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« Twitteracy (Twitter Literacy) | Main | Mashable Post: 4 Ways Social Media Is Changing the Nonprofit World »


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phil shapiro

Simplicity means being humble in your choice of tools, whether they be hardware tools or software tools. So if your nonprofit has an important message to tell the world, you don't need the latest high def camcorder. What you need is a few images (photos, drawings, or a combination of photos and drawings) and a free Windows program called Slideshow for YouTube, which is all you need to tell compelling stories. Or use a free Windows program called PowerBullet to make a simple 2.5 minute story such as this one.

or tell a community story such as this one

(click on the small red arrows at the bottom of each screen to move forwards and backwards thru this multimedia presentation created with PowerBullet)

The layout for the tribute to my parents was created in OpenOffice Draw, a free drawing program that is part of OpenOffice. The sound was recorded in Audacity, a free sound recording program. You can upload your creations to the Internet Archive ( which provides free unlimited hosting for multimedia files.

The more willing you are to use simple, free tools to tell your message, the more authentic your message can become. Because humility and authenticity walk well beside each other. And when you use free software tools to tell compelling stories, you are opening up the door for others to tell their stories, too. Strive to do the most with the least. It's not only the right thing to do, it makes the journey more interesting and the rewards of success more sweet. And always keep in mind that --

"The world is made of stories, not of atoms ..." — Muriel Rukeyser.

And I ought to say that beyond Windows lies a free operating system called Linux, whose very existence points towards a more inclusive future for all. If you're able to do your multimedia storytelling using free programs on Linux, installed on a donated computer that would otherwise be discarded, then you know that you're doing much more than telling the world your story. At that point you're teaching the world your story, and your story creation process becomes itself a story unto itself. That's when you achieve resonance with the universe.

Jennifer Scott

I agree with Meghan, although my organization doesn't have a large volunteer base. We're just starting to get people, internal and external stakeholders, on board with interacting with our social media tools, and I love it. It's exciting to see people who believe in us so much that they want to interact with us in this way. It also increases the reach far beyond what I could do as a marketing department of one. It takes pressure off the staff and is a huge morale boost.

Tresha Thorsen

Hey Beth...first of all congrats for finding a home out in the bay area...saw your gmail alert and cool for you. 2nd bravo on maintaining a schedule amidst the chaos. You haven't (to me) seemed scattered a bit I've actually marveled at how much you've been able to thoroughly cover, attend, present at and share all thru this blog and tweets amidst your move. While I'm not a non profit (yet :) ) my life for the past year has been very much about simplifying and scaling back to essentials. I donated and gave away everything I owned except for my laptop, a few books, a few clothes and essentials for my dog and have been mobile for 2 years (since i met you at blogher chicago 07 actually). Looking back I should have blogged it :) It comes and goes. All the while I've been sifting through how to establish a writing life and healing practice...both of which I tend to be able to do anywhere. But when I resolved on an actual base (at long last after 3 come backs and u turns to the very place I left) I've realized the only thing that helps me scale back to the essentials is having less clutter. In the midst I've learned loads about true value and worth and substance. It aint about the real estate you own or the paintings ;) I love this quote from a favorite author Mary Baker Eddy: "Substance is that which is incapable of discord and decay." (from her book 'Science and Health'). 1/2 begrudgingly :) kinda kidding, I landed a few weeks ago and have obtained a bed, table, writing desk that will tide me over....for now...til the next flight, I'm journeying in thought...but ever and only from here on out with the essentials. If you took nothing but your hubby and precious littles and doggie, the rest has a way of finding you :) Happy trails. Hope you blog the roadie :)

Christi Stinson

One person's grief over losing some "friends" has become a treasure for the Funding Information Center of Fort Worth, Texas. We are passing along some of our old titles to free up space for new ones. Thanks for the books and best wishes for this next "book" of your life.

David La Piana


Welcome - soon - to the Bay Area. We are excited to have you join us on the "Left Coast!" Our firm is just beginning to embrace social media as we try to communicate and engage with nonprofits around capacity building. For example, at the upcoming Craigslist Foundation nonprofit boot camp (June 20, at UC Berkeley) we will be on site with video cameras, provided by YouTube, asking the 2000 expected participants in the day's events to tell us how they are using social media, or are going virtual in their office arrangements, or similar innovations. We will then take those 2-3 minute snippets and edit them into a short video on innovation.

Ruth McLean Dawson

I moved to Belize from Virginia after working in Washington, DC for many years to assume the position of Development Director for a conservation organization, the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment. I packed items (mostly books) to be sent down or brought when my husband joined me - and everything is still in Virginia.

Keeping it simple in Punta Gorda, Belize is not difficult - there are no traffic lights and no traffic. I always wanted to live in the middle of the "city". I do now, I am just a two blocks from Central Park (a dusty triangle). I ride my bike to/from work every day. There is an open air restaurant (actually I think the restaurants are all open air) near the office overlooking the Caribbean where I go off with the pile of "things to read" at lunch.

Focusing on the work of development comes easier when birkenstocks are dressy shoes and the shorts you wear to work should not be too short. Knowing one can be home in about 5 minutes by bike and trimming up the hibiscus on the verandah helps to keep focused. Knowing that by stepping out my office door I can watch the Caribbean Sea is a benefit beyond compare. I get paid a lot less, but so does everyone here and I have more than I can spend. If I have a meeting in Belize City or Belmopan, I know that I can ride my bike to the airport, chain it to the fence and get on a plane and be there in about 45 minutes and back the same day. I do call ahead and they save a seat for "Miss Ruth".

I did have to relearn some people skills. Do not dash into a meeting computer in hand and drop into the nearest chair - stop, say hello, greet each person, proceed at your own pace to a chair.

I have more time for me - I just learned how to SCUBA dive. I actually have time to think and plan. There are always deadlines, proposals and reports are due, but there are my Belizean colleagues who stop by around 5 to be sure I am leaving and who check that I did not skip lunch.

It is not for everyone - no movie theatre, no book store (you cannot imagine the amount of money that saves me), Belizean cuisine is not what anyone would travel for - do you like beans and rice or rice and beans? The turkeys and the chickens next door to my place on Main Street are occasionally kind of noisy, but everyone knows my name and walking down the street is adventure in actually being part of a neighborhood.

It is not a long flight to the US and I am the place to visit when family and friends want to decompress. Working in a hammock requires a few skills, but doesn't everything take practice?

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