Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jumo Pt. 2

One of the things Jason and I talk about often is the difference between sites created by extremely intelligent programmers versus people who work day-to-day in philanthropy.  Raising money is hard.  Inspiring people is hard.  Sites like Jumo are built to make activism as easy as possible whereas we want changemaking to be as meaningful and effective as possible.  Easy rarely works when it comes to big problems - that's why the problems exist and persist.

What is most frustrating is how much publicity and mindshare sites like Jumo receive.  I really have a hard time with a concept often repeated that I find incredibly passive and borderline bizarre - that people want to get involved but don't know how.  From the Jumo "About Us" page (bold and red added by me):

Why Jumo?

Founded in February 2010, Jumo set out to address three key challenges:
  • There are millions of people working to improve the lives of others, many of whom lack the resources to have greatest impact.
  • There are millions more who want to help, but don’t know how.
  • Despite huge advancements in connection technologies, it’s hard to find meaningful opportunities to get involved.
We believe we can do better.
I hear this refrain - "People want to help but don't know how" - often, most frequently from upper middle class, geographically mobile, highly educated people in their 30s.  I have to admit, when I hear this statement I have to remind myself - "That person I'm talking to, he can see my face.  Keep it together."  I know that, due to my career path, I have access to resources that many don't know of but we all have access to a little something called the interwebs.  In fact, that's how you got to this post!
Say you drive by a homeless woman with her children.  You think, "That's not right.  How can I help?"  You go to your computer or phone and type these words into Google: homeless women children denver.  Top five results on 12/4/2010:
1. Denver's Road Home - Homeless Resources: Act Now box in top right corner of page including events, donation options, and other mobilization opportunities.  Relatively average resource options but certainly enough "how" to start helping.
2. Sacred Heart House of Denver: In main nav bar, "Get Involved" link including how to volunteer, make a cash donation, and a current needs list with dozens of financially accessible goods from hygiene to plastic water bottles.  Absolutely you could read this page and know how to help.
3 & 4. Denver Post stories (here and here) on homeless women falling through the cracks: Both stories mention The Delores Project and The Gathering Place by name.  In turn, the websites for both of those nonprofits (Community Shares member agencies) include options for cash gifts, volunteers, and donations of goods and services.
5. Suite101 article about The Gathering Place: Includes a paragraph about donations of money and goods and services and a link to TGP's website which includes an extensive list of ways to give.
Hmm...  It seems like it is really, really easy to find out how to help.  So what's the real problem?  I would argue it's NOT not knowing how.  There is some other barrier that sites like Jumo cater to: a desire to be involved without changing the course of your day in a meaningful way.
When I have suggested this in the past in frank discussions with those who explain to me that people want to help but don't know how, I have been accused of tamping down enthusiasm.  I've been advised that people's something - regardless of outcome and effectiveness - should be applauded as better than nothing.  That just doesn't work for me - especially when valuable resources are being invested in websites, special events, happy hours, and cause marketing that does little to move the needle besides generating some wusage stats.
How to help?
Speak Up
Change Behaviors
Meaningful involvement comes from inside you, not an algorithm on a website.  There's a difference between feeling like you're helping and helping - let's invest the resources in helping.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our thoughts on Jumo

You may have heard about yet another Facebook founder's pet project which launched this week. Jumo is a new platform for people and organization's to connect and for the user to have one place they can go for content about issues they are interested in. I would encourage you to take a spin and see what you think.

Several prominent nonprofit professionals have toured this new website in the past few days to see what the user experience is like and figure out how they plan on using it. The response amongst nonprofit social media professionals seems to be mixed to negative.

I am trying to be careful not to be overly critical about the site too early as it still has the "beta" tag on it and being a developer of an online tool myself, I know how it feels to put your new baby out for all the world to critique. :)

But, I am disappointed by the concept of the idea versus the hype. I agree with Beth Kanter and Amy Sample Ward in that I fail to see how Jumo is going to take the next step to inspire actions versus very passively encouraging people to connect with nonprofits on a national platform.

In my opinion, Jumo is not forecasting the trend very well and is a lagging website instead of a leading one. I believe that the combination of social networking and e-philanthropy will become far more locally focused in the coming years. Sure, building online portals into the philanthropic world is noble but as a professional fundraiser I don't believe that a website like Jumo will "bring people up the philanthropy ladder" as Beth Kanter says. That task belongs to people and organizations that are close to you and influence you offline. Where is the relationship building component of Jumo? It doesn't exist because it misses the offline, trust-building component that nonprofits need to achieve missions and affect change.

Community Shares new My Colorado Project is a different model entirely. Think local, think incremental, and band together with both on and offline.

We'd love to know what you think, please consider leaving a comment. Through dialog we can reach the best solutions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yesterday Alyssa and I were able to attend the Open Media Foundation's (OMF) annual community breakfast. Thanks very much to The Denver Foundation for inviting us!

Community Shares is a big believer in engaging web content. We believe that our website should be a vibrant and vital part of our overall communications and needs to attract new and returning visitors rather than serving as a static placeholder which is rarely used or visited.

Content is everything when you're building an online presence and OMF can help you build it easily and cheaply.

Tony Shawcross, Executive Director of OMF said in his speech that the top 10 websites in the world are all driven by the people who visit them. OMF's mission is to put the power of media and technology into the hands of the community. They encourage others to think of media as any and all content that reaches an audience. I think that this is a very accessible and inclusive definition and if more nonprofits take this definition and run with it we'll be able to highlight the areas of our society that the mainstream media fails to report on.

If you're looking to take the next step in your social media and general online presence as an organization, please consider utilizing the services of OMF. They can help you be strategic and provide the tools to help you move in a new direction.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Networks of Support

In a recent post on my blog I wrote about how important it is to have a personal support network in times of struggle. This past week Alyssa and I visited several of Community Shares member nonprofits and did video interviews with executive directors, staff, and clients at each (look for a new digital library coming soon!) Forgive the camera work because I was so compelled by the conversations we had that I could barely keep the camera straight and Alyssa has suggested that we line up a tripod for our next interviews!

What I heard from David Burgess at the Charg Resource Center, Terrell Curtis from The Delores Project, and Tammy Mulligan and Amanda Baker at Denver Urban Ministries is just how important it is for them not only provide support but also to encourage their visitors to start building personal networks. At Denum, we saw people using the computer lab to catch up with friends and family, update resumes, and even promote their poetry (see Alyssa's post below!) When thinking about homelessness I usually remember people's need food and shelter. I forget that basic human needs include the desires to connect with others, to be creative, to learn, and to share your talents.

This morning I stumbled onto the Invisible People Blog which brings awareness to homelessness through social media. Mark Horvath, the sites founder knows what it is like to be homeless and has helps homeless people build out their network and their skills through social media. He started We Are Visible, a project which has received funding through the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Just another example of how "gamechanging" social media is for the nonprofit sector and for the causes and people we serve.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Go Digital to Humanize!

Jason and I both loved this article written by Kate Rogers included in the October 19th Nonprofit Times e-newsletter.  The overarching point of the article is summed up perfectly in the title: Micro-Messages, Strengthening your brand via online relationships.  Our social media goals center around three areas - brand strength, our value-add relationship, and storytelling - so this article was a nice electronic pat on the back of our marketing instincts.

What jumped out at me from this article was the concept of using digital media to humanize your nonprofit.  We think a lot about our voice in written communication and whether it is meeting our branding goal to be considered "your friend in philanthropy".  But why not let people get to know the staff and our member agencies in a more human way through actual conversations and smiles?

Community Shares launched a "stop reading, start watching" philosophy for our communications in 2010.  We are getting out and on site with our member nonprofit organizations and shooting digital videos with a flip camera donated to us by our super duper tech consultant, Kathryn Codo.  Off the cuff interviews with staff and clients to put a human face on how our message of "$1 a day" reaches front line providers and those they serve.

Here's a great humanizing moment we captured today at Denver Urban Ministries.  We popped into the computer lab to do a 30 second video of the Executive Director, Tammy Mulligan, talking about the benefits of the computer lab.  Instead, we ended up with Tyrone sharing poetry and showing us the human side of the people DenUM serves.

DenUM Poet - Tyrone

Tammy followed up with this great story - a double barrel shotgun humanizer to the heart.

This video taken at Delores Project has a nice moment on top of Terrell Curtis sharing her experience as a staff member.  Terrell nods to a staff member off camera who has recently placed two women in homes and you can hear a CSC staff member say "congratulations" off screen.  You can see the human relationships of people on staff and Terrell's appreciation of her team.

The Delores Project - Community

Friday, October 15, 2010

Facebook Impressions - Ads for Nonprofits: Volume 1

There was a great article posted on titled, "Facing up to Facebook - Social media adds a new dimension to marketing".  First, since it's Colorado Biz Magazine, the majority of the businesses featured are in Colorado so you are more likely to be aware of the specific campaigns and brands they mention.  Second, it got me thinking about how Community Shares thinks about marketing and costs and some potential shifts in mindset.

The key statistics/concepts:
  • Facebook accounts for 10% of all time spent online by EVERYONE
    • This blew my mind... Facebook accounts for 10% of all internet usage time!!!  I can't even wrap my head around that stat yet.
  • 50% of Facebook users are between 18-34
    • You know how much 50% of Facebook users equal?  250 million people.
  • Women in their 50s and 60s are the fastest growing demographic
    • I set up an account for my mom over the weekend, contributing to that stat.
  • Social media as "scalable word of mouth"
    • Yes, I will be using that expression ad nauseum in future trainings.
  • Back again to the core concept we've got our eye on - social media as brand extension with unquantifiable impact on the monetization of your product
  • If you haven't already, it's time to Like Community Shares.
I've been kicking around how we are going to measure success in our social media work.  Certainly click-throughs are ideal (followed by a comment and a pledge to be BFF forever) but how should we quantify the value of impressions?

I'm setting up a social media science project* using Facebook Ads.  Here's what I'm thinking:
  • One boring ad that will get very few clicks but will have a huge number of impressions.
  • One bizarre/look at this ad that will get attention but the impressions won't connect to our brand without a click.
  • One targeted campaign with a return on investment.  (i.e. Time limited, voting based, prize drawn...)
Part of me loves the boring ad I already put up while thinking about the other two.  It costs nothing unless people click. So far that's meant 26k impressions by college educated Coloradans with no clicks.  For $0.00, we've put our logo up in front of our target audience 26k times.

This is volume one of our foray into Facebook ads at Community Shares.  We'll keep you posted on our science project*.

*Why "science project"?
Although I am a mathlete (1988 Math Olympics representing St. Anne's School), I don't have a lot of science experiment skills.  Anything that involves measuring results makes me think science!  If that is alarming to you, keep in mind that no science education is required in my job description.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adapting Your Policies to Social Media

Social media is not a toy. People have found a new way to communicate and nonprofits are rapidly catching on by building new relationships, promoting their missions and accomplishments, and having active, "real-time" conversations with their community.

But innovation is rarely as simple as that and nonprofits would be wise to observe what can happen when they take a reactive stance to social media.

Recently, Alyssa passed this article over to me. The article calls into question the personal activity of an employee with the Colorado Department of Ag's Animal Protection Bureau. It seems as though the chief of the department doesn't share the same personal feelings on animal rights as his employer. His posts ignited the passions of animal lovers everywhere and attracted far too much negative attention to the department.

Blue Avacado also responded to a letter about employee use of Facebook. The title: Facebook + Employees =Yikes! says it all and although I agree that nonprofits need to adapt to a changing communications landscape, I completely disagree with being fearful of social media.

We typically fear things we don't know enough about. Overcome your fear by putting together a policy. This will help you learn more and identify proper practices by those affiliated with your organization. Take the values and priorities of your organization and adapt them to social media. There are plenty of excellent existing policies that can be modified to suit your needs.
Nonprofits nor their employees need to feel fearful about this new media, but these still maturing communication channels do deserve some attention whether you plan on using them or not. Chances are that your employees ARE using them!

Use this opportunity to educate your employees about your brand and let them know what is expected of them when communicating in public. Show them how they can help your organization grow and what should, and more importantly should not, be said publicly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Race and Social Media

Have you ever noticed that the majority of social media trainings you attend (let's get real: all trainings in general) gloss over how race impacts the game? Considering how demographic shifts - particularly around race - are up there with generational and technology shifts when it comes to impending gamechangers for the nonprofit sector, it's time to get smart about race and social media. The first step is ceasing to quote outdated information about the minority majority being late adopters to social media.

Recent surveys show that young blacks and latinos spend more time on their phones each day than their white counterparts. As this piece about "To Be Young, Digital, and Black" points out, the narrative about the digital divide got undue airtime and allowed people to not closely look at actual trends in usage.

Here are a few places to start when you are thinking about social media and race.

Black Web 2.0

Latinos in Social Media

Use of Technology by Urban Youth

To Be Young, Digital and Black

It's good to be young, digital and black. And that's a fact!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Common Sense Social Media for Your Nonprofit

Jason and I just wrapped up a training for the Fall 2010 Colorado Nonprofit Association Conference titled: Common Sense Social Media for Your Nonprofit.

View the entire Common Sense Social Media PowerPoint here.

Key Take-Aways:
  • Forget the tools themselves initially
    • Each tool is used for different types of conversations
  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • How/Where do they like to interact?
  • What do they want to talk about?
  • Now choose the tools you use!
Create a stakeholder list for your organization (who you do talk to you and who you want to talk to) and then find out where they spend their time online.  For Community Shares, that looks like this:
  • Individuals – Personal Facebook
  • Nonprofits – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
  • HR Directors – LinkedIn, Industry Blogs, Comment Boards
  • Local Media – Comment Boards, Twitter
  • Local Foundations – (late adopters) Twitter
  • Innovators – Twitter, Self-Published Blogs, Industry Blogs, Comment Boards
  • Connectors – LinkedIn, Personal FB
  • Industry Peers – (late adopters) Twitter
This means we need to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and start reaching out to comment and interact on industry blogs.  (Welcome to Digital (non)Prophets!)

  • brand has attributes
    • word used to describe brand – functional and emotional
  • brand has benefits
    • experience of association
    • because I use this product, I am this
    • because I give to this nonprofit, I am this
  • attributes are important, benefits are more important

In a future blog post we'll share our specific strategies for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and My Colorado. For now, here's our umbrella strategy:

Community Shares intentionally uses social media to extend our brand reach and validate our brand attributes and personality.  Please refer to our brand attributes and personality when selecting and composing content on social media sites.  All posts should work in harmony with our branding goals.