It looks like the case for social media and the church can continue on a bit. . .In this post, I wanted to do two things: A) share some of the actual benefits of social media in a non-profit context. The social web has been hyped so much, so sometimes it is good to hear about real results. …and B) briefly address one of the most common questions asked by people and organizations that haven’t jumped into social media just yet, but understand that they need to sometime real soon. So here goes:
Beth Kanter, one of the gurus of non-profit social media strategy offers a model of the “networked nonprofit.” Kanter and her co-author Alison Fine argue that many non-profits are full of “firewalls” and bureaucracy that create stand-alone organizations.
But networked nonprofits end up looking more like social networks than like traditional organizations. Open, simple, connected with other similar entities, transparent, successful. One key take away is that taking on the new mental posture organizationally will enable and empower your organization to take on social media.
The bottom line? . . . You can do it.
Here’s a video of the two social media for social change specialists at the Blackbaud conference for non-profits:
At about 46:30 minutes into the video, the Q&A session takes on the question of how and when an organization can find the time to do social media. Fine answers back with some great ideas:
- Most organizations have a bundle of activities that have become non-essential. Find the things that you do that don’t make sense anymore. It might have been a good idea when it was created, but there are tons of little things — many of them requiring multiple people on the leadership team to spend time on it — that can be removed from each person’s responsibilities.
- People can take it on in bite size pieces. Breaking down the scope of activities so that many people can take on the individual tasks is a strategy that works. Fine cites an example that ropes in new volunteers in a low risk, task-appropriate application.
- Take it slowly + find mentors and friends for support and accountability. Since social media is not something you can put in a box, it requires an open and an understanding of a continuum in work. Because social media has at this point taken hold in the mainstream (which is why you’re considering it, right?), most people know of others that are ahead of them with regard to the social web. Taking on a mentor or peer to bounce ideas off of regularly shouldn’t be that hard to find. In fact, if you don’t know personally, there are tons of groups online – on Facebook or LinkedIn which are open to people just like you who are working to learn the ropes.
As an added bonus, here’s Beth Kanter (she’s one of the real gurus for non-profits + social media) keynoting for a web conference (a la Chris Perillo). She clearly demonstrates throughout her talk that social media can have tangible results. I’ll warn you that there’s a couple of spots into it where we hear some language that warrants some soap in the mouth, but if you’re ok with that, you’ll be able to envision some of the raw power of the social web in a non-profit or ministry context: