I had a great time last week with foundation and nonprofits executives in Chicago and Decatur, Il. The events in Chicago were hosted by the Donors Forum. Decatur event was hosted by Good Works Connect on the lovely campus of Milliken University. Photos for the
Decatur event can be found here.
All of the events had younger people who tended to be more social media savvy but also more experienced professionals. But it wasn’t an even divided generationally – a cautionary note to folks like me who sometimes tend to see the world through a generational lens. At the Donors Forum, one of the most ardent advocates for social media use was an older gentleman named Marvin Cohen. There was a great openness to learning and sharing from everyone.
There is clearly an attitudinal shift happening in the social sector towards social media. The questions are no longer, “Why in the world should anyone do this?” and are now more of “How do I get started?” “How do I convince others within my organization to get on board?”
The answer to these questions of the “how do we get started variety” constitute a bunch of “Dos” I shared with them and will now share with you!
1. Have a conversation with your senior staff and board about the real fears that using social media invokes. Fears of losing control and opening one’s organization to outside critics are real and need to be talked about, but, as Beth says, as conversation starters not conversation stoppers.
2. Find yourself a social media mentor. Befriend a twenty something who can show you the ropes on Facebook, blogs, Twitter. The key is to block out the time for regular practice with your “reverse mentor” Think of it as learning to play the piano, it takes regular practice to become fluent.
3. Identify one experiment to try working as a Networked Nonprofit this year. Find something, a fundraiser, a conversation to have on Twitter, a video from a volunteer posted on YouTube. Something that isn’t too disruptive (a little disruptive, though, you do have a pulse!) that your organization can try, learn from, and try again.
And there is just one Don’t (in addition to “Don’t update your Facebook status in church”)
Please, please, please don’t use the phrase, “viral video’ before it’s been made. there is no such thing as a video that can be made to go viral. If there was, we’d all be making them! We hope something we do goes viral, passed from friend to friend on Faceobook, via email or word of mouth, but no one can make it happen. That’s why when something like “It Gets Better” goes viral it’s so special, there is some special sauce in it, some combination of its content, timing, creator that makes it sharable.
I asked the lovely nonprofit folks in Decatur to make me a promise not to use that phrase in the next year. Annie Hernandez promised she’d stay on top of it for me. Thanks, Annie!