Becoming a Network Nonprofit – #ztrain


This is the first session from Beth Kanter’s Zoetica Training on social media given to the Colorado Nonprofit Association.

Networked Nonprofits are simple transparent organizations that let insiders get out, and outsiders in. They work to make their communities better places to leave.

If nonprofit organizations want to affect change with complex social problems, they need to immerse themselves within complex networks. Currently, nonprofits work as stand alone organizations as silos, and people are stuck within departments.

Changing an organization to become more fluid is hard. Creating a social culture, trust through transparency, simplicity, listening is the hard stuff. Working in the social media world, the being, is the easy stuff. You need to be before you do. Beth highlighted Surfrider Foundation, Mom’s Rising, Charity: Water as examples.

A social culture uses social media to engage people inside and outside the organization to improve programs, services, or reach communication goals. Skepticism is a huge barrier; re: Loss of control, mistakes, etc. Working through these barriers are huge.

Nonprofit leaders must experience personal use of social media. They need to experience a reverse mentoring with their younger staff. It’s important to focus on the results, and discuss outcomes as opposed to the tools.

Unlearning the culture of don’t fail is critical. Learning how to make mistakes, learning how not to be be perfect, but to get out there and experiment is critical to social media success. Give techniques that you experiment with eulogies. Have joyful funerals. The Humane Society of the United States does post mortem meetings after every initiative.

Becoming a Social Culture

Codifying a social culture via policy makes it a management issue that execs need to own. Take some of the policies that are already out there, customize it to your culture. People make mistakes, the organization has new cultural challenges. Your policy needs to be a living document that evolves.

How do you balance personal profiles and business? Beth highlights Wendy Harman and the American Red Cross‘s social media policy. Wendy says, I don’t put anything online that would embarrass my mother.

In context, consider the social media fortress. The hallmark is the private retreat with five day decisions by themselves without including anyone else. They want control.

There are many layers of this, the transactionals (ask, ask, ask) are the most common. Relationships are missing. More and more organizations are adding relationship training. The ultimate of this is the transparents which take and let go of water is a sponge.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is the ultimate example of the social media sponge. Their tracking dashboard is out on their site and discussed on the blog. Radical transparency like this is a big step.

There are different shades of gray, and some things should be private. One question to consider is what if the default should be open… Keep testing, keep challenging what works.

Free agents can implode on a fortressed organization. How an organization decides to embrace the free agent is critical. If they don’t, it becomes publicly antagonistic. If they do, they can work together towards common goals. Beth highlights Shawn Ahmed.

How does one become optimal in time use? Focus on what you do best. Charity: Water fundraises with social media and then works with organizations that build well. They don’t build the wells, instead finding partners who need the funds. What can your organization do less of, simplify and outsource?

Use the tools to help accomplish business goals. Find impassioned volunteers and interested parties that can help. San Francisco SPCA has volunteers running their YouTube channel.