A few months ago, I wrote about a report from Charlene Li that discovered that deep engagement with social media correlates with financial performance. The report suggests that in order to scale this engagement, social media needs to be part of everyone's job, making the argument that a few minutes each day spent by every employee adds up to a wealth of customer touch points.
In order to scale, nonprofits will need to develop a social media policy as well as operational guidelines. The Red Cross is one of the better nonprofit examples. Their handbook provides a good blueprint for staff, affiliates and volunteer to serve as ambassadors for the organization on social networks.
If we're talking about scaling engagement of a nonprofit by allowing all staff and volunteers to participate, why should the board be exempt? And let's take that a step further, why not use social media as part of the governing process.
Networked governance or peer-to-peer governance has worked well in the development of open source software projects. (You can learn more about that in a new book from O'Reilly, called "The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation" by Jono Bacon.
Social media is blurring boundaries for all functions within an organization, and eventually it will impact governance. Networked governance was of one of the chapters in the book, The Networked Nonprofit, that Allison Fine and I have been working on. It was difficult to write because live tweeting their board meeting minutes or nominating committees looking for a slate of officers on LinkedIN or getting feedback for strategic plans isn't necessarily a common practice in our sector. Sounds like science fiction doesn't it?
I think you have to crawl before you fly. So, maybe the first thing you would do is education and training, maybe a live demo showing how social media works and why it is important. The OnLine blog published an intriguing post called "Social Media and Accountability" where Zachary Wales imagined a couple examples where social media might be injected into governance of a nonprofit.