(Nonprofits+Politics)2.0

October 13, 2009

A second hello

Filed under: About, Nonprofit — Tags: , , , , , , , — kgilnack @ 3:05 am

Once upon a time, I introduced this blog as a place to remunerate on lessons from my work with the Providers’ Council (a nonprofit association of human service agencies), the Greater Boston Young Democrats, and how topics like technology and leadership intersect with these spheres. (I yet again remind you that all opinions on this site are my own and don’t reflect any of the organizations that I’m affiliated with)

Between election season in Boston, the Council’s upcoming convention & expo, and a surprisingly laborious website migration, my time has been diverted from writing up some of my other thoughts of our recent happenings.  I’ve missed our chats and excited to share some news that will help me recommit to spending more time writing here at https://kgilnack.wordpress.com.

This weekend I had a couple of serendipitous events intersect that have me eager to reinvest my time here.  First, a good friend of mine is earning her M.S. in Ecological Teaching and Learning, and as a part of what seems like an incredibility enriching program, she is interviewing teachers and activist-types on how they stay inspired (her project title is Inspiration in a Broken World).  I was fortunate not only to be invited to be interviewed, but to have the chance to reflect on what keeps me motivated, and what inspires my peers.  It’s a very interesting topic, and you can expect to see more tweeting (like this, this, this, and this), and a post to come later this week.

The second exciting piece of news I have to share is an amazing collaboration in the works among millennial nonprofit bloggers across the United States.  Many kudos go out to Allison Jones, who had this inspired notion and took the initiative to make it happen.  Allison has reached out to a diverse crowd of nonprofit bloggers who each have their own take on the sector and our place in it, and all of whom are committed to delivering – and supporting – quality nonprofit, leadership, and generational content.

I was honored to have her extend the invitation, and to be on a list that includes these great writers (all of whom deserve a place in your Google Reader)..

  • Elizabeth Clawson (@eclawson), Nonprofit Periscope – This is the place for commentary on specific news stories relevant to nonprofits; tips on media relations for nonprofity folks like yourselves;-and interviews with journalists who cover nonprofit beats (or something close to that).
  • Colleen Dilenschneider (@cdilly), Know Your Bone – As a young nonprofit and museum professional, I write about museums, exhibitions, community-based organizations, informal learning environments, issues facing the nonprofit sector, books, recent developments in the areas of art, history, or science and society, and my own adventures as a twenty-something on the move.
  • Trina Isakson (@telleni), Trina’s Nonprofit Blog – Nonprofit efficiency, strategy, technology, leadership and communication. Volunteerism, civic participation, youth engaged citizenship and the Millennial generation. Personal musings and Canadian content.
  • Kathrin Ivanovic (@KathrinOutLoud), The Diversity Projekt, http://thediversityprojekt.org – The Diversity Projekt’s aim is to increase awareness and understanding of race, racism, privilege, gender, sexism, homophobia, and other stereotypes, in an effort to provide individuals with the language and tools necessary to contribute to and advocate for human diversity in their own communities.
  • Allison Jones (@ajlovesya), Entry Level Living –  This blog deals with my professional and personal development-beginning right out of college.  Every time I turn around there is a discussion about the generation gap: how my generation perceives virtually every aspect of life (down to what exactly it means to live) drastically different from previous generations. I want this blog to be a place to further examine what those differences are.
  • Elisa M. Ortiz (@emortiz), Onward and Upward – This blog is my attempt to keep an eye on the nonprofit sector from the bottom up as well as an opportunity for me to share my thoughts and experiences as a young nonprofit professional and community activist. “Onward and Upward” refers to my own personal goals in advancing my career and life as well as the movement of nonprofits – we’re all working to be better.
  • Rosetta Thurman (@rosettathurman), Perspectives from the Pipeline – I’m a writer, speaker, professor and leadership development consultant who has been featured in articles about the nonprofit sector in the Washington Post, Nonprofit Quarterly, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. I am also a professional blogger at Jobs for Change, where I share daily nonprofit career advice for young professionals like myself. I currently serve as the Director of Development and Special Programs at the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington where I direct the Future Executive Directors Fellowship and manage fundraising to support a $1.5M budget. I’m also the Principal Consultant of Thurman Consulting, providing speaking, training and consulting services to organizations working for social change in the areas of leadership development, diversity, and social media.
  • Tracy Webb (@blkgivesback), Black Gives Back – I’m a philanthropist living in the Washington, DC area with a passion for all things of giving back to one’s community. I’ve worked for various non profit organizations and witnessed many societal ills facing the black community: the effects of crack addiction on families and children, black women and the HIV epidemic and gang violence among others. This blog is dedicated to African Americans who care about our community by dedicating their time, talents and treasure to help those in need. BlackGivesBack will feature news stories, event pictures, celebrity philanthropy and profiles of those who are making a difference. I’ll even share pictures from my philanthropic events.
  • Tera Wokniak Qualls (@terawozqualls), Social Citizen – With this new version of Social Citizen, I hope to expand my learning and expertise in the areas of: community, engagement, women’s leadership, board development, organizational leadership & generational dynamics.  Look for posts with tips and stories about these topics, as well as the usually fan fare of occasional personal organization tips and quick quips from my life.

The next month will be madness (be sure to see the madness payoff by visiting our convention on 10/29 🙂 ), but starting today my new commitment is to share a new post at least once every two weeks (baby steps).  I know you have lots of other blogs to keep up with, but consider adding this site to your reader or subscribe to receive posts by email, so you know when the next post is up.

As always, let me know what you think! I’ve been promising for some time to talk about this site migration excitement (and I will, once it’s settled), and I have a few other topics in mind, but are there questions you wanted answered or topics you feel bloggers need to start talking about?

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September 16, 2009

More Reasons Seth Godin is Wrong

I recently read a great post on Cause  Wired Communications blog on why Seth Godin is wrong about nonprofits and social media, and wanted to add a few of my own thoughts..

First of all, the post is right on that Seth’s post perpetuates misconceptions of our sector and that the metrics of being on the Top 100 Twitterers, getting Digged a lot, and other comparisons to VC tech firms is ridiculous.  However, there is an even greater factual inaccuracy in the assertion Seth makes, purely on his observations.

I could get into how funders don’t want to put money into innovation, capacity building, or marketing – that they want every dime going to the services nonprofits provide their clients, and how that is a barrier to trying out new technologies.  There are also other potential barriers like confidentiality, limited resources in general, overall lack of technology infrastructure, etc.

BUT there’s no need.  The whole premise of Godin’s article is wrong, so that’s where I’ll start.

Godin inaccurately asserts

“The problem facing your group [nonprofits], ironically, is the resistance to the very thing you are setting out to do. Non-profits, in my experience, abhor change. … Where are the big charities, the urgent charities, the famous charities that face such timely needs and are in a hurry to make change? Very few of them have bothered to show up [in social media] in a big way

However, the Society for New Communications Research recently determined that nonprofits are leading the way in social media! For example, “their latest research shows the Fortune 500 with the least amount of corporate blogs (16%), the Inc. 500 with 39%, colleges and universities blogging at 41%, and charities now reporting 57% with blogs.

Here are some other great stats highlighted on SNCR’s blog:

• In 2007, 75 percent of the respondents reported using at least one form of social media. One year later, 89 percent of these organizations are using at least one form of social media. Usage increased for every tool studied.
• Social networking and video blogging are now the most common tools used, with 79% of charities using each of them. Use of online video increased by 38 percent; social networking increased by 47 percent in the one-year period studied.
• In addition, the charities reported that they have begun to use Twitter.
• When asked if they felt their blogs were successful, approximately 90% of charities with blogs said yes. This finding is consistent with studies in business and academia that have consistently shown those using social media are satisfied and feel it provides positive results.
• Sixty-six percent of respondents in 2007 and 75% in 2008 report they monitor the Internet for buzz, posts, conversations and news about their institution. This compares with 54 percent of colleges and universities and 60 percent of the Inc. 500.
• More than 80 percent of those studied feel that social media is at least “somewhat important” to their future strategy; 45 percent responded that social media is very important to their fundraising strategy.

Unless his experience has been living under a rock, Seth seems to have missed the fact that nonprofits are the changemakers in our community.  Nonprofits find solutions for problems other sectors don’t even see like developing funding solutions, driving innovation, bringing vulnerable people out of institutions and into our community, addressing mental and physical challenges that require more than doling out pills, and, yes, taking advantage of new tools like social media. (pardon the random assortment of innovative changes recent and 40 years ago – there are lots in between but I’m writing this response on my lunch, so you’ll have to add to the list in comments below).

I appreciate a good call to action and do think there is more that non-profit and for-profit sectors can do to take advantage of new tools and embrace innovation.  But perhaps before making sweeping generalizations it would be useful to do a little research and look beyond your marketing/VC lens for viewing the world, and seek out some facts.

This critique of nonprofits’ use of the social web are particularly appropriate form someone who himself is antisocial on the web, refusing to tweet or even allow readers to comment on his blog.  Seth, why aren’t you among the top 100 Twitterers out there?

What do you think?  Is your nonprofit embracing web2.0?  What resistance have you found?  How have you overcome it?

PS: I do agree that naming yourself based on what you are not is not particularly effective, but the IRS classification (nonprofit) is still more appealing than the connotations conjured by the word charity.  Perhaps one day we’ll see a rebranding exercise to go for something like “community benefit organization,” but for now we’re busy meeting the needs of our constituents.. and staying ahead of your for-profit folks on this social media stuff 🙂

PPS: Seth, I do allow comments here and enjoy observing and engaging in dialogue.  I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

September 9, 2009

Good Old Fashioned Rallying

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — kgilnack @ 1:29 am
Health Care Reform sign

It’s been far to long since I’ve been in touch, but I haven’t forgotten about those of you kind enough to subscribe to get posts in your email or reader, or check-in to see what’s new.

I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences changing web hosts in the near future – it’s actually been sitting about 2/3rd done for a couple weeks.  But since it is still an in-progress case-study, I want to see how it concludes and give you the full report – and what I hope you’ll find a useful starting point for your own due diligence and migration.

Besides changing hosting companies there’s been lots of other excitement going on, especially in the Boston elections and the national health care debate.  This is a bit off-topic for this blog, but I had the great pleasure of going out to support a public option with Young Democrats and 1000s others from around New England and wanted to share a bit of it with you.

It was a very well organized event, and incredible seeing so many people coming out to not just settle for “reform,” but to demand our elected officials settle for nothing less than a public option.   Here’s an example of how the Greater Boston Young Democrats are using Facebook, our pseudo-Google Site’s Blog, and Picasa to connect our IRL activities with our online members.

First, of course, came the Facebook invites from GBYD and our affiliated Young Democrats of Massachusetts.  Interesting note on this is that for whatever reason Facebook had our event disabled for a crucial 24 hours of RSVPing, which is part of the reason YDM sent their invite out after.  One important reminder that came up was the need to have non-Facebook ways for people to get involved in your events, which we do with our Google Calendar.

However, I’m wondering if something like Eventbrite or the other services I’ve compared before might be a better RSVP tools for people coming form email anyway.  Unlike Facebook, these tools allow people to RSVP without having to sign-in or create an account.  Plus we can remind those on Facebook with an Event Invite there as well.  But, given the demographics of a Young Democrats chapter, I’m not sure how beneficial this will be.. look for some A/B testing to come.

During the rally I kept busy with my camera and got some pictures you can see below or here, which I hope captured some great moments during the day.

And of course I sent a few tweets (here, here, here, & maybe a few others :-P) to let those who weren’t able to attend know what was going on (really wished I had a camera phone to do some twitpicking).  It was also nice of @InventingLiz to retweet and help us generate 80 clicks to the photo-album (nice awareness, but wishing I had gotten them on a landing page on our site first).

After getting home and getting the pictures online, I wrote a brief recap of the day for posterity’s sake, tying in the photos that were taken and uploaded on Picasa.  The easy integration between Google-owned Picasa and Google Sites is another reason Google Sites was the best free choice for our organization.

Here’s the post as it appeared in my very inelegantly titled Young Democrats, OFA-MA, Labor, Community Members & Leaders Rally for Health Care Reform

This afternoon GBYD was pleased to support a Labor Day health care reform rally and march from the Boston Common to Copley Square.  The rally was sponsored by Organizing for America – Massachusetts and SEIU Local 615, as well as many other community groups.

It was great to see GBYDers out in force, active in many aspects of local politics, like..

And that’s not to mention the Young Democrats who came out in force to show their support for health care reform!

Check out photos from the day below and this Boston Globe write-up 1,000 rally for health care reform on Boston Common.  You might also be interested in this commentary from Blue Mass Group:

It was inspiring to see such overwhelming support for fixing our broken health care system – but perhaps even more inspiring to look around and see so many Young Democrats taking on impressive leadership roles in our community.

[INSERT SLIDESHOW THAT WORDPRESS.COM DOESN’T ALLOW TO BE EMBEDDED (another reason Google Sites was the choice of GBYD)… err, see it here]

Oh, and I suppose it’s worth noting the last step in sharing the story of Monday’s rally – analyzing all the other steps and sharing them for your edification here in this post… or maybe this won’t be the last thing we do with it 🙂

I hope you’ll share how you or your organization connects its online efforts with your offline actions.

What strategies do you find work best?

Have you been active in the health care reform discussion?

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