Category Archives: social media


I remember months and months (possibly years) ago, I noticed a couple of friends using Pinterest.  I casually clicked through, saw a picture, and had no idea what was going on.  Like any truly curious soul, I completely ignored it.  I had enough going on just trying to keep up with random Facebook changes.

A couple of weeks ago, Pinterest shows up again, this time with friends.  Lots of friends.  I’d requested an invitation months back and received a thoughtful and sincere automated e-mail saying that one day I’d be worthy, but not anytime soon.  Since I have no pride, I begged an invite from a friend who was already registered.  I logged in, saw more pictures, and still had no idea what was going on.


Thankfully Joe Waters  ( decided to host a Pinterest-based contest:  create a board called “Causes I Love Contest”, add whatever you like, however you like.  He would judge them and the winners would get valuable cash, prizes, and puppies.  I’m kidding about the puppies. Maybe.

“I can do this!” I thought to myself.  I’ve always been an optimist.  I’ll spare you the torment of rising tension and suspense and tell you that I didn’t win (I didn’t even place. Not that I’m bitter.), but I DID learn a lot.  The most important lesson appears to be if you want me to learn something quickly, your best bet is a contest.  I also learned that I have the self-awareness of a spatula, since until now I’ve always considered myself to be very anti-competition.

Anyway, off I went, pinning my little heart out.  I pinned recipes and craft ideas and hair styles and beauty tips and books and music and geeky stuff.  It’s addicting, I’m not going to lie.  I’m sure there are a zillion posts about the mechanics of how to do it without being socially awkward, but it’s always nice to have someone to laugh at.  I mean with.  Look, sometimes you just have to jump in and give it a try.

A friend of mine who really doesn’t care for Facebook took to Pinterest like a duck to water.  Only she calls it Pinster, and now I’ll bet you will, too.

I’ve tried several recipes with mixed success.  The smoothie was the best, but it blew up my blender, so that was kind of a good news, bad news scenario.  The bread wasn’t bad.  The “no-heat-curl” tutorial ended in complete disaster, but did make me laugh until I cried.  And while my hair wasn’t going in the intended direction (nor was it technically “curly”), I can’t deny that it achieved the kind of volume I’d only ever dreamed of previously.

So far the most popular pins I’ve posted:

  • 10 Canine Commandments
  • Neil Gaiman’s “The Day the Saucers Came”
  • “He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by Yeats
  • A picture of The Tick
  • “The Bark Side” VW commercial
  • Allan Rickman’s “Always” quote from Harry Potter
  • A recipe for skillet macaroni and cheese
  • Shawshank Redemption film poster (accompanied by Red’s opera quote)
  • Anything from (trust me on this one)
  • A photo of Bruce Campbell’s Cream of Darkness Soup

I’d love to draw some deep, insightful conclusions from this extensive data set, but let’s be serious: of far greater concern is that fact that one person pinned this wildly erratic array of images. Ah, Pinterest!

So if you want to experience the awesomeness of my boards (or more accurately, witness firsthand the evidence of a deeply confused mind), you can find me at


Photo credits:  Vintage Spatula by GranniesKitchen on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution License; Bruce Campbell’s Soup from Blastr 


Filed under social media, technology, writing

Book Review: The Future of Nonprofits

Book Review:  The Future of Nonprofits:  Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age by David J. Neff and Randal C. Moss

The Future of Nonprofits - coverWhen I was asked to review The Future of Nonprofits, I’ll admit that I was a little reluctant. I typically prefer to read and review fiction.  The information I use to stay current on nonprofit and volunteer trends comes from blogs, webinars, articles, workshops, podcasts, and a variety of sources and generally doesn’t include books.

I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for years, though, both as a leader of small nonprofits and as a resource to nonprofits of all sizes.  I’ve observed recent trends in the sector and struggled to adapt, and I’ve watched others do the same.

As I started reading The Future of Nonprofits, a funny thing happened. I’d find myself referring to it in conversations, or working key points into discussions and presentations.  In fact, I’ve been recommending it to board members, community leaders, and local nonprofit staff, saying, “It’ll be available soon, you should definitely consider picking up a copy.”

What makes this book different from the gazillions of others written for nonprofits? It’s timely, it’s relevant.  It provides genuinely insightful and helpful advice, observations and strategies, scaled for nonprofits ranging from large to small.

  • It explains the differences between strategic planning and “futuring”, and why future scanning is so crucial for nonprofit success.  For smaller organizations that might not have the resources to future scan, the authors suggest ways to create a nimble and flexible organization poised to quickly make the most of new trends.
  • It scrutinizes business management strategies that nonprofits are beginning to use (Lean, Six Sigma and TQM) and it carefully considers which aspects could work for nonprofits and explains why others won’t.
  • It offers case studies and interviews – many rooted in social media – as a means to gain a deeper understanding of the successful transition from idea to reality.
  • It suggests people and organizations to watch and follow – sector leaders across a variety of platforms that will enable the reader to stay connected long after the book is finished.
  • It provides concrete suggestions for embracing innovation from start to finish and removing barriers to implementation (favorites include sample job descriptions and interview questions targeting innovative qualities for staff members).
  • It predicts trends for both nonprofit fundraising and communications. (Seriously worth the read for these alone.)

What doesn’t this book do?  It doesn’t bombard you with lofty ideas and leave you flailing around as you try to implement them (or, more likely, as you immediately get frustrated and give up).

The authors understand that one of the most difficult aspects of change is actually DOING IT. Neff and Moss acknowledge that creativity is important (and many nonprofits have developed successful systems for generating new ideas), “But the real leverage is in the back end: the ability to execute ideas. Ideas will only get you so far.”  (from The Future of Nonprofits).

There are only a couple of downsides to this book that I could find.  The first is that, while the authors intentionally tried to scale to a range of nonprofit sizes (and they did a great job), the process may seem overwhelming to smaller agencies.  I’d encourage smaller nonprofits to give it a chance, and to consider the fact that their very size may make them more nimble and better positioned to put some of the ideas into practice quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

The second is that some folks who could truly benefit from the book may not read it, or may dismiss it because much of The Future of Nonprofits challenges the, “This is the way we’ve always done things.” mentality.

“…as long as we hold onto our preconceived notions of what our constituents want and how they use our products and services, we will be forever tied to our existing offerings.”  (from The Future of Nonprofits)

As nonprofits, we need to embrace feedback.  Even better, we need to listen and learn where the gaps are and objectively think about ways to better serve our constituents.  We need to embrace change (or at least learn not to fear it).  And we can do this by trying our best to keep up, or we can choose to approach it strategically through some of the lessons shared in this book.

Is now the right time for innovation?  During a prolonged economic crisis?  Shouldn’t we hang on to our limited resources with both hands, and focus exclusively on providing core services?  According to Neff and Moss, this is exactly the wrong approach to take – first of all, what better time to embrace managed creativity than during challenging times? Second, it’s almost impossible to regain an environment that embraces innovation once it’s been stifled, even with the best of intentions.

In the words of the authors:

“The bottom line is this book is going to help your organization do more relevant things faster, less expensively, and drive key business metrics.” (from The Future of Nonprofits).

I couldn’t agree more.

More information on the book is here:

Quotes from the book used with permission for the purposes of this review.  Book cover image from Flickr, some rights reserved under Creative Commons.


Filed under blogs, books, fundraising, non-profits, social media, technology

So You Want to Be A Nonprofit Social Media Genius

Here is an excellent presentation from Beth Kanter at Beth’s Blog (and if you don’t think she’s a social media genius, Google Beth’s Blog. Go ahead. I’ll wait. She is in the number one spot on Google Search, right? ‘Nuff said.). If I only have time to read posts from one blog, this is the one I read. Beth provides real world examples of integrating social media into non-profit mission and operations. She tirelessly shares information and insights about making it all work, return on investment, and she spotlights best practices.

Take a moment to review the presentation and let me know what you think!

Leave a comment

Filed under non-profits, social media

Web 2.0 Awards for 2008

SEOmoz’s Web 2.0 awards is an interesting place to discover new social media resources. Now my first question was, naturally, how did they select their winners? In their own words:

After scouring the web for Web 2.0 sites both new and old, we developed a “short list” of over three-hundred sites in forty-one categories. From there, we had some of the web’s best bloggers, entrepreneurs and business people vote on winners, narrowing the field to 174 place-getters and Honorable Mentions.

I’d discovered the first place winner under “Philanthropy” already (yay!) but hadn’t heard of either Giveness or the fascinating DonorsChoose (a resource specifically for teachers and classrooms).

Another finding of note: according to these awards, Twitter beat out Facebook under Social Networking mainstays.

Leave a comment

Filed under fundraising, social media

Tweet away!

Found an excellent guide to day called Twitter Jump Start – the intended audience is small non-profit organizations.

Leave a comment

Filed under social media

Is Social Media for Everyone?

Beth’s Blog is just wonderful – I always find something relevant (and timely!) in every post.

Today she was discussing questions for organizations to ask themselves before jumping into social media. This reminded me of a discussion I had last week with some colleagues around this same topic. According to Beth’s Blog, here are some initial considerations regarding incorporating social media into your organization:

    • Are there pressing organizational issues to address?
    • Are there effective or efficient ways to reach same outcomes?
    • Does your current/potential audience use social media?
    • Are you being seduced by Shiny Object Syndrome?

    Perhaps it is better to have a concrete list … don’t do social media if … or the ten tell-tale signs your organization shouldn’t jump into social media:

    1. Your computers are falling apart because they are six years old,
    2. Your database is a mess
    3. Your haven’t updated your web site since 2001 because your volunteer left and you don’t know the password
    4. Your executive director and key leadership just walked out the door

    I should add that Beth also lamented the fact that many organizations are yes/no, all or nothing about it. She suggested that a better approach would be to try it before deciding so that you can make an informed decision.

    Leave a comment

    Filed under social media