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 HandsOnBlog.org for the image.