I'm speaking at SXSW. The panel is titled "Pimp My Non Profit - Real Non-Profits Kicking Ass with Online Technology." Ed Schipul, the session designer, came up with the title. The panel will also include Erin Denny, Rachel Weidinger, and Michaela Hackner. (And, we're going to wear pimp hats)
Monday, March 10th
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Non profit groups struggle with funding and public support issues on a daily basis. Yet many have overcome the odds and made a splash online and offline by using the latest Web technologies - for pennies on the dollar. This discussion will center around the stories, strategies, triumphs and challenges of innovative non profits with a passion for change and the cajones to rock it out online.
I'm excited to finally meet Michaela face-to-face after following her personal blog and flickr stream over three years. We connected through the "cambodia" tag on flickr because I was tracking it for Global Voices back in 2005. The first photo of hers from Cambodia was this one of the four monks crossing the street titled Abbey Road.
Michaela is now director of online strategy for World Learning. We've paired up to give a 15 minute talk about using social media for fundraising -- she'll be talking from the perspective of someone inside a nonprofit and I'll be talking from the perspective as an "extra organizational activist" who is not a staff person, but someone who is working as an individual on behalf a case.
The term "extra organizational activist" comes from Alison Fine's book Momentum and I first heard it back in September 2006 when I read the book and reviewed it over at Blogher. Here's what she had to say about this role:
Fine says that it is important to encourage individual activism and that social media has become the "extra organizational lifeblood" replacing memberships, the lifeblood of the pre-Internet activist world. Fine tells us, "When activist organizations take on the role of working within networks and choose to push power to the edges, they shift from doing activist work to facilitating activist work." She concludes the chapter with some ways that activist organizations can support the efforts of individuals and stay relevant.
The other term that has been used to describe these individuals is "Wired Fundraisers" by Network For Good in a recent report. Peter Deitz of Social Actions has a slideshow that walks organizations through the definition and pros/cons of working with a Wired Fundraiser.
Peter identified the pros/cons as:
- Year round
- New Donors
- Builds Community
- Human Voice
- Low success rate (not everyone!)
- Steep learning curve
- Difficult accounting issues
Michaela and I thought we might tackle this as a point, counterpoint. I wondered about whether there is organizational resistance to the idea of working with "extra organizational activists" or "Wired Fundraisers." I asked colleagues Katya Andresen and Stacie Mann from Network for Good.
We’re seeing less resistance as nonprofits witness the effectiveness of wired fundraisers. We’re seeing increasingly that volunteers/wired fundraisers run the campaign in coordination with the nonprofit or vice versa. I’d say there’s a high degree of cooperation among the most active fundraisers.
More often it is not resistance on the messaging, but a lack of understanding/fear of how it works and ultimately benefits the org (tools to get/cultivate the new donors etc.). Once that is clear almost always they are on board. We are definitely starting to see an interesting spectrum of coordination.
So, it may be less of an organizational attitude of "Help, my fundraising has been abducted by aliens ..." to "how can leverage these extra organizational activists for our organization?"
The audience at SWSX will consist solely of nonprofit folks and the ones that are there are probably already putting these new web tools to work. I suspect (could be wrong) that there may be a few potential wired fundraisers -- so, have a few questions:
- If you were talking to some potential "wired fundraisiers" what advice would you give them in terms of connecting and coordinating with the nonprofit organization? What advice would you give them to increase the changes of success in their campaign?
- If you're from a nonprofit organization, have you had discussions about working with wired fundraisers or extra organizational activists? What were some of the difficult issues you needed to address? What were the adoption issues? What did you need to think about? What's your advice for making this a successful partnership?
- Have any recommendations for a hat?
Update: Drew Bernard's pointer to correcting Evangelists