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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mobile giving, if you're smaller than the Red Cross.

I'm on the development committee of a social services organization with a budget under $5 million. We're talking about testing the waters of mobile giving. Here's what I advised:

In addition to our first criteria--is the price right?--there are a few more worth considering.

For background on mobile giving, MobileActive gets a big gold star from me. They're the NTEN of mobile for good, basically. This article is a fantastic snapshot of the state of mobile giving: http://mobileactive.org/mobile-fundraising.

One of the things I'd look for in a mobile giving provider is longevity. These campaigns will build over time, I'd want to start with a provider that I thought would be around for a while. Criteria #2: Will the mobile giving ASP (application service provider) be around for at least two years? Not unlike choosing a CRM, you don't want to keep changing horses mid race.

I recommend starting with the Mobile Giving Foundation's recommendations.
They certify both ASPs and mobile agencies. They have standards for which nonprofits can participate. Alternately, the mGive Foundation is a parallel operator. Here are their standards for nonprofits. MGive only works with one ASP. You may have heard of mGive recently because it is the provider to the Red Cross.

I'd be wary of hiring a non-approved ASP. It's a bit of a wild west right now for mobile giving ASPs, and it's important to take into account the credibility of your ASP in the minds of donors and the general public. Criteria #3: Does the mobile giving ASP appear trustworthy to your donors? Have they run credible campaigns? Are their fees out of line? Note that the promotional emails you've sent may actually be resellers for approved ASPS--it's a good thing to ask any attractive offer who their mobile giving ASP is.

I'm looking for a resource that details all of the mobile giving options for non-Red Cross size orgs. I haven't found it for you yet. I may have to write it. Save me from writing is by suggesting one in the comments, please.

Petitions and 'likes' will not win the endgame.

Should we be cutting slacktivists some slack? Kristin Ivie presents a compelling case on Social Citizens:

Ory (Okolloh, Ushahidi founder) says that there is a growing sentiment in Africa that youth are wasting too much time using technology for fun, time that could be better spent using the same technology for advocacy, human rights monitoring and development. But she says she doesn’t see that as a problem.

At first I paused, not sure I heard her correctly. She explained that she saw nothing wrong with people using social media "selfishly" because if they enjoyed it, they would become comfortable with it, and then they would be ready for action when the moment arises. When they see injustice, need to fight for their rights or the rights of others, or feel they aren't being represented by their government or media, they'll be ready.
My response in a comment:

I'm a tremendous fan of systems that honor the intention of social action, however small. And the platforms that honor intention of connection, however small.

We haven't been so great--to date--about building many platforms that can take the positive intentions of thousands of small actions and transform them into either actionable data (but look at Ushahidi!) or visible impact (go 350.org!) The winning examples of these platforms and human systems though, these fill me with hope.

We're getting better. The problem isn't the alleged slack of slacktivists in my mind. It's that we're not done yet figuring out how to build the platforms and human systems that can harness the empathy for causes into powerful action. I promise you that petitions and 'likes' will not win the endgame.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dynamic hubs for beginners

A NGO asked for help on how to integrate streaming third-party content (Twitter stream) and burbs/buttons (for Facebook.)

My response:

I'm delighted to learn that you're looking for ways to integrate your social media presence into your homepage.

Is your goal to connect your different points of online presence on your homepage? Here are examples of different ways to use social media buttons on your homepage:

Twitter offers official buttons here. Many sites just download a Twitter or Facebook button from another site and use it on theirs.

Is your goal to reuse and integrate dynamic content into an otherwise static homepage? Twitter is a great way to do this. Twitter has an easy official widget you can drop in to a website to pipe in your tweets.

I'd highly recommend crafting a Social Media Strategy that's based on your Communication Plan. We Are Media is a great resource to use when writing your Social Media Strategy. (Disclosure: I helped NTEN and Beth Kanter crowdsource this resource.)

More on We Are Media about Twitter for nonprofits, and Facebook for nonprofits.

I'd love to hear what other nonprofits are doing with social media on their homepages. Please leave a comment here, and let me know what you're experimenting with.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Where should an Executive Director new to social media start?

My strongest recommendation for starting out in social media is to find an online conversation that you're passionate about (either personal or professional--as long as you're passionate about it!)

In response to @afine's great question I posted this comment:
I usually listen for a while at a dinner party, or in a new meeting before speaking--that's what I do online too. If you're used to jumping right in to a conversation, you can try that approach online too.

Once you've found that conversation, engage in it to the point where you feel like you've finally come home, the point where you feel like you've found your long lost tribe.

Whether the conversation is about labradoodles, parenting, or supporting a fight against cancer--when someone experiences that feeling of belonging they have the fuel to start building a successful personal or organizational social media practice.

EDs have the power to make people belong, to inspire action, and to listen deeply to the communities they serve.

Where did you start your path in social media? What do you recommend?