nonprofit social media
There was much discussion in August about money. We heard that foundations should be more open to risk and should engage with nonprofits to find the best solutions. And we found out some fascinating information about how Americans give. And there were some exciting developments in the newest social sector funding vehicle, the social impact bond. What a great month!
Below are my top 10 picks for what’s worth reading in August in the world of social innovation. But please add what I missed to the comments. And if you want to see more of what catches my eye, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
You can see the 10 Great Reads lists from past months here.
Here’s August’s 10 Great Reads in Social Innovation:
- It looks like social impact bonds are starting to take off in America. This innovative social financing partners private investors, public bonds and nonprofit organizations to solve social problems. Goldman Sachs has gotten on board with a $10 million investment in a New York City program to reduce prison recidivism rates.
- Writing in the New York Times, Georgetown University professor Peter Edelman breaks down the factors contributing to a 15% poverty rate in America and what needs to change to improve it.
- I can’t tell you how many times I hear complaints from nonprofit leaders that social media won’t really improve fundraising. Try these on for size. Geri Stengel (guest posting on Beth Kanter’s blog) shows how the Genocide Intervention Network found major donors through social media, HubSpot offers 7 Creative Ways Nonprofits Can Use Social Media to Drive Donations and Kivi Leroux Miller explains How Social Media and Fundraising Fit Together.
- Guest blogging on the PhilanTopic blog, Derrick Feldmann argues “We need donors who are truly willing to embrace risk and invest significant dollars in potential solutions that may not yield immediate results but get us closer to our ultimate objective, even if it’s only by demonstrating what doesn’t work.” Amen to that! And Rodney Foxworth seems to agree.
- On the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog Sheetal Singh writes that there is a new active, engaged citizen movement in America, but that nonprofits are missing the opportunity to participate. She argues that “nonprofits need to realize that the “new citizens” are no longer passive recipients of their services; they demand engagement and inclusion. If nonprofits don’t adapt to this paradigm, they will be left out of the conversation.”
- One of my new favorite bloggers, Mark Hecker, does it again with a great post encouraging nonprofit and government leaders to be “fearless” in setting goals that will knock social change out of the park.
- A new study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy reveals how Americans give to charity. It turns out you give more if you have less or live near those who have less. But there is much more data to explore on their website. Fascinating.
- Forbes uses the World Wildlife Fund of The Netherlands as a case study to demonstrate the Five Steps to Growing Your Social Impact.
- Lucy Bernholz takes issue with foundation application processes and calls instead for a model “where foundations and nonprofits are working together – from idea generation through proposal, implementation and assessment – to actually solve problems.” Wow, imagine that.
- The Gates Foundation blog demonstrates how support of public libraries is a critical part of transforming developing countries.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress Archives
I was blown away by the popularity of my post earlier this year, 9 Ways Board Members Can Raise Money Without Fundraising. It seems so obvious to me that there are a million different ways for board members to contribute to the bottom-line of their nonprofits, that it didn’t occur to me that a list like that could be so valuable. But apparently it was.
So I want to add to the list, to give people even more ideas for how their board can contribute to the financial engine of their nonprofit without ever asking for money. And maybe with all of these options, more nonprofits will institute a requirement that EVERY board member contribute (either with a personal gift or by implementing some of these ideas) financially to the organization.
So here are 9 more ways that board members who are fundraising “shy” can raise money for their nonprofit:
- Invite 5 Friends to Tour the Program
If you feel truly passionate about the work of the nonprofit you serve, then you should want to show your friends that work. You show off your new car, your son’s graduation photos, or your best recipes, why wouldn’t you want to show off something that is near and dear to your heart–the organization you spend many hours a year supporting and building? And if one of your friends feels the spark and wants to become involved with the nonprofit themselves then that is a new supporter you’ve found for the organization.
- Talk About Your Nonprofit on Facebook
You talk about everything else on your Facebook page, why not dedicate a post or two to your favorite nonprofit? Share a recent blog post from the agency, or pictures of the children you work with, or an invitation to the next tour. And do the same on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, wherever you currently hang out. If even just a few of your friends noticed and started to become involved you could be bringing new supporters to the organization.
- Show Up to One of Your Nonprofit’s Events
Just the simple act of being present at a prospecting or donor event could have huge benefit for your nonprofit. A potential donor who sees and talks with board members from the organization is going to be much more likely to give. The board lends an enormous amount of credibility to an organization. People who witness a board member’s support in person and get to chat with them about why they serve and what they love about the organization could easily become new donors.
- Tell The Story Of Why You Serve
If you feel really passionate about your nonprofit, capture that story. Let your nonprofit do a video interview of you, or write your story down yourself. These stories are gold to a nonprofit. They can turn your story into a YouTube video, a blog post, an e-newsletter article, a section on their website, a Facebook post and on and on. It’s a domino effect. If they can demonstrate to others the passion and commitment that exists on their board, they can translate that into more support.
- Help Craft a Case for Support
It’s really hard for a nonprofit to raise money if they don’t have a compelling argument for why someone should give. Encourage your fellow board members and the organization staff to sit down together to craft a case for support. The exercise of articulating why someone outside the organization should care strengthens the organization’s ability to ask for money and energizes and re-engages board and staff in the process.
- Analyze Your Networks
Every single one of us is part of many networks. Our circle of friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, our fellow church-goers, other parents at our kids’ school. The list goes on and on. If you took 20-30 minutes to analyze all of the people you know and whether they might have an interest in your nonprofit and the capacity to give a gift, you could uncover some prospects for your organization. But don’t worry, just because you come up with those prospect names doesn’t mean you have to ask them for money. You can give those names to the executive director or development director and ask them to pursue them as a potential lead.
- Go on a Solicitation Call.
I know this list is for board members who DON’T want to make the ask. But simply going on a call doesn’t mean you ever have to actually ask for money. Leave that up to the executive director or development director who go with you. When a prospect is ready for the ask, you should go in pairs, and the staff member/board member pair is ideal. The staff member can do the actual asking, and the board member can be there to voice the community’s support for and investment in the organization. And that demonstration of support and investment goes a long way to turning a prospect into a donor.
- Educate a Funder About the Power of Capacity Capital
Capacity capital is the money your nonprofit so desperately needs to build a stronger, more effective organization. But because it is a new kind of money in the sector, funders need to understand why it is so important and why they should give it. If you could convince just one funder of the power of a capacity capital investment to transform the fundraising function of your nonprofit (to pay for a new donor database, or a Development Director for example) you could greatly increase your organization’s ability to raise money over the long-term.
- Give a Gift
You don’t have to ask anyone for money if you actually give a gift yourself. It amazes me how many board members serve on a board but never actually write the organization a check. If you truly believe in the organization enough to volunteer your time, expertise, connections and experience, then why wouldn’t you make a financial investment as well? And that financial investment should hurt a little bit, otherwise how can you expect anyone else to make the financial sacrifices necessary to keep the organization strong?
I really could go on and on. To me, there is an endless list of ways board members can contribute to the financial sustainability of the nonprofit they serve. The trick is helping them realize that. Maybe these lists will give you some ways to start that conversation with your board.
And if you want to find out other ways for getting your board involved in fundraising, download the How to Build a Fundraising Board webinar.
Photo Credit: Jon Sullivan
In this month’s Social Velocity blog interview, we’re talking with David Neff, the creator and CEO of Lights. Camera. Help., a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging cause-driven organizations to use film and video to tell their stories. Neff is a Senior Consultant at Ant’s Eye View, and the co-founder of Internet start up HelpAttack! In 2009, he was named the American Marketing Association’s Nonprofit Social Media Marketer of the year and one of the top 20 Social Media people in the state of Texas.
You can read past interviews in our Social Innovation Interview Series here.
Nell: Your book, The Future of Nonprofits, came out almost a year ago. Has anything changed in your view of what the future holds for the nonprofit sector?
David: Not yet. I think if anything in the past year we are seeing the rise of more and more tools (Gowalla dying off, Pinterest interest rising) but nonprofits are still too obsessed with the tools and not the higher level tactics behind them. Much less concentrating on the objectives and goals that go above the strategy. I hope that starts to change in 2012.
Nell: SXSW Interactive just wrapped up, what is on the cutting edge of technology innovation for social change? What got you really excited?
David: To be honest what got me excited was the privacy push we saw at SXSW. The rise of the informed public as to what brand and nonprofits are doing with their data, who they are sharing it with and how’s it being used. For too long I think the average nonprofit constituent has just written a check or donated online and then not worried about what’s happened with their data. Hopefully more and more nonprofits will re-think their privacy policies just as Google and Pinterest have done.
Nell: Innovation has become quite a buzz word in the nonprofit sector lately. What does it mean to you and what makes an “innovative” nonprofit?
David: Most nonprofits think of themselves as innovative when they simply add a new program or tool to their arsenal. This is the same as when GM calls a new car “innovative” because it has a new cup holder. KONY2012 was not innovative. It was a great cause-driven film that had a clear message to 1) help spread the word about Kony 2) to drive revenue and sales of the awareness items for invisible children. Innovative nonprofits are those out there trying new ideas that go beyond advertising or new programs. When I think innovative I think of the ground breaking campaigns that Stacey Monk at Epic Change is creating.
Nell: You spent 9 years at the American Cancer Society working on their online initiatives. Often it is difficult to bring innovation and new technology to the largest nonprofits. How were you able to innovate within such an organization? And what tips do you have for other “intrapreneurs” working to bring innovations to large nonprofits?
David: Luckily the American Cancer Society had an innovation system in place. One that helped foster new ideas, kill bad ones, and re-direct mediocre ones. We called this the Future and Innovation Center and I was lucky enough to twice receive a grant to create and build new ideas out of this center. Randal Moss (my co-author) was at the helm of leading this center within the American Cancer Society and did an amazing job at funneling new and good ideas into real world products. My tip for other “intrapreneurs” is create the system for them to work in. Take what you learn from our book and create your own internal innovation center at your brand or nonprofit. It’s not hard. We promise. And we are here to help you!
Nell: You’ve recently moved over to the for-profit world, helping companies to employ smart social media strategies. How did you decide to move to the private sector and how do you stay engaged with social change efforts?
David: Good question. I was recruited away from running my own consulting business by the amazing folks at Ant’s Eye View. And was offered a position and challenge that I couldn’t pass up being a sherpa for large companies in their own social and customer experience journeys. It was a no-brainer for me to come and work with some of the smartest people I’ve ever known in this space. I still keep my head in the game of social change by being the CEO of Lights. Camera. Help., which is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to encouraging other nonprofit and cause-driven organizations to use film and video to tell their stories. We do this through our education and volunteer match programs, screenings and an annual film festival.
I am far from a social media expert, but I have grown to love some social media tools. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have been my favorites, while I still haven’t seen the value of Google+ (although if someone wants to convince me, I’m all ears). But the newest social media darling, Pinterest is fast becoming my favorite. And I think it holds an enormous opportunity for nonprofits.
Pinterest is a social media network based on images. If you find a recipe, a blog post, a pair of pants, a livingroom set, you can “pin” it to a board and share it with your followers. Similarly, if you see something someone else has “pinned” you can “repin” it to your board. Picture an enormous blank wall with individual bulletin boards organized by your interests.
For example, I currently have 12 “boards”. Some are not work-related like “Home” and “Healthy Recipes.” But the rest are directly related to Social Velocity and my passion for social innovation and the nonprofit sector, like “Nonprofit/Social Change Books,” “Nonprofit Campaigns,” “Cool Infographics,” and “Nonprofit Media.” That last board is actually a shared board among 40+ people and organizations where we can all add to and edit the board.
There are several things about Pinterest that I love. For fun last Saturday night I spent a couple of hours there just scanning and pinning (sad, huh?).
There have been many articles about the potential of Pinterest for companies. People can pin images of particular products and encourage their friends and followers to purchase. What a boon to business!
But I think Pinterest is a particularly powerful opportunity for nonprofits for several reasons:
- Nonprofits are naturally image-based. The every day work that nonprofits are involved in lends itself to compelling images: a child laughing while reading a good book, a hug from a case worker to their client, a new home, a beautiful piece of land conserved, an endangered animal. Include a compelling picture in every story you create about your nonprofit and pin it on Pinterest. You can also pin images from other places that relate to your passion and your mission.
- Nonprofits easily connect to passion. I don’t care how much you love that new vacuum cleaner, you cannot be as passionate about it as you are about the child you are tutoring. People launch nonprofits or donate to nonprofits because an issue really hits them at the core. They may have had a loved one die of a terrible disease, or they may absolutely love border collies. What the social change sector has in spades is passion. Pinterest is a natural place to share that passion and convince others of its worth.
- Female donors are a large and growing force. If you want to attract more of this increasingly influential philanthropic force you better find them where they are, and right now that’s Pinterest. 68% of Pinterest users are female. And they spend a lot of time there. You want to be part of that.
- Nonprofits are all about good story-telling. Pinterest is a natural place for storytelling. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has put together a great gallery of ways nonprofits tell their stories through data visualizations. Although the gallery isn’t on Pinterest, all of these images should be and probably will be soon. Images tell such a better story than words, and nonprofits have so many great stories to tell. Use Pinterest to do it.
If you want a quick guide to getting started on Pinterest, check out this great HubSpot post, although it’s focused on businesses, it definitely applies to nonprofits.
Get out there and give Pinterest a try. I think you’ll like it.
Photo Credit: Mashable
February was the month to learn from other’s mistakes — from Komen to Hull House there was some great analysis about what went wrong and what can be learned. The other thing emerging in February was new social media darling, Pinterest, as an opportunity for nonprofits to tell their story visually.
Below are my ten picks of the best reads in social innovation in February, but as always, please add what I missed in the comments. And if you want to see other things that caught my eye, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
- The biggest news in February was Susan G. Komen Foundation’s repeated strategy and PR blunders when they pulled funding from Planned Parenthood, then reinstated the funding. Kivi Leroux Miller offered tips to recover from a PR scandal. Nancy Schwartz broke down Komen’s “busted nonprofit brand” and Beth Kanter described the 5 stages of a social media PR disaster. And when things finally settled down a bit, Komen stumbled again with their attempt to reassure donors.
- Always a great resource, the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog provides 50 Fun, Useful, and Totally Random Resources for Nonprofits
- “As modern businesses search for a soul, who better than Millenials to help find one?” This month there were two articles about how the Millennial generation approaches work and ultimately how it will change how we all work: 13 Ways The Recession Has Changed How Millennials View Work and The Crisis of Meaning in the Millennial Workforce.
- Tom Watson launched a new column in Forbes focused on social entrepreneurship, and his inaugural post took an interesting spin on the endless “what is social entrepreneurship” conversation by finding parallels between Steve Jobs and Occupy Wall Street.
- Sometimes Dan Pallotta gets it really right, and that is especially true with his post arguing that a huge missed opportunity for philanthropist is to invest in the fundraising capacity of nonprofits.
- In the Harvard Business Review blog Nilofer Merchant argued that technology is fundamentally changing how organizations operate. This applies to nonprofits as well, and we should all take note.
- If you, like most people, struggle with creating content for your blog, this infographic makes it so much easier.
- Writing in the Washington Post, Antony Bugg-Levine, head of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, argued that nonprofits must embrace breakthrough innovations like restructuring their approaches to social problems and using capital to build organizations, “The sooner we confront our new economic reality and support visionary thinking and organizations, the sooner we can begin to rebuild a sustainable safety net.”
- The collapse of one of America’s oldest and most successful nonprofit organizations late last year, Hull House, provides a cautionary tale to other nonprofits that may not be employing good financial management, argued Rick Moyers.
- An interesting debate loomed at the end of the month because of a study by the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University that found nonprofit managers lack key financial knowledge. But Kate Barr and Ruth McCambridge took issue with the study’s methods arguing that the study missed the mark.
Photo Credit: aithom2
After 3+ years of a difficult recession it looks like the economy might be starting to turn around. That’s great news. But for the nonprofit sector, which is always the first hit by and last to rebound from a recession, it might still be awhile until they enjoy the looming economic recovery. But it does no good for nonprofit leaders to throw up their hands and curse the economy. Instead, nonprofits should seize this opportunity to rethink how their organization brings money in the door.
There are some key things nonprofit leaders can do to create a sustainable financial model in the midst of lingering economic uncertainty:
- Take a Step Back. Stop putting your organization in the “fundraising” box and take a big step back. Figure out an overall financial model for your organization that connects with your mission and your organization’s core competencies. Don’t just go through the regular fundraising motions (direct mail, events, grants). Rather, analyze how to create a long-term financial model for your organization.
- Harness Your Board. Your board of directors ideally is a group of people who bring connections and expertise that could help your organization. Tap into that. Educate them on what your organization needs and brainstorm how they can help. Now is not the time to be shy. Be strategic about what your board can do and get them to do it.
- Create a Plan. If your organization doesn’t have a strategic plan and a revenue plan, create them. You raise money by being strategic, first about what your organization is and does, and second about how you are going to create sustainable revenue streams. People give to causes that they care about, and they give even more money to organizations that are strategic about what they do and how. A good strategic plan is an invaluable tool around which you can build investment. And a good revenue plan gives you a step-by-step way to generate money.
- Reallocate Resources. As a nonprofit organization you have limited resources (money, staff, technology, time) with which to raise money. You want to make sure that the effort you put in has the highest return on investment. Calculate the direct and indirect costs of every revenue-generating activity and determine the real net income you generated. Are there better, more effective ways to raise more money for less cost and effort?
- Use Technology. Move your communications with donors and prospects online. You’ll save money and have a better chance of getting more and bigger gifts. Send email newsletters, campaigns, event invites. Survey your donors. Create an online community through social media where people can get to know your organization and become involved. People will become more interested in your work and more invested in the organization.
- Learn from the Best. Now is the time to learn from others, get a fresh perspective, find a mentor or coach for your Development Director. Use social media to find interesting and innovative people and ideas. Talk with your fellow social change leaders locally, nationally and internationally. Attend online conferences and webinars. By getting out and hearing what others have done and how they have innovated you will find new ways to grow revenue.
- Strengthen Your Case. Money is raised around a case for support. It can be tempting when times are tough to fall back on a message of need. “We need to raise $50,000.” But the better way is to clearly connect donors with the change you are creating in the community. If you don’t have a case for support write one. If you have one, revisit it and make sure that it is compelling, clear, concise, inspiring. Invest donors in the change you are creating.
- Clone Your Best Donors. When you are struggling to find new donors, go back to the source. Dig into your database to determine the characteristics (demographics and psychographics) of your best (most years of giving, biggest dollar, greatest upgrade) donors. Then survey them (formally or informally) to find out why they give, what messages resonate with them, what they read, where they get their information. You want to understand how they tick so that you can find others like them.
- Diversify Your Funds. When one revenue stream (or several) are down, you want to be able to draw on other streams. Are there other revenue streams you could launch or strengthen? Have you explored earned income? Could you grow your individual donor base? There are many ways to raise money and always potential for new avenues. Explore whether some of these make sense for your organization.
Things may be looking up, but it’s going to be awhile for the nonprofit sector. Instead of waiting around for a better economy, make some significant changes now to how you raise money. In so doing you’ll be turning this challenge into a tremendous opportunity for your organization.
I think it gets harder and harder every month to narrow down to a list of only 10 great reads in social innovation. October was no exception. Here are my top 10 of the last month (but actually more like 13 if you’re counting). As always, please add what I missed to the comments. And if you want to see the expanded list of what catches my eye, follow me on Twitter @nedgington.
You can also read the lists of Great Reads from previous months here.
- Marketing is a brave new world these days, and so is fundraising. Replace “customer” with “donor” and “We’re All Marketers Now” from McKinsey Quarterly applies to nonprofits as well.
- A new Chronicle of Philanthropy blog launched recently that focuses on innovation in the nonprofit world. One of the first posts is about how the U.S. Army’s practice of using a “devil’s advocate” in their decision-making processes is something that some philanthropists are copying in order to come up with better solutions.
- Occupy Wall Street and the other protests in cities around the country was a big topic this month. Some of the most interesting were Who are the 99 percent? from Ezra Klein in The Washington Post and The Demographics of Occupy Wall Street from Fast Company.
- From the Harvard Business Review blog comes an argument that I completely agree with. Nonprofits that are struggling lack a “strategy for connecting their mission with their ability to deliver.”
- I know infographics are becoming overused, but this one is pretty cool: How the Top 50 Nonprofits Do Social Media.
- And speaking of the top nonprofits, the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 400 is out, all about what the 400 wealthiest nonprofits are up to.
- The Alliance for Children and Families, a membership group for human-service charities, released a new report identifying the emerging trends social service organizations must embrace in order to succeed.
- If you missed the live-streaming from the White House last week on social impact bonds, Pay for Success: Investing in What Works, you can still watch archived recordings, or check out the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s great resources on the topic here.
- As usual, Lucy Bernholz tells it like it is, in her argument that the current debate in American politics about shifting more of the burden of funding for core public services to private philanthropy is undemocratic.
- Jennifer Landres from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy finds some lessons for philanthropy in the movie “Moneyball.”
Photo Credit: JeffersonDavis
Heather Mansfield’s new book, Social Media for Social Good: A How to Guide for Nonprofits does a great job of breaking down the brave new world of social media and making it accessible to any nonprofit manager. Her very tactical book is a nice companion to Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s Networked Nonprofit, which painted the big picture view of a new engaging mindset nonprofits need to adopt in this new social media reality. Mansfield’s book gives a down and dirty, step-by-step approach to becoming a savvy nonprofit in the world of Web 3.0.
Mansfield divides the evolution of social media into three stages:
- Web 1.0: The Static Web – brochure-like, non-interactive websites
- Web 2.0: The Social Web – social media applications, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, that create new communities
- Web 3.0: The Mobile Web – location-based communities, text-messaging, apps
Her argument is that nonprofits have to build their social media engagement in phases. They need to conquer stage 1 before 2, and 2 before 3. And all activities, offline and online, need to be fully integrated as part of a much larger strategic marketing plan. Amen to that.
For Mansfield, there is a real danger for nonprofits that ignore how quickly technology is changing. If they don’t adapt, they risk losing their donors, their relevance, and ultimately their reason for being:
To maintain your online donors’ loyalty, and to recruit new donors, you need to be current and forward-thinking in your online communications and fundraising. Technology moves faster than ever, and to keep up and ensure the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit, you must upgrade your Web 1.0 campaigns or risk becoming obsolete.
Mansfield’s ultimate argument is that offline and online activities must be fully integrated in a strategic way. She even argues that the “old” methods of online fundraising (email, website) actually have the highest ROI, so the idea is to gather people and drive them there.
Apart from this reasoned and necessary argument about social media as part of the overall marketing puzzle, the real value of this book is the very tactical how tos. Mansfield creates a great to do list for the nonprofit manager to move toward the next level of online integration. She also provides tons of examples of nonprofits that are doing it right.
My only complaint is that she doesn’t prioritize the most critical areas a small nonprofit (one with less than 5 staff members) should be focusing on. In her “Deciding What Social Media Tools to Use” section she helpfully suggests how much time a nonprofit should spend on each social media channel. Although this helps understand the value of one channel (Facebook) over another (Change.org), the total number of hours equates to 1.5 full time people. And that’s only social media activity, not email, mobile or website maintenance. That number of hours is something that only medium to large nonprofits could afford. Although volunteers and interns could supplement, most social media experts agree that you can’t really delegate social media to those who are only tangentially involved with the organization. I would have liked to see her recognize the limitations of smaller nonprofits and give tips for prioritizing the time those organizations have to devote to social media efforts.
But overall, Mansfield offers a great and necessary step-by-step approach to overcoming nonprofit fear of the online world and bringing them up to speed. Because as she warns, “If your nonprofit is still in the should-we-or-shouldn’t-we stage, you are quickly falling behind. It is a Brave New Web, and it’s time to muster the courage and take the leap.”