Tag Archives: Making the Case

Beautiful Graphics

Does well-done graphic design make your heart all a-flutter?

It does mine. And fitting with my too-long absence from this page, I return in the year of ‘architecture & design’ as my personal theme with a lovely site and tool.

I am enamored of Nicholas Feltron’s ingenious conversion of the annual holiday letter into a personal annual report. I’m a data geek, I must admit, but the wonderfully simple graphics just make me salivate to think of the possible applications.

But wait–there’s more: DAYTUM. Feltron’s free graphic generator for your data. How clear are these messages?!

So, what will you track? Share your Daytum pages here so I can get inspired, too–where to start?!


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Making Web 2.0 Work

Web 2.0 tools present a vast array of opportunities—for companies that know how to use them.

Here’s an article that speaks to the corporate manager about how to make these new technologies work. A few of my rephrasings of their critical factors to success:

1. The new bottom-up culture needs support and participation from leadership. Well, actually, the article really advocates that the leadership take an active role in becoming a role model and leading in this effort, but my experience tells me that busy non-profit executives who aren’t already bought into Web 2.0 technologies aren’t going to be leading adopters.

2. Web 2.0 needs to be integrated into existing work, not another ‘to-do’. That’s true of so many issues, for example–diversity. Instsead of making new ideas into new projects, examine ways that the concepts can be woven into existing operations.

3. Social media brings the masses to you, so the sooner leadership gest over the fear of the risk and embraces it as a new challenge, the sooner the bridge is opened to invite two-way communication with a wider audience.

Skype is a great example of a beginning tool. Once you can convince someone to sign up for an account, and download and test software, a Skype call speaks loudly as a Web 2.0 ambassador through its ease of use.

That first step is the hardest, but the only way to make Web 2.0 work is by trying.

The lovely folks over at the Corporation for National and Community Service and their helper Northwest Regional Education Labs presents an overview of social media articles and a glossary, intended to reach an audience of AmeriCorps, VISTA and SeniorCorps members beginning to dabble in Web 2.0.

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Volunteer Time Equals Computer Use

While this interactive graphic from the New York Times has many fascinating aspects, one of the most thought-provoking for me is the trendline for volunteering.

According to the NYT, Americans spend about an hour a week on volunteer activities, including tutoring, coaching teams, working in a soup kitchen, ushering at church and handing out political fliers. That averages to less than 10 minutes a day, which peaks mid-morning and in the evening, and is about equal for men and women. Further striking is that the unemployed spend only slightly more time volunteering than the employed.

How Different Groups Spend Their Day

How Different Groups Spend Their Day

Is that the ‘busiest people get the most done’ syndrom, or a lack of awareness that volunteerism during unemployment could be a very satisfying, motivating and skill-building experience, or something in-between??

What I’m most struck by is that volunteerism is equal in time spent on the computer. So, with all the Facebooking and emailing that we hear about, people are spending an equal amount of minutes volunteering. Or has volunteering taken a cut to give over time to online activities?

And even more awe-inspiring is how to capture more of this time–online or otherwise–and engage the unemployed and employed alike in community improvement and volunteerism. Are we as organizations doing enough to combine online activities and volunteerism, are we making the best use of volunteers’ time? So many questions, so little time.

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Book Review: e-Riches 2.0

I’m reading a lot this summer. It’s summer. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Well, there’s no beach involved, but I’m on goodreads if you care to sign in and find my lists or keep your own.

e -Riches 2.0: Next-Generation Marketing Strategies for Making Millions Online by Scott Fox is a good book for organizations wondering why and beginning to get into the social media scene.

e-Riches covers the what, why and how of some of the most popular social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and social news. With a bent towards marketing and business. But nonprofits market, and nonprofits are in business, so go forth and find this one to learn how public relations have changed, how you can measure your marketing program, and touches on higher-level topics like search-engine optimization, posting information content that can be freely accessed, and using video and advertising to drive more traffic to your site..

The book reiterates key points like:

  • Social media is just one PART of an overall marketing strategy.
  • Don’t forget that e-mail is still the number one social media tool.
  • MySpace is not where it’s at for most businesses.
  • You gotta build the crowd through multiple means.

Specific examples of each strategy are included, but this is not a book to devote hours and hours to pouring over. Rather, I find it useful as a skimmable reference for newbies or those looking to integrate social media to other parts of their organization.

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Facebook Ads for Fun (not Profit)

A month or so ago, a volunteer Facebook Page admin & I decided to play around with some Facebook ads for our Page. He had done the research on the ins-and-outs of successful ads, and since the cost was mere change, we decided to spend $25 in the name of experimentation.

We used GoogleDocs to collaborate to draft up some ads, pick target audiences, determine run times, and choose our daily and overall ad spending caps. Ads can be targeted by age, location (even city), education, interests, etc. For example, Facebook could tell us that in our targeted area, there were 81,000+ users who listed some variation of hostel or travel in their interests, so we knew that to be our potential market going in.

Facebook Ad Test
62 viewers went to the trouble of clicking on our 2 ads. Facebook reports a huge number of ‘impressions’ or times the ad appeared on pages–like 172,000 for our two ads, targeted to ‘travelers’ over 5 days.

But do you ever even look at the ads?? I mentally block them out. And I assume you do, too, which is why purchasing Facebook ads is a questionable tactic. Only .03% of our impressions were ever clicked.

Perhaps that was because we way under-bid the suggested ‘price per click’–we picked $0.43. Currently going at $0.70-0.90, our averages turned out to be $0.35-0.41 cents per click. But hey, this was an experiment, right?!

Our ad readers had listed their interests as: traveling (18 clickers), reading, (17), music (14; hmmm…this one is interesting), travel (11) and photography (10). 50% of viewers were women…60% of viewers were women under age 44. As targeted, most viewers were from Colorado, Nebraska & Utah.

Oh, yeah, I also spent a crazy amount of time tracking down coupon codes for free ads, searching for ‘free facebook ads’, none of which ever worked, but by the time I got to the ad set-up stage to try out the codes, I was already time-invested and committed to clicking a few more buttons to start the ads.

I’ll admit, I’m often wow-ed by numbers, though, that I later can’t explain or make sense of.

What I do know is that I spent a grand total of $24.89. We had better success with a slightly higher rate per click, and on the ad that ran over the weekend.

From “Pimp my Nonprofit….”, “Facebook knows an extraordinary amount about its users and can provide very targeted ads, which is pretty frightening” (agreed!), but could be effective for the right market, say–reaching students interested in internships. The time in analyzing such ads is similar to analyzing a GoogleAdWords campaign–without knowing much about these, either analysis seems like another great internship opportunity, to me.

Facebook ads for fun…. And measuring sector interest. And adding a few (but not your most loyal, perhaps) fans–like direct mail solicitation for Facebook. And to understand the strategy behind the machine.

Some others’ notes on the subject:
• General business strategy thoughts from Forrester Research’s Jeremiah Owyang
• Kivi Leroux Miller’s EcoScribe Communications Online Marketing for Nonprofits


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Losing Control…It’s a Good Thing!

There’s already lots of info in cyberspace about how to be successful at using social media in non-profits.
But before we can be successful, there’s still a major hurdle to get over.
It’s control.

turtle by tsakshaug

turtle by tsakshaug

The idea that we can control what’s out there about our organizations is one that’s come and gone.

Here’s why we need to let go:
Try searching for your organization and the word ‘sucks’ or ‘hate’. Or just searching for your organization’s name or mission.
So, what will you do with this info?

Will you use this as an opportunity to accept feedback and make change? Will you reach out to the offended customer and ask for another chance? Maybe, you’ll use this to implement what I call the ‘turtle assignment’–like asking the first-grader who’s out of control to be the one to take care of the classroom turtle, turning those negative energies into a positive contribution.

There are some strategies to protect our brands, though:
Have a goal so success can be measured. Measurements can be used over time to make the case to the powers-that-be that, yes, social media can be helpful in communicating.

Create a policy–but not one that’s any different in principle or practice from your regular communication policy!
WildApricot’s blog gives you lots of ideas for social media policy.

At this year’s NTEN conference, keynoter Clay Shirky, (author of Here Comes Everybody reviewed here), gave his thoughts about what’s out there: “When bad things happen with your brand (and they probably already have), people no longer blame your organization. Control has already been lost.”

And from one of the conference sessions on managing tech change (BTW, one of the co-presenters joined in via Skype!) come these notes about addressing your social media strategy internally:
Who of your various staff are early adopters vs. laggards? The nay-sayers can sabotage new technology adoption.

Why tech projects fail:
lack of executive support, lack of user involvement, inexperienced project management, unclear business objectives, too large of a scope…..(The results of this survey, done every year since 2001, has never fundamentally changed.) People are obviously very critical to change!

People not only want information, they want to be involved. Understand that change naturally creates anxiety; your people need a warning system and a grieving process for the old system.

Tie your change to your mission.
Not everyone thinks technology is cool; be sure you’re not implementing technology for fun. How will this tool help you magnify your impact, and by how much? You need a leader (buy-in necessary from the top level, but your champion can be someone else). Get engagement from all levels.

And learn about getting started with some basic good practics from Deb over at CommunityOrganizer2.0:
* Set up “listening posts” to monitor online conversations about your organization.
* Buy your domain name, those related to your organization, and potential common domain name misspellings.
* Create a blog so that your organization has a platform from which to issue its own stories.
* Pick two social networking sites to join where your stakeholders hang out, and begin to converse with people there.
* Create an organizational social profile on a handful of social networking sites. You don’t have to be active on them, but you’re ready to be if need be, and it will help increase your organization’s search engine rankings.

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Step 2: Get Organized

Narrow the Field
There’s going to be a lot of ways to be distracted on social networks, so plan your windows of time and choose your arsenal. Listening is a good way to get started, but there’s plenty to ‘listen’ to out there. Here are some tips for organizing your online listening and reading.
Consolidate your Reading Material
RSS, which I wrote about here, is a general term that means ‘really simple syndication’ or in plain English, Read Some Stuff. What it does is allow you to ‘subscribe’ to blogs and news sites. Much like the newspaper delivered to your door, new articles will be delivered to your inbox or your ‘feed reader.’

If you’re really into reading lots of blogs, try NetVibes, where you can categorize blogs by topic. Categorizing in this way would help me stay on task whereas my current RSS set up on my iGoogle homepage just throws them all together; as a result, I find myself going from a news article to a recipe to a business blog to a non-profit blog–ahgh!

Label your ‘Folders’
When you’re exploring things online, it can be like a messy desk. Once you can start organizing websites with topics like folders. For example, you can bookmark your favorite web pages. One way to categorize them is by adding ‘tags’ when you save them to particular locations, e.g. with bookmarking tools available online.

Tags are words that represent categories. You’ll often see these represented on blogs or sites in a ‘tag cloud’ where the largest, boldest words are the most frequently used. In Delicious, a social bookmarking site, you can tag things for other users by simply adding a tag

If someone else you know is using Delicious to tag similar interests, you could just ‘follow’ them on your RSS feed. To do so, you click the RSS feed button at the bottom of their account. Here‘s a page of sites referencing library diversity.

You can also tag pages at news sites. Here‘s a page where travel was used as a tag. By adding tags, you’ll have a page where your selected sites with similar topics–and tags–will be grouped together.

Lastly, you can keep your own running list of favorite pages on your web broser with the tool Zotero. If you’re doing research on a particular topic, I find this handy button an easy way to mark things for later reading, and to group them by subject tag.

You’re still going to have to ‘clean out’ your tags and feeds periodically, just like you clean up your inbox and email accounts periodically.

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