Tag - npr

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A New Relationship with Donors
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Social Good Podcast: Manging Volunteers Online
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The Power and Limits of Storytelling
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Andy Carvin of NPR on Social Good Podcast
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Are You a Person or an Org on Twitter?
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Tweeting the Inauguration
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Bernholz on Marketplace
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Twitter Vote Report Wrap-Up

A New Relationship with Donors

I was struck a few weeks ago when I read this article in the Chronicle about the rise of anonymous giving this year.  I suspect that this is due to these donors not wanted to be stalked by causes. the giving cacophony for causes is bad enough in a good economy, but the incessant pressure to give to many causes and give larger gifts in a bad economy is overwhelming.

Then I saw this report from Pam Fessler on NPR about the rise of giving circles. Giving circles certainly aren’t new, informally friends have been talking to friends about giving to causes for years, and the more formal versions really started to coalesce about fifteen years ago. But, nonetheless, it’s interesting that they’re on the rise in a bad economy. We all want to feel better now, and talking to friends about causes that we’re passionate about, what we want to share with them makes everyone feel better. Also, giving circles are a good way for everyone to give a little that adds up to more for a cause.

Then I began to think about what Katya might say about all this.  And here’s my guess:

We know that donors want to a real, meaningful connection to causes. We also know that too many causes continue to treat them like an ATM machines.  You gave $50 last month/quarter/year, how about $100 or $1,000 this year?  Causes also treat donors like data points in a big database of givers who are never connected to one another. It simply doesn’t occur to many causes to create a network of donors rather than continue their hub and spoke model of individual to institution giving.

Let’s imagine a different way of doing this. Giving circles are generally oganized by friends to give to a variety of causes, leaving the cause in the passive position of hoping to be supported.  What if causes organized giving circles to support their cause — and other causes. I know, really scary to think about organizing your own donors to possible give to other organizations, but, hey, that’s what people do. What if you took all of your donors in one zip code, regardless of how much they gave and helped them to organize a get together at someone’s house to talk about the cause. Maybe they don’t even talk about giving the first time they meet. Maybe they just to talk about the cause, what it means, what it does, how it could do better, etc. They could come back onto your Facebook page or on Twitter and share what they learned, what they thought and dreamed for the cause. And then the second meeting they begin to talk about giving to the cause.

Maybe you would get less from a big donor this way, but you’d also get more from the little donors – that’s what giving circles do. They would learn from one another, they would feel like a community rather than isolated donors. Maybe it’s worth a try!  So, Katya, how’d I do?

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Social Good Podcast: Manging Volunteers Online

podcast1The latest edition of my Social Good podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy is up for listening!

Last month, Andy Carvin, the social media mavin at NPR, asked what Web 2.0 solutions folks were using fo volunteer management.  One of our listeners, Sean McKean of CCS Fundraising asked if I’d follow up   — and I did this month!

This month, Beka Economopolous, the Vice President of Fission Strategy, a firm specializing in Web 2.0 strategic counsel for online organizing, advocacy, marketing, and communications and Ben Rigby the co-founder of really terrific new group called The Extraordinaries and the author of Mobilizing Generation 2.0.

Beka rightly pointed out that there are both front end volunteer management efforts, such as providing lots of access points for volunteers and making sure their engagements are meaningful and productive, and back end, learning more about who volunteers, when and for how much time. Of course, sadly, as in all of life, there are no silver bullet solutions (a great post by Paul Hagen on the lack of silver bulletness for volunteer management sofware IdealWare.)

Beka suggests folks explore these free tools, Facebook, Ning, PBwiki.com.  I’d add CiviCRM for the back end needs as well.

The Extraordinaries is just taking flight right now. The idea is to enable smart phone users to plug in when they have a few minutes, wherever, they are to support a variety of causes. Here’s Ben’s description of how The Extraordinaries is going to work:

We’ve designed The Extraordinaries to feel very much like playing a game. It’s got points, levels, and built-in competition. These game mechanics drive adoption and usage. The key difference is that by playing this game, the player does something useful for a nonprofit organization or public purpose such as:

•    Translating a nonprofit’s Website into a foreign language
•    Identifying craters on the surface of Mars with NASA’s Clickworker program
•    Recording the GPS location of potholes and city infrastructure issues for municipalities
•    Confirming addresses for a nonprofit’s membership list
•    Identifying birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
•    Tagging images for the Smithsonian
•    Transcribing ancient texts for ReCaptcha
•    Reviewing congressional bills for hidden pork
•    Fact checking for reporters

The bottom line according to Beka and Ben is that there need to be lots of access points to enable lots of people to participate with your cause easily, quickly and in meaningful ways.  A perfect description of the Connected Age, I’d say!

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The Power and Limits of Storytelling

I love this video about telling the story of Red Riding Hood with social media:

Each one of us, and certainly the orgs that we work with and for, have the power to tell our stories in more visual and powerful ways using social media. YouTube is filled with compelling videos by causes, Witness does a majestic job of using video to document and share human rights abuses from around the world, and NPR is using a variety of tools, voices and mechanisms to enhance it’s storytelling ability. Andy Goodman has long been an advocate for and teacher of good storytelling for causes as well.

Everyone loves a good story, especially one told in vibrant, expressive and visual ways.  Everyone that is except for evaluators. Although I am not a full-time evaluator any more, I still walk the talk at times, particularly as it relates to the need for causes to participate in creating ongoing learning systems for their efforts.

The limits of storytelling for learning are that they so easily skew an overall effort to learn about what’s working and what isn’t.  When you pluck out your best, most compelling or heart string plucking, story to tell the world about your cause, you often forget about the other experiences that folks are having. This may be intentional or unintentional, but the bottom line is that powerful stories often drwon out the real story of what’s happening within a cause effort. It’s easy to listen to the loud voices because they’re, well, loud, but much harder to listen to the quieter ones who probably represent the norm of the experience with your effort.  It’s similar to the effect in politics of the extreme ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum drowning out the middle as Morris Fiorina wrote in his slime volume, “Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America.”

Causes need to practice balancing the power of storytelling with the need for careful listening and learning.  The key to doing this, in my opinion, is to lead with learning and follow with storytelling; it may not be as immediately rewarding, it may mean that the development and communications folks at your org are a bit frustrated at having to wait a little while to get to that amazing YouTube video posted, but the results will be truer to your cause and will enable you to focus on your true goal; improving your social change efforts over time, not just selling your effort.

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Andy Carvin of NPR on Social Good Podcast

podcast1The latest installment of the Social Good Podcast is up on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s site.

Andy Carvin, the social media mavin of NPR, is my guest.  We talk about how he is helping NPR, and the reporters, use social media to share content and engage various communities in discussions of issues and contributions to content development.

Andy’s advice to smaller nonprofits is to stay nimble and keep innovating and experimenting.  Don’t worry about failing, he said, just keep learning.

He’s currently in search of a good volunteer management software solution for a Web 2.0 environment.  I found this run down of applications put together by Jayne Cravens.  I know folks have used CiviCRM, but wondering if others have thoughts about any of these applications.

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Are You a Person or an Org on Twitter?

There was a great post on the Chronicle’s website today about the use of Twitter by nonprofit organizations.

Great quotes from my Social Citizens blog pal Kari Dunn Saratovsky at the Case Foundation and Beth (of course!) on the various ways that foundations and nonprofits are using Twitter to share news, raise money, organize events and generally connect with their supporters.

But one of the tips at the end of the article left me pondering. It said: Be professional. While for an animal-rights group blogging about vegan recipes may make sense, posting about how disappointed you were in last night’s episode of Lost probably doesn’t.

I’m not sure I agree with this. I do like my Twitter friends to focus mainly on their work and our shared passion for the various ways that social media are enhancing social change efforts. But one of the nicest things about Twitter is how easy it is to get to know someone in such short bursts of communication. I’ve learned that my old friend Ruby is pregnant, and my new friend Qui is moving to the Northwest. I hear about job openings, job woes, what people ate at their business dinner and who is stuck on the tarmac. I am getting to know my business contacts as real people, not as suits behind a desk.

Here’s the best way to see the difference. I am friends with Andy Carvin (who I’ve only met through email and Twitter!) through his personal Twitter account, he also writes the more formal NPR tweets. Andy tweets as a person, where he’s going today, what he’s reading, who he’s seeing, and what great stories are online at NPR.org or other sites that I should read. And I often do. But when his tweets behind the formal NPRpolitics logo show up I hardly ever read them. I’m not friends with a logo and I find them cold to look at on my screen.

So, I think I disagree with the advice that one should be professional on Twitter. I think you should be yourself – which is always the best thing to be anyway, right? You should use Twitter to its best advantage, meaning use it to help you to connect in meaningful ways with large numbers of people who care about you and your cause.

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Tweeting the Inauguration

A week from now the world will be descending on Washington, DC for the inaugural festivities.  The NPR Social Media desk staffed by Andy Carvin will be repurposing the guts of Twitter Vote Report for use on Election Day for attendees to share their travel and inauguration experiences.

So, if you’re in DC next week, or on your way, use use the hashtag  #dctrip09 to describe your roadtrip in and  #inaug09 on Inauguration Day to share your experiences. Tweet it or use the really cool iPhone app that will enables you to report and automatically map where you.

Also, for the latest help in planning for the big day you can follow twitter.com/inauguration for up to the minute details.  What are some other ways you’re using Twitter to share the Inaugural festivities more broadly? Who else should we be following?

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Bernholz on Marketplace

Lucy Bernholz, the author of the amazing blog Philanthropy 2173 (go there to find out what it means) was on the NPR show Marketplace giving her unparalleled, big picture views of the field of philanthropy.

There are some people who follow philanthropy, but there are only a few, led I think by Lucy, who understand it well enough, from top to bottom, online and on land, to tell us what it all means.  You can see her philanthropy buzzwords here and her predicted philanthropic trends here — and listen to her on Marketplace here.

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Twitter Vote Report Wrap-Up

Wow, what a ride!  Dozens of volunteers contributing untold hours of their expertise and passion to bring an idea to life in less than a month.  We had nearly 300 news stories filed about the project the past week alone, many, many blog posts about it and thousands of tweeters using the system on Election Day.

The day wasn’t without its problems as the system went down for about a half an hour in the morning and the afternoon.  That was to be expected as we were building it at the same time we were rolling it out! The tech folks, particularly Deanna Zandt, Dave Troy and Andrew Turner were magnificent, calmer than I would have been and resilient throughout the day.

We’re still compiling the final statistics, so here are my impressions of the highlights of the day.

Just as importantly as serving as a vehicle for reporting problems, Twitter Vote Report was a wonderful way for citzens to celebrate voting.  There was a steady stream of tweets throughout the day of people celebrating their votes, like this one: “MeanRachel: #votereport #6th and Lamar – people laughing waiting for cross walk eating free ben and jerrys. Is this what hope looks like? Yes.”

Twitters informed one another:  “LisaS: line shorter now-stl 17th ward pct 5 voters, come on down! #votereport  less than a minute ago in Saint Louis, MO, USA  via Twitter 8:15 am”

And, of course, they reported problems, mainly long waits:  “geosteph: retweet neighbors who voted this morning said there was a long line at 6:10 AM …50 minutes before polls opened in MD #votereport”

Several messages were quite memorable both for the shocking disregard of voting rules, even common sense, by election officials, and the sincere desire of individual voters to try to make a difference by sending a message about it.

A St. Louis voter tweeted in the morning, during the course of what were five hour waits in some parts of St. Louis, this message, “In STL, poll workers shortstaffed, coming outside and asking random
people if anyone can help!  Poll workers require training. #votereport”  This bizarre request for untrained poll workers was included in an NPR roundup of Election Day troubles.

A woman sent in this audio file from her iphone (very cool!) reporting that she had been charged $20 to vote in Indiana.  I thought the poll tax was long gone, but apparently not.

It’s hard to express how appreciative I am of all of the people who invested themselves in this project; the tech folks, in particular, immersed themselves in building an extraordinary suite of tools that can be used for future campaigns and events, like natural disasters, when communications infrastructure between citizens becomes critically important.  We’re just at the beginning of what will be an ongoing, interesting evolution in the ways that mobile technology can be used to engage and connect citizens and I am very thankful that the Twitter Vote Report project could make an important contribution in that journey.

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