When Alan invited me to speak about the future of technology and nonprofits, I couldn’t resist the Jetsons. As a member of the babyboom generation – and someone who spent many hours in front of the TV – this is what immediately came to mind.
And perhaps there is a whole other generation who only know the Jetsons from stumbling upon clips in YouTube
And watched on their Iphones … I wonder when the television programs like the Jetson’s that I grew up – when the metaphor will no longer resonate with the audience?
So, instead of pulling out a crystal ball or consulting fortune teller – I immediately asked this question on Twitter. http://philanthropy.blogspot.com/2009/09/wither-2010-your-answers-curated.html This lead me to some great discussions from nonprofit leaders talking about the future of the social change sector – in 2010
Last year, I heard Jerry Michalski use the metaphor of the global brain in talk about the future. He mentioned that we were halfway through a transition process where we are renegotiating social contracts and connecting with people in a way that we haven't before. Jerry talked one benefit of this connectedness and openness is innovation. So, the folks at NMC who build objects on Hakone might be creating a big, huge, global brain that when clicked will open up web links of some of the best crowdsourcing on the future technologies and how they will impact the nonprofit sector. I've identified some key resources or inspiration below (if there are others let me know) where discussions about the future and nonprofits are taking place. For example, you can in a couple clicks go onto a site like Slideshare and see ideas on a topic from some of the best thinkers on that topic and recreate your own meaning of it. I had joked with Jerry that one downside is the inability to remember our calendar - and that with this socialness will our friends eventually collaborately remind us of our appointments. (It was funny at the time). What are the implications of the global brain for nonprofits and the way they do their work?
What are the implications of the global brain or connectedness for nonprofits and the way they do their work? As know .. The Global Brain is a metaphor for the worldwide intelligent network formed by people together with the information and communication technologies that connect them into an &quot;organic&quot; whole. As the Internet becomes faster, more intelligent, more ubiquitous and more encompassing, it increasingly ties us together in a single information processing system, that functions like a &quot;brain&quot; for the planet Earth. It means the Networked Nonprofit … But the point is that knowledge is now externalized in our global brain of connections with colleagues and other organizations. I think that this connectedness will thread together both individuals and make the boundaries of nonprofit organizations very porous - so that we'll have colonies of organizations working together on issues/causes versus isolated islands. This melting of boundaries will happen from inside out through individuals working in nonprofits using social networks to connect across silos and organizations.
As Shel Israel said in this tweet – the future is a little late in arriving – and for some early adopters of social media for social change it is already here
Let me tell you a story about why I’m so passionate about this topic. I started blogging in 2003. Beth’s Blog was started as a place for me write to learn about social media. At the same time, I started a blog called “Cambodia4Kids” because I needed to learn about Cambodia culture because I had adopted two Cambodian children. In 2007, Tharum invited me to keynote the Cambodian Bloggers Summit and teach workshops on social media. The problem was that they had no money. So, I started a fundraising campaign using my blog, a tool called Chipin which could collect the money, and Twitter. I was able to raise enough money in less than one week to sponsor the conference. I remember skyping my Cambodian friends and telling them that I could come. I also asked them what they wanted me to bring from America – and they said “Schwank” -- Tech T-Shirts. So, I started tweeting about this and every time I tweeted I had t-shirts delivered to me. What was mind boggling to me was how powerful the word of mouth on Twitter was – that people called me and told me that had heard from a friend that I needed t-shirts. These were people I didn’t know! I called this type of fundraising, free agent fundraising – because while the funds went to the nonprofit – it wasn’t the nonprofit doing the fundraising in the traditional ways. Now, we’re seeing applications like “causes” and the birthday wish designed to facilitate free-agent fundraising. I got a little obsessed with this notion of free agent fundraising. I did a lot of experimentation, raising money for the Sharing Foundation and blogging about how people were doing this successfully. Over $200,000. I thought the book I was going to write would be a manifesto about free agent fundraising and provide advice to nonprofits on how to embrace them and work with them. How to raise lots of money for your nonprofit by loosing control. As I started my visiting scholar position at Packard Foundation and taking deep dives into the whole new brave world of network effectiveness – I started to realize that social networks – were changing more than fundraising approaches and that organizations wanted to be more successful adopting these tools, it was important to work in a networked way – several themes bubbled up – working networked way or movements, the art of network weaving, transparency, and creating a social culture inside of the organization.
I remember when I got my first comment from a Cambodian – I wrote a post summarizing what I learned about how Cambodians do when their children loose a tooth (upper tooth, throw it on the grown; lower tooth throw it up on the roof). I thought that was so powerful that I could connect with Cambodians.
At the same, I started attending bloggers meet ups at the Berkman Center at Harvard where I met Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacFarland who had started a blog/project called Global Voices. They invited to cover the Cambodian blogosphere.
In 2005, I helped Tharum, a journalism major in Phnom Penh get a scholarship to attend the London Global Voices Summit and he eventually became the bridge blogger for Global Voices.
In 2007, Tharum invited me to keynote the Cambodian Bloggers Summit and teach workshops on social media. The problem was that they had no money. So, I started a fundraising campaign using my blog, a tool called Chipin which could collect the money, and Twitter. I was able to raise enough money in less than one week to sponsor the conference. I remember skyping my Cambodian friends and telling them that I could come. I also asked them what they wanted me to bring from America – and they said “Schwank” -- Tech T-Shirts.
So, I started tweeting about this and every time I tweeted I had t-shirts delivered to me. What was mind boggling to me was how powerful the word of mouth on Twitter was – that people called me and told me that had heard from a friend that I needed t-shirts. These were people I didn’t know!
The fact that people who didn’t know me or were friends of friends and gave me t-shirts and/or money amazed me – I got a little bit obsessed with free agent fundraising
I called this type of fundraising, free agent fundraising – because while the funds went to the nonprofit – it wasn’t the nonprofit doing the fundraising in the traditional ways. Now, we’re seeing applications like “causes” and the birthday wish designed to facilitate free-agent fundraising. I got a little obsessed with this notion of free agent fundraising. I did a lot of experimentation, raising money for the Sharing Foundation and blogging about how people were doing this successfully. Over $200,000. I thought the book I was going to write would be a manifesto about free agent fundraising and provide advice to nonprofits on how to embrace them and work with them. How to raise lots of money for your nonprofit by loosing control.
As I started my visiting scholar position at Packard Foundation and taking deep dives into the whole new brave world of network effectiveness – I started to realize that social networks – were changing more than fundraising approaches and that organizations wanted to be more successful adopting these tools, it was important to work in a networked way – several themes bubbled up – working networked way or movements, simplicity, the art of network weaving, transparency, and creating a social culture inside of the organization were all themes that described the networked nonprofit – that could really reap the power of social change… Let’s take a look at the themes and a few stories
Networked nonprofit knows how to simplify .. 1. Identify the essential 2. Network the rest http://www.flickr.com/photos/euart/282104427/
After since last year’s Twestival Fundraiser -- The nonprofit charity:water and its founder, Scott Harrison have demonstrated the power of simplicity. Harrison is building a non-profit capable of breaking thru the cynicism his generation (he’s 34) has for large, bureaucratic non-profits. To do so, he knew he had to take a different approach that was more transparent, lean & hungry, and leveraged its inherent strengths Two things surprise most people who about charity:water. First, charity:water didn’t conceive and run Twestival. Second, charity:water doesn’t drill the wells themselves. The former was led by volunteers and the latter is done by partner organizations with decades of experience. Wait a minute! Isn’t that scandalous? Actually, it’s quite smart. Scott knows his team’s strength is in telling the story and making it easy for others to raise the money. Why only equip paid staff to raise money when you have a growing army of champions? Or, why build up a large implementation team from scratch when you can contract with organizations that have been around 20-30 years and are quite familiar with each country and culture they help? Of course, they have professional fundraisers on staff. Of course, they also send their operational staff into the field to work with their partners and keep them accountable. In case you were wondering, all of their marketing is done in house. Scott and his team travel with digital still and video cameras everywhere they go. Most of the stunning visuals are shot by Scott himself (he says if anyone shoots 1,000 photos, at least one will be a powerful image). At the controls of the charity:water marketing dynamo is his new bride, who designs all their digital and print collateral, including their website. One of the benefits that connectedness offers us that we no longer a vertical monopoly on a program, cause, or fundraiswer. Not one organization needs to do all the heavy lifting. This is called working in a networked way.
Networked nonprofit knows how to simplify .. 1. Identify the essential 2. Network the rest
Movement Building, Working in Networks Last week I was up on Maine at a conference called PopTech as part of the teaching faculty for the fellows program. The focus of the conference is technology for social innovation. I met Paula Kahumbu who is the executive director of an organization WildLifeDirect founded by Louis Leeky – a wildlife conservationist. It’s a wonderful example of a nonprofit using new media for social change. Through its use of social media, WildlifeDirect brings supporters and conservationists together online and enables individual donors around the world to communicate directly with the people that they are funding. The goal: a movement powerful enough to respond to any conservation emergency anywhere swiftly and efficiently, reverse the catastrophic loss of habitats and species and secure the future of wildlife in Africa, Asia and around the world. What’s innovative -- we have wildlife conservationists in blogging or twittering about their work and building and connecting with individuals who are interested in their work. They are providing a platform for people to make connections, to self-organize and staying in the connection level – until there is a window of opportunity -- a crisis – that catalyzes the network in a higher state of working. What’s important? Understanding the phases of movements/networks: ignition, connection, alignment, and production Theory of change on the ground Network weaving – connecting people together to accomplish small bits of work Making sure that there is a self organizing platform
Network Weaving Network Weaving I’ve obsessing about the concept of network weaving for the past few years – and finally met the guru of network weaving last week – June Holley (she’s on Twitter). As we build movements for social change – this mindset, skill – is essential. Network weavers are people who intentionally and informally - and often serendipitously - weave new and richer connections between and among people, groups, and entities in networks. They also weave new and richer connections between among networks. Note the use of the plural Network weavers wear a variety hats - networkers, project coordinators, facilitators, and guardians. Don’t think narrowly about Network Weaving as a specific job description, but rather as a role. You want multiple people spreading these skills throughout the network Being Rhizomatic&quot; and explains it as where every bud contains the nourishment for other buds. She used an image of a single tree. A single tree can be cut down or die from lack of water. But in a bamboo forest (a unique rhizome) -- the trees are connected through the roots and if one tree gets nutrients and supports others
The important thing is how you using different technologies to support small groups of people within your network to self organize around tasks related to your goal? I was really inspired about this – and feel that those who work in nonprofits on social media/social networks are network weavers – and that we need a professional affinity group – so I’m starting one at the NTC.
Transparency 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. Story: I was at transparency camp this summer hosted by the Sunlight Foundation. And their board - which included such luminaries as Esther Dyson, Craig Newmark – held an “open board meeting.” I was curious so I went and blogged and tweeted it. It wasn’t your typical board business meeting. It was more like an organizational presentation w/board and staff answering questions. So, at the end I couldn’t resist asking – is what your typical board meeting is like? Esther Dyson: “ 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.' I could say 'Elves‘ - Robert Frost, Mending Wall Walls protect calls, but not disdenents When is more transparency not a good thing? in an era of information overload, is more transparency (making information available) adding to the noise? Relationships to protect – safe place Security – personal or information Trade secrets 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.'
EDF – Environmental Defense Fund Environmental Defense Fund tackles the most serious environmental problems with four pronged approach: sound science, economic incentives, corporate partnerships , and getting the law right. (If you want to learn more about the organization, their CEO, Fred Krupp, is on Twitter and does his own tweets!) A program called The Innovation Exchange is to facilitate rapid and widespread adoption of environmental innovation in business. They hope to improve both the environmental impact of business (improve operations) and the business impact of the environment (improve products). They are in the process of building and growing a 'problem solving' network by convening thoughtful people inside and outside of EDF to review their thinking and then comment, critique, and contribute new information so they can improve their impact. This is an open and transparent network. For example, they have a Climate Corps program. Where together with their partner, Net Impact, EDF embeds trained MBA students who identify energy efficiency improvements that can cut costs and reduce emissions. The Fellows are blogging about their experience and learnings on The Innovation Exchange blog. They put their draft elevator speech on their wiki – and a professor came by and had his class work on it as a class project. They do a lot of other tactics – from unconferences to putting their strategy documents out in google documents, etc. I asked Dave Witzel &quot;But it doesn't mean that we don't protect our relationships. So, we're very careful about making sure our conversations are respectful. We don't want to hurt our partners. That's not to say that constructive criticism is not offered.“
What allows an organization or network to work in this way? Leadership and culture are important. To embrace transparency, it is important that: * Leadership is Comfortable with Discomfort: Openness and transparency are hallmarks of the networked mindset. Leaders at EDF specifically brought Dave in because he thinks differently, he has a networked mindset. As Dave notes, &quot;I often hear &quot;everything you say makes me uncomfortable - but go do it.&quot; The leadership of the organization understands that social media and connectedness has an impact on the organization and they need to embrace it. * A Learning By Doing Organizational Culture: Witzel says that there organization's DNA incorporates learning by doing. The culture allows the experimentation On the ground, Witzel says, his program group is experimentating. The method is simple - they test their ideas, if it works they build on it and if it doesn't they remix. Witzel notes, we don't have the barrier of &quot;paralysis by analysis.&quot;
http://www.mindomo.com/view.htm?m=5d005d7f82ae13f1a4e7ae756afe900a.flickr.com/photos/axis/1892931/ Can employees participate on organization time? Should there be an oversight committee? Should the organization indicate what employees do with their personal use of social media? Should employees disclose or hide their organizational affiliation? Discussion on possible scenarios and resulting decisions
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/3651608213/ I think it comes down to a social culture and getting over concerns .. Make us look unprofessional if we show our human side and reveal unfinished plans and projects; Compromise our ability to edit our work and get rid of typos and poor grammar; Open us up to public criticism we would rather pretend doesn’t exist; Hurt our organization’s brand Legacy thinking – we’ve always done it that way – a culture of confidentiality Open the flood gates of information that will overwhelm us; Make senior staff more accessible to too many people who want their time; Enable staffers or volunteers to write something that could be libelous; Lead to someone lobbying on our behalf and compromise our tax-exempt status. Employees will spend enormous amounts of organizational time being on Facebook, watching YouTube videos and sending personal emails when their time should rightly be spent in meetings about kitchen cleaning rotation schedule. Amplifies bad ideas that get funded No time for reflection Social Policy:
Can employees participate on organization
time? Should there be an oversight committee? Should the organization indicate what employees do with their personal use of social media? Should employees disclose or hide their organizational affiliation? Discussion on possible scenarios and resulting decisions Photo by axis