Tag - Amy Sample Ward

Take Back the Pink Lessons Learned
Komen Kan Kiss My Mammogram
Fighting the Public School Fortress
Landmark Online Giving Study
LinkedIn: The Little Network That Could
I Have a FREE HP Laptop and Printer to Give Away!
Redlining Online
Pollyanna Principles: Power of Thinking Differently

Take Back the Pink Lessons Learned

Two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that the Susan G. Komen Foundation had decided to de-fund breast health screenings at Planned Parenthood affiliates. Unless you’ve been on a faraway island, you’re probably aware of this!

I jumped into the scrum by creating an online fundraising effort called Komen Kan Kiss My Mammogram. It was quickly apparent that there was a critical mass of  people who were equally galvanized to advocate on behalf of Planned Parenthood. Of course, we weren’t alone, the web exploded in anger towards Komen and soon it was a huge story in the mainstream media. The fury was aided by Komen ineptitude, which will surely become a Harvard Business School case study in arrogance and tone deafness.

In discussions on Facebook and Twitter, I was delighted to find a critical mass of friends who wanted to participate in advocating for funding for Planned Parenthood to take the place of the Komen dollars. In full transparency, I felt , and I haven’t confirmed this with the others, that this was a perfect opportunity not only to express our outrage but to practice working side-to-side in a very fast moving environment, using a variety of social media platforms (including Beth’s fun experiment with pinterest) and testing out an idea that was developed in real-time on Facebook we called hashtag jumping. That’s how we came to launch the hashtag #takebackthepink on Super Bowl Sunday to enable thousands of people to share their outrage about Komen (even after they capitulated and will allow Planned Parenthood affiliates to re-apply for funding) and co-opt the Komen tag #supercure.

Personal Note: My favorite moment of the last two weeks was when Tom Watson suggested a hashtag jump and everyone said GREAT! followed by, “So….what’s a hashtag jump?” Our willingness to literally jump in and create something new, test it, see what worked and what didn’t, is what made this effort so exciting and energizing for me and I think others.

Over time, a group of folks became key actors in this short-lived drama. They included Beth Kanter (of course!), Stephanie Rudat, Amy Sample Ward, Lucy Bernholz, Tom Watson, and Lisa Colton. Many, many others were involved, I hope I haven’t offended anyone but just mentioning these folks.

Again, in the spirit of practicing what we preach, we wrote a reflection report on the experience of developing the #takebackthepink Super Bowl Sunday hashtag jump. The full report has a description of the process, immediate results, and lessons learned. Feel free to read it here.

Here are our lessons learned to date (I think we’ll have some more as this effort marinates a bit):

  1. We could not plan for an event like this, however as individuals who are  unencumbered by organizational rules or policies, and that we have our own large networks of people to bring to an effort, and that we are comfortable working in a dynamic, flat, environment, we reacted very quickly and nimbly to events as they unfolded and provided avenues for action for other people angry at Komen. A core group of the organizers are fluent with a variety of social media platforms including Twitter, Pinterest (a fun opportunity to take it out for a social change spin, thought Beth!) and Facebook, plus Stephanie’s graphic design expertise. As one participant recalls, “There was an immediate sense of relatedness amongst the group conjoined by leaders.  We all saw something in the uproar and possibility for ourselves and those we care about.”
  2. #takebackthepink was a particularly resonant phrase with our group because it represented the opportunity to begin to separate Komen from the color pink. As Lucy would tweet later, “Pink is a color not an org.” A fundamental part of our effort was to reestablish the primacy of women’s health over the branding concerns of a single organization. We believe we created an opportunity for a large number of people to participate in this process, and the momentum to continue the discussion moving forward.
  3. There were two moments of tension during the week between a centralized approach and a network approach. The first time, the effort split in two; with one group focused on fundraising and another on advocacy and awareness. The second, a faction chose to opt out of the Super Bowl effort. Both times it was brought up that it was no longer about recouping money to PP (as that was already achieved in the first 48 hours) but was about redirecting people’s emotional responses, keeping people connected to causes and organizations even if they weren’t Komen, and demonstrating the importance of knowing what the orgs do that you support.
  4. There was a flow of people in and out of the effort depending on their interest and availability. A public thread rather than the private email thread would have been more in keeping with our interest in and value of transparency. We chose the email vehicle believing that the element of surprise would be important to our efforts. It turned out not to be the case.
  5. Finding the messaging middle ground in a fast changing environment was very challenging. Take Back the Pink was seen by some as Komen bashing and by others as “too nice.” We did our best to find a positive place for Super Bowl Sunday: there are a lot of organizations and way to support breast health, here are options in addition to Komen. It was harder to communicate than, “Screw Komen, fund Planned Parenthood” and it’s unclear how successful we were in explaining the shift and making the message clear.
  6. We could have done a better job of looking for other hashtags in real-time and piggy-backed on them in order to weave together different conversations.
  7. We developed and shone a spotlight on nonprofits and transparency, an unusual element to a discussion of pro-choice and women’s health issues.
  8. Defining success in a very fluid situation was also very challenging. If fifty people retweeted with our hashtag was that success? Five hundred people? Five thousand people? An interesting model to use for comparison is Occupy Wall Street. Rather than using numeric outputs as goals, perhaps our effort, simply being and spreading, was successful. We are still wrestling with this question, although perhaps one answer is that if a single person learned about a new resource or organization that was success. Having the single largest media event of the year on the immediate horizon made for a great leverage point.
  9. It would have been great to have advocacy organizations sign on as participants and partners in this event, however, when we did bump up against organizations they were unable to move fast enough with their approval processes to fully participate. This will continue to hamper the ability of organizations to work with “free agents” like us who need to meet an opportunity like this with speed, agility and a lack of concern for traditional message controls. Perhaps organizations can more fully participate in the next phase of development of the Facebook page.
  10. This group is open to continuing the Facebook page and the conversation about general breast health and the array of organizations and resources available to women.  Clearly, there is a void in the digital space for being a resource to those who want to learn, contribute, volunteer, receive services but don’t know of all of the options or how to vet. Our capacity is stretched, though, we all participated in this effort as volunteers.

For me, the most resonant lessons were, 1) difficulty of free agents like us working with organizations – the rhythms, interests, pace and risk levels are totally different and very difficult to reconcile, and 2) defining success. The “whats” are always easier to measure than the “so whats” but this effort, I felt, was particularly difficult to measure for change. There is no question we gave a lot of people something to do to express their outrage and anger, great, but what difference did it make? I don’t know the answer but am open to suggestions!

I am enormously grateful to my old and new friends who participated in this effort. It was great fun, I don’t mean the issue was fun, it was deadly serious, but the process of working and creating together, moving quickly without fear or restrictions, was GREAT fun, and I appreciate their willingness to play, their patience in explaining something that whizzed past me (Amy Sample Ward!), their spirit of adventure, and openness to reflecting and learning.

I’d love to hear what others thing of this effort, our report, and similar efforts. Thanks!


Komen Kan Kiss My Mammogram

When news broke late Monday that Susan G. Komen defunded breast exams by Planned Parenthood affiliates I was stunned. Here is a good news story about what happened.

What? Is it possible that the two titans of women’s health were now at odds with one another.

My reaction was to start a conversation among friends like Amy Sample Ward, Tom Watson and Beth about what we could do to support Planned Parenthood. It’s a great thread that keeps growing. A theme developed that the best way to send a loud message to Komen about how displeased we are with their decision was to fund Planned Parenthood. I set up a Cause on Facebook called: Komen Kan Kiss My Mammogram. Of course, people can give directly to Planned Parenthood, (my mother did yesterday) the Cause allows folks to see it in action, it becomes more social, and hopefully we’ll help identify new, younger donors to Planned Parenthood.

And then the real fun began, with friends sharing with friends on Twitter and Facebook. What could be more fun than when a friend like Lisa Colton writes on my wall, “Thanks for being the glue turning energy into a social movement. Who better to start a “kiss my mammogram” campaign??!!” A few hours after the Cause was up hundreds of people had already given several thousand dollars to Planned Parenthood!

Beth, always leading the way, created a Pinterest site to share pictures, all of which link back to the Cause.  Here’s one of the pictures:

Credo Action

Credo Action

5 likes  1 comment  7 repins

Deanna Zandt set up this terrific Tumblr blog of women telling their personal stories of the ways that Planned Parenthood has helped them over the years. Here’s my favorite:

I owe my life to Planned Parenthood

A former stay-at-home wife, I was recently divorced, returning to college, and without health insurance or a job. Planned Parenthood was my only healthcare option, and I owe my life to them. During their care, they detected an agressive strain of quickly spreading cancer. After I underwent treatment my doctor confessed to me that she was scared at how close I came to losing my life. (So glad she decided to tell me that bit after it was all over :). I owe my life to you, Planned Parenthood.

Kivi Leroux Miller has a terrific analysis of Komen’s disastrous communications effort – or, at first, their non effort.

All of these efforts are sharable and social, we are including new people in the conversation and giving people who are outraged about Komen an opportunity to express themselves and be heard.

This is just the first chapter, this effort will continue to grow and change this week. It’s easy to imagine a Valentines Day effort asking men to give to Planned Parenthood to say they love their girlfriends/wives/lovers/mothers, can’t you?

More on the way soon!



Fighting the Public School Fortress

I have worked with a number of nonprofits and foundations over the past few years, terrific organizations like Common Cause and the Avi Chai Foundation, traditional organizations working sincerely to turn themselves into Networked Nonprofits. To break out from behind their high walls and wide moats and focus on building meaningful relationships with wide networks of folks.

I am also doing the same as president of my synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham (new website coming soon!), a lovely 112 year old institution that has fortressed itself over many years.

In the last several weeks, I’ve also taken on the role of insurgent as a parent trying to storm the barricades of our local public school district. It has been a while since I’ve been up against a formidable fortress like this. It is fascinating to see how predictable their reactions and actions are, their knee jerk inclination to discuss and decide important issues in back rooms, their desire for continuity over disruption, the motions of listening that are really just talking at parents.

In my meetings with administrators and school board members, they key characteristics that has struck me the most has been the administration’s unwillingness to examine the relationship between the school district and parents. It has ossified to the point where few parents show up for meetings communicated by e-blasts and press releases. It begins a viscious cycle; they declare a meeting, we are tired of being talked at in edu-speak so stay home, they intuit we’re not interested, we intuit they don’t care about us. And on and on….

This tired cycle is most often broken when institutions face a crisis;  sales or donations are down significantly, an organization faces a significant loss of reputation such as the American Red Cross faced after Hurricane Katrina. In these instances, it required soul searching on the part of the organizations to use a different lens, a social lens, to change their relationship between inside and outside. And then the walls can start to crumble.

Public schools are in crisis across the country. Their funding is being cut by states, local taxes are down, public pressure is on to both increase test scores and develop and inspire a generation of creative thinkers (goals at odds with one another) making school administration one of the hardest jobs around. But without engaged and enthusiastic parents, these districts are fortresses sitting on desert islands. They are turning their back on our energy, enthusiasm, talents, resources and networks, which is a terrible loss for everyone. However, unlike organizations that rely on sales or donations, public institutions have to be forced to change from the outside most often.

And that’s what we began last night. A group of parents met and there was wonderful energy, and yes, some anger, in the room. I offered to create a parent-to-parent network online to share information about what is happening since the news coming from the administration is too often sparse window dressing, make sure we have representation at key meetings and develop strategies together of how to storm the barricades.  When I asked my network on Twitter this morning the tool they recommend for starting this work both Amy Sample Ward and Shaun Dakin recommended Google Groups.

I’ll get that started and plan to post here on our progress fighting the fortress. Should be interesting, wish it wasn’t so darn important for my kids.


Landmark Online Giving Study

Network for Good and TrueSense Marketing released their long awaited study of online giving appropriately named The Online Giving Study. The study looked at data for about $400 million worth of giving across charitable websites, giving portals and social networks processed by Network for Good.

Here are a few of the key findings:

  • What we know about successful fundraising stays with the same with social media. A key passage of the report is, “Raising funds online is not about technology, any more than raising funds through the mail is about paper. It’s about the relationship between the nonprofit and the donor who wants to support a cause. People who give online are no different from other donors in that they expect a relationship— not simply a transaction—with the organization they support.”
  • Online relationships are often deeply affected by offline connections and cultivation.
  • December (people giving for tax purposes at the end of the year, literally the last days of the year) and disasters dominate the online giving landscape.

For me, the key data from the report is this chart:

Holy cow, look at how donors come and stay on organization’s websites for giving compared to portals (like Network for Good) and social networking sites (like Facebook)! Really, it’s not even close — I’m even wondering if the other channels are worth all of the effort, hoopla and eyeball fatigue they are creating.

The report emphasizes several times that donors are giving largely through an organization’s website because of the relationship they have with that organization. And if they give through another site, like a giving portal like Change.org, they give less and are not likely to give again.

These particular data raise two questions in my mind:

  1. Do these findings reinforce the skepticism that have had about the need for Jumo? (You can see some of the criticism here and here.) What is the point of yet another platform that takes away time and attention from individual organizations if we’re finding that donors are not deepening their relationships anywhere but on their own site.
  2. Does this make a group like charity:water, a born and bred Networked Nonprofit, look even more prescient building their own network, my charity:water, on their site as a place for action, advocacy and fundraising?

LinkedIn: The Little Network That Could

This month’s Social Good podcast focuses on the second life of LinkedIn.

Sometimes social media tools and channels come and go so quickly I never learn how to pronounce the name of the thing! And then sometimes, not often, but just sometimes, a tool starts, levels off and then has a more dynamic second life. LinkedIn is one of those second life social media tools. I remember when it started I just kept adding friends but didn’t really have any idea of why I was adding them or what do with them. Facebook seemed a more interesting place to be and meet people and share, unless you were looking for a job and then LinkedIn was a must.

LinkedIn then began to reinvent itself. As other social network sites were flattening out in terms of the number of users, LinkedIn was soaring – passing 60 million users this year, increasing by ten million users a year over the past several years. That’s still small compared to the over 300 million users on Facebook, but it’s not nothing. Then, I saw an article that said that LinkedIn was the only social network was that was profitable – take that Facebook and MySpace! Then it added the functionality to create groups of people with a common interest or geographic area. And all of a sudden my LinkedIn friending began to soar again.

My interest was really piqued when Susan Kistler, the Executive Director of the American Evaluation Association told me that they transitioned their longstanding listserve to a LinkedIn group last year and that the conversation was richer as a result.

The LinkedIn experts on this month’s podcast are Amy Sample Ward, a pioneer in the use of social media by nonprofits and currently the Community Development Manager for TechSoup Global and Estrella Rosenberg, serial nonprofit entrepreneur,  philanthropy expert and author of Adventures In Philanthropy

I hope you enjoy listening to Amy and Estrella with their very practical advice on how best to use LinkedIN for your organization or cause.  It’s really the little social network that could!


I Have a FREE HP Laptop and Printer to Give Away!

Morning, peeps, I’ve got a special surprise today!  Beth and I have helped to plan and assess online contests such as America’s Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation over the past several years. Now, we’re part of a group of bloggers who get to help sponsor a contest and give away free HP stuff!

The giveaway is part of the HP Create Change effort. For every purchase from the Create Change site that is part of the HP direct purchase website, HP will donate 4% to one of the following seven nonprofits that you can designate. The nonprofits are: American Red Cross, CARE, DonorsChoose.org, Junior Achievement, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, World Wildlife Fund.

You can download a widget for the HP Create Change effort form their site and follow their conversation on Facebook.

Back to our contest. HP has asked me and a few fantastic bloggy friends: Beth (of course!), Tom Watson, Katya Andresen’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog, Jolly Mom, and Amy Sample Ward to ask our readers a question about social change. And then each of us bloggers will pick a winner from the comments on our blog.

So, here’s my question to you: What conversations on which social media channels do you  most want to have with your community this year?

Extra points will be given to anyone who works Foursquare or Tumblr into their answer!

AF Note: The contest closes on February 26th!


Redlining Online

Ivan Boothe wrote a terrific post last week about Causes taking down its application from MySpace. Causes is an application for use on social networking sites. it enables users to highlight causes that they care about asking friends to join their cause and also to make donations.

Since its launch in 2006, there are around 250,000 Causes on Facebook. A cause does not have to be associated with a specific nonprofit, and most of these, over 200,00 aren’t. They are people who are passionate about something, say the high cost of tuition or global warming writ large, and want their friends to know about it. That leaves about 46,000 causes that are connected to a specific nonprofit organization.I have written before about the meaning of Causes on Facebook.

Last year Causes broadened its reach to MySpace. By shutting down the application on MySpace, Causes is leaving about 184,000 cause enthusiasts out in the cold.  The number of users on MySpace was tiny compared to the reported 30 million active monthly users of Causes on Facebook. And, according to the Facebook Causes blog, the application has helped raise more than $12 million for nonprofits based in the U.S. and Canada. Over $5 million has been raised in 2009 alone.

This stirred quite a bit of commentary last week with very thoughtful pieces from Ivan as mentioned above, Amy Sample Ward, and Sean Stannard-Stockton. They noted the lack of robustness of the Causes application on MySpace compared to Facebook, the lack of conversation by and from Causes about why they made the decision, what it means for MySpace users, and the risk that nonprofit organizations take when they use third party applications like Causes to help build community online.

But there was one argument in particular that really resonated with me. When I first heard the news, I immediately began to think about a terrific, provocative talk that danah boyd gave last summer at the Personal Democracy Forum. It was appropriately titled, “The Not So Hidden Politics of Class Online.” Here is the video from her talk. She talked about the emerging online divides by race and class that are appearing, particularly the differences between the college-oriented people on Facebook and the non-college population on MySpace.

danah’s talk resonated with a post by Justin Maasa entitled “Social Networking Redlining.” Redlining was the practice of banks to steer their mortgages to people of certain races and ethnicities in certain neighborhoods. In other words, a way to keep African Americans out of certain neighborhoods was for banks not to lend them mortgages. This short post really summed up something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, the tension between the natural friending that happens on social networking sites that create cliques and silos and that can’t be avoided, and the institutional boundaries that are being created between sites like Facebook and MySpace.It is the institutional boundaries that nonprofit organizations should be fighting the hardest to try to breach.

Causes made a business decision, they were not making, or foreseeing, a return on investment for the application on MySpace. That’s entirely their right. The problem from a social change point of view are the number of nonprofit organizations that are shying away from MySpace in favor of Facebook. some assume from the popular press that MySpace is dying – it isn’t. Some assume that it isn’t cool to be on MySpace now. Or worse, they are focusing their organizational efforts towards Facebook because that’s where they hang out in their off time, that’s where their friends and family are socializing.

Social change needs to happen everywhere. Nonprofit organizations are charged with making it happen, intentionally, in easy places and harder places. MySpace may be a more challenging environment for some nonprofit organizations but it doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be there. Perhaps it means that they need to be there even more, to help raise awareness of issue, listen to what people are saying, and help to organize. Only by intentionally reaching out to communities that are too often overlooked will nonprofit organizations be able to help take down the boundaries that are keeping the voices of marginalized communities from being heard.

I’m glad that this issue was raised and led to a constructive conversation about the need for nonprofits not to overlook MySpace. Thanks to everyone for participating in an interesting dialogue.




Pollyanna Principles: Power of Thinking Differently


I love when someone challenges the lens through which I look at the world, challenges my assumptions, and helps me to see things differently.

That’s what the Pollyanna Principles written by Hildy Gotlieb does — in spades!

The book is based on Hildy’s considerable experience hands-on working directly with people and communities. This isn’t a theoretical framework, but a very practical and practiced one that applies across organizations, issue areas and geography.

Here are The Pollyanna Principles:

  1. We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for.
  2. Each and everyone of us is creating the future, every day, whether we do so consciously or not.
  3. Everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we acknowledge that or not.
  4. “Being the change we want to see” means walking the talk of our values.
  5. Strength build upon our stengths, not our weaknesses.
  6. Individuals will go where systems lead them.

Brimming with enthusiasm and optimism, Hildy challenges each one of us the future that we want. Hildy encourages us to throw off the yoke of the “culture of can’t” weighing us down of what we can’t do and what isn’t practical or doable at the moment. What if we envisioned the world as it could be? What if envisioned a world full of abundance and could envision addressing the underlying issues that are keeping people hungry, homeless, disempowered and disenfranchised not just, in social work language, as their presenting problems?  It is a freeing and empowering notion – and the essence of real social change.

I’ve been thinking lately about the meaning of social change and social change organizations. Not all nonprofit organizations fit into this category. Hospitals aren’t creating social change. What about direct service organizations that don’t have an advocacy component? How about businesses that sell things, like books, or confections, and give money to causes – are they doing social change work? I’m not sure that I know all of these answers yet – but Hildy has given me an interesting and helpful framework for thinking about them. Thanks, Hildy!

Amy Sample Ward also has a very illuminating review of the book on Beth’s Blog as also.


Copyright © 2018 Allison Fine