Note from Beth: This week I'm trying to understand crowdsourcing and nonprofits, hopefully with a crowd of other folks. I'm looking for guest posts, ideas, and examples of nonprofits using crowdsourcing for their programs, fundraising, and marketing. Some questions I don't know the answers to:
- What are the best examples of nonprofits using social media to crowdsource advice, program evaluation, ideas, or other uses?
- What are the best practices or techniques for crowdsourcing?
- Are there special cautions related to crowdsourcing for nonprofits?
- What are the best resources, including blogs, books, and articles?
Please leave me a comment or if you're interested in contributing a post, please fill out this form. Not I'm still interested in guest posts about movement building and transparency.
Guest Post: Interview with Georgina Goodlander: Fill the Gap Flickr Campaign by Debra Askanase, publisher of Community Organizer 2.0
How do you truly involve the general public and ask them to engage, online with art? If you are the Luce Foundation Center for American Art, you offer the public the ability to become “citizen curators.” The Luce Foundation Center occupies 20,400 square feet of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s space. It is an open study/storage facility displaying about thirty-three hundred objects from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In essence, it is visible storage for the museum. The Smithsonian American Art Museum lends work out, often for 12 months to other institutions, leaving gaps in the display units. The Luce Foundation Center is responsible for selecting the art that will fill the gaps.
What is the Luce Foundation Center doing? Crowdsourcing the art selection process, and opening it up to the public. Absolutely brilliant!
The Luce Foundation Center created a Flickr campaign to literally “ Fill the Gap” in the gallery case. When there is a need to fill a gap, the Luce Center posts a photo on its Flickr site of a gallery case that has a “gap” in the art, includes the dimensions of the gap, and asks the public to search its online catalogue for ideas. Participants search for pieces on the Luce Center’s website - it has 41,000 cataloged pieces of art on its website - and suggest replacement pieces from the catalogue.
I thought this was such an innovative use of Flickr that I incorporated it into a previous blog post about arts organizations using Flickr creatively. I also contacted Georgina to learn more the campaign’s inspiration, how the Luce Center is utilizing the “ Listen, Learn, Adapt” methodology during the campaign, and any advice she would give other institutions creating Flickr campaigns. She kindly answered all of the questions below:
Q. What is the relationship of the Luce Foundation Center to the Smithsonian American Art Museum?
A. The Luce Foundation Center is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, displaying around 3,300 works from its collection. Luce Foundation Center staff members are responsible for almost all operations within the Center, including making recommendations for the artworks that replace those that leave. If an artwork leaves for less than 12 months, we do not replace it. We simply put up a sign that tells the visitor where the artwork is (on loan to another museum, on view elsewhere in the building, or in the conservation center for treatment). We are storage, after all. However, if an artwork leaves for more than 12 months we do replace it.
Q. What was the inspiration for Fill The Gap?
A. The last year or so has been very busy, with over 40 paintings and objects departing long-term for a variety of reasons. As a result, there are some gaps that we don’t have the time to give the attention that they deserve, or we have tried to find replacements and have been unable to come up with anything with which we are happy. The inspiration for the Flickr “Fill the Gap” project actually came from a talk given by Clay Shirky at the Smithsonian 2.0 conference in January 2009, in which he talked about how Flickr is a great tool to facilitate communities. I realized that this would be the perfect environment for us to solicit the public’s help in filling some of our long-standing gaps.
Q. What are the objectives of the campaign?
A. Our objective is to have the public select works to fill gaps in the Luce Foundation Center display, while also revealing a little of how the museum operates.
Q. What would you consider the biggest successes of the campaign and the biggest disappointments?
A. The biggest success is that we have had participants making excellent suggestions and that we have successfully filled three gaps since the project’s inception. The biggest disappointment is that there aren’t more people joining in, but considering that we are asking people to invest quite a bit of time and energy, this wasn’t too surprising.
Q. What have you learned and how will you incorporate those lessons into the campaign as it continues?
A. Our intern Jessica Hass is working on a low-tech version that will be in the physical museum and will invite visitors to “vote” for their favorite out of around 20-30 possible replacements. We will then post the winning (and approved) object to the Flickr site.
Hopefully the project will evolve to offer different types of participation. Those that don’t have a lot of time might vote for an object based on a pool selected by us, but those that want to dig deeper would start from scratch with the entire museum collection to choose from. I definitely anticipate further modifications to both the online and on-site versions as we explore different ideas and gather feedback accordingly. No project is ever static in the Luce Foundation Center!
Q. Do you have advice for an organization using Flickr as a campaign platform?
A. If you plan to solicit user content and comments, you need to assign at least one person to monitor and respond to these. People using social media tools like Flickr expect quick responses!
Georgina Goodlander is the Manager of the Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She manages all aspects of the Luce Foundation Center, from staff, visitor services, and public programs to interpretation and new media. Georgina and her staff are pictured in this photo, below.
Debra Askanase is a former community organizer and executive director, and the founder and lead consultant at Community Organizer 2.0, a social media strategy firm for non-profit organizations and businesses.
This post was originally published on Community Organizer 2.0
Reflection question from Beth:
Crowdsourcing is the technique of allowing many people to provide feedback, advice, knowledge, expertise or ideas for a project or create collective intelligence for an issue. Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing, defines it as:
The application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.
- What planning questions do you need to raise to effectively incorporate crowdsourcing into nonprofit program development?
- How might your organization use crowdsourcing - regardless of the tools?