Today I had the pleasure of giving a presentation for the Packard Foundation board of directors to provide a brief report on how I spent my time as Visiting Scholar and share some insights about social media and the nonprofit sector. As I said in my introduction, I am grateful for the Packard Foundation for my time here as Visiting Scholar and the transformative learning experience.
The title of the presentation was inspired by the title of a 1995 Harvard Business School Journal piece called "Catching the Wave" by Clay Christensen who coined the term "disruptive technologies." The photo is of the Pacific Ocean at Monterey taken by a Flickr user, Amayu. (No, it wasn't a presentation about Google Wave!)
Yesterday I wrote about social media and governance describing some ideas about how social media might be valuabe as part of the governance process. The first step, of course, is education. So, part of the presentation included a live demonstration on Twitter.
I posted the following query:
Here's the transcript of responses as of two hours after the demonstration. We got a range of responses from nonprofits, foundations, and even some colleagues of board members.
- social citizen social media enables you to stay relevant, share ideas, open doors and expose your ideas to a broader audience
- peterdeitz Social media is helping nonprofits - and those who fund them - be more open and responsive in how they get things done #packfound
- amanda Potential to connect globally, share and collaborate with others working towards the same goal, let donors 'in' and help
- eekim Lowers the barrier for meaningful conversations, which leads to more effective collaboration. #packfound
- eugevon breaking down barriers between grantees and non-grantees.
- FCCleveland It also helps us to share news & info about the work of the foundation field w the world, & our own work of course ! #packfound
- tactphil it is about information filtering, relationship building, learning and spreading ideas. #packfound
- hollyross building relationships! Listening and conversing with your supporters! #packfound
- engagejoe social media helps us connect so we can come together in the real world. (among many other awesome examples & possibilities)
- creinelt Finding like-minded colleagues who share similar interests who can benefit from knowing about each other's work #packfound
- amyrsward storytelling! from the organization, from supporters, from those served - telling stories in rich, authentic ways
- kiramarch at EDF, it's about making our ideas as influential as possible #packfound
- DarimOnline Say Hi to Jason Burnett for me - was a roommate and good friend at Stanford a few years back.
In addition, I shared a detailed case study about the Red Cross, a couple of nonprofit examples of using Twitter, and brief update on my work plan accomplishments, including the book, The Networked Nonprofit, and the social media trainings and coaching I undertook with grantees.
There were some great questions and discussion points. One was about Foundation use of social media and how the social media policy and guidelines might help the Trustees use of social media. (The board spans several generations and we had a range around the table of people new to social media and those who have been early adopters.)
One question about the Red Cross case study: What are the measure of success? I gave an answer, but later asked Wendy Harman via Twitter to respond:
These days I mostly measure 2 things 1) how good are we at getting our community to join/talk w each other for mission 2)how good are we at helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies?
The case study also prompted a fabulous question: "What is it about some nonprofits that allows to change and adopt social media?" This is a question, that we attempt to answer in the book in a chapter about social culture. More about that later.
They asked two questions about the experiment. First, whether I had asked people in advance. I shared that I had been sharing tweets that I was doing this presentation and experiment. Also, they wanted to know how many times the message got retweeted.
I got asked a fantastic question: What have you learned? I mentioned that I learned a lot and have been sharing my learnings with the field on this blog. The biggest point of learning for me was how to shift between the "cloud" that is the social media web and the "tower" or working within an institutional setting. These are different cultures, different work styles, and I think one of the keys to transformation and adopting social media and recognizing how to simultaneously have a foot in both worlds or learn how to shift between the two.
Doing a demonstration like this has a value - it opens up the conversation for further exploration. It also gave, as Steve Bridger notes, a window into the world of a board meeting of family foundation.
What do you think about social media in the board room? What's important for nonprofit boards to know about social media? What is the role of social media for foundation boards?