What’s Your Ocean Story? Rallying to Support and Honor a Fellow Community Member

Support community member Beth Kanter as she honors her father.

Support community member Beth Kanter as she honors her father.

Today we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to support a member of the nonprofit community.

Beth Kanter has had an enormous impact on the nonprofit sector, helping organizations be more networked and more confident in our use of technology. Her long-standing blog has helped guide us through the minefield that is social media and online communications.

Her ever-growing resources such as innumerable wikis and her two books (so far) ensure that we are able to efficiently explore the latest and most valuable tools out there. Her engaging and interactive presentations inspire us all to do a better job with our SMART goals or to make it to the “Fly” stage of our social media practice.

Now Beth is turning to her network – to us – to help her honor her father’s memory. Beth’s father passed away this week after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. As a special online tribute to him and his deep-seated love for the ocean, she is calling on all of us to share our favorite ocean-related stories on social media using the hashtag #OceanLoveEarl. She is also raising money for Surfrider Foundation to support their ocean conservation efforts.

Help Beth Kanter pay tribute and honor her father.

Photo from BethKanter.org

As volunteer managers, we understand the importance and the power of community. I urge you to show your support for Beth as part of the VolunteerMatch community, and the greater nonprofit community, as well.

This is also a great way to get your volunteers involved. It’s a fun way for them to give some time online and share with their social networks to honor the life of a wonderful man. (And to tell some great stories about the ocean.)

The VolunteerMatch Ocean Story

For VolunteerMatch, we’re proud that we can help help people get involved with the ocean, discover its majesty and work to ensure it stays healthy. Today in honor of Beth’s father we’re sharing all the awesome ocean-related volunteer opportunitieswe can find on VolunteerMatch.


Whats’s your ocean story? Share it online with hashtag #OceanLoveEarl.

Free Community Brown Bag: Measuring the Networked Nonprofit with Beth Kanter, 12/7

Beth Kanter brown bag at VolunteerMatchIf you are in the Bay Area this week, please join us in our San Francisco office this Friday, December 7. We’ll be hosting Beth Kanter, one of our favorite experts on social change and technology, for a discussion based on the ideas in her latest influential book, “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.”

The brown bag is from 12-1pm with time for questions afterward. Bring your lunch and your questions about measurement, metrics and social networking. Please RSVP to attend here:

Beth Kanter Brown Bag at VolunteerMatch HQ

Tools for Managing Change in a New Era

It was only 1996, but when it comes to engaging supporters, my first nonprofit job might as well have been during the Cold War.

We shared a single database file, sent out direct mail and made phone calls, and tormented ourselves over ever character in our quarterly newsletter. We tried to fit ourselves to the requirements of whatever grant or gift we were asking for. And we rarely, if ever, looked closely at whether our supporters truly understood our mission or our social impact.

Today’s nonprofit work is changing – especially when it comes to why, how and when we engage supporters in our mission. Beth Kanter captured this change clearly in her 2010 book with Alison Fine, “The Networked Nonprofit,” which presented a vision of the successful nonprofit as one that is simple, transparent, and purposely built to harness the connections of its supporters in order to produce change.

Measuring the Networked NonprofitWith “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” Beth picks up where she left off, presenting a framework to help networked social change organizations thrive off of change. During the brown bag event Beth will share her ideas about what to measure, how to measure, which tools to use, and — perhaps most important — how to develop an organizational culture that is committed to measuring its success.

Volunteer Coordination at the Networked Nonprofit

While they focus on social networking and technology, Beth’s ideas apply to all aspects of work at a nonprofit — even volunteer coordination. If this is you, I’ve written quite a bit about how to extend these ideas to the recruitment, recognition and retention of your volunteers:

How Can Volunteer Coordinators Help Their Organizations Become Networked Nonprofits?

Volunteer Engagement at a Networked Nonprofit

I also cover these ideas in this presentation I gave earlier this year at Social Media for Nonprofits:

Social Media & the 3Rs: Content Strategy Basics for Engaging Volunteers

But don’t take it from me: at the brown bag you can hear directly from Beth and ask her questions about how to apply networking and measurement to your work.

RSVP to Attend

Space is still available. Please sign up to attend here:


7 Thoughtful Take-Aways from My #12NTC

An event like the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference is a big deal for an organization like VolunteerMatch. Despite the large audiences we serve, we’re still a pretty small office, and the number of us on the team who are lucky enough to get out and actually meet the nonprofits we help is smaller still.

With #12NTC held in our own backyard this year, we were fortunate to bring six of us out to the Union Square Hilton, and thank goodness. The math of three days of nonprofits, technology and 1,800 attendees meant a pretty pooped set of VolunteerMatchers by the end of the conference. And of course, our regular chores didn’t exactly disappear while we were out. (I’m still following up on emails that stacked up during #12NTC. So if I owe you a note or a call, bear with me!)

But once again, this is a conference that’s worth it. In terms of sharing, learning, making new friends and reconnecting with the spirit of our work, #12NTC hit the spot.

Here are a few things I learned at 12NTC:

1. Viz is the biz.

Helped along by the inspired placement of Dan Roam’s awesome Blah Blah Blah book in the conference tote bag, no topic at #12NTC was hotter than visualization. Call it the Pinterest effect, but everyone was talking about tools and trends for storytelling and reporting via images. Curation, sharing, pinning, and even digital rights were all the rage, and it’s clear that the smart money is on a future where constituents aren’t expected to do much long form reading.

Viz popularity is also a big reason why NTC Ignite sessions are so popular.

2. We all have a role to play.

#12NTC isn’t produced by slick brands with big budgets. While our friends at the organizer NTEN do a great job bringing everyone together, being inclusive and providing a framework for a great couple of days, they can’t do it all. As NTC grows each year, it’s even more important that side-line events, sponsors, planners, volunteers and note takers all get actively involved.

For our part, we threw a party on the eve of the conference’s first night. With 250 folks coming in, clearly there was a need for an organized event on the front-end of #12NTC. We were glad to step up, along with our co-sponsors.

3. We’re getting better with our tech – because we have no choice.

Nonprofit tech used to be a backwater… not anymore. Today, every effective nonprofit is also proficient with technology. It’s the only way we can reach our audiences, engage and inspire supporters, and deliver services.

In my field, communications, the number of tools we have to juggle is crazy. According to a Communicopia report, [PDF] the typical smaller nonprofit digital team manages an average of 12 web properties (a website, a blog, accounts at Flickr, Facebook, Linkedin, wikis, etc.)

4. Email isn’t going anywhere.

Social media may be exploding, but the chorus of expert voices warning nonprofits not to abandon email as the main engagement channel for volunteers and donors is just getting louder. Organizations need to learn how to use it effectively at nearly every step towards success.

5. The volunteer-fundraising divide is still a broad chasm.

Giving time, giving money. In both cases supporters are giving resources to a nonprofit. Once again at NTC, I saw no deeply integrated systems or ideas for recruiting and managing supporters in both areas, and I met lots of development staff and volunteer coordinators who are worlds apart in their approaches and budgets.

Some of the online social fundraising platforms like Fundly, Razoo and Causes are helping the field to close that gap — to think of social fundraising as a kind of volunteering — but this is still a work in progress.

6. The shadow conference only grows.

Each year, it seems like more and more of NTC takes place outside of the sessions. This year, the hotel lobby seemed to be rocking with nonprofit technology industry insiders meeting and greeting, but generally ignoring the good stuff going on inside.

To an outsider, it may appear as if these folks already know what’s going on in the Nonprofit Technology world. Sadly, this group is missing the great stuff that’s going on inside, while the tech revolution continues to evolve and change under their very noses. It’s easy to miss change when it happens.

7. The debate about innovation is raging.

Our CEO, Greg Baldwin, joined Meg Garlinghouse, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, and Brian Reich in conversation with Beth Kanter about innovaton at nonprofits. While Reich argued that few NPOs are doing truly innovative things — otherwise, wouldn’t more problems be getting solved? — a big chunk of the tweeting audience in the room called double standard on the critique. Others said it was a good reminder whether we should be pursuing innovation at all at the expense of incremental gain in efficiency and scale.

A week later, TechSoup’s Co-CEO Daniel Ben Horin published this interesting article about the debate.

These are just my thoughts… I’ve pulled together a fun list of other folks’ recasts on the conference to give you a clearer picture:

Expert Snapshots for March

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Check back every month for snapshots of what experts in the field are talking about. This month we are focusing on social media.

Timing is Everything

Being on social media is one thing, but are you optimizing each post? Social media expert Neil Draper writes a post about the best times to post content online. Check it out and learn what days and even what time in the day is the best hour to do online outreach. Think about how you can use your social media to reach the most potential volunteers without spamming their news feeds.

YouTubing for Nonprofits

Does your organization have a YouTube account? YouTube has a special program just for nonprofits, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. On the blog Inspiring Generosity, social media marketing and nonprofit expert John Haydon shares some tips on what YouTube offers through its nonprofit program and how nonprofits can use channels most effectively. Check out his personal website and follow him on Twitter to keep up with the latest on how nonprofits can use social media for outreach and recruiting.

Pinning for Social Good

The latest social media craze at the moment is Pinterest, the strange lovechild of Google Images, Flickr and Twitter. Many nonprofits such as UNICEF and Amnesty International USA are already active on Pinterest. Take a listen to social media expert Noland Hoshino and how he thinks nonprofits can use Pinterest to their best advantage. Also, be sure to read Five Pinterest Best Practices for Nonprofits by the blog Nonprofit Tech 2.0.

Get a Jumpstart on the New Facebook Page Feature

At the end of March, Facebook will convert all its profile pages into a new format. If you’ve got a personal Facebook profile, then you’re probably familiar with Timeline already. Nonprofit social media guru Beth Kanter wrote a handy guide on the tools available to organizations within the new Facebook Pages setup (follow Beth on Twitter here). The permanent change doesn’t happen till March 30, so take the time now to rethink your Facebook strategy to connect with potential volunteers.

Expert Snapshots for February

Expert SnapshotsAt VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the field of volunteer engagement and management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Check back every month for snapshots of what experts in the field are talking about.

The Power of Being Networked

Allison Fine is a thought leader and author at the apex of the social change movement. She co-wrote “The Networked Nonprofit” with Beth Kanter, and she hosts a monthly podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy called Social Good. Her blog, A. Fine blog, is a deep and personal look at social change issues and challenges that she encounters during her research and travels. Amidst the recent uproar about Susan G. Komen, she also started a Cause on Facebook and has thus far raised over $17,000 in less than a week.
Read more from Allison on the A. Fine blog, and follow her on Twitter.

Get Your Corporate Sneak Peek

These days, many nonprofits are seeing a dramatic rise in corporations looking to bring their employees on special volunteering projects. No one knows this better than Chris Jarvis and Angela Parker over at Realized Worth. They run one the leading consulting companies for employee volunteering and CSR, and their blog provides important insight into the needs and processes of corporate volunteering programs. For example, you can learn about the tools companies can use to maximize the impact they can have for your organization and your community.
Read more from Realized Worth on their blog, and follow them on Twitter.

Anything But Selfish Giving

While we’re on the subject of corporations, Joe Waters runs an excellent blog called Selfish Giving that provides nonprofits and businesses like you the resources you need to run successful cause marketing partnerships. On the blog you’ll find examples of great (and not so great) cause marketing campaigns, industry insights, and practical tips and information for us normal people who aren’t cause marketing gurus.
Read more from Joe at Selfish Giving, and follow him on Twitter.

InnoVating is a Team Sport

JFFixler Group is a crackerjack team of consultants that are focused on one thing: helping nonprofits with their volunteer strategies. Their blog, the InnoVate blog, is a similar mix and match collection from the expertise of their impressive team. Whether you’re learning about the latest volunteer-related tools on LinkedIn or gaining more insight into volunteering trends across the country, you’re guaranteed to find something useful here.
Read more from JFFixler Group at the InnoVate blog, and follow them on Twitter.