Archive for August, 2010

A moment of silence, please, for the hard copy memo

I smile when I think about the hard copy memo. Now I know you’re wondering why I’m getting misty over paper. It’s because the hard copy memo makes me realize how far we’ve come. I remember when I worked in the development office at a university early in my career and email started to bubble to the top as a form of communication. Everyone was really hesitant to use it and when we had our department staff meetings, the assistant would still send out hard copy memos about the meeting “just in case this whole electronic mail thing doesn’t work out.” I recall thinking, “This email is really great!” while some of my colleagues felt a sense of dread with the unfamiliar. It was a long time before the hard copy meeting reminder went away and I often think about how much easier my job would have been at the time if I’d had the benefit of email addresses.

I had a moment of smiling silence for the hard copy memo because I attended a wonderful conference this week on social media at the university where I worked. It seemed like such a fun coincidence to return for yet another personal milestone in technology. Author of Beth’s Blog and the newly released The Networked Nonprofit (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Beth Kanter, was the keynote speaker and she addressed one of the main themes in her book she co-wrote with Allison Fine. The idea is that a networked nonprofit is a transparent and simple organization that “engages people in shaping and sharing their work in order to raise awareness of social issues, organize communities to provide services or advocate for legislation.”

Kanter went on to tell the group that successful networked nonprofits are characterized by this climate of openness with their communities so social media strategies are more easily integrated into their daily practices. Kanter and Fine use the categories of “fortress, transactional, and transparent” organizations to describe a continuum of openness. Fortresses are nonprofits that rarely interact or meet with outsiders, transactional nonprofits only interact when they need something, and transparent nonprofits fully engage communities to accomplish shared goals. Discovering where your nonprofit lands on this continuum is a groundbreaking exercise in paving the road for integrating successful social media strategies into existing campaigns. The book later explains how nonprofits can prepare for social media strategies as well as how to plan and evaluate your “socializing.” This is a terrific “how-to” with a plethora of examples.

I’m pleased to report that we are featuring The Networked Nonprofit next month so watch for more highlights about connecting with social media to drive change. For more information, purchase a copy of the book at Jossey-Bass or subscribe to the Page to Practice book summary library.

Thanks to for the image.


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Who’s on your personal board of directors?

Whenever I look at past positions I’ve held or recent projects I consulted on, I don’t remember the dozens of emails, marketing plans or fundraising appeals I wrote. Instead I always think about the people who worked with me. It’s how I got things done—working with people, laughing with people, or just plain relating to people. Funny thing, we also remember all too well the folks we encounter who stood in our way of a goal or shied away from our inclusive attempts. Why? Because how we get along with one another in this world has an impact on everything we do, how we think of ourselves, and most importantly, how relation-rich our lives are.

I had the pleasure of reading and featuring a book this month that was written by one of the best, genuine relationship-builders I know, It’s Not Just Who You Know by Tommy Spaulding. I recall meeting Tommy more than 15 years ago and thinking, “I wish I knew his secret for connecting with people so easily.” Well, the secret’s out! Thank you, Tommy, for spilling the goods and telling your story. It was a wonderful read. And for my CausePlanet folks, I’ll be sharing excerpts from my interview with Tommy over the next couple of weeks.

CausePlanet: The concept of looking at your relationships in your life as your “personal board of directors” is an important preliminary step to evaluating your “relational equity,” as you put it. What areas of one’s life should each of these relationships represent and why?

Spaulding: It all depends on each person’s values. I’ve broken my mentors and “personal board of directors” into four categories: Family, Health, Professional and Spiritual. It is good to place one, two or three relationships/mentors in each of your chosen areas. These relationships should not only help you grow in these areas, but also hold you accountable. You should surround yourself with relationships that tell you what you “need” to hear, rather than what you “want” to hear.

CausePlanet: I like how you boldly state that “netgiving” is about love. Other authors have echoed this sentiment, even in areas such as philanthrocapitalism. What’s the best way to inject love into your business relationships gracefully?

Spaulding: Here’s the rub. If your actions aren’t sincere, genuine and authentic, then “injecting” love in any relationship is like filling a tank of gas with a gigantic hole in the gas tank—it just won’t fill up. You can’t fake netgiving and you can’t fake love. Both come straight from your heart. And when you build personal and professional relationships with this spirit in your heart, you have built something that lasts a lifetime.

CausePlanet: You introduce an innovative term called “ROR,” or Return on Relationships. How does the notion of “netgiving” without expectations coexist with the notion of getting a return on your relationships or ROR?

Spaulding: Aw, you just cracked the code with your great question. ROR (Return on Relationships) only works when you don’t expect a return. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is as real as rain. If you enter every relationship with an expected outcome of “getting” something, you are building the foundation for a transactional relationship. If you enter a relationship with a “netgiving” heart, then 99 percent of the time your return will be greater than you anticipated.

Spaulding’s book released on August 10, 2010 or you can read a Page to Practice™ summary by subscribing to our monthly service or visit the summary store for single titles. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about what we’re reading for nonprofit leaders.

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It’s not about the networking

Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you examine everyone around you in a new light. It’s Not Just Who You Know by Tommy Spaulding did just that for me. Relationships are quirky, always changing, and no two connections are alike. Spaulding’s book examines the good, the bad and the promising through a five-floor paradigm with Fifth Floor relationships representing the best of them and the basement representing—you guessed it—the worst of them.

Nonprofit leaders who make the time to read this book will find they look at the people in their life with a different lens—a lens that sheds new light on how to nurture their professional and personal relationships so they become what Spaulding refers to as Fifth Floor relationships. This is not just a book that espouses the merits of good networking. In fact, it discourages it. Instead, Spaulding provides real examples and strategies for elevating your current relationships and how to launch new ones in the spirit of giving rather than taking. Additionally, Spaulding uses a helpful First through Fifth Floor analogy for evaluating your relationships, and provides readers with nine essential traits for committing to a new way of genuinely connecting with the people around them. You will never look at a chance meeting or formal introduction in the same way after reading this book.

Spaulding’s book releases on August 10, 2010 or you can read a Page to Practice™ summary by subscribing to our monthly service or visit the summary store for single issues. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about what we’re reading for nonprofit leaders.

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