Friday, October 31, 2008

Social Media for Nonprofit Best Practice: Don't Forget to Tell Your Supporters How to Use the Tools

Increasing numbers of nonprofits are using the social web on their sites, but what I don't see enough of is explainations for their constituents of how to use these tools.

Oxfam International does a pretty good job of educating their supporters. On the bottom of its home page it has links to its rss feeds as well as to Facebook, del.ico.us, Yahoo and Google:



Next to the RSS feeds is a link to "What's RSS?" When you click on it, you see this page:










Next to the links for del.icio.us, Facebook, etc. there is a link to "What are These?" When you click on it, you see a page that explains social bookmarking:











This page could use a little more fleshing out to explain how each service works.

Another good example of a nonprofit helping folks learn how to use social web tools is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's explanation of how supporters can subscribe to their Voices on Genocide Prevention podcast:













Although more people have heard the words blog, podcast, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc., don't assume that they actually know how to use them. Don't forget to help them out, so they can help you (:






Thursday, October 30, 2008

Join the 29-Day Giving Challenge with Me Oct 30-Thanksgiving

As I mentioned last week in my interview with 29-Day Giving Challenge founder, Cami Walker, I'm starting my second round of the 29-Day Giving Challenge today, and ending on American Thanksgiving.

During the 29-Day Giving Challenge, you give away one thing every day for 29 days. I wrote about my experience doing the Challenge last spring in my post 29-Day Giving Challenge Takeaway: Compassion is Hardest to Give. I'm interested to see what the experience will be like this time.

You can find out more information at www.29gifts.org, including a free PDF of a 29-Day Giving Calendar you can use to record what you give.

Lemme know if you decide to participate!




Monday, October 27, 2008

Ask Britt: 5 Tips for Job Seekers

In a recent interview for a magazine I was asked,

"What tips do you have for the unemployed who are seeking full time employment?"

I thought I'd share my answer with you:

1. Get support either from a professional career counselor or coach, or a friend or group of friends.

If you work with a friend, or group of friends, agree to meet once a month (or more often if you have the time). In person is best, but if the people you want to work with are across the country, you can talk on the phone, or set up a Skype conference call. Each person gets a chance to talk about what they would like to work on until your next meeting, and ask for advice about challenges they are facing. It’s helpful to have a designated note-taker to write down what each person says they are going to do so that at the next meeting they are held accountable.

2. Break everything down into small steps.

Part of the fear people experience when looking for new work comes from being overwhelmed. For example, if, “Update my resume,” has been on your to-do list forever, break it down into small steps you can take each day so it feels easier to achieve, like this:

a. Find and read my old resume.
b. Do research for 30-60 minutes about the best way to format my resume for the kind of job I'm looking for.
c. Add new experience to my resume (don’t worry about the format or language yet).
d. Spend 30-60 minutes on the format and language.
e. Show the resume to my friend or coach.
f. Incorporate my friend or coach’s comments.
g. Put it away for a couple days.
f. Give it a final edit.
g. Start sending it out!

3. Make a schedule. When you don’t have to be anywhere at a particular time, it’s easy for the day to fly by. Decide how much time you are going to spend each day looking for work, and stick to it. If you have a laptop, it may be less distracting to have your job search time at a cafĂ©, or the library so that when you come home you don’t feel guilty relaxing.

4. Network, network, network. The best way to get your resume to the top of the pile is to know someone at the place you want to work. Make a quick bullet list of the qualities of your ideal job. Email it out to your friends. Memorize it to tell people at parties who ask, “What do you do?” Create LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and add friends colleagues as connections. Search the web, and on sites like meetup.com, and upcoming.com for networking events in the fields you are interested in. If you want to work at a nonprofit, check out their volunteer opportunities, or search on VolunteerMatch.

5. Make a fun to-do list. It may feel like you’ll never get another job, but you will, and when you do, you’ll be kicking yourself for not taking full advantage of the free time you had. Make a list of all of the things you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the time. Once you’ve completed your scheduled job search time for the day, make time to have fun!

*******************************************************************************

I've been helping people find work they love for 10+ years. You can learn more about my work at brittbravo.com. Email me your questions (please keep it to 50 words) about the do-good, or artistic work you are doing, or want to do, to britt@brittbravo.com. Title your email, "Ask Britt: your question topic." I won't post your name, but I will post your question with my answer, so keep that in mind as you write if you don't want details in your question to identify you.

Photo Credit: Photo of me answering your questions (: taken by my hubs.






Friday, October 24, 2008

Change.org Launches Blog Network, And They're Hiring

When Change.org started less than two years ago, its main focus was to be a social network where nonprofits and their supporters could connect and take action. In early October, the network re-launched as a social action blog network.

O
verseen by Managing Editor, Josh Levy, the network features 12 blogs covering a variety of causes:

Each blog's landing page allows members to join the Cause, take action, and connect with related nonprofits. For example, the Actions section of the Stop Genocide blog (screenshot above) has a link to Call 1-800-Genocide. Its Nonprofit section has a list of nonprofits related to stopping genocide, and a leaderboard of Change.org members who are raising money for the cause. As of this writing, the Stop Genocide Cause has 1,793 members, has benefited from 1,270 actions and raised $2,280. Like other social networks, Change.org members can also "friend" and email each other.

Change.org plans to add more Cause topics, and is hiring bloggers to write and build community around the issues of Global Poverty, Universal Health Care, Microfinance, Human Trafficking, Public Education, Poverty In America, Global Health, Water Sustainability, Curing Cancer, Sustainable Agriculture, Racism, and Mental Health.

Here's a sampling of what other bloggers are saying about the new Change.org:
"I can see Change.org becoming a social action site for the more mature crowd who want knowledge before they get involved, and who want to do more than passively sponsor causes through corporate donor widgets. . . . In the interest of moving social action from an online only activity to an offline one, effecting real world change, this lets you tap into a much wider network to find support for your activities and ideas."
--Change.org Launches Social Action Blog Network by Leslie Poston on Mashable

"I really like the way the people behind this site provide a centralized space for learning about various causes and then – perhaps more importantly – provide readers with a way to take action. As a busy mom, I have many good intentions about doing things to support the causes I’m passionate about. But, to be perfectly honest, I need an easy way to take action. At this point in my life, I just don’t have the time to volunteer, and I certainly don’t have a lot of expendable cash. Change.org seems to offer a solution that meets my needs."
--Blogging to Change the World by Jamie Lee on BabyCenter: MOMformation

"If Change.org is going to grow as an online community and a web portal for people searching to get involved in issues and causes, it's going to have to struggle with the same problem we all have when it comes to social change. Beyond giving busy people a five minute action like making a donation or signing a petition or forwarding a message, how do we get salient numbers of people organized in support of actions that have lasting, systemic effects?"
-- Changes at Change.org: A Media Hub for Social Action by Micah Sifry on techPresident
Have you tried the new Change.org? Whaddya think? You can follow Change.org as it develops on Blog for Change(.org)





Thursday, October 23, 2008

Webinar Presentation Tips for Nonprofits and Other Folks

I'm teaching my first webinar for a client in a couple weeks. Wahoo! I've been doing some research on how to present a successful webinar, and thought I'd share what I've learned.

For folks who are unfamiliar with webinars, they are online classes where participants watch the speaker's presentation on the web, while listening to it via their phone. NTEN, Idealware, and TechSoup host webinars that will answer many of your burning nonprofit and technology questions!

I'd like to see more nonprofits using webinars to engage supporters and potential supporters. They could be a fun way to do trainings for volunteers, fundraiser table captains, house party hosts, and concerned citizens who want to learn more about the issues you are working on.

Below are the webinar presenting tips I found. They aren't that different than best practices for face-to-face presenting . . . I hope you'll share your tips too.

1. Write the script, then create the PowerPoint. Check out Seth Godin's post Really Bad Powerpoint, Guy Kawasaki's the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, and Presentation Zen's What is good PowerPoint Design? for ideas.

2. Run a practice webinar to work out any technical glitches.

3. Arrive early so you can welcome folks. Your first slide should let people know that the meeting will be starting shortly.

4. Review guidelines, like how people can participate (i.e. chat, raise hands), and how to mute phones.

5. Build rapport by posting your photo while you introduce yourself. If it is a small group, encourage people to make short introductions.

6. Get everyone's attention in the beginning: tell a story, provide a statistic, read a quote, or show a shocking image.

7. Provide a clear outline of everything you are going to cover, and what your learning objectives are.

8. Keep the session interactive by providing places for people to ask and answer questions throughout the presentation whether by virtually raising their hands, chatting online, or having a discussion over the phone.

9. If you know them, use people's names, and include them in examples when appropriate.

10. Share information in short segments.

11. Speak slowly and clearly. Pause frequently to allow people time to absorb the information.

12. Leave plenty of time for questions at the end.

Sources:
Tips: Writing and Planning a Webinar on Quinn Creative
Webinar Hosting: 10 Tips on Hosting a Successful Webinar on Charlwood eMarketing
Professional Development and Corporate Training: The Webinar Weakness on E-Learning Queen.
What To Cover When You Teach A Webinar? on Online Webinars
Seven and Seven: Tips for Running Effective Webinars on Chief Marketer
Running Effective Online Trainings on TechSoup

Flickr photo credit: They just asked about twitter . . . uploaded by Beth Kanter
Cross-posted from NetSquared.

Be Bold Podcast: Create a Career with Impact, Episode #2

As I mentioned last week, I've started hosting a new podcast produced by Echoing Green, the Be Bold Podcast. This week's show features a discussion of two career related questions with Lara Galinsky, author of Be Bold: Create A Career with Impact.

This week's question are:

1. How does someone like me with problem solving skills, passion, intelligence, experience and judgement, but with a resume not steeped in social issues work, find their niche in making an impact?

I want to help people become the heroes of their own stories—I think storytelling and mythmaking is the missing link in getting people to connect deeply to the causes we all know need attention – and I know how to do that-but how do I make a career out of it?


2. a. I feel guilty for wanting to work in social impact-my main motive is that I find social impact work fascinating and fun, and helping others—isn’t really a huge priority in comparison. Is it wrong that I’m not totally altruistic?



b. How can I combine being creative (or creative industries in general) with social impact?

You can listen to the Be Bold podcast online, or subscribe via iTunes. You can send in your questions to be answered on the Be Bold Podcast to bebold@echoinggreen.org

Also, be sure to also check out the Be Bold Resources page, and the New York Times' Social Impact Career Center, created in partnership with Echoing Green.







Wednesday, October 22, 2008

29-Day Giving Challenge: An Interview with Cami Walker


"What I notice is that the people who are taking part in this, what is common amongst us all, is that we all count our blessings. We practice gratitude. We feel like our lives are full no matter what we have."
-Cami Walker, Founder, 29 Day Giving Challenge

The 29 Day Giving Challenge is a global giving movement where participants give away one thing each day for 29 days. I wrote about my experience with the Giving Challenge last spring in the post, 29 Day Giving Challenge Takeaway: Compassion is Hardest to Give. I'll be starting the challenge again on October 30, 2008 so that the 29th day of my challenge will be on November 27, 2008, American Thanksgiving. I hope you'll join me! You can download a 29 Day Giving Calendar and gift cards on the 29 Day Giving Challenge social network.

Below is an edited transcript of an interview from October 11, 2008 with Cami Walker, the founder of the 29-Day Giving Challenge, which you can also listen to on the Big Vision Podcast. In the interview, Cami mentions that she is writing a book about the 29 Day Giving Challenge. She is looking for personal stories about the healing power of giving from people who have completed the Challenge. The deadline to submit your story is November 29, 2008.

What is the 29-Day Giving Challenge?

The 29-Day Giving Challenge is actually an odd little creative experiment that I started about seven months ago, almost exactly. It started with me. I was in a very dark place struggling with a very serious health condition. I have multiple sclerosis, and my life was in a very awful place. I was broke. My business hadn't made any money in months. I was too sick to work. I'd been in the hospital five times in three months, or something like that. My marriage was under a lot of stress because of all of this.

I work with a medicine woman from Oakland. Her name is Mbali Creazzo. I called her to complain, and she gave me a prescription that day to give away 29 gifts in 29 days, as a way of getting out of myself. I thought it was a really crazy idea. I jotted down in my journal, "Give away 29 things in 29 days," and then put the journal away and promptly ignored it.

About a month later things were even worse, and I was in an even worse place. I guess I'd gotten in enough pain that I was willing to try anything [laughter]. I happened to open the journal. I was awake all night one night, and it was like three a.m. I picked up my journal to write, and opened it right to that page that said to give away 29 things in 29 days.

I thought, well, I don't think it's going to hurt me, and maybe it will help. So, I decided in that moment that I was going to go ahead and do it. I gave my first gift that morning, which was just a supportive phone call to another friend who has MS. That same morning, an amazing string of events happened that showed me that maybe this really could help.

So, I decided to go ahead and do it. By the midpoint, around day 13, my life was so much better, and I was so inspired that I decided to throw up a website and send out an email to some of my friends, about 30 people, and said, "Hey, I've been doing this interesting thing where you give away 29 gifts in 29 days, and it's really helping me. You should try it."

A week later 120 people had signed up. And now, it's about seven months later, and we have over 2,500 members on the website [laughs]. So, yeah, that's how this all started.

What are the things that people can give?

If you decide to commit to the 29-Day Giving Challenge, you can give anything to anyone. The gifts can be material things. If it's a material thing, we like to encourage you to re-gift items that you own. So, go through your book collection and take books to the library or a used book store, or pass them on to someone on the street, or whatever. Or, go through your CD collection, or your clothes. A lot of people have gone through their kitchens, and made up snack packs. People will make 29 snack packs and then take them out and give them to people who are hungry, or to food shelters, or whatever.

The gifts can also be non-material things like kind words, or doing something nice for someone, or volunteering some time. I'm a marketing consultant, so a lot of times what I've done is give away small amounts of free consulting time to people who couldn't afford to pay me what I charge.

So really, it's any kind of gift to anyone. The gift can go to someone that you know. It can go to a stranger. Sometimes people even sit down and do meditations, and send out positive energy to the world.

What is the favorite gift that you have given?

There are a lot of gifts that I've enjoyed. I'm really enjoying the Flower Power Gives, though. That started with me, as well. I live in Los Angeles and when I was wrapping up my third cycle (I'm actually three or four days into my eighth cycle of 29 days of giving), I decided to go buy four dozen roses. I went out to a really busy street corner. There was a Whole Foods parking lot there and a bunch of bus stops nearby. I made a few loops around that area and gave away all these roses to strangers. That was awesome.

That has kind of become a signature give through 29 Gifts, because we had a few other members who individually then went out [and did it]. One woman went and picked wild daisies. We have these little 29 Gift cards that people would tie onto the flowers, and she actually made a couple vases full of those, and took them into a local coffee shop. They were free for anyone to take.

Now there are organized events happening locally. People have organized group gives in Atlanta, Houston, a couple times in Los Angeles, and it will happen tomorrow in San Francisco, that as a group we get together and give away roses to strangers.

How has it changed you ? What's your favorite gift that you've been given from the 29-Day Giving Challenge?

Well, I have to say, selfishly, that the favorite gift I've been given is a book deal [laughs] to write the 29 Gifts book.

Though, I've had such amazing changes happen for myself. You know, when I started doing this, I literally couldn't walk. I was very, very ill. And, by the 13th day of giving, my first cycle, I was actually back on my feet and walking without a cane some days. By the 29th day, I really was walking pretty much unassisted. I mean, every once in a while now I still have to break out the cane if I'm having a really rough day. The day that I stopped walking with the cane regularly was a very odd day. I had been out, my husband took me out to breakfast. And then a friend picked me up and we went for brunch, or lunch, and we stopped at this bookstore afterwards.

When I got home, I was getting ready to leave again that evening, and I couldn't find my cane. I realized that I had literally walked away from the cane at some point during that day. I don't remember when or how. I was like, "OK, something's working here." [laughs]

Getting my health back has been a huge gift, for sure. My relationship with my husband has dramatically improved because I'm not a resentful, miserable woman anymore that he doesn't want to wake up next to everyday. I've gotten closer with all of my family. A lot of wonderful things have happened in my life.

As you mentioned, there are over 2,500 people who've signed up on your site who have committed to do this, more than once sometimes. And they're also sharing stories. What are some of your favorite stories?

One of my favorites is a woman named Anne who, she's been doing this for a few months now as well, and I'm not sure at what point in the cycle this happened, but there was a gift that she gave that led to her reconciling with her brother who she hadn't seen in eight years. So, that's a really moving story.

There's a woman named Erin who is a community manager of our site. She helps manage the team of volunteers that run the site. In her first 29-day cycle, she built up to the 29th day. One of the things that was suggested by Mbali originally to me was to give one thing that you feel you can't live without, or give something that feels really scarce in your life.

For Erin, the one thing that she felt she couldn't live without, she doesn't have a lot of attachment to material things, was a breast pump that she had kept for many years. She'd loaned it out to a couple people, but she'd always really been careful about getting it back because it was the breast pump that she had used for her two babies who had died of heart defects.

This breast pump represented to her the one thing that she could do to help her babies stay strong and live as long as possible, feed them breast milk. This breast pump held a very deep emotional attachment for her. At a point during her first month - I think it was her first month - there was a friend of hers who wanted to borrow it. Apparently, the friend was notorious for not returning things, and she was really conflicted as to whether she wanted to do this, and actually said no.

Then she tried to sell it because she thought, "Well, it might be good to get rid of this. I've had it. It's probably good to let it go." She tried to sell it at yard sales, and on the websites, and no one would buy it. So, finally, she realized she was supposed to give it away to this woman. What unfolded, once she let go of that item, is a turn of events that happened in her family, and her family is in dramatically better circumstances now.

I think it's interesting what can happen for us if we let go of an item that we have a deep attachment to. I think we commonly don't realize that our energy can get bound up in an object, especially if you have an unhealthy emotional attachment to it.

Those are a couple of my favorite stories. There are over 3,500 stories that have been published on the site, so it's really hard to narrow it down to one favorite one. I could probably talk for hours about that.

I'm wondering, as we're in this crazy time of economic need, of so many people who feel like they don't have enough, and that they need things, and that they need to be given things, have you noticed any difference in the people who are signing up, or what people are giving, or the feelings? How has it affected the project, if at all?

Well, you know, we've actually had some really interesting discussions on our site. We have a forum on our site where there's been a good amount of discussion about abundance and scarcity. Mbali actually posted a very insightful response to Wall Street just a couple of weeks ago on the site.

You know, this is totally a personal belief that I'm going to spout off here [laughs]. I just want to add that disclaimer. I really do believe in the concept that our thoughts create our world.

Where I was at when I started this is I was in a deep place of "scarcity thinking" where I believed, I really did believe that my life was over, and I believed that I had nothing to offer anyone. I also believed that I was incapable of offering anything to anyone because I needed every ounce of my own energy for my own healing.

I was completely forgetting that healing actually happens through our interactions and connections with other people. It doesn't happen in a vacuum when you're locked up in a room for three months alone. That's really not a good place for any human being to be, honestly. [laughs] No matter how healthy you are, you should not be alone for three months.

I was in this place of lack, stuck in a place of lack. It was reflecting in every area of my life. Yes, it started from a physical, health-related issue, but it was reflected in my bank balance, it was reflected in the quality of my relationships, it was reflected everywhere.

One thing that Mbali said to me when I finally decided to do this, I called her later on that day or something, and she said, "I'm so happy you decided to commit to this because taking an action, giving something to another person, and taking an action of that sort, will immediately change the energy of your life. I teach that to my clients, but you know how we are, the things we teach we don't practice a lot.

It was really one of those moments where I felt myself reorganize on a cellular level where I really got something deep in my gut, and understood it.

The people who sign up for this, we all come from very different circumstances. There are people who need to use food shelters. There's actually a homeless couple who is taking part.

And then there are people, like me, who really aren't in desperate need of much. That's the reality. I like to convince myself sometimes that I need more, more, more. But that's not the truth. I'm fine. I have a roof over my head. I have a little bit of money in my bank account. I have a big balance on my credit card, but whatever, you know? [laughs]

What I notice is that the people who are taking part in this, what is common amongst us all, is that we all count our blessings. We practice gratitude. We feel like our lives are full no matter what we have.

In an economic crisis it is very easy for us to all trip into scarcity thinking, to begin to hoard things, and to be living in fear of losing a job, or losing our investments, or whatever, and that is the worst place we can go.

If you are spending all of your time focusing on losing things, you are going to lose things. That is the reality, but if you are spending your time reflecting on everything you have to offer, you are going to be attracting more of what you have to offer.

You mentioned you have done this eight times, and there are other people who have done it multiple times, do you think you will ever stop?

Well, I don't like to ever think I know what the future holds [laughs]. I find if I think I know what the future holds, I am in trouble usually! [laughs] Right now I have a hard time imagining removing this. This is a part of my daily spiritual practice now, in a mindful way, offering something to another human being. It is hard for me to imagine my abandoning that practice, but I have abandoned parts of my spiritual practice before for periods of time. Sometimes I come back to them, and sometimes I don't. I'm not sure if I can really answer that firmly. Right now I think I will be doing this for quite some time.

When does it stop being a challenge and become, like you said, a practice, or a lifestyle. Does it ever stop being a 29 day project, and become something that is more incorporated?

People often ask, "Why 29 days. Why not 30? Why not . . .?" whatever, and the truthful answer to that is, I don't know why the 29 days, and Mbali doesn't know.

This is a tradition that was passed on to her by a teacher, and when I asked her, "Why 29 days?" she said, "That is what my teacher told me, and that is what I'm telling you," which is the answer I get from my yoga teachers a lot. "Why do you teach it this way?" "Because that is how my teacher taught me."

I didn't really question the 29 days. My assumption, because this comes from an indigenous African medicine culture, is that it is related to the moon cycle. The reason that I actually gravitated towards the number 29, and I appreciate it and like it, is because from a scientific perspective, we generate new neural paths, (it depends on whose data you read), but anywhere from 21-28 days is what it takes us to generate a new neural path, so if you actually practice something every day for 29 days, you've begun to ground a new habit, a new way of being into your body, and your mind. I really like the practice of doing something every day for 29-30 days for that reason.

For me, it really was after that first 29 day cycle where it was just part of my day, and I didn't want to stop. I think that has been a common experience for people on the web site. Whether they choose to stay an active member of the community online or not, most people on their 29th day when they post say, "I am going to keep doing this. It has really helped me. It has changed my life in a lot of ways, and I am going to keep doing this everyday." I think it's probably different for everybody, where that switch happens, but for me it happened pretty quickly.

How can people join the Challenge, and how can they participate? What is your web site?

The URL is www.29gifts.org. When you get to the home page you will see that there are buttons that say, "Sign up" and buttons, that say "Join us." You can click any one of those buttons. We ask you a few, very simple questions like, "Why are you choosing to give? What would you most like to receive?" You will be a member of the community within a minute, if you take the time to answer those questions.

Is there anything else that you want folks to know about the 29 Day Giving Challenge?

Well, one thing that I like to say about this is that it is founded on a personal belief of mine that we are all creative beings, and that creative expression is truly essential to our health, our well-being, our sense of purpose, and our happiness in the world. I really do encourage people to take part in the community. It is OK if you don't want to, if you fill out a profile, and do your giving privately, that is completely acceptable.

But, I do see that the people who seem to really get a lot out of this, and really experience dramatic change in their own life are the people who are active on the discussion forum, who are active in their blog and actively post artwork in the community gallery.

Lately we have had people do video blogging and put shorts up, or a couple people have written songs, and sent them to me to put into the community music player. Create something to tell us what kind of impact this has had for you, and share it with the community because those stories and artwork that people are sharing are what are inspiring people to sign up, and keep this movement growing.

Together I really do feel we are making progress at our collective mission of reviving the giving spirit in the world, and I hope you will decide to join us, and be an active participant.

******************************************************************
Here are a few bloggers' reflections on their experience taking the Challenge
The Painting Project for the 29-Day Giving Challenge is Complete!!! by Spirit River Studio.
My 29 Day Giving Challenge: An Update by Morningside Mom
29 Day Giving Challenge by The Life of a Soon to Be Mommy!

Cross-posted from BlogHer




Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ask Your Nonprofit Blog & Podcast Questions At My NTEN Office Hours

This fall I've been volunteering as an "expert" for The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN)'s office hours. Each week I chat online with whomever shows up about nonprofit blogging and podcasting.

Most weeks my hours have been on Thursdays from 9-10 AM PT. You can check the NTEN office hours calendar to see when I'm available, as well as look through all of the other folks who are available to give you advice about your nonprofit technology questions like Michelle Murrain, Sue Cline, Sarah Davies, and many more.

I'll be there this week on Thursday, October 23rd from 9-10 AM PT. You don't need to register beforehand, just go to nten.org/officehours/communications between 9-10 AM PT on Thursday. You'll see a Meebo chat box where you can type in your question. Meebo is super easy to use, but if you get confused, here's a link with more information abut How to Use Meebo.

Hope to see you there!





nptech

Do Something Now Challenge: Gen Y + Mobile + Volunteering + Community

The Millennials, or Generation Y, want to make a difference. As Tactical Philanthropy's post, Millennials as Social Citizens, observes,
"USA Today reports that they volunteer more than any previous generation, and the Wall Street Journal reports today that corporations are finding that one of the best ways to attract them as employees is to offer them paid time off to volunteer."
They also like to stay connected to their community. As GigaOM's post, Go Mobile Young Millennials, Go Mobile, notes,
"[A] report from In-Stat points out that millennials, the generation aged 8 to 27, use their mobile phones to access their social networks wherever they are."
When you combine young people, a desire to make a difference, cell phones, and community you have the elements of the Do Something Challenge. For almost two months, Do Something, an organization that helps young people make a difference, has been hosting the Do Something Challenge. To participate in the Challenge, young people recruit friends from their community to receive volunteer opportunities via text on their cell phone.

Participants who register 50 or more people will receive prizes based on the number of people they recruit.
  • 50 Recruits: 20 SWAG Sets with Do Something pens, folders and notebooks.
  • 100 Recruits: 20 SWAG Sets and 20 Do Something reusable ecobags.
  • 250 Recruits: 20 SWAG Sets, 20 ecobags, 20 t-shirts, and a $100 pizza party.
  • 1000 Recruits: 20 SWAG Sets, 20 ecobags, 20 t-shirts, a $100 pizza party, and 2 plane tickets to New York City for Do Something Boot Camp.
If you, or someone you know wants to take the Challenge, the deadline is November 1st. For more information, go to www.dosomething.org/challenge

Hat tip to Creativity in Public Relations for their post Volunteering Via Mobile: Dialing Up New Ways To Help.

Cross-posted from The Extraordinaries blog.





Friday, October 17, 2008

Internet Strategy on the Cheap: Tools and Resources

Tomorrow, October 18th, Eric Leland of Leland Design, and I will be presenting about, "Internet Strategy on the Cheap" at the San Francisco Bay Area Nonprofit Boot Camp.

We've compiled a list of Tools and Resources to share with participants, and thought that you might enjoy seeing it as well. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so please add your suggestions in the comments!

All of the Nonprofit Boot Camp sessions will be recorded and available on the Craigslist Foundation's Nonprofit Boot Camp Podcast.

Update: The presentation slides are available on FivePaths.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

Places to find reviews of tools and training

Web Site Hosting

Domain name registration

CMS (Content Management System)

Design

Online Donations

E-newsletters

Donations and mailing lists

Analytics

Manage and/or Advertise Events

Blogging Platforms

Podcasting Hardware

  • Olympus Digital Recorders $125-$200 on Amazon
  • Samson Zoom H4 Handy Digital Recorder. About $270 on Amazon.com. Built-in mike
  • MicroTrack 2 by M-Audio. About $270 on Amazon. Comes with a microphone, or you can buy a better quality one. Need headphones to monitor sound.
  • Electro-Voice Microphone 635A. Use with MicroTrak. $120 on Amazon
  • Headphones. You can usually use any kind of headphones (Walkman, iPod, etc.). Professionals use Sony Pro MDR-7506 Headphones. About $100 on Amazon.
  • Logitech ClearChat Pro USB Headset. Use when recording with Skype. $42 on Amazon

Skype Podcast Recording Software

Podcasting Editing Software

Podcast Hosting

Copyright Free Music

Photo Sharing

Video Sharing Platforms

Video Camera

Social Networks

Build Your Own Social Network

Microblogging and Social Networking

Flickr photo credit: Inside a Tool Box uploaded by Alvin Chua
Cross-posted from the NetSquared Blog

How Can Changebloggers Make a Greater Impact Online and Offline?

October 15th was Blog Action Day, a day for bloggers, podcasters and vloggers to write about and raise awareness about an issue. The theme for this year was poverty. Blog Action Day is a wonderful idea, but it feels too short to make a real impact. I'm interested in exploring how Changebloggers, people who want to use their blogs, podcasts and vlogs to change the world, can make a greater impact through longer online events, and face-to-face meetups.

Here are a few examples of some month-long and two-week long online events:

Maw Books Blog ran a Blogging and Reading for Darfur campaign last month. For the month of September, Natasha Maw read and blogged in an effort to create awareness, and raise funds for Darfur. Her campaign was a combination of book and movie reviews about Darfur, as well as fundraising for organizations serving the people of Darfur. She read 31 books and raised $1,1136.60.

The 2008 DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge for public schools is happening this month. Bloggers compete against each other to raise the most money for specific projects in low-income public schools. As of this writing, $168,941 dollars has been raised by 2,058 donors. Check out the projects some BlogHers are raising money for.

Chez Pim has run four Menu for Hope campaigns for two weeks in December. Now in its fifth year, Menu for Hope is a fundraiser (last year it was for the UN World Food Programme) where food bloggers from all over the world offer food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. Readers buy virtual raffle tickets to bid on the prize of their choice. Last year the campaign raised $62,925.12.

In addition to making an impact online, I'd like to see changebloggers meeting offline as well.

Members of the Changeblogger Network have started meeting face-to-face in New York, Washington, DC and Philadelphia. Changeblogger New York organizer, Naomi Hirabayashi, posted about their recent meetup on Idealist.org: Calling All Changemakers and Changebloggers in NYC.

I'd love to see Changebloggers meeting face-to-face not only to coordinate and share resources about ways to make a difference online, but also to organize and participate in service opportunities found through organizations like VolunteerMatch, the Hands On Network, One Brick, and Idealist.org.

What ideas do you have for mobilizing the collective power of Changebloggers online and offline?

Cross-posted from BlogHer.com




Oct. 20 Free Teleclass: Get Blogging! The How and Why of Starting A Blog

Monday, Oct. 20 from Noon-1pm PT, I'll be speaking at a free teleclass, Get Blogging! The How and Why of Starting A Blog, hosted by Write the Damn Book.

The class is geared specifically for writers, but some of the things we'll be talking about are applicable to anyone who has a blog, or wants to start one.


I'll be covering topics like:

* How do you decide whether to have a blog?
* What are the key ingredients of a successful blog?
* How do you increase traffic?
* How often should you post?
* How do you manage negative comments?
* How do you integrate a newsletter and blog into your outreach plan?

For more information and to register go to www.writethedamnbook.com/teleclass.html







Thursday, October 16, 2008

Be Bold Podcast featuring Lara Galinsky of Echoing Green (and me!)

I'm excited to announce that I'm hosting a new podcast produced by Echoing Green, the Be Bold Podcast. Echoing Green invests in, and supports emerging social entrepreneurs to launch new organizations.

The show features Echoing Green Vice President for Strategy and Communications, Lara Galinsky, answering career questions from listeners. Lara is also the author of Be Bold: Create a Career with Impact.

Take a listen on the player below, on the Echoing Green site, or subscribe via iTunes.








Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: 4 Ways to Alleviate Poverty in Your Community



My new favorite TV show (in addition to The Mentalist) is 4REAL hosted by Sol Guy. Guy takes celebrities around the world to connect with young leaders who are creating change in their communities. The most recent episode featured Eva Mendes, and Liz Evans, the Executive Director and Founder of the Portland Hotel Society in Vancouver. The Portland Hotel Society provides housing and advocacy for the "hardest to house": people with mental illness, physical disabilities, HIV/AIDS, a record of criminal activity, and drug addiction.

I was particularly moved by an interview with one Stanley Hotel resident, a heroin addict, who said,
"I wish people had a better understanding of the kind of people we are, 'cause we're not animals, and we're not contagious. It's just really hard. I don't know why they look at us the way they do."
Thanks to wonderful organizations like Kiva, and the ONE Campaign, people are becoming more aware of the huge difference a small loan, or donation to an international organization can make to purchase a net to prevent malaria, or help a family start a business. Giving to international campaigns is important, don't get me wrong, but I think we can all be seduced into feeling good about ourselves when we write a check to help someone in a faraway land, but forget that there is poverty in our own backyards that we don't always want to look at. For example, I live in Oakland, CA where according to an August 2008 Oakland Tribune article, 17.6% of Oakland residents are living in poverty.

Here are 4 things you can do to alleviate poverty in your community:

Volunteer year round. Lots of people get inspired to work at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, but organizations always need help. VolunteerMatch is a free tool for finding a volunteer opportunity near you.

Donate your gently used goods year round. On December 31st there is a huge line outside of our Goodwill of people (like me) dropping off bags of donations so they can get their tax receipt before January 1st. Sometimes the store has to turn people away because they can't process it all. Make going through your house for things to donate a seasonal activity in winter, spring, summer and fall.

Start a Giving Circle to fund local organizations. The 501c3Cast's most recent show featured an inspiring interview with Sandy Bettger of GivingCircles.org. Giving Circles are groups of individuals who pool their donations so that they can have a greater impact. Check out these tips for finding and starting a Giving Circle.

Treat and speak about the poor with respect. Talking about her work with the The Portland Hotel Society, Liz Evans said, "A lot of this is about humanizing people." People talk a lot about "good neighborhoods" and "bad neighborhoods", "good schools" and "bad schools." Ultimately, whether we say it out loud or not, aren't we inferring that there are "bad people" and "good people"? Be aware of how you talk about, and interact with poor people. We are all more similar than we are different.

As a Portland Hotel Society resident said when asked to describe what was really happening in his community, "Lots of sadness no Hollywood script could do."


Here are a few related posts:

Four Big Thinkers' Ideas on Going Green, Ending Poverty from Treehugger.
Geography and the Invisibility of Poverty (Blog Action Day ‘08) from From Poverty to Opportunity Campaign
Blog Action Day: The "P" Word from Idealist.org


Video: 4REAL Vancouver ft. Eva Mendes
Cross-posted from BlogHer







Friday, October 10, 2008

9 Steps to Prioritize Nonprofit Social Media Training and Experimentation

Here's my contribution to this month's Net2ThinkTank question posed by Amy Sample Ward,

"What are the key questions nonprofit orgs should ask to help them determine how to prioritize social media training and experimentation as they do their technology and organization-strengthening planning?"

1. What are the goals you are trying to achieve this year?

2. Which social media tools could possibly help you achieve those goals?

3.
If you don't know the answer to #2, ask yourself, where can I get a general overview of social media tools, along with examples of how nonprofits are using them?

Some places to find this kind of information are TechSoup, NTEN, Idealware, Aspiration, and the New Organizing Institute. Mobilizing Generation 2.0 by Ben Rigby has a pretty good overview of most social media with examples of how nonprofits have used them. Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age by Allison Fine has some good examples as well. You'll want to check out the ever evolving We Are Media: The Social Media Starter Kit for Nonprofits, too.

4. Once you've got some ideas about the kinds of tools that you think might help you reach your goals, ask yourself, how much time, money, and in-house staff expertise do we have to learn how to use these tools, set them up, and maintain them?

5. You'll also want to ask yourselves, which tool(s) are your staff the most excited to learn about and experiment with? The reason social media is "social" is because it requires a fair amount of time interacting with its users. If no one on staff wants to interact with your supporters, social media tools are not a fit for you.

6. A last factor you can use to narrow down your list of tools is to survey your supporters about the tools they already use, and would be interested in using with your organization. I can't tell you how often people ask me if I think their supporters would listen to a podcast. My question back is always, what do your supporters say?

7. How will you measure your tools' impact? Different tools have different ways to measure their impact from site and page views, to subscribers, to "friends," to links back to you, to donations, to anecdotal evidence. Finding the right measurement tools needs to be part of your training and experimentation plan.

8. When will you decide whether or not to continue putting time, money and energy into using a tool? Don't expect quick results. Think of yourself as a restaurant owner. Sometimes a new restaurant opens and is mobbed with people right away, but more often than not, it takes time to build up a steady clientele.

You should have a time frame in mind for when to decide if something isn't working, and try something else instead. Whatever you do, please don't abandon your out-of-date, un-updated blog, Facebook group, Twitter feed, etc. for some potential supporter to find, and then decide that your organization is lame because the most recent information on it is from 2006. If it's not working, delete it.

9. Finally, it is important to use time and resources wisely, but there are no guarantees that social media tools will help you achieve your goals, so enter into your experiments lightly, with hopeful, but realistic expectations.

These are playful tools, and they work best if you are having fun with them. If your staff is saying, "Aaargh! We have to spend time on the (blog, podcast, Facebook page, Twitter, wiki, fundraising widget etc.). What a pain!" You may need to pick a new tool, provide more training, or ask yourself, how can we have more fun using these tools?

Cross-posted from NetSquared.










Children's Birthday Parties with a Purpose

I don't usually like to post about corporate campaigns, but I liked the idea of this one, so I'll bend the rules. Quaker Snack Bars has created Birthday Party with a Purpose Kits in partnership with Kids Care Clubs. Kids Care Clubs are a program of the HandsOn Network whose mission is to, "develop compassion and to inspire a spirit of volunteering in elementary and middle school age youth."

According to their site, the kits contain:
  • How-To-Guide: Step-by-step instructions for planning and hosting your child’s party.
  • "Kids Doing Good!" T-Shirt gift for the birthday boy or girl.
  • Goodness Bags (qty 10), including "Kids Doing Good!" wristbands, temporary tattoos, and activity booklets.
  • Achievement Certificates (qty 10).
To get a kit you have to mail in UPC codes from 4 Quaker Chewy® Granola Bars or Quaker® Granola Bites boxes. The details are available at www.QuakerKidsDoingGood.com.

I liked a couple party ideas from their site:
  • A treasure hunt where everything the guests find is donated to a children's hospital.
  • A green themed party where guests can plant seeds to take home and grow.
Here are more ideas from the blogosphere:

The Mom Salon writes about ECHOage: Teaching Children About Giving Back. ECHOage sends out an evite which allows the recipients to make an online gift of money. All of the gifts are pooled to purchase one gift, and one donation to a cause for the birthday boy or girl. I like this idea 'cause you are getting one gift for you, and one gift that helps others.

In her post, Eco Friendly Birthday Party, the Nature Moms Blog writes about a woman who used her child's birthday party to help an animal shelter:
"She made dog-bone shaped oatmeal cookies for snacks and in lieu of birthday gifts, guests brought donations, dog food, leashes, water bowls, and toys for the abandoned animals. All the kids, and especially the birthday boy LOVED it, and the animal shelter brought puppies for the kids to play with"
She Scribes' post, Earth Friendly Kids Birthday Party Ideas has lots of suggestions including making teddy bears to donate to a hospital or shelter.

It's all about balance. Your child's birthday absolutely has to be fun, and feel like a celebration, but if you can balance the fun with doing good, all the better!

Flickr photo credit: Birthday Cake 08 uploaded by Anne Norman.
Cross-posted from BlogHer.






Thursday, October 09, 2008

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade: "That One" 08 T-shirts

I don't care what the commentators say, when John McCain referred to Barack Obama in Tuesday's debate as, "That one," it wasn't nice.

But thatone08.com has turned lemons into lemonade and created a whole line of "That One" t-shirts.

Hee hee.





Wednesday, October 08, 2008

4 Tips for Beating Bailout Election Malaise: Give, Laugh, Appreciate, and Look for the Open Door

Last Saturday I woke up early in the morning from a dream where I'd been crying. The last remnant of the dream that came wafting through before I woke up was, "Stop watching CNN."

Since then, I've been feeling like I've been fighting a cold, but I'm starting to think it might be something else, (BEM) Bailout Election Malaise* (yes, I just made that up). Reading reports of the hatred being expressed at McCain/Palin rallies, dreary economic news, and reports that we have 100 months till the tipping point for climate change, I haven't really feel like getting out of bed, have you?

For me, and for you, here are my 4 tips for getting through Bailout Election Malaise (BEM):

1. Go on a news fast

It's hard to turn away from the train wreck that is playing on the news these days, but just like slowing down on the road to see an accident creates a traffic jam, watching and reading too much bad news can slow you down too.

Take a little break from the news. Watch a comedy, or read a funny book. I just moved all of the dramas and documentaries down on our Netflix list, and moved up all the comedies.

2. Give

The Civility in the Workplace blog writes that according to the book, Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America--and How We Can Get More of It by Arthur C. Brooks, "people who give money to charity are 43 percent more likely than nongivers to say they are very happy. And volunteers are 42 percent more likely to be very happy than nonvolunteers."

According to a March 2008 New York Times article, Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness . . . by John Tierney, a recent study published in Science magazine found that, "spending money on others promotes happiness more than spending money on oneself.”

There are so many ways to give: money, skills, time, advice, a kind word, a listening ear. A fun way to give, and be part of a larger community, is to join the 29-Day Giving Challenge.

3. Keep a Gratitude Journal.

Today my husband and I learned that the wife of a friend, who was diagnosed with cancer not that long ago, has just a few days to live. Life is short and surprising. Take a little time each day to write down the things you appreciate in your life in a Gratitude Journal. The These Three Remain blog is keeping a gratitude journal for 1,000 days (she posted her 100th entry yesterday).

4. When One Door Shuts, Another Opens: Keep an Eye Out for Your Open Door.

It's not easy to see them, but there are opportunities that appear even in the most challenging times. The Triple Pundit explores some of them in the post, Is There a Green Upside to the Economic Meltdown?, and Treehugger's post, Frugal Green Living: Seven Tips to Get Recession Ready points out that,

"[A]lmost all of the things that we preach as being good for the planet are also good for getting recession-ready; use less stuff, lower your heating bills, reduce your use of electricity, make your own dinner -- all these things that make less carbon dioxide also save us money. Most of them make you healthier too."
According to the September 1999 New York Times article, Route to Creativity: Following Bliss or Dots? by Natalie Angier, creativity may actually be enhanced by limits, "the real source of productive creativity may lie in art's supposed bugaboos: rules, structure, even the occasional editor or two." Although we are entering a time where we have less economic and natural resources, those limitations may inspire greater creativity and innovation to create solutions.

* According to Wikipedia, malaise is, "a feeling of general discomfort or uneasiness, an 'out of sorts' feeling, often the first indication of an infection or other disease. Malaise is often defined in medicinal research as a "general feeling of being unwell."

Flickr photo credit: Happy uploaded by Bev Sykes.




Friday, October 03, 2008

4 Fabulous Nonprofit Marketing Mavens

I'm doing a new consulting gig for Social Actions as their, "Community Interpreter." One of my tasks is to help them rewrite the text on their website. I always think that more heads are better than one, so I asked 4 nonprofit marketing mavens and bloggers if they would take a look at socialactions.com, and share their tips for how Social Actions can communicate and market their mission more effectively. I've posted a roundup of their observations on the Social Actions Blog.

These are some fabulous women who I would recommend for all your nonprofit marketing needs. Give 'em a click:

Nedra Weinreich
From her blog: "Nedra is a consultant, author and speaker who uses social marketing to promote health and social issues for nonprofits and public agencies at Weinreich Communications."

Nancy Schwartz
From her blog: "Nonprofit marketing expert Nancy E. Schwartz is the primary author of the Getting Attention blog and e-newsletter. Nancy also founded and runs Nancy Schwartz & Company, providing results-driven marketing and communications services to nonprofit organization and foundation clients. Specialties include communications planning, message development, online communications innovations (she stays way ahead of the curve to put these tools to work for clients asap), and developing revenue streams for nonprofits."

Kivi Leroux Miller
From her blog: "I love helping small and medium-sized nonprofits communicate more effectively with their members, donors, volunteers and other supporters, so that together, they can make the world a better place. I do that as a blogger, trainer, coach and consultant."

I believe that even the smallest nonprofit staffs with the most modest budgets can achieve tremendous results through savvy marketing and communications. I hope this blog and my online marketing training and other resources encourage you do just that, while helping you grow as a do-it-yourself nonprofit marketer and communications professional."

Katya Andresen
From her blog: "I am profoundly impatient. I spent seven years living in developing countries, and the poverty and tragedy I saw on a daily basis left me with an acute sense of how important it is not just to help people, but to do it really well and really quickly. The child sex slave in Cambodia or the cyclone victim in Madagascar doesn’t have time for us to wordsmith our mission statements or waste time with lackluster fundraising efforts. We have a moral obligation to be extremely efficient and effective at what we do, right this minute. What gets me motivated and energized is to help well-intentioned people to do that every day, through innovative marketing. I strive to do this at Network for Good, where I work, and I sure tried to do it in my book as well."