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« Designing A Space Suit for Mars | Main | Activating the Activists with Social Media »


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Stacey Monk

Great post, Beth. I think, too, that the most effective uses of social media are likely multi-organizational and even multi-sector. If an organization is too siloed within its own walls to effectively embrace social media, it's highly unlikely that they'll be able to collaborate effectively with other organizations to create the most significant possible outcomes that social media empowers.

Deirdre Reid

Poor Sam, what can he do when his leadership isn't willing to do the "gut check" needed for change? When his leadership perhaps doesn't even see the need for change? The marketing department is apparently living in the stone age and wonders where this development guy gets off trying to tell them how to do their jobs. This is threatening to their territory and egos. He'll have to tread carefully.

How does someone in Sam's position try to effect change when he's not in the position to make it happen? I've been there. It must be even more difficult when you're a fairly new employee. I'd love to hear how this tale proceeds, whether he's able to make headway.


Beth -

Wonderful post - thanks for pulling together your insights and Geoff's into a mini planning document. It makes me "sadly smile" when I hear stories like Sam's. It's one thing to plan strategically and quite another to not understand how quickly the environment is changing and opportunities are being missed.

Garth Moore

Great post, but silos are nothing new for orgs, whether it's social media, integrating donor strategies, combining orgs, etc. But, I love when organizations take an interest in their social media; you can see the light bulbs go off. Every org should hold quarterly brown bags to discuss how a social media strategy fits with their strategy, whether the tactics are for advocacy members, donors, board members, beneficiaries, etc. They will be surprised that there are enough communications, audiences, and feedback loops to make a consistent and productive communication schedule.

Geoff Livingston

Beth: Thanks for continuing this conversation. I think at heart is an organizational approach to nonprofits that they inherited from businesses. This process worked well for industrial age companies and less so for nonprofits. In the information age this structure is even more dysfunctional.

Will Hull - eCommunications/eDevelopment Specialist at United Cerebral Palsy

I tried to get trackback to work for this post, but I would like to let you know that we have again, cited your blog in our annoucements section at

From the perspective of a Public Administration graduate student with a concentration in nonprofit management and not representing my nonprofit:
I see this happening in other aspects internally within organizations and within networked/affiliate organizations. For some the changes are coming too fast and they would prefer to protect the brand above all else or because, as is likely the case with many nonprofits staff are overworked as it is and see the opportunity of social network expansion as an added burden to core responsibility to the mission. Perhaps they see a lack of control over their message and giving it to the world with the full trust that the world will handle their message responsibly. (Again, this is no way a reflection of how my organization operates as we are currently on six social networks and purely my personal opinion). These are all valid concerns and it is a lack of trust that the public will manage their message in spreading it virally that, I believe is the true concern.

For instance, any person can start a cause for any organization and act as though they are the organization in creating a cause on facebook. Do many organizations trust that to happen? In 9 out of 10 cases the person running the cause has the best of intentions and won't maliciously damage the brand that the organization is working to build, but there is the potential for the person to use the wrong language or could possibly take a side on an issue that the organization is against. All possible. With expanding into the Web 2.0 realm there is a trust that must come with it.

Silos too can occur when a department or organization wants to claim credit for all of their work rather than "trust" the public to help raise money for them or awareness. This can also happen. Perhaps it is defending their market niche position in offering something that others aren't and to allow anyone to take that offering and make it their own, what do they have to fall back on? All questions likely to drive this behavior.

Resistance to change could also be a factor. Opening up an organization to Web 2.0 technologies brings a re-education of how to interact, function and go about daily tasks that many are not willing to invest in, in deviating from their regular daily activities.

From experience with UCP, it comes with incremental commitment. It is a psychological investment on behalf of management in building up a following. Start simple, start small. One social network, get a handle on that, prove that you are contacting people who would have never known you existed or raised money you ordinarily wouldn't have, built relationships with people who would do anything for your organization that wouldn't have been possible without hosting a cause on Facebook or MySpace page or profile. Just like public policy, it is built one inch at a time.

Thanks again for the posting.

Norman Reiss

Thanks for highlighting this issue, Beth. Maybe the more of us that talk about it, the more organizations will start to change. I'm also going to feature this topic in my next blog posting at

Joitske Hulsebosch

Hi Beth, the silos are very recognisable, but they go very deep into basic tensions between the fundraising and development sections of development organisations.. My question is whether social media can help overcome such tensions or should you work on them first before introducing certain social media?

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