoetica, write Beth’s Blog, and have been Visiting Scholar for Nonprofits and Social Media at the Packard Foundationv
And more like this ….
With apologies to David Armano for hacking his visual! Source: The Micro-Sociology of Networks
The Networked Nonprofit BE DO
Understand Networks Work with Free Agents Create Social Culture Work with Crowds Listen, Engage, and Build Relationships Learning Loops Trust Through Transparency Friending or Funding Simplicity Govern through Networks
Listen: Monitor, Compile, Distribute I
took an American Red Cross class I thought was less than satisfactory. […] The local chapter director. called me to talk about it honestly. They care about me and they’re willing to go the extra mile. I am now significantly more likely to take another class than I was before.” - Blogger
The Mending Wall by Robert
Frost Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down. - Robert Frost
Use social media tools to
organize, mobilize, raise funds, and communicate with constituents but outside of institutional walls
“ the problem isn’t social
media, the problem is that YOU are the fortress. Social media is not my problem: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter , and 2.1 million views on YouTube. I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously . “