I’ve moved!

I recently changed from the wordpress.com blog to a personally-hosted wordpress.org site.

I’m over here now!

So, update your subscription for RSS and bookmark the new blog. (Don’t worry, all of the posts from here have already made their way to the new address for you!)

Why the switch? Well, I had the opportunity to host my own open source install of wordpress and felt like it was a good thing to do; I’m looking forward to becoming more a part of the open source community that is working so hard on making wordpress a fabulous platform. Go to the new site here!

Stories as the answer

Storytelling is a big hot topic for nonprofits – especially when it is done in a digital or dynamic way. Kivi Leroux Miller wrote a great post today about five key questions about organizations that should be answered with stories.

Her list includes:

1) What Do Other People Think About This Group?

Answer with Testimonials. When someone is learning about you for the first time, they’ll be curious what other people think about your organization, your staff and your effectiveness. You can talk about how great you are, but that’s not nearly as convincing as testimonials from other people who aren’t on your payroll (or even on your board).

2) Are People Here Like Me?

Answer with Profiles. When someone donates time or money to your organization, they are joining a virtual community of people who believe in the same cause. If someone is not quite sure if your nonprofit is a good fit for them, showing them that they fit in with other supporters can help overcome that barrier.

3) Does This Work?

Answer with Success Stories. Do you get the job done? Are you going to make a difference with the money I give you? Success stories show donors (and potential new donors) exactly what it is you do and how you do it.

4) What Difference Can a Single Person Make?

Answer with Personalized Giving Options. Big problems are overwhelming. If you swamp people with the enormity of the need, they are likely to tune you out and move on to something that feels more manageable.

5) Can I Come Along?

Answer with Personal Chronicles. For your supporters to fully engage with your nonprofit, you have to be willing to share what’s really going on. A small but important segment of your donor base won’t be happy with the level of detail they get in your newsletters. They’ll want more and you should give it to them.

To read the rest of the details and examples, click here.

The one question I think is missing, is: Who are you?

It is important to remember that your organization is made up of humans who do all have lives outside of the office and have passions that have brought them to the same organization for a reason. It is important to showcase your wonderful changemakers, both to recognize them as complete people, and to show your audience/community/supporters/members that they can identify with individuals in the organization and not just the mission.

How do you do this? With blogs, videos, pictures, etc. There are many ways to show that your organization is made of great people. Take pictures at your next staff meeting and have everyone make their own nametag with paper and crayons to hold up for the photo. Let everyone create a short 10-30 second video about how they discovered the organization and wanted to start working there. Start a blog on the website for staff to contribute to about things other than specific press releases, project announcements, etc.

How are you using storytelling in your organization? What is another question that you would add to this list that could be answered with stories?

A friend’s race – inspiration and fundraising

I have a good friend, Alletta, who is currently studying [and getting yet another degree] in London. We grew up together and attend the same schools until college. She has, for nearly as long as I have known her, suffered from migraines and gone through many rounds of possible causes and treatments. I want to share with you some of her story:

Last May, I ran my first marathon in Edinburgh and despite being ill most of the winter and poorly trained, managed to finish on my own two legs with a respectable time of five hours and forty-eight minutes. This year on May 11th I am giving it another go, except this time I am taking on a much more difficult race on the Isle of Wight and aim to shave more than an hour off of my time to finish in four and a half hours instead.

Running a marathon last year was a life-changing experience. Though becoming increasingly active in recent years, I never considered myself to be athletic. Suffering from asthma and frequent migraines, I have often found strenuous exercise to be very challenging. A few years ago I would have never thought it possible that I could run at all, let alone run 26.3 miles. Now I have been awakened to the possibility of pushing myself in totally new ways and deeply inspired as to what we are all capable of.

I am using my running of the Isle of Wight marathon this year as an opportunity to not only challenge myself, but as a chance to contribute something good to the world by supporting a charity that is close to my heart, the London Migraine Clinic.

The London Migraine Clinic, where I myself am a patient, is a world-class non-profit institution that seeks to help individuals suffering from migraines to find the root causes for their pain and to help them better manage these triggers. In addition, it supports important research into why migraines happen and how the millions of us who get these debilitating headaches can better take control over our health and our lives. To learn more about the Clinic’s work click here.

I think Alletta’s experience is inspirational and honorable. It has been wonderful seeing her come to take on and achieve such high goals for herself. There is no surprise to me that she has found a way to give back to the nonprofit clinic that has helped her with migraines and is helping so many others in London and around the world with their care and research.

Please support me this year in my quest to run the Isle of Wight Marathon and help the London Migraine Clinic in its work by making a donation! Just go to the following link: http://www.colmc.org.uk/ and click on the left-hand tab of “How We are Funded” then on “Donate Now.

There is no where to leave comments when you donate, so please share with me if you would like to about your support or questions so I can be sure to connect you with answers and with Alletta. Thanks, and keep up the race (be it a marathon or life, you are all so inspirational to me!)!

A Blue Avocado?

Yep, that’s right! According to BlueAvocado.org it’s “intriguing, nourishing, and practically indispensable!” It is “a new bite-sized magazine by and for people who work and volunteer in community nonprofits.”

The first issue covers volunteers, board committees, and even legal issues between funders and grantees. It promises to be an interesting voice in starting conversations related to all aspects of community nonprofits. I plan to follow along and participate, and hope you will check them out, too!

Where do you bank?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Heather Cronk of PledgeBank to ask her about the campaign building site before her visit here to Portland to present at Net Tuesday about online campaign building.

What IS PledgeBank? PledgeBank is a conditional pledging tool for collective action. Let me re-word that in English: PledgeBank is a way to say publicly that you’ll do something (hopefully something that will improve your neighborhood/community/world), but only if others will promise to do the same thing. It’s a way to take that notion that there should be more streetlights, or that someone should clean up the local creek, or that it’s not too hard to raise money for new playground equipment at the elementary school and make those ideas a reality by including more people in the process. The site follows a simple formula: you create a pledge (i.e. “I will do X action, but only if N number of others will do the same”), you publicize the pledge (we give you tools to email your friends, post to your blog/website, organize on Facebook, or automatically generate flyers to post in your community), the pledge succeeds, and you give instructions to pledge signers for how to follow through. Easy as pie.

What has been the most interesting campaign to see grow/succeed? My favorite example is the Bakul Foundation’s pledge (found at http://www.pledgebank.com/Bakul-Library). They basically saw that a huge problem in their community was the lack of access to books for children, and had the crazy idea of building a children’s library locally. Rather than just hammer away on that project with a few other people, they mobilized their social networks in India and beyond — and ended up getting over 1000 people to pledge their support with time, money, books, and sweat. The library just celebrated their first anniversary last week and the children’s library is going strong, rather than still being a crazy idea in someone’s head.

What has been the most inspiring so far? To me, the most inspiring pledges are small ones with a big impact. For instance, a recent inspiring pledge is “undies4liberia” (found at http://www.pledgebank.com/Undies4Liberia). One person saw in her travels through Liberia that a huge problem in that country was at orphanages — those centers were operating with few resources and little capacity to pay attention to details. So Ashley created a pledge to collect new, clean underwear that she would deliver to the orphanages on her next trip over. While she certainly could have bought 20 or so pairs of underwear herself, including others in that process yielded 753 pairs of underwear for children at those orphanages, and many more people aware of and interested in Liberia. I think that’s pretty inspiring! (See Ashley’s success story at http://www.pledgebank.com/success#undies)

How do you see campaign building relate to the uprising in peer-to-peer fundraising and social action networks online? Well, what we try to do at PledgeBank is create ways for anyone to be an organizer, regardless of experience or training. The old way of organizing said that those who were *trained* as organizers went into a community and solved problems. The new way of organizing says that everyone is an expert in what needs to happen in their community to make it better, safer, and more just — and PledgeBank offers tools to do that by creating localized campaigns that mobilize a person’s own social network. In much the same way that peer-to-peer fundraising and social networking build on the capital one has generated through relationships, PledgeBank offers a way to “cash in” on that capital through positive peer pressure — “Since we know each other, and you care about the things I care about, I hope you’ll sign my pledge to actually get something done about a community problem.” PledgeBank is a fundraising tool, an action tool, a campaigning tool, and a social tool — all wrapped up in one site.

What is the hardest part of the campaign in your opinion? Well, the hardest part of running a pledge on PledgeBank is actually taking the first step of reaching out to your networks to find pledge signers. Once pledge creators take that first step of saying, “This is something I care about and think is a good idea,” it’s relatively easy to keep the momentum going. A friend of mine created a pledge and became obsessed with watching the number of pledge signers go up — it was really rewarding for her to get that affirmation that others cared about the same thing and were willing to publicly support her idea. But it’s sometimes difficult to take that first step.

How many countries have used PB so far, in how many languages? Well, users in 99 countries have created pledges, and we have pledges running in 13 languages (English, Welsh, Belarusian, German, Spanish, Esperanto, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian, and Chinese)…with a few more in process. The site translations have all been done by volunteers, mostly using PledgeBank to get the job done (i.e. “I will translate 10% of the PledgeBank code into Ukrainian, but only if 9 others will each take on a different 10%).

If someone doesn’t want to be involved in a specific pledge, is there any other way to support the work of PB or its users? Well, the beauty of PledgeBank is in the site’s diversity. If your friend sends you a pledge they’ve created to raise money for a political candidate, but you’re not so sure you support that political candidate, you’re completely free not to sign the pledge. In fact, you’re completely free to create a pledge to raise money for a rival candidate, or to create/sign a pledge about something else altogether. One of the things I love about the site is that we try in many ways to put opportunities in front of users that they might not have known to look for, but that they end up finding interesting — we encourage users of the site to connect with other users, regardless of whether they personally know one another.

You can hear more from Heather about PledgeBank and online campaign building in person, if you are in the greater Portland area, at the Portland Net Tuesday. You can find out more about the event here, and sign up to join Portland Net Tuesday events each month.

It’s Reader Appreciation Day!

Wednesday is Blog Reader Appreciation Day (thanks to Michele and Beth for starting and broadening this great day!). I’d like to take a moment to share how much I appreciate you all, my readers.

Perspectives
I really enjoy the diversity of experiences and opinions that you all have. The blog is made better by the sharing of your thoughts and ideas in the comments. I try to provide information and my ideas, but that’s pretty lonely—your ideas and comments really help round out the conversations here.

Examples
It is so fun for me to get to hear back from you about experiences adopting technology in your organization, brainstorming about specific projects, or have an opportunity to answer or ask helpful and interesting questions. Please keep your great examples coming – your experiences are the useful case studies that help others!

Relationships
It has been my pleasure to build the relationships with you that I have and I am so looking forward to building more! I would love to hear from you about what you are working on, what you are thinking about, and if there is ever anything I could help with!

Thank you all for being such great readers—but really, for being more than readers. Thank you for being participants, and engagers, and conversationalists, and enthusiasts for technology in the nonprofit sector! And especially for sharing in this learning with me!

[photo by jaredchapman]

Googleforce?

Google Apps + SalesforceGoogle and Salesforce have announced a great partnership: Salesforce for Google Apps. You can see a quick overview of the integration of Salesforce utilities with those of Google Applications and take a tour here.

Do you already use Google Apps or Salesforce in your organization? What do you think of the partnership?


I’ve Moved!

I changed from a wordpress.com site to an open source wordpress.org site. You can read all of the previous posts and comments over here! Subscribe to the new rss and read future posts on nptech over here!

Visit http://AmySampleWard.org

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