I'd to wish everyone a happy holiday! I'm off to explore the California Coast and stare at the ocean for a few days. Taking a break from the blog, Twitter, and Facebook!
Activists around the world are using social media tools to make change. A new 50- minute documentary film called "10 Tactics for Turning Information into Action" is a guide to how best to use take advantage of the power of these tools and avoid hidden dangers. The site and film include inspiring info-activism stories from around the world, a set of cards with tool tips and advice. The project comes from Tactical Technology, inspired their info-activism camp in India.
The film is being shown in 35 countries, showcasing the experiences of 25 human rights advocates from around the globe who have masterfully incorporated tools like Twitter and Facebook to take on governments and corporations. The film also covers the security and privacy issues faced by human rights activists.
The Ten Tactics
It's great to see and hear some familiar voices, including Sam Gregory from Witness, Dina Mehta, and Marek Tuszynski. Not to mention the excellent resource. It's a must see, must read, must download.
Last month I made a prediction that we might see fundraisers with FourSquare or some other location-based mobile social network with gaming element. Looks like my observation of fundraising 2.0 trends of 2009 and my 2010 predictions are right on. Today, TechCrunch wrote about a new mobile application called CauseWorld
Here's how it works:
CauseWorld app users earn “karma points” when they walk into stores and check in with their cell phone. No purchase is required at any store, and karma points can be redeemed nine predefined good causes. Big brands like Kraft Foods and Citi (both are on board) then turn the karmas into real dollar donations to those causes. Food for poor families, water in Sudan, trees in the Amazon, etc. are examples of the causes.
Like foursquare and gowalla, you open the application on your phone and see local businesses (instead of showing everything around you, CauseWorld only shows businesses that you can check into for karmas). Enter the store, check in, and get the karma points offered to you. Once you’ve collected enough karmas you can donate them to a variety of causes. And, of course, you get badges for various activities.
The causes that are supported are listed here a good mix of wildlife conservation, hunger, and others. This idea is really cool for a couple of reasons. The user doesn't have to donate, but they're leveraging a corporate donation. Sort of like embedded giving that Lucy Bernholz talks about, I think. The application is well designed and is fun.
It doesn't have a social element where you can see how many karma points your friends have within the app itself, although it uses Facebook Connect and you could opt to have your good deeds streamed on your wall. It might get more motivated if it had the leaderboard design that FourSquare has.
And it gets you way from your computer - you can get exercise!
And, of course, there is the trade-off - the fact that you're trading in your shopping habits data for corporate donors. That doesn't bother me personally - it's for a good cause. There is a scaling system for Karma points - for example supporting a classroom is five points while sending a book to a library in a developing country is 100. It would be interesting to see the data on who saves up versus who gives away their Karma points and what the pay off is for the charity. The number of karma points doesn't necessarily synch up with real world impact.
I just downloaded and got ten karma points and was able to support a classroom without doing anything - not even getting up from computer. I'm off to do some last minute shopping and give it a test drive.
Update: Some quick testing notes ..
All in all, this a lot of fun - and takes some of the ideas of an app like FourSquare to leverage corporate donations. I wonder though, how much this could be designed to help the organizations build their network of supporters for longer relationships.
Should online contests be redesigned or just go away? That's the question that Kari Dunn Saratovsky asks in a post over at the Case Foundation blog, one of many blog posts and tweets about the controversy surrounding how the Chase Bank handled its online contest to give away $5 million dollars this holiday season. The conversation provides a lot of good lessons for companies wanting to embrace selfish giving without cause washing.
Here's a summary and chronology of blog posts and Facebook and Twitter chatter. I'm sure I've missed something.
11/16/09: Chase launched the online competition in November. I blogged about it on November 16 as part of a trend of focusing online competitions on regional and local givings. Many other nonprofit and do good bloggers helped promote the contest. The press release from Chase describes the two-step process:
12/17: The Dark Side of Online Contests. Kjerstin Erickson over at Skoll Foundation's Social Edge wrote an insightful post about the contest design, pointing out how not having a leaderboard was problem and the need to balance social good and marketing objectives. Her post was summarized on the Chronicle of Philanthropy blog on that same day.
12/17: SSDP and other groups were disqualified from the contest. If you look at the posts on the SSDP Facebook Fan Page, you'll how the open organizing took place. They asked contest sponsors for an explanation. Without a response, they escalated their organizing efforts reaching out on Facebook, the blogosphere, and main stream media. They start organizing boycotts and asking their fans to post on the Chase Fan Page (which at that time was opened for comments)
12/19: NY Times, Stephanie Strom writes "Charities Criticize Online Fundraising Contest by Chase". That I afternoon after reading the article, I wrote a post summarizing Stephanie's piece and adding my own two cents about the lack of transparency and contest design. The post got retweeted over 160 times. Later that evening, Nathanial Whittemore over at Change.Org wrote a scathing open letter to Chase. According to the metrics on the blog, the post got almost 7500 views and 114 retweets.
12/21: The Chronicle of Philanthropy continues its round up coverage. Blog posts continue to summarize and dissect the controversy focusing on transparency, design, and social good.
2009 The Year of Perpetual Online Contests: Case Foundation Blog. Kari Dunn Saratovsky recaps the conversation and lets us know that the Case Foundation is planning host an online forum to make room for a discussion about online contest designs. The conversation starter, "Do you think that a redesign of online contests could help salvage this concept of online citizen participation while maintaining some level of transparency? Would you prefer these contests simply go away in 2010 – if so, what might replace them?"
Marsha Stepanek discusses the transparency (or lack of) and damage to the brand. Scott Henderson points out the issue of control and crowds and John Haydon raises concerns about the Fan Page lock down. Marc Pitman wonders what can be learned? Stephanie writes about the importance of contests for small nonprofits. Some hashtags start appearing, including #chasefail and other hashtags.
Chase Facebook Fan Page removes fans comments on the wall and fan commenting ability.
We don't know where this will go next. Maybe this will all fade away with the holiday upon us and all will be forgotten by the opening round for the top 100 organizations to compete for the six and seven figure grants in January. Or maybe it will fester.
It's unclear how much damage this has done to their brand, if at all - and if damage could have been reduced if they were more responsive earlier on.
If anything, it provides lots of learning which is the heart of success of social media and potential for constructive discussion and debate about social media, online giving, transparency, and more. Should the folks at Chase wish to respond, they are more than welcomed to write a guest post on this blog.
Update: Ami Dar makes a great point that we should acknowledge Chase for trying something new. I agree, but I think they're missing a fantastic teachable moment about learning, experimentation, and a conversation about online contests, transparency, and reshaping philanthropy.
Global Voices is a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who work together to bring reports from blogs and citizen media around the world, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media. The founders are Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman.
It is five years old today!
I was not involved in the legendary gathering back in 2004 that lead to the creation of Global Voices Manifesto. Rising Voices Director David Sasaki has written aretrospective to honor Global Voices' fifth birthday. I joined the community several months after Global Voices got started after meeting Rebecca because of a strong interest in connecting with Cambodian bloggers. And while I haven't been as active in recent years, the friendships and connections have endured.
Rebecca MacKinnon has written a terrific reflection on the early years and what Global Voices has developed into five years later. This piece is part of a series to support Global Voices Online Fundraising campaign - just sent a happy birthday gift.
My twitter friend, Joey Leslie, and I traded some back and forth tweets about Chase Bank and Pepsi's Crowdsourcing for Social Good efforts. Joey (I think) coined a new term, "cause washing." His definition:
"Hiding a brand behind a cause for corporate benefit."
Joey pointed out that Facebook's donation to Donors Choose in lieu of holiday party and Google's $20 million donation to selected charities in lieu of holiday gifts to Adsense and Adwords products is not cause washing.
As a board member of Ushahidi and an advisor to Global Voices - very pleased to see them on the list of recipients which also included those listed below. (Since Google didn't include a link on the page, I've included a list with links below) I'm curious how they came up with the list - a small committee within Google or did they crowdsource names internally?
Boys and Girls Clubs
CARE, Mothers Matter
World Wildlife Fund, Natural Capital Project
African Institute for Mathematical Sciences
The Mango Tree
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Harlem Children's Zone
Save the Children, Latin America focus
Reporters Without Borders
Loud Against Nazis
Save the Children, Middle East and Eurasia focus
Grupo Cultural Afro Reaggae
Ashesi University College, Ghana
Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience
Shin Shin Educational Foundation
Tzu Chi Foundation
It seems like just yesterday when I started my nine-month journey as Visiting Scholar for Nonprofits and Social Media at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. And it's good to have a journal recording what I've learned. But it's even better for learning to have someone asked you some questions. Emily Culbertson from the Communications Network interviewed Stephanie McAuliffe and I for a blog post about my time at Packard Foundation titled "Learning the Ropes of Social Media"
Pepsi is taking a bold move. It's not spending money on Super Bowl ads for Pepsi beverages. Instead, Pepsi is using the money for lethal generosity through its Pepsi Refresh Project, a crowdsourced cause marketing effort to give away $20 million in grants to help revamp communities.
Rather than donating the money to nonprofits through a traditional corporate responsibility grant program, Pepsi will jump on the online contest bandwagon. Pepsi will invite "applicants" to submit big ideas to change the world and then ask a crowd of Pepsi Fans to vote on them. Pepsi will have contests every month for 10 months beginning Jan. 13.
According to a post in GigaOm, The Pepsi Refresh Project will award $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $250,000 to individuals and organizations that turn good ideas into projects that make a difference. The grant categories will be:
Right now you can give your email to Pepsi to be alerted about details. I was relieved to see that they at least, presumably, respect our privacy and had this disclaimer:
Notice: Pepsi will send a one-time reminder about the Pepsi "Refresh Project" to the email address you provide. It will not be collected or used by Pepsi-Cola Company for any marketing purposes.
Let's hope they learn from the recent Chase Bank's Online Contest Fail, other studies on these crowdsourcing contests, and countless examples of crowding sourcing for social change. I hope they avoid going to the dark side and waste money on projects and processes that don't have impact as well as many nonprofits' most valuable resource: their time.
The Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook is one of the biggest online contests before Pepsi announced their contest, open to more than 500,000 charities. As of this writing, 1,027,398 people joined Chase’s fan page to cast votes for their favorite charities. The top 100 "eligible" vote getters, announced a few days ago, received $25,000. They are going to participate in the next round, "The Big Idea" where the 100 charities share their big idea for changing the world and get votes. The winner gets $1 million and five finalists will receive $100,000.
The top 100 included a mix of nonprofits with an operating budget of under $10 million with programs in designated Chase corporate responsibility areas: education, healthcare, housing, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services and animal welfare. (Very interesting to see the American Cancer Society was on the list as its budget - according to a 2005 annual report linked on their Guidestar Profile is well over $10 million)
Several groups who were in the top 100 (before Chase removed the vote tallies on individual profiles), were not on the final list, apparently disqualified. Here's what Stephanie Strom, New York Times reported:
JPMorgan Chase & Company is coming under fire for the way it conducted an online contest to award millions of dollars to 100 charities.
At least three nonprofit groups — Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and an anti-abortion group, Justice for All— say they believe that Chase disqualified them over concerns about associating its name with their missions.
The groups say that until Chase made changes to the contest, they appeared to be among the top 100 vote-getters.
What can Pepsi learn so its contest can truly make a difference in local communities, help them sell more soda, and avoid having its brand get tarnished?
1. Open or Closed Set of Participants: Contest sponsors need to decide ahead of time how open to be in terms of who can participate. It's more than the basic eligibility requirements -- nonprofit versus individual or for-profit or particular interest areas or even the legal language.
With some contests, the contest sponsor vets a list of participants before letting the crowd vote. This is how Target ran its contest and more recently PayPal's FruitCake Challenge. This way, the contest sponsor's dollars are donated to a known set of organizations that have been selected based on corporate values, goals, or philanthropic strategy. There's a cost here - the cost of not getting the absolute best idea because the person who thought it up wasn't eligible to participate.
But there are some things to think about with a completely open contest, one where anyone one submit an idea and the crowd votes on the best idea and the one with the most votes wins. The sponsor needs to ask if they are truly committed to the idea that gets the most votes, no matter who suggests it?
With the recent Chase Online Giving Contest, there were last stage disqualifications. And although they had a disclaimer in the contest official rules "... or organizations otherwise not in alignment with Sponsor's corporate social responsibility guidelines. Any organization determined to be ineligible at any time will be disqualified. Sponsor retains the right at its sole discretion to determine eligibility and reserves the right to disqualify any Charity for any reason whatsoever" this disqualification made them, as Nathaniel Whittemore said, look like jerks - not to mention inspiring a chasesucks hashtag and causing some negative reactions.
2. Leader board or Open Voting Records: The big mistake that the Chase Online Giving Contest made was not providing a leader board, that tracked participants progress. Leader boards and dynamic vote counts help make a contestant's job of getting out the vote easier. With the Chase Bank Online Contest, the lack of a leader board created a lot of extra work for the nonprofits. They had to spend time combing through pages of other organization's voting records. Also, it doesn't make for a clear call to action message.
A leader board can also keeps the sponsor honest.
3. The Role of Experts: Pepsi has a list of some difficult social change problems to solve! And it's great that they're going to use social media to crowdsource ideas and redirect their Super Bowl advertising budget to provide money for implementation. Nonetheless, there is a role for subject matter experts and maybe even the people in the local communities who know the most about the problem and may be affected by the problem (and solution.)
Some contests, for example the Knight News Challenge and Case Foundation Make It Your Own, have handled this need for expertise by having a two-tiered process. The crowd identifies the top contenders, not the winners and a panel of experts selects the winners. The Brooklyn Museum of Art's Click Exhibition used two crowds - a general crowd and a crowd of curators (Allison Fine and I profiled this project in the chapter on crowdsourcing in our forthcoming book, The Networked Nonprofit)
It appears that Pepsi is partnering with some folks who have some experience so this may not be a popularity contest.
4. A Balance of Social Good and Marketing: Is Pepsi really committed to solving social problems in its communities or does it think that redirecting its SuperBowl advertising budget and using social media to promote its generosity can sell more soda? We know that corporate greed is being replaced by generosity and we know there is potential synergy between financial performance and attention to community and social needs.
I'd love to see a theory of change for this contest. Perhaps it exists. The above diagram describes the theory of change for Prizes from a recent report by McKinsey I hope that Pepsi will be transparent in sharing that if it has one.
Do these contests really have impact? Do they really help nonprofits or distract from their work? Or is this just marketing?
The top 100 included a mix of nonprofits with an operating budget of under $10 million with programs in designated Chase corporate responsibility areas: education, healthcare, housing, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services and animal welfare. (Very interesting to see the American Cancer Society on the list as its budget - according to a 2005 annual report linked on their Guidestar Profile is well over $10 million)
Several groups who were in the top 100 (before Chase removed the vote tallies), were not on the final list, apparently disqualified. Here's what Stephanie Strom, New York Times reported:
JPMorgan Chase & Company is coming under fire for the way it conducted an online contest to award millions of dollars to 100 charities.
At least three nonprofit groups — Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and an anti-abortion group, Justice for All— say they believe that Chase disqualified them over concerns about associating its name with their missions.
The groups say that until Chase made changes to the contest, they appeared to be among the top 100 vote-getters.
There was not a public leader board that lists the progress of contest participants and is considered a best practice. It's unclear why Chase did not use a leaderboard, a contest best practice and way to make it transparent. Instead, contest participants had to log in and look at other organization's vote tallies. These were removed in the final days of the contest.
If you look at the contest official rules, in addition to the eligibility criteria, they've added these additional points to control who gets the winning money:
... or organizations otherwise not in alignment with Sponsor's corporate social responsibility guidelines. Additional reasons a Charity may be deemed ineligible include, but are not limited to, the Charity and/or its management being subject to any investigation for fraud, financial misconduct or other criminal activity. Any organization determined to be ineligible at any time will be disqualified. Sponsor retains the right at its sole discretion to determine eligibility and reserves the right to disqualify any Charity for any reason whatsoever.
If they wanted to have some control over who received the money, why not just award the money through tradition methods? Or only allow a pre-selected group of organizations to participate?
Since 2007, when the Case Foundation launched its first America's Giving Challenge, social media-infused online contests to raise money for charities have gained popularity. There have been many remixes of online charity contests since the Giving Challenge, so many that I can't quite remember all of them. These contests are based on:
The pool of applicants is either open to everyone, tiered, or starts
with a group of charities hand-selected by the contest sponsor.
One thing is for sure, if you're designing a contest, you need to think about how transparent and open you want it to be. Or else you, the sponsor, might as Nathaniel Whittemore says, look like a jerk.
I'm pleased to announce the winners of the last couple of book giveaways. In return for receiving the book, the winners have been offered an opportunity to write a guest post about what they learn so the wisdom can be shared.
If you were not one of the lucky winners, don't give up. I have a stack of books that I'm hoping to give away in the coming weeks - all social media related.
I offered a copy of Twitter for Dummies in this post asking for examples of small nonprofit using social media. It was one of my commented posts. The lucky winner is Bridget Steele who works for the Learning Centers.
In our book, The Networked Nonprofit, co-authored with Allison Fine, we provide an overview of mapping your social network in Twitter and other sites using some of the social network analysis tools available.
As someone who loves to play with analytics, visuals, maps, and other geekery, I've been wanting to explore in more depth the how-to and the techniques. To take my learning deeper on social network analysis and mapping techniques and how they can be applied them to a social media strategy, I took a workshop with Marc Smith. He is a self-described "Internet Sociologist" and developer of NodeXL. The workshop was organized by colleague, Tatyana Kanzavelli
This FREE software works as an add-on template in Excel, allows you import data from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Email and create social network analysis maps. It doesn't require that you know a programming language, although you need to understand the basic vocabularly of social network analysis and how to translate this to your social media strategy. After all, data is only as good as it is actionable! Otherwise, you waste a lot of time creating meaningless, but cool maps.
What I liked best about this workshop and the instructor is that it wasn't on the software features. He gave context of social network analysis, explained the value proposition for using it to help you make social media strategy improvements, and walked us through some examples in the software. I learned a lot but need to spend more time with the tool and terminology - and apply it to a real world situation.What I'd love to see is a cheat sheet that maps out the technical social analysis terms with strategy tactics so you knew which analysis run to make what decisions. Or, a guide to before/after maps so you could see how visualizing your network helped you improve strategy.
I loved getting context in workshops and Marc didn't disappoint. For example, I learned that the first ever social networking analysis map was created by Jacob Moreno. It looked at the relationships between players on a football team. Who liked each other, who didn't. Apparently this team chemistry is important to winning.
Note from Beth: I'm always excited to see inspiring examples of personal fundraising and the dollars raised have come a long way since my first experiment in 2006, a testament to how much more connected we are and the rise of popularity of this technique. I hope to celebrate my birthday in January with some sort of personal fundraiser/fundraiser to support Cambodian kids (hint, hint) and scanning for ideas.
Personal Fundraising, Social Media and Friends Asking Friends all converge to make an incredible impact!
A Cycling Blogger @fatcyclist sent the Manager of Lance Armstrong’s racing team @johanbruyneel a resume
(joking) as if he were applying for a job. You see, @fatcyclist wants
to be a professional cyclist and who better to help him than the
manager of Lance Armstrong’s racing team? That said, @fatcyclist didn't
think there was a chance on earth Johan Bruyneel would ever see it.
If @fatcyclist (pic left) raised $10K for World Bicycle Relief (WBR) and $10K for Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) @johanbruyneel would fly @fatcyclist to Cycling Camp on Dec. 13. And, if he raised $25K in a week, Trek would give him a sweet road bike (a $10K value). Pretty amazing stuff, eh? The story only gets better from here.
In 3 days @fatcyclist raised about $50K. In 5 days he raised over $100K. He used social media (blogging/Twitter) and Blackbaud’s personal fundraising tools (Friends Asking Friends) to pull off this incredible achievement. Without the ability to quickly connect and mobilize his his network to give this wouldn't have been possible.The challenge is continuing to grow. You can follow the story at www.fatcyclist.com, or you can just go join the people making it happen by donating here or here.
By this time (12/11/2009 2:23 pm pst) he's raised over $135K. It's only been 8 days! Check out this video from Johan Bruyneel.
The Challenge: Raise $10K for World Bicycle Relief and $10K for LAF in ONE week and I'll fly you to camp!
@fatcyclist sees that Johan Bruyneel has challenged him and starts to take action! Read Fat Cyclist comes back with two Blackbaud Fundraising sites:
Lance tells his 2.2 million followers about it …
Three days into the challenge Bruyneel congratulations @fatcyclist for his huge accomplishment
And the story continues...
@ ups the challenge to @fatcyclist ... By Friday December 11, 12:00 PM US Mountain Standard/Tucson, AZ Time you must have met the following criteria - Raise $50K for World Bicycle Relief and $50K for for LIVESTRONG. If those two criteria are met by the stated deadline, Trek Travel will donate one 2010 Paris Finishing Package to witness the finale of the Tour de France!! And yes, airfare will be taken care of.
$135K and counting has been raised as of Friday December 11th, 2009 at 2:27 pm pst.
Amazing, right?! What other insights can you gain from this?
Frank is a Consulting Manager at Blackbaud Internet Solutions. At work he helps nonprofits with technology, social media & online strategy. He also spends some time speaking at industry conferences and writing a blog. The rest of the time he enjoys family, learning, sports, food, friends & movies.
This is literally a page from Seth Godin's What Matters Now free ebook. It's a compilation of ideas from 70 big thinkers about what to think about in 2010. It's a quick read.
What struck me Gina Trapani's thoughts on social productivity - "Getting things done is not the same as making things happen." While she is talking about personal leadership and making a difference, I think that phrase gets at the difference between organizational productivity and social productivity. It's an idea we explored in our forthcoming book, The Networked Nonprofit.
How has connectedness changed the way you're working? Are you focused on checking off the to do list or making things happen? How do you manage the balance between the two modes of working?
Over two years ago, I made a screencast about Web Analytics for Nonprofits that covered the basics of using google analytics, web metrics, and some nonprofit case studies featuring Laura White and the Idealist. That's just about when I discovered Avinash Kaushik's blog, Occam's Razor and his first book on Web analytics.
I reached out to Avinash and he was very generous with his time, helping us understand traditional web metrics as well as Google Analytics. Through our conversation, we also touched on the metrics for blogs. I've learned a lot about metrics from Avinash.
Avinash has just published his second book, Web Analytics 2.0. It's a desktop bible for anyone who has to gather web analytics data as part of their job. What I like best is that it takes the mystery out of social media metrics. It gets even better: Avinash is donates all proceeds from his books to two charities: The Smile Train and The Ekai Vidyalaya Foundation.
Avinash Kaushik sent me a copy of his new book and it's so good, I'm keeping it. But, I'm purchasing a copy to giveaway to the reader from a nonprofit who leaves a comment about how they might best use this book. (Don't forget to fill out the comment form completely, so I can track you down if you win.)
I had the pleasure having lunch with Avinash over at the Googleplex. The chapter that caught my curiosity was Chapter 7: Failing Faster - Unleashing the Power of Testing and Experimentation and we discussed it in the video above. He explains why experimentation is critical for success in using the web, particularly social media.
Avinash feels that in a world of finite resources, it is very important to experiment and fail fast. With social media and on the web, experiments are fast, cheap, and scalable. The learning that results is what brings your more success. Experimentation also helps an organization make decisions based on audience feedback and analytics data, not your own hunches. This try it, fix it approach leads to incremental improvements which in turn leads to better outcomes.
The F-word chapter (Failure) offers some really useful tips about creating and nurturing a "experiment culture." I was thrilled to discover this part of the book because I'm designing a learning community/technical project that is based on valuing experimentation. So, been working on a methodology for social media experiments.
While the advice in the book is geared for tests to improve a web site, these are translatable to social media experiments. I've summarized a couple of the tips he offers about methods for testing.
(1) The First Test: KISS: The first experiment should be simple from an idea, execution, and measurement and use A/B method. This is a technique for testing two or more versions.
(2) Just Get Started: Avoid spending so much time trying to design the perfect experiment with the perfect measurement tool that you don't actually implement. Learning means implementation - even if you fail.
(3) Test to Learn, Not Validate Your Gut: Don't think about testing as a way to support a decision that you're making based on your gut. Do it to learn what works or doesn't.
(4) Start with a Hypothesis: Your hypothesis should embed a success metric. For example, "My hypothesis is that our Facebook Fans are more likely to engage with us when we post links that have a question in the title."
(5) Make Goals Evaluation Criteria and Up-Front Decisions: It is important to not only identify your success metric, but also establish the criteria to judge a victory.
(6) Design Tests That Solve A Pain Point for Your Audience: Design your experiments so they address a point of pain for a customer or audience.
(7) Learn, Learn, Learn: If you're going to experiment, you need to analyze your data and learn from it. Even if your social media experiment was a miserable flop, there is a lot of valuable learning.
(8) Evangelism and Expertise: It is important to have someone who can preach and share why testing is important and someone who has the expertise in metrics and data.
Finally, Avinash suggests that testing should be fun!
Note from Beth: One question that I get asked at almost every workshop is about budget. How much are nonprofit organizations spending on social media? What are the returns? What are the valued metrics? While there have been different surveys on nonprofit adoption, for example, these two recent studies I profiled last month, I wish there was a benchmarking study. I mentioned this on Twitter. Marc Van Bree responded that he had some answers from a survey he was doing with orchestras. I invited him to write a guest post summarizing the findings.
I undertook this research to understand some questions about social media and orchestras. What kind of resources do managers commit and how active are orchestras in social media? Do orchestra managers share the opinion that fundraising and attracting volunteers are highly valuable metrics, or do they have different goals and objectives?
There has never been a comprehensive, industry-wide look at if and how orchestras are using social media. In order to get a clear and complete picture of what is happening with orchestras and social media around the country, I sent around a survey to 53 orchestra marketing, communications and web managers in October and November, 2009.
The survey was designed to collect details about the state of social media, ranging from budget size and time allotment to attitudes and goals. I received 15 responses.
In short, social media activities, familiarity and usage seem to be widespread among orchestras. Managers find social media important and organizations are generally enthusiastic. However, the efforts are far from organized and strategic. It seems many orchestras are dipping their feet in the social media pool, but do not have the policies, budgets, and metrics in place to effectively use the tools at their disposal, even if they do recognize the need for checks and balances.
The full report can already be downloaded here. This week, I will kick off the Orchestras and Social Media Survey 2009 series on my blog. I am doing this to provide the opportunity for feedback and discussion. I believe, and I hope, the survey results will raise more questions than answers. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on what it all means and how we can use the results to inform a better, more strategic approach to social media.
Dutch native Marc van Bree is a public relations practitioner in Chicago with more than 5 years of experience communicating—on and offline—in the nonprofit environment. Find him on Twitter @mcmvanbree
The holidays are in full swing, and in between the last minute shopping, out-of-town guests, and end-of-year nonprofit campaigns, most of us are trying to fit in as much time as possible to make a positive impact in our own way.
Collaborating with leaders in the nonprofit tech community, we’ve put out heads together to find a way to come together this season and tap into the spirit of giving to give back to the amazing community of nonprofit professionals that do wonderful things all year. Working with the folks over at NTEN, we decided the nonprofit community itself should be empowered to recognize the people of their choice to win none other than a membership to the best nonprofit technology organization around, The Nonprofit Technology Network!
So starting today, anyone can nominate their personal holiday heroes at www.convio.com/nphero telling why they are deserving of the free membership and what makes them worthy of the recognition. Everyone nominated will be entered to win one of 50 free NTEN memberships, compliments of Convio! Submissions will be open through the end of day next Tuesday, December 22, and like it says on the page, it’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3 to get involved:
And to show our gratitude for helping share the campaign and making sure everyone has the chance to recognize the person of their choice, each time you Tweet the contest we’re counting your submission as five.
So what are you waiting for? Get your nomination and recognition on over at the Nonprofit Holiday Heroes page! And then stay tuned the first week in January when we announce winners.
Jordan Viator is the Interactive Communications Manager at Convio, and
manages the Connection Cafe blog, all things new and social media
related and the company's corporate Web sites.
I've been playing in a sand box to explore online collaboration/social media tools and how they support network weaving. The big ah ha for me during our reflection that was that effective online collaboration tools for working in a networked way can't have top-down control interaction design. This gets in the way of everyone being able to do a little bit of work. It isn't just about tool features, you have to understand how working in a networked way is embedded in the interaction design of the tool.
I think it is more than just having self-organizing values embedded in the way the tool works. I think these are four qualities to look for:
It's funny how you discover an insight and then apply that lens to what you're seeing and patterns emerge. I've come across three different tools that embed these principles. These ideas are going to have an impact on the way nonprofits use the Web in 2010 and into the next couple of years.
Lucy Bernholz tipped me off to Groundcrew is a web/mobile software that organizes groups of people in real time in real life to work on projects and allows for complex coordination of tasks and communities. As the name implies, it is a way to turn the crowd into a crew. Network members can see who is available to help at any moment and can quickly communicate assignments to help people work together. This is a synthesis of real time tracking with real time coordination.
Stowe Boyd did a video interview and analysis and comments on the "participation design"
I am particularly impressed by the self-organizing qualities of Groundcrew, around 'participation design', where the volunteers are handed more control about how their involvement should be applied in some project or activity, instead of just being told what to do.
I haven't played with it because the tool isn't free (after 30 day trial). I don't want to fall into the "if you build they will come" trap. This tool might work best for organizations that have already built a network on Twitter or Facebook - and could import their friends into the system or have a way to identify people in a geographic area who have an interest in their project or work.
This tools like a good match for organizations that have the networked mindeset - value self-organizing and open participation. I'm thinking about organizations such as 350 or Moms Rising. For more traditional institutions that have worked in a particular way, embracing this tool might require addressing some cultural/change management issues first.
My Plancast for SXSW Session: Crowdsourcing Social Change
I recently came across a tool called "Plan Cast" which incorporates these concepts but in a different way. It is a social network where you share your future plans with your friends. You can also follow other people's plans. It easily allows you to share that information with your networks on Facebook or Twitter. It is a little bit more flexible than the social travel applications like TripIt because you enter any type of event. I've been noticing that in the comments a little bit of self-organizing on going.
Christine Egger shared an interesting presentation tool called Prezi that allows you to bust out of the linear powerpoint trap and present in a more flexible way. This might be a useful application if you're doing a session where you want to avoid talking at people, but want to integrate some visuals. Or, if you're presenting complex ideas - to be able to provide a macro, micro view.
How do you see the ideas of network, self-organizing, location, and data visualization impacting your nonprofit's work? What tools have you been using that incorporate these concepts?
I participated in a meeting today at the Packard Foundation facilitated by the good folks at Monitor Institute to reflect on the work they've been doing over the past 18 months on network effectiveness. Over lunch, we had a conversation about what I have learned about working within an institutional setting and how it differs from working in the "social media cloud" or in a networked way.
Working in an institutional setting is far more structured, formal, more face-to-face meetings, slower paced, and less porosity. Working in a networked way is more non-linear, faster paced, informal, and very porous. I'm not making value judgement that one is better the other, but recoginizing they are different.
These are different cultures, different languages, different ways and styles of working. The technology to support the work is very different. I think one of the keys to transformation and adopting social media or a networked mindset is recognizing how to simultaneously have a foot in both worlds or learn how to shift between the two.
It is difficult to switch from one mode of working to the other, particularly if the different mode of working is not familiar or part of your routine. And, the first experience can be very uncomfortable. What happens a lot is that someone might try it, experience discomfort and immediately stop. The problem is that it takes doing it more than once.
I think it is really important to have a sand box where you can practice using the tools or techniques of working in a networked way in a low risk, safe environment. And, sand boxes are social. You need to be with other people because there is an element of social learning. And, the sand box needs to be more play than formal instruction.
Recently, a colleague who knows a lot about network weaving mentioned wanting to learn more about some social media tools. I wanted to learn more about network weaving. So, we decided to set aside an hour a week for sand box time.
Making time - even just an hour week on your schedule where you aren't checking something off the to do list is hard. But it has been very a rich and rewarding learning experience.
A few design principles for a good sand box:
Another important element in the sand box is what Rachel Happe calls orchestrated serendipity. She says that serendipity is supposed to be a happy accident and that actually planning it may not seem possible. She says that you can't define actually what will happen, but you need to set up an environment and processes that facilitate serendipity happen. She points a post by Christopher Penn and an article in Fast Company called How to Make Your Own Luck that also talk about this principle.
Rachel offers five tips for making this happen:
How have you used sand boxes for informal learning? How do you encourage serendipty?
Two weeks ago, I wrote up my prediction for fundraising trends for 2009. My guess is as we enter 2010, might we see the invention of Real Time Web fundraising events As more nonprofit explore the possibilities of location-based social networks and fundraising, the distinctions between online/offline fundraising will melt away. It's real time and location based social networks are also impacting advocacy.
Joe Solomon has a post over at Netsquared called "Social Media Powered Hope" and reports:
Yesterday, the first ever hashtag made it into the center of the UN climate negotiations, #WeStandwithTuvalu (a Pacific island nation) -- an action that was coordinated by SMS inside the conference in Copenhagen. The 350.org Facebook community has thrown their weight behind the Maldives President by leaving comments on his Facebook page. This wasn't just an online petition, it was a new form of solidarity. Last week, a young climate leader inspired real people to light real candles of hope through a YouTube video.
Joe wants us all to show world leaders that the wired world means one that is more educated, connected, and actionable. The call to action:
Will you spread this Facebook postcard by clicking here -- and then click "Share."
We at EFF are worried that today's changes will lead to Facebook users publishing to the world much more information about themselves than they ever intended.
It will be interesting to see if there is a mass revolt and people leave Facebook. Here's a social networking application that might be useful to those who want to end it all on Facebook. It's called Seppukoo a name that represents the samurai notion of a virtuous death. You know, fall on a sword.
Just type in a few final words to share with your Facebook friends and deactivate your Facebook profile. At that point, your friends can continue to write good things about you on a Seppukoo memorial page. Users gain cache on the site if they get their friends to follow their lead.
How do you feel about Facebook's new privacy settings?
Update: See Lucy Bernholz's piece "Facebook Launches A Foundation. Or Not" Backlash Philanthropy.
The past few months I've been doing a lot of presenting. I'm constantly trying to improve what I'm doing. I read books, take ideas, and put them into practice. I'm focusing on these areas now:
I've been reading Scott Berkun's Confessions of a Public Speaker which is packed with a lot of tips and wisdom about the delivery. It's also very funny. It covers topics that you don't usually come across in presentation books. For example, how to deal with different physical environments in a chapter called "How to Work a Tough Room."
There is a chapter called "The Little Things That Pros Do" which is about the gadgets. I used to have a phobia about remote control slide clickers because the first time I used one I didn't notice that the button was on the bottom. I wave my hands when I talk and I was advancing slides when I wasn't suppose to. Really embarrassing.
That experience made me play it safe and present from behind a podium using the up and down computer key to advance the slides. (I even put a brightly color dot on the right button so I wouldn't advance the slides in the wrong direction.) But this prevents you from walking around and you're tethered to the podium. So, I went on a search for the perfect slide clicker, fondling them in stores to make sure the clicker button was only on the top.
I found one and have been using it. But, I learned about the ultimate slide clicker from Berkun's book - it integrates a stop watch and timer! This is really useful because if you start walking around - you can't watch the timer on your Iphone that you've left on the podium. You could, I suppose, glance at your watch, but I never manage to do that elegantly. And, I don't always have someone holding up a sign with how many minutes I have left.
So, I've invested in one of these:
After reading Cliff Atkinson's new book on the back channel, what I really want someone to invent is a slide clicker that has wifi and you can read a Twitter stream. Or maybe someone has invested an app that turns your Iphone into a slide slicker.
View MacBookPro Travelogue in a larger map
This map show the route that a new MacBook Pro made from a factory in China to Arizona. Colleague Alan Levine customized a google map. Each push pin (that looks like a MacBook Pro) is a page from a travel diary written by his new laptop. It's worth a few minutes to get a good laugh.
I can just imagine Alan tracking his new computer's journey using the UPS Tracker feature. Think about how having a visual representation of the trip, rather than a stream of time/date stamps and zip codes makes it easier to understand. What's even better is that the software, google maps is free.
It got me thinking again about low-cost data visualization tools. What's out that? What can the tools do? And, in a nutshell, what are some visual information tips?
I didn't have to look any further than the Idealware site and a recent report, "A Consumer's Guide To Low-Cost Data Visualization Tools" to get the answers. The report includes a summary of design principles, some common visual formats, as well as a review and comparison of free/low cost tools. This report is one of many free reports on nonprofit software that Idealware has published over the years.
Idealware has recently launched a fundraising campaign for its Research Fund to cover part of the costs of producing similar reports. I donated with the hope that down the road the next version of data visualization tools report will include low cost or free social networking analysis tools.
Flickr Photo by PCSO900
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Vikki Spruill, Ocean Conservancy's President and CEO and members of her communications team, Laura Burton Capps, and Dove Coggeshall about their recent experiments and learning on Facebook. The organization is a Packard Foundation grantee.
The Ocean Conservancy is dedicated to the goal of a healthy ocean by increasing public awareness of ocean issues and bringing significant changes to the way oceans are managed. Here's an overview of the issues they are working on. For the past 24 years, they organize an annual grassroots, volunteer event called "International Coast Cleanup" where hundreds of thousands of volunteers hit spend a few hours removing trash and debris from coastlines, keeping track of every piece of trash they find.
One of the key principles for an effective social media strategy is experimentation, learning, and rapid prototyping. David Armano describes this process as "Listen, Learn, and Adapt." You can't answer this question "What's the Value?" unless you experiment and learn. Easier said than done.
In our book, The Networked Nonprofit, we devote an entire chapter to something we called "Learning Loops" which is a combination of tracking and monitoring in real time as a project unfolds, but also incorporates a process of reflection at the end of the project to the next experiment.
It is really hard to carve out time to take a step back and reflect on what has gone well, what hasn’t, and what to do next. Being iterative or rapid pro-typing is the secret to getting tangible results from your social media efforts over time, yet many organizations find it difficult to do.
I was most curious about is how an organizational leader encourages learning and experimentation and decides to implement that first social network experiment? Also, how do you sustain this process of try it, fix it.
In 2007, Vikki Spruill attended a seminar hosted by the Packard Foundation with Clay Shirky and came away both scared and excited about his ideas. The idea of "giving up control" was very different for this organization. But as Vikki herself says, "Nonprofit leaders shouldn't settle for the status quo. I'm always looking at what's next and seeing how to incorporate it."
The first step she took was to make a presentation to staff about what she had learned. She initiated a discussion about how to test some of Shirky's ideas. Vikki says one of the challenges is overcoming resistance. "We get very used to our routines because they are comfortable and we know they work." Vikki says it is really important to present experiments as a pilot, a test, and that trying something new doesn't necessarily mean it is a future direction. As the leader, she is creating a culture of flexibility.
Vikki observes that one of the big hurdles for nonprofits to take a R&D approach is that there is often no ongoing budget or time to do experiments. Often, experiments are done for extra credit. It is important in designing a social media experiment that the work isn't an add-on or perceived as "extra work."
Having considered these issues, the Ocean Conservancy was ready to design a low risk experiment and begin measuring how social media was working (or not) After a series of discussions with staff and some survey research of their existing volunteer network, they identified a learning question:
Facebook was an uncharted territory for the Ocean Conservancy. In addition to their Fan Page, they developed two Facebook applications, "Take a Beach Break" and "Which Ocean is Your Ocean" as well as tested different ads on Facebook that linked directly to the event sign up on the web site. The applications and ads were tracked using email sign ups, daily active users, application installations, referral traffic and event registration.
The Ocean Conservancy picked very specific, narrow objectives for their experiments and specific metrics to measure them. They resisted the temptation to try to reach out broadly and instead focused on a specific target audience for a specific program on a specific site.
For example, with Facebook ads, they were able to set up a series of a/b tests using different taglines, creative, and audience targeting. By embedding tagged links in the ads to the Ocean Conservancy site, they were able to track the referral traffic for different ads.
So a few best practices here for social media experiments:
This is the first time I've been pitched to host a live stream of a conference on my blog and ask a question of the panel remotely. Using a live streaming application called "Live Stream," conference organizers of the Governor's Nonprofit Leadership Conference in Texas are hoping to draw in an online audience into the discussion about social innovation.
It will take place Wednesday December 9 at 10:30 CST as part of Business Boomer's Live Webcast and broadcast a conference session with Andrew Wolk, CEO of Rootcause, Elizabeth Darling, CEO of One Star Foundation, and Stacey Caldwell, Executive Director of Dallas Social Venture Partners. Here's the description.
Organizations focusing on today's social innovations range from a handful experienced players (Root Cause, Ashoka, Standford Social Innovation Review) to a growing presences of regional nonprofits and/or social enterprises addressing fundamental community problems. With a newly established federal agenda to stimulate and nurture social innovation in this country, how will Sonal Shah, head of the White House Office of Social Innovation create a national agenda sparked by efforts on the ground that can spread across the country and line up with other successful global initiatives such as the United Kingdom’s Office of the Third Sector and Canada’s growing Centers for Social Innovation?
LiveStream is one of a number of platforms that allows anyone to create their own talk show over the Internet. All you need to do is open up an account, turn on your webcam and start live streaming. You can also livestream with your mobile phone.
LiveStream and other platforms like it can be used creatively at conferences to involve an online audience. For me the interesting design challenge is how to make it an interactive and meaningful experience for those who are watching at their desktops. I think it requires a moderator or perhaps two moderators who work together to weave together the online discussion into the real-time event.
More and more social media is changing how people present at conferences. As a presenter, you have more to think about beyond creating beautiful slides and practicing your verbal delivery. Now you need to learn how to incorporate Tweeting or Livestreaming. That's the subject of Cliff Atkinson's new book, The Backchannel, and can't wait to read.
Web Crawl Data: Click here to see larger image
Note from Beth: As visiting scholar at the Packard Foundation, I'm connecting with other people who are studying and learning about how networks work. A lot of the ideas resonate with using online social networks and social media effectively for nonprofits, especially in the larger frame of movement building. In October, I had the opportunity to meet Steve Waddell whose research focuses on Global Action Networks.
One of the tools for better understanding networks are visual diagnostics and mapping techniques. This another area of Steve's interest and expertise. He co-authored a paper called "Visual Diagnostics and Mapping for Scaling Change" and we had an opportunity to discuss it. He agreed to write a four-part primer on a visual diagnostics, mapping, and social networking analysis primer and how nonprofits might use these tools for social change. If you missed it, you can read Part 1: Systems Mapping for Nonprofits.
Understanding who is connected to whom can strengthen your strategy. But the connections might be so be numerous, or the formal org charts might be so misleading, that you can’t “see” what is happening easily. Maybe your question is about inter-organizational connections in your issue system (eg: agriculture, finance, housing) – it may be local, regional or global. Or, if you work in a large networked organization, maybe you want to understand inter-personal ties to understand work processes better. There are a couple of tools that can help you out.
Web Crawl Mapping
The “quick and dirty” one is web crawls. The internet is structured around sites that have unique URL addresses. And most sites have (hyper) links to other sites that you click on to take you to other sites or pages. These are inserted because they have more detailed information with regards to a topic (including, of course, ads), because the host wants to connect people to allies or colleagues, or because they may be foes on an issue.
These connections between unique URLs provide the basis for mapping relationships by doing a “web crawl”. A software program can draw the relationships between organizations’ web links, to give a description of the virtual network of the organization. It shows links between URLs that can collectively be called the global commercial finance public issue arena. These are the organizations to which global commercial finance institutions link.
The crawl identified 282 URLs; only the top 100 are shown in the map. Separate data that is generated lists the number of links to each URL and the direction – whether they go to a URL or come from it – which is important to understand who thinks whom is worth attention. Another list summarizes the number of links. This map itself illustrates such structurally important things as groups (cliques), bridges between groups, and which organizations are best connected.
Of course as with any methodology, this presents a limited picture. It depends upon organizations having web-sites; in global finance, it is pretty safe to assume that influential organizations will have one. Web crawls are particularly useful when used with other network analysis methodologies because they help identify organizations in a field for further investigation.
Social Network Analysis Mapping
For example, the organization lists developed from crawls can be an initial list of who to include in classic social network analysis (SNA) that can show links between individuals, parts of organizations, an issue system, or subset of it.
This map was developed when GRI was thinking about establishing a South African GRI network. Surveys were conducted to identify organizations and their relationships with two particular characteristics that drew from GRI’s core strategy: organizations that were involved with triple bottom line analysis and development (social-economic-environmental impact), and organizations that engaged in multi-stakeholder processes. The map illustrates the following groups of organizations with hubs and bridging organizations connecting them; the enviro group is importantly not connected. This descriptive analysis suggests the following strategy:
1) Put the environment on the back burner for the moment, since economic-social issues are more dominant;
2) Consult with the bridging organizations as key informants and perhaps engage them in initial convening to form a GRI South Africa network; and
3) When creating a leadership group or board, make sure you engage the nodes of each group.
The descriptive analysis therefore supports a strategy of firmly building on the current local orientation, social structure and capacity to develop a GRI approach. Rather than GRI being a foreign entity coming in through a particular stakeholder group as is often the way a organization enters a new region – raising great suspicions among other groups – GRI can begin with a much more comprehensive strategy that weaves together current social relationships in a new way.